Fernandes’ specialty lies in turning around asset performance and establishing brand reputation and value creation. Throughout his career he has outperformed the market, leading with setting a strong workplace culture, crafting a sustainable growth strategy and fostering innovation. With more than 30 years of global leadership experience, Agnelo has helped position independent luxury resorts in the US, Caribbean, Central America, and Asia. A thought leader within the hospitality industry and luxury lifestyle segment, Agnelo has been frequently invited to share his transformational perspectives on leadership, service culture, growth strategy, communications, global marketing and branding. His experience spans across hospitality, spa and wellness, real estate, travel and tourism, and restaurants.
Fernandes serves on Visit California’s Marketing Advisory Board and is the immediate past chair of the Branding Committee, overseeing the strategic brand position of the state of California. Along with the executive committee, he chaired the deployment of the $110 million ‘Dream Big’ brand campaign that represented California as the leading destination. Fernandes also serves on the Executive Committee for the HSMAI Board of Directors and is the immediate past chair of the HSMAI Foundation, where he focused on attracting, developing, and retaining talent in the hospitality industry.
Agnelo has been recognized as an industry thought leader and is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including Lodging Magazine’s Best and Brightest Hotel Innovators and Visionaries; Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Resort Marketer of the Year and Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing and Revenue; i-Lead Leader of the Year by Two Roads Hospitality, and the prestigious ‘Spirit of Lowe’ Award by Lowe and CoralTree Hospitality.
Regina started in the hospitality industry in operations, and transitioned to hotel finance after college. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management, and a master’s degree in Accounting. She has held numerous hotel finance roles, both on property and at the corporate level. Her background includes resorts (PGA National), branded hotels (Radisson), and boutique/lifestyle (Charlestowne Hotels.) Over her career she has focused on managing hotels, on-boarding and opening new properties, and developing outstanding hotel finance teams. Regina specializes in system and process implementation, finding efficiencies, and making hotel finance accessible and practical for all.
Educated in the law, Merrick transferred that skill-set into Human Resources, and has been a Human Resources Executive for over twenty years. Merrick currently is the Chief People Services Officer. He joined Cote in 2017. He had previously opened and assisted in the successful operating of the highest profile hotel in the country – Trump International Hotel, Washington, DC. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Human Resources at United Service Companies, where he had partnered with key business leaders to reshape the “people management” approach of the organization. He had previously held the position of Vice President of Human Resources at Rivers Casino where he helped orchestrate the successful opening of the property in July 2011. Prior to Rivers, he left California in 2007 for Illinois when recruited by the Hyatt Hotel Corporation to lead the HR team at the Hyatt Regency Chicago through a time of labor unrest and challenge. He had previously led HR at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, a California 4-Diamond hotel/gaming destination, for five (5) years, opening that property. Merrick earned his BA from UC Santa Barbara – double majoring in history and anthropology. He earned his JD from American University (Washington College of Law). Merrick has his Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) Certification, and has taught/advised at Kendall College, DePaul University and Georgetown.
Jeff Wermager recently joined Cote Family Destinations as Vice President, Commercial Strategy. In this role, he will be instrumental in guiding positioning and influencing pricing of all revenue generation initiatives.
Prior to joining Cote Family Destinations, Wermager worked in the hotel industry for over 30 years, many of which were with Radisson Hotel Group Americas both at the property and corporate levels, beginning his career as a bellman at Radisson Hotel Fargo (now Radisson Blu Fargo). He has held many roles in his career, including leading revenue consulting and revenue operations teams, with his last role being Vice President, Channels & Distribution. In this role, he was responsible for guiding the strategic direction of Third Party partnerships, Contact Center and Commercial Services.
Wermager received a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Marketing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Additionally, he is currently a member of HSMAI’s inaugural Global Distribution Advisory Board and is a Certified Revenue Management Executive.
As a lifelong Minnesotan, he enjoys boating, golfing, and home brewing. He and his wife of 31 years, Stacy, have two children, Braden (25) is a RN in St. Paul and Gavin (22) is starting a career in banking after just graduating from UW Eau Claire.
Karen Gilbertson is the Vice President of Project and Analytics at Cote Family Companies. In this role, she focuses on Enterprise Project Management, Software Strategy and Company Analytics.
Prior to joining Cote Family Companies, Karen was President/Owner of Showhomes Minneapolis, a franchisee providing real estate property management, staging and remodeling services. Prior to Showhomes, Karen worked as the Director of IT & Hotel Systems Development for Carlson Companies for Radisson and Country Inns & Suites for on property technology. With many other roles in IT Project Management for Carlson Leisure Group, Consulting, Retail, Incentives and Manufacturing.
Karen received a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. In addition, she was a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a licensed realtor and general contractor.
Karen loves travel, boating and live music.
Frank Soukup is the Director of Marketing for Cote Family Destinations. He also serves as the Chair of the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber Board of Directors, Hospitality MN Board of Directors, Hospitality MN Education Foundation, and the Explore MN Tourism Advisory Council. Frank’s areas of expertise include advertising, marketing, web direction, videography, photography, SEO, social media, and more.
Frank has been a freelance artist for over 32 years, creating innovative marketing and graphic concepts for many companies including Grand View Lodge, Tanque Verde Ranch, ProfitPro Ag, Rapala, Miller Nitro, Bitterboy Activewear, Turck, Golden Care Financial, United Way, and much more. He is an internationally produced artist from illustrating children’s books to creating publications in conservation agriculture.
Matt Russell serves as the Corporate Director of IT for Cote Family Companies. In addition to leading Cote’s internal IT team, which is responsible for day-to-day technical operations at all of its locations, he heads all Infrastructure planning and Cybersecurity initiatives. Matt’s focus is on scalable solutions and secure cloud technologies.
Previous to this role, he had spent the majority of his 15-year IT career in the Manufacturing Industry working for companies that specialize in precision metal parts and rapid prototyping. Working in a myriad of roles from Helpdesk Management, Systems and Network Administration, and DevOps. With a focus on efficiency and uptime, he brings these talents to the Hospitality Industry and Cote Family Companies.
When not in the office, Matt spends the majority of his time with his family. Together with his high school sweetheart of 18 years, Aimie, and him have two boys; Dezmond and Viktor, as well as a large Huskydoodle named Rocky. He enjoys Hiking, Bouldering, and getting together with friends.
Terry Hanley serves as the General Manager of Tanque Verde Ranch. Terry is responsible for day-to-day operations, employee satisfaction, guest satisfaction, assisting in maintaining the property, driving revenues, expense control, budgeting, and if the roads flood, cooking breakfast!
Terry carries an array of hospitality experience. He started in Calgary Alberta, with a family-owned restaurant business. After 11 years in the food and beverage industry, he began his first hotel job at Westin Calgary. Terry quickly moved from the Food and Beverage side of things to explore more on the hotel side. After a good three years, Terry received another great opportunity to work at the Westin Maui. Here, Terry worked with the front desk, housekeeping, profit improvement, and Service Express for almost seven years. He then moved to the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, before transferring to Portland, Oregon, where he was General Manager of The Four Points by Sheraton.
Terry was born in Alberta, Canada, and moved to Calgary when he was three years old. He considers Calgary home. In his free time, Terry enjoys traveling, golfing, ice skating, hiking, and spending time with his two sons.
Dennis Wilson is the General Manager of Grand View Lodge Golf and Spa Resort.
Wilson joins Grand View Lodge with over a decade of hospitality management experience in a series of leadership positions with Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and other corporations. Most recently, Wilson was general manager at Hyatt Regency Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., where he led turnaround efforts for the asset after a transition of ownership and management companies, significantly increasing revenue and changing the culture of the property by reinventing its fine dining restaurant and significantly improving overall customer service. Prior, he directed the opening of the Rand Tower Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn. as general manager for the Marriott-operated Tribute Portfolio Hotel, which was nominated for Hotel Opening of the Year by Travel Magazine and Finance & Commerce Top Project of 2020, amidst the pandemic. In 2017, he was general manager at Double Tree by Hilton in St. Paul, Minn., delivering the most successful year in financials, customer service, customer loyalty, and ambassador satisfaction in the hotel’s history.
Dennis has an extreme passion for golf, spending time with family, and paddleboarding on the lake.
Samuel Ruggles Cote serves as Executive Director of the Cote Family Destinations two childrens camps – Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert. As a third generation camp director, Ruggs follows his family’s legacy and passion for camp and its mission with children from around the world. Cote has been actively involved from his years as a young camper to his present leadership position, where he served as Camp Director for 13 years before becoming Executive Director.
Cote has been an active member of the American Camp Association since 1997, the ACA Standards Visitor since 2007 and volunteer at Excelsior Elementary. He graduated from DePauw University in 1993 where he majored in Economics and was treasurer of his fraternity. Ruggs continues the Cote Family’s tradition of excellence in camping and youth development.
Michael “MJ” Johnson is a veteran camp executive with over twenty years of work in the camping industry. Prior to his work as Executive Director of Operations for Camps Lincoln and Lake Hubert, Michael managed camps in Maine, New Hampshire, and Iowa. Active in the American Camp Association (ACA), he’s currently chairperson for the Great Rivers region, a member of the ACA National Council of Leaders, and a national camp standards accreditation visitor. Sought out for his expertise in camp operations and management, Michael has consulted as an organizational analyst and currently serves on the board of the West End House Girls Camp in Parsonsfield, Maine.
Michael met his wife while working at summer camp and together they share three children. In his free time, Michael enjoys following athletics at his alma mater, Kansas State University, playing tennis, and spending time with his family.