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To Whom it May Concern,

I enthusiastically recommend Rick Tomljenovic and Tristar Hotel Group as excellent developers and operators of lodging products. I have known Rick and worked with him since 2003 on the designing and pre-opening of the Radisson Resort in Fort McDowell, Arizona, a new four star resort in the greater Phoenix area.

I have been an Assistant Professor in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University since the summer of 1995. Previous to that, I worked 25 years for Marriott International as a Controller, Resident Manager, and General Manager in nine properties in the United States. Because of my operations background, I was invited to be a member of the Enterprise Board of the Ft McDowell Yavapai Nation from 2001 to early 2004.The Enterprise Board awarded the management contract to design, open and operate a 250 room four star resort to Tristar in early 2003.

For one year I worked with Rick on the design of the new resort. We shared responsibilities to ensure that the resort would be functional, efficient, and within design and construction budgets. Rick’s experience and knowledge of hotel operations were extremely valuable in designing a realistic and functional property. He took the lead in the food and beverage back of the house and front of the house design and should get 100% of the credit for the way the resort was designed and built. It is a distinctive, efficient, and excellent property.

We worked closely together on the rooms, back of the house, and administrative parts of the resort and Rick was equally knowledgeable in those areas. I am very proud of the building largely due to Rick’s operating knowledge, communications skills, persistence, and commitment to designing what the owner wanted and could afford. The result speaks for itself as the Radisson Ft McDowell Resort and Casino was awarded Four Diamonds in 2006, its first year of operations. It was a pleasure working with Rick on this project.

In February, 2004, the Ft McDowell Yavapai Nation reorganized their Enterprise Operations and I was no longer involved as the hotel was under construction. The marketing, pre-opening and construction responsibilities were completed by Rick and his Tristar team. Marketing the resort was a high priority of Tristar and a great deal of time was spent creating a distinctive and effective marketing plan that was in place even before construction began. Tristar’s early marketing emphasis was a significant reason that first year operations exceeded the proforma and financial expectations of the owners.

The Tristar organization brings strong operating experience in many market segments of the hospitality industry. This enables them to be valuable partners and contributors in the design, marketing, pre-opening, and daily operation of lodging products. They understand the objectives of owners, the challenges of budgets and construction financing, time pressures, and the realities of current market conditions. It takes professionalism, patience, and good communication skills to work with the many people involved in designing, developing and operating a hotel and Rick and his team at Tristar possess these skills and abilities. They are detail oriented, focus equally on quality and cost during design and construction, and hired an extremely qualified and dedicated management team. Their first year of operations showed a focus on quality operations and guest satisfaction. This resort will continue to get better over time.

On a final note, Rick was especially effective in dealing with several strong and different elements of the owners – Ft McDowell Yavapai Nation. There were several major changes to the managers and elected officials of the Ft McDowell Tribal Council over the three years that the resort was designed, constructed, and opened. Rick has successfully worked with many managers and tribal officials in ensuring the successful completion and operation of the Radisson Ft McDowell Resort and Casino. It has required him to be an educator and teacher as he informed owners of the basics of the hospitality industry and important economic, industry, and statewide trends that would affect successful operations of their resort. Rick has the knowledge, skill, patience and dedication to bring both owners and managers to an understanding of the priorities and nuances that help ensure a successful hospitality operation.

I recommend Rick and Tristar Hotel Group to any owner or developer, as a strong and successful manager and operator of hospitality lodging proprieties. Please let me know if I can provide any other information or assistance to you.

Dr. Jonathan A. Hales, Hospitality Consultant
Assistant Professor

School of Hotel and Restaurant Management
Northern Arizona University
P.O. Box 5638
Flagstaff, Arizona 86011