Seaport Hotel’s new general manager sees brighter times ahead for the pandemic-ridden city’s hospitality industry

“In a pre-COVID world, people would have booked [up to] in two years,” said Accomando, one of the few women to run a hotel in Boston. “Now we find business in two weeks.”

Omicron’s surge chilled the industry in December. Now that the variant appears to be easing, Accomando expects stronger months ahead. Nonprofits that held virtual fundraising galas in the spring of 2021 are moving forward with in-person events this spring. And there’s the promise of a few “citywides” to come — events so big they involve most of the city’s big hotels — like the North American Seafood Show and the American Academy of Dermatology meetings in March.

After an anemic 2020 and a sluggish 2021, the Board Pinnacle Advisory Group expects demand for hotel rooms to increase 48% this year compared to last year (although Boston’s overall occupancy rate is still below 2019 levels).

“We see people wanting to come together again,” Accomando said. “People really feel that when things open up, they’re really going to open up.”

Perhaps the business of meetings will pick up in time for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center next door. This project is set to open in 2024 and will drop the WTC moniker in favor of Commonwealth Pier. The large convention hall at street level will not be returning. Corn Loyalty investmentswhich controls both properties through its Pembroke subsidiary, will once again host meetings and events on the wharf, including two new ballrooms with harbor views.

“When the final design comes out, everyone will be thrilled,” Accomando said.

Everywhere in France from the town hall

As Boston’s Health and Human Services Chief, Marty Martinez used to say to the mayor at the time Martin J. Walsh he was a “non-profit guy who worked in government” because Walsh brought him in.

Now Martinez is returning to the nonprofit world, to run Reach out and read. He takes over for Brian Gallagher as executive director of the Boston-based national organization that helps physicians integrate book reading into their medical practices, especially for younger patients.

His previous position as nonprofit CEO was at Mass Mentoring Partnership, before Walsh recruited him four years ago. Martinez remained at City Hall under Kim Janeythe acting mayor, last year before leaving in December, shortly after the mayor Michelle Wu’the election.

His job completely changed in March 2020, when he suddenly became Walsh’s point person for all things COVID-19.

“I’ve used every muscle I’ve ever gained, professionally and personally, in these two years of battling COVID,” Martinez said. “Learning so much about health care and the role it plays has really opened my eyes, not just to this opportunity [at Reach Out and Read] but to the power of healthcare roles [in society] and clinical providers.

Born to lead a group of companies

CA Webbthe president of the Kendall Square Association and big fan of Bruce Springsteen, is about to leave behind her glory days at the KSA.

After significantly raising the profile of the KSA during her 4½ years as president, she will step down at the end of the month. In a note to members, she said she looks forward to a “short sabbatical” and time with her daughters.

“Like many working parents watching the second anniversary of the pandemic, I’m ready for a little break,” Webb wrote.

She will remain on the boards Mass Robotics and The Boston Foundationand stay active with the Boston Biotechnology Task Force. It’s still his hometown, after all. But she doesn’t know what her next full-time gig will be after KSA. So for now, it’s time for her to say “good luck, goodbye” to the business association.

Greening the network, one project at a time

For Ken Kimmelthe fastest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New England is to have large-scale offshore wind farms built here.

For this reason, Kimmell joined Avangrid Renewables as Vice President of Development for Offshore Wind, working for the Offshore Head of Avangrid, Bill White, in Boston. Both go back a long way: both were leading energy and environmental aids to Deval Patrick when he was governor. Kimmell then led the Union of Concerned Scientistsbefore retiring about a year ago.

Kimmell’s arrival comes amid a corporate restructuring involving Avangrid and its partner in the Wind from the vineyard project, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. CIP took over a lease area development south of Nantucket, while Avangrid took full ownership of two projects near Martha’s Vineyard, Park City Wind and Commonwealth Wind, south of Vineyard Wind. As a result, the General Manager of Vineyard Wind Lars Pedersen leaves his job to focus on CIP’s offshore work, and project manager Klaus Moeller takes the place of Pedersen.

Avangrid’s three local wind farms will eventually produce enough electricity for nearly 1.5 million homes. And, if Avangrid succeeds, there will be more.

“I landed in the best place possible to make the biggest difference in the least amount of time,” Kimmell said.

A taste of India in Burlington

At the time IT company athenahealth was sold in 2019, then the company’s chief technology officer Prakash Khot co-founded two companies: a data security firm in California called Skyflowand an Indian restaurant in Burlington called Cash.

The Andover resident and self-proclaimed foodie recently stepped back from his CTO role at Skyflow and instead took on an advisory role; flights between Boston and Silicon Valley were taking their toll.

But he has plenty to keep busy at the Treasury, including a visit this week from a famous Indian chief Harpal Singh Sokhi, who works with the restaurant as a consultant. Bookings are quickly piling up for the five nights he’ll be in the kitchen, supervising a “chef’s tasting menu”, from Thursday.

Khot is now considering his next steps in software: should he launch another startup or take a job at an established company? He has no plans to be a full-time restaurateur, at least not yet.

“Both require similar types of creativity,” Khot said. “Obviously the software sector has much better returns.”

A new benchmark in compensation

Will minimum wages be the next big thing for employers looking to limit the impact of the Great Resignation?

Patrick Benchfounder and chairman of the Boston public affairs firm Benchmark Strategies, test these waters. Last week, he announced a minimum annual salary of $60,000, a move he said sparked a positive reaction around the world. Several employees receive an immediate boost on March 1. Needless to say they are quite happy with it.

This is not a COVID-era revival. Bench said he’s wanted to do this for several years, almost since he founded the company in 2014. He’s waited for Benchmark to be successful enough to make the minimum wage financially viable. He said he does this to attract, retain and develop top talent, at all experience levels. (This decision echoes the highly publicized 2016 decision by Dan Pricewhich set a floor of $70,000 for all employees of Payments by gravityhis credit card processing company in Seattle.)

Does this mean that Bench will slow down its hiring plans to compensate for the extra expenses? Apparently not: the company plans to double its workforce to 20 people by next year.


Jon Chesto can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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