Jay was named General Manager at the Sonesta Beach Resort Hilton Head Island in August, 2012. Prior to accepting this position, he was Director of Hotel Operations at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans since January, 2011. Before joining Sonesta, Jay was resort manager for the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, and held positions including general manager, operations manager and F&B director in hotels in Florida and Illinois with Marriott and Crowne Plaza.
Director of Sales & Marketing
Chris Bracken was named director of sales and marketing in July. Bracken will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day sales operations of the resort and will work hand-in-hand with Jay Wiendl, the resort’s general manager, to ensure marketing strategies maximize resort revenue.
Previously, Bracken served as the director of sales and marketing with Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He has three decades of tourism and hospitality experience having worked with brands such as Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Portofino Hotel & yacht club, Visit Jacksonville, Don CeSar Beach Resort, Marriott Biscayne Bay and Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa. Bracken received his bachelor’s of science degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Dernier “Nelly” Buleje
The resort named Dernier “Nelly” Buleje as its new executive chef in July 2013. Buleje is a seasoned culinary professional with nearly a decade of fine dining and hospitality experience. Buleje oversees guests’ dining experiences throughout the new resort’s four venues, with emphasis on Sonesta’s ‘Food is Art’ philosophy, which treats each meal as a detailed masterpiece for the senses.
Buleje, who describes his cooking as a cultural fusion for the palate, first discovered his passion for cooking at the age of 13. Since then, he’s received numerous culinary distinctions, including receiving first and second place in the Iron Chef Milwaukee competition in 2010, and second place in the 2010 Lake Geneva Wine Festival Iron Chef, as well as serving as a celebrity chef at the 2010 Lake Geneva Wine Festival. Buleje also served as the head of food production for Marcus at the 2012 Milwaukee Air and Water Show and at the 2012 Indy Fest Milwaukee. Previously, Buleje served as executive chef at Richmond Marriott and banquet/interim executive sous chef at Hilton Milwaukee City Center.
Please contact Lorie Juliano at 617.421.5429 to discuss potential dates, story angles and your proposed outlets. Thank you for your interest in the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island!