Vice-President, Marketing and Brand Development, Hartling Group
Karen S. Whitt is the Vice-President of Marketing and Brand Development for the Hartling Group Turks and Caicos, managing the Sands at Grace Bay, The Palms Turks and Caicos and The Shore Club Long Bay Beach resorts all in the Turks and Caicos Islands. A native of Dallas, Texas, she brings 25+ years of hospitality industry experience to these landmark properties. No stranger to the Caribbean, Ms. Whitt began her hospitality career in 1999 in Negril, Jamaica, and moved to Turks and Caicos Islands in 2005 and assumed the position of General Manager of the Somerset Resort on Grace Bay. She was named General Manager of the Palms Turks and Caicos in February, 2011, and promoted to Senior Vice-President with the Hartling Group in 2015 where she was instrumental in the opening of the trendy Shore Club on Long Bay Beach.
Her creation of the “Hartling Heartbeats” Service Culture program led all Hartling Group resorts to record performance levels. Karen personally trains associates on the Hearbeats mission, which empowers her teams to address guest needs in the moment, to recover from service challenges, then surprise and delight the guest.
Ms. Whitt has remained an active Board member of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association (TCHTA), and while maintaining her position at the resort also held the role of President of the TCHTA from 2008 to 2013. Ms. Whitt, a member of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association was elected in 2014 as 3rd Vice-President, and moved to 2nd Vice-President in 2016. She currently serves as 1st Vice-President and Chairman of the Marketing Committee, and CHTA Marketplace.
She is a member of the Board of Directors of The Turks and Caicos Community College Foundation, a Board member of the TCHTA and the Turks and Caicos International Film Festival, and she serves as a chairman and volunteer to numerous civic and professional organizations on the island. An avid supporter of the National Cancer Society, she has spearheaded many fundraising events contributing to the local organization including the successful “In the Pink” annual event. In 2010 and 2012 Ms. Whitt was named “Hotelier of the Year” in Turks and Caicos. In 2014 Ms. Whitt was awarded the prestigious title “Top General Manager Worldwide” by Luxury Travel Advisor at their 2014 Awards of Excellence Ultra Summit in Chicago, Illinois. Most recently, she was awarded as “Ultimate Hotelier” by Island Destinations in NYC. She appeared on the coveted panel of distinguished GM’s in Dana Point, California at the Hospitality Ultra Summit and has conducted numerous workshops and speaking engagements on the topic of customer service in the hospitality industry. Ms. Whitt has been recognized internationally numerous times and appeared in several trade publications.
Ms. Whitt holds a Bachelor of Business Management and Communications, and has completed several PDP courses at The School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University concentrating on Hospitality Management and Communications.
The Hartling Group resorts are known for their innovative vision and Five-Star customer service worldwide. The residences of choice for the most discriminating visitors and consistently recognized as leading resorts in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and among the top resorts in the world by the leading travel entities too numerous to list; but most recently, Condé Nast Traveler; Forbes Magazine, Travel + Leisure, World Travel Awards and a number of other world class organizations.
During her free time, she enjoys a variety of activities from event planning, volunteering and entertaining in her home.