Larry Cuculic named Best Western president/CEO

LAS VEGAS—Lawrence (Larry) M. Cuculic has been appointed the new president/CEO of BWH Hotel Group. The news was revealed here at the company’s brand conference at the MGM Grand.

Cuculic has been serving as SVP/general counsel for the company for 12 years and will assume his new role on Dec. 1.

“I am truly privileged to be asked to serve Best Western, and you, our members in this very important role,” he told the conference audience when he was first introduced. “I stand before you today, determined, excited and exhilarated…When I met with the board regarding the position, I assured them, I would serve them, and each of you through hard work, dedicated service and a collaborative spirit that has as its sole purpose, the success of our members. I also assured them I would serve humbly with integrity and honor. I will keep my word.”

Ishwar Naran, board chairman, BWH Hotel Group, said that with longtime President/CEO David Kong’s retirement, as well as the continued recovery from the pandemic, choosing the right person for the position was of extreme importance. “We agreed that our organization needed a president and CEO who can bring stability, engagement and continued progress,” he said during his official introduction. “We have hired an individual we know has the right experience, knowledge and skills to lead our organization. He has gathered, respect and admiration throughout our company. The board is in total agreement that this individual is the best person for the job.”

Cuculic told Hotel Business he hopes to build upon the solid foundation that Kong built over his tenure. “I have been so fortunate to have David as my mentor, and the board of directors as my mentors as well…Interacting with Mr. Kong every day, his dedication and excitement drives me to be the best I can be and inspires me.”

In his remarks, Cuculic made six promises to the members of Best Western. “No. 1, because Best Western is a community of members committed to the success of the Best Western family, I will always respect that you have a voice that deserves to be heard. In January, I will travel and conduct a listening tour, I want to meet with you in your backyard, and have an honest and open dialogue. I want you to tell us what we’re doing well, and what we can do to improve.

“Second, my personal commitment to you is that I’ve always work hard with honesty, integrity and fairness, and I will lead by example.

“Third, we will be focused on driving superior revenue to you, as they say in the military, ‘That’s our mission.’ That’s why we exist and what we can never forget.

“No. 4, because you trust us with your fees, we will wisely use those funds as we invest in marketing technology and the Best Western team, ensuring there is a return on investment. Money spent will be spent prudently and intelligently.

“Fifth, we will strategically grow the Best Western brand through measured development that does not negatively impact your hotels.

“Six, together we have an obligation to protect the Best Western reputation and goodwill, so that the more guests stay at Best Western hotels, the more likely they are to return. We can do this by providing a quality stay for value that exceeds our best expectations. We will welcome them into our hotels and care for them as if they walked through the front door of our home. I raised my hand, as I’m taking an oath, and I make these promises to each of you.”

Prior to joining BWH Hotel Group, Cuculic was SVP/general counsel and corporate secretary for Wabash National Corporation. Previously, he served as VP legal/corporate secretary for American Commercial Lines Inc., and was a partner in the law firm Gambs, Mucker & Bauman. Before retiring from the U.S. Army, he served as a Judge Advocate General’s Corps officer in various legal positions, including appointment as a military judge.”

For more on David Kong’s retirement, check out our exclusive cover story in the September 15th issue of Hotel Business