Executive Profiles


Capella Hotel Group is led by Horst Schulze, former president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, in concert with a team of senior executives with deep experience in hospitality management.

This team’s guidance has been responsible for the outstanding performance of the company’s new brands as well as the independent hotels under its management.

Corporate Leadership

Capella Hotel Group

Horst H. Schulze
Chairman and C.E.O.

Kit Pappas
Chief Operating Officer

Mark Linch
Senior Vice President, Project & Technical Services

Fausto Barba
Vice President, Finance & Development

Cyrus Heydarian
Regional Vice President Operations, Germany & The Middle East

Capella Hotel Group Asia

Nicholas Matthew Clayton
Chief Executive Officer

K.C. Moy
Executive Vice President

Samuel M. Ding
Senior Vice President, Technical Services

Poh Hock Leong
Vice President, Technical Services

Andreas Kohn
Vice President, Sales & Marketing

Mei Ping
Chief Representative, Development China

Yvonne Yeo
Director, Development & Quality

Joleena Seah
Director, Marketing & Communications

Board Of Directors

Horst H. Schulze
Chairman & CEO, Capella Hotel Group
Co-Chairman, Capella Hotel Group Asia

Horst Schulze is a legend and a leader in the service world. His vision has helped reshape concepts of customer service throughout the hospitality and service industries. Mr. Schulze served as vice chairman of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company from 2001-02, after serving as president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Group, starting in 1988. Under his leadership, the Group was awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in both 1992 and 1999; the first and only hotel company to win even one such award. After joining The Ritz-Carlton as a charter member and VP of Operations in 1983, Mr. Schulze was instrumental in creating the operating and service standards that have become world famous. He was appointed EVP in 1987, and president and COO in 1988. When he left The Ritz-Carlton to form the West Paces Hotel Group, Mr. Schulze was responsible for the $2 billion Ritz-Carlton operations worldwide.

M. Douglas Ivester
Former Chairman of the Board and C.E.O., The Coca-Cola Company

Capella Hotel Group

M. Douglas Ivester is President of Deer Run Investments, LLC. Mr. Ivester began his career at the Atlanta office of Ernst & Ernst, leading its team for The Coca-Cola Company. He then joined The Coca-Cola Company in 1979 as assistant controller and director of corporate auditing, and in 1981 became the youngest VP in the company’s history. Two years later he was elected senior VP of finance, and in 1985 he was elected CFO at the age of thirty-seven. Mr. Ivester was elected chairman of the board and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company on October 23, 1997. In his 20 years with the Company, Mr. Ivester was an architect of significant, successful changes in the Company, from dramatic shifts in its financial policies to the creation of a global “anchor” bottler network. Mr. Ivester retired from The Coca-Cola Company in 2000.

James H. Wildman, Sr.
Former Senior Partner and Managing Partner, King & Spalding

Sr. Business and Legal Advisor

Capella Hotel Group

Capella Hotel Group Asia

James Wildman is a corporate lawyer, specializing in commercial real estate. He has represented developers in the construction, financing and leasing of office buildings, shopping centers, apartments and hotels for over 30 years. His clients include US and foreign corporations, financial institutions and high net worth individuals. His extensive experience includes the development, financing and operation of hotels, particularly those in the luxury class. For over a decade after its founding, he was principal outside counsel for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company as it grew to more than 30 hotels. Mr. Wildman is a member of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers. In addition to his service on the Board of The West Paces Hotel Group, LLC, Mr. Wildman is a member of the board of WorldTravel BTI, the third largest travel management company in the US, and Park ‘N Fly, the largest U.S. off-airport parking company. He also serves on the Advisory Council of Hildebrandt International, and is a Trustee of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which awards the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University.

Lynn J. Darby
Former Partner, Ernst & Young

Capella Hotel Group

Lynn Darby retired as a Partner with Ernst & Young after 33 years of service in Atlanta, Knoxville (Tennessee) and Greenville (South Carolina). Past service has included membership in the American Institute of CPAs, the Georgia Society of CPAs, the University of Tennessee School of Chancellor's Advisory Associates, the Kiwanis Club of Knoxville (Past President), the Salvation Army Board of Advisors, the Boy Scouts of America Advisory Board, the University of Tennessee School of Accounting Advisory Board, the University of Florida Fisher School of Accounting Advisory Board, the Clemson University School of Accounting Advisory Board, and the YMCA of Greenville Board of Directors.

Brian Kaufman
Westridge Capital, LLC

Capella Hotel Group

Brian Kaufman is a founding partner of Westridge Capital where he brings over 25 years of combined transactional experience in principal, agency and legal roles totaling over $5 billion dollars. Prior to launching Westridge Capital, Brian served in a number of professional capacities in private equity, investment banking and law including partner level positions at Los Angeles-based Montgomery & Co., Imperial Capital, LLC, and Kirkland Messina LLC. He was also a transactional-focused securities attorney at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco. Brian began his finance career at Drexel Burnham Lambert Incorporated in New York where he focused on corporate finance transactions for financial institutions.

Mahdi Haidar
Chairman United Medical Services Co.
Capella Hotel Group

Dr. Mahdi has over 20 years of experience in investing and management in various sectors and mainly in real estate, investment and banking. He served on the board of several Kuwaiti companies, including companies listed in the Kuwait Stock exchange and unlisted companies. In addition to the international board representation in companies incorporated in France, Germany, Switzerland and United States, he has also served as a consultant and held several senior positions.  Currently, he is Chairman of United Medical Services and serves as a board member of Oula Fuel Marketing, United Food Stuff Industries Group and Al Mustaqbal Investment.

Gary D. Engle
Chairman & C.E.O., Stoneleigh Capital

Capella Hotel Group

Capella Hotel Group Asia

Gary D. Engle has been Chief Executive Officer and Chairman since the inception of Stoneleigh Capital. Mr. Engle served as President, Chief Executive Officer and controlling shareholder of Equis Corporation and is a director of PLM International, Inc. Equis and PLM’s affiliates have acquired and financed more than $2 billion in real estate and leased assets. Since August 2003, Mr. Engle has served as a member of the executive committee of CBI Acquisition, LLC, the holding company of Caneel Bay, a luxury resort on the island of St. John, U.S.V.I. From 1987 to 1994, Mr. Engle was a principal of Cobb Partners Development Inc., a mortgage trading and real estate company, which he co-founded in 1987. Prior to that, Mr. Engle was a founding Director of Disney Development, the real estate development division of the Walt Disney Company and served as Chief Executive Officer of Arvida Disney Financial Services from May 1984 to 1987.

James A. Coyne
Vice-Chairman & C.F.O., Stoneleigh Capital

Capella Hotel Group

James A. Coyne has been Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer since the inception of Stoneleigh Capital. He is also President and Chief Executive Officer of PLM International Inc. From December 1994 until December 2005, Mr. Coyne served as the Senior Vice President of Equis Corporation. Mr. Coyne serves on the Board of Managers of DSC/Purgatory, LLC, Mountain Springs Kirkwood, LLC and Echelon Development Holdings LLC and other companies that he holds an interest in. From 1985 to the early 1990’s, he was with VMS Realty Partners, a $10 billion real estate and hotel investment company. Prior to VMS, he was with the accounting firm of Ernst & Whinney. In addition, Mr. Coyne is a certified public accountant.

Frank D. Palmer
Stoneleigh Capital

Capella Hotel Group

Prior to joining Stoneleigh, Mr. Palmer managed his own residential real estate development and design company, developing over $65 million of luxury homes and villas in Fairfield County, CT and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Previously, he was the Managing Director of a private development company, specializing in both international and domestic opportunistic hospitality based transactions. The Palmer Group acquired, through a leveraged acquisition, a significant interest in Divi Resorts, a NYSE traded hotel company of which he became Vice Chairman. Mr. Palmer also managed the corporate acquisition group at VMS Realty. During a two-year period, his group acquired over $700 million of operating businesses including RockResorts and American Finance Group. He led the company’s $2.1 billion bid for Intercontinental Hotels, including a disposition of over $1 billion in international hotel property. For over 15 years, he was a senior officer and Director of AIRCOA, which became the largest independent hotel management firm in the US with over 160 hotels and resorts. During that time he was responsible for financing over $1 billion of hotel real estate, leading three public offerings, and acting as General Partner for over 20 development partnerships. He began his career with the accounting firm of Laventhol and Horwath.

Ng Chee Yuen
, Capella Hotel Group Asia
Mr. Ng founded SHENNING Investments Pte. Ltd. with Mr. Kwee Liong Tek. SHENNING investments leverages on the Kwee family’s long history of high quality real estate development to invest and create sustainable and beautiful living environments. He assumed the appointment of Co-Chairman of Capella Hotel Group Asia from the co-founder, Mr. Kwee Liong Tek, in March, 2010. Mr. Ng has over 27 years of experience in businesses, consulting, private equity and government service. He spent 17 years in the U.S., Europe, China, and the Middle East during which he invested, built and expanded businesses regionally.

Evan Kwee
Executive Director, Capella Hotel Group Asia

Evan Kwee spent nine years leading the business development arm of Pontiac Land Group, an $8 billion private real estate developer in Singapore. He oversees the development efforts for the Capella Hotel Group Asia in the Asia Pacific region and heads product development for the Group working closely with clients, architects and engineers to ensure design excellence while creating innovative but also profitable products.

Ronald Issen
Capella Hotel Group Asia

Mr. Ronald Issen is Managing Director, Issen & Company with experience in the gaming/hospitality, real estate, private education and commodities/infrastructure sectors having spent more than 15 years in Asia in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Macao. Among others, he currently serves as Deputy Chairman of HKSE-listed City e-Solutions Ltd and as Chairman, Asia, for Hailo Network Holdings Limited and is a past Senior Advisor with Apollo Global Management LLC. Mr. Issen previously served on the board of Midan City Development Co. Ltd (formerly Lippo Incheon Development Co. Ltd.), a new city development JV with leading Korean chaebols, and on the board for SGX-ST listed Food Junction Holdings Ltd. (part of Lippo Group). Prior, Mr. Issen was on the Executive Management Committee of Hong Kong’s eSun Holdings Limited (Lai Sun Group), a leading Hong Kong based hotel owner/property developer (via eSun Holdings’ controlling stake in Lai Sun Development), as well as one of Asia’s largest Chinese-language film and live entertainment groups, ex-PRC. Earlier, Mr. Issen spent more than 10 years as a senior banking executive, with then-Crédit Agricole Indosuez in Europe and Asia, where he served, inter alia, as Global Head, Government Advisory Practice (focusing on emerging hydrocarbon nations). He has also held positions with Smith Barney (later acquired by Citigroup) and with the Boston Consulting Group. He holds an MBA from Stanford University.