Bob Burns has spent almost 60 years in the hotel industry, beginning at the Waldorf Astoria in the late 1940s while studying at New York University. Following his time in New York and after four years in the U.S. Army, Mr. Burns completed his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University’s School of Hotel Management, and followed his undergraduate degree with an MBA from the University of Michigan. He then joined Sheraton Hotel’s management-training program, working in hotel operations in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Nebraska. In 1960, Mr. Burns joined Sheraton Hotels in Hawaii. Three years later he became general manager of the Kahala Hilton in Hawaii.
In 1970, Mr. Burns founded Regent International Hotels in Hong Kong. In the company’s 22-year history, Regent International opened 17 luxury hotels around the world. In 1992, he sold his interest in Regent to Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. In 2001, after a five-year restoration, he opened the 21-room Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli in Gargano, Italy.
Mr. Burns has long been a leader in the industry through education and advocacy groups. While in Hawaii, he served as a faculty member at the University of Hawaii. He is currently a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at Cornell University’s School of Hotel management and the University of Hawaii’s School of Travel and Industry Management. He also created the Robert H. Burns Foundation, providing scholarships to Asian students for studies in the U.S. He continues to lecture extensively throughout the Pacific and Asia for the U.S. State Department and Pacific Area Travel Association. On the advocacy front, Mr. Burns helped develop the World Travel and Tourism Council, and became its chairman in 1994-96.