John Russell started his career in hotel operations in 1979. In the first thirteen years of his career he opened three Hyatt Hotels, worked in 13 and became the youngest General Manager in the company at age 32. Recruited by Ritz-Carlton, he was the General Manager of three more properties, two of them as opening General Manager, including the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, the largest project in the company. This flagship property consisted of three separate hotels with the Ritz-Carlton winning Five Diamonds from AAA in its first year of operation.
John Russell left Ritz-Carlton to become a partner in the West Paces Hotel Group. This luxury hotel management company was formed by the former CEO of Ritz-Carlton, legendary hotelier Horst Schulze. During his six year career at West Paces, Russell was the Vice-President and Managing Director of several properties and taught Hospitality Finance for two years at Auburn University. The last property managed by John Russell for the West Paces Hotel Group was the Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa located off the coast of South Carolina. Among the many amenities of this island resort were 150 vacation rental properties, Russell’s first experience in the vacation rental market.
John Russell joined Intrawest Hospitality Management as a Senior Vice President and Managing Director in January of 2009. Responsibilities in this position included managing the 1,400 unit vacation rental operation of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the 220 vacation rental unit operation of the Cottage Rental Agency in Seaside, the Marriott Courtyard, and the Residence Inn by Marriott. During this time John Russell was Chairman of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, a board member of the Sandestin Owners Association, board member of the Grand Sandestin HOA and board member of the Bayside Inn HOA. Intrawest sold its holdings in Sandestin to Tom Becnel in March of 2010 and Russell was named President of newly formed Sandestin Investments, LLC.
John Russell resigned from Sandestin Investments in February of 2012 to form Russell and Russell Hospitality Consulting with the former Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Sandestin Investments Scott Russell. Scott and John formed Russell Vacation Rentals in October of 2013.
John Russell has a Bachelor of Science degree from Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University and is the President of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.