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Kenneth Siegel Executive Vice President and General Counsel Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Ahh . . . August. The word alone makes us want to compose an out-of-office reply e-mail, conveniently “misplace” our cell phones, and hit the road. We decided to chat with Kenneth Siegel, the general counsel of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and talk to him about � among other things � his favorite travel destination. After all, as someone who leads the legal department of one of the largest hotel chains in the world, we thought he might know a thing or two about the best places to check in when you want to check out. Siegel, 47, oversees the 26-person legal staff of the White Plains, New York-based hotel and leisure company, whose brands include Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W Hotels. The company has 750 hotels in 18 countries. How long have you been with Starwood? Two and a half years. I got a call from a headhunter three years ago asking if I wanted to meet with Barry Sternlicht [Starwood's chairman and CEO]. The funny thing is that the week before, I had stayed in my first W Hotel in New York and I was very impressed, and I wanted to meet him. I got one of the smallest rooms [there], and I thought to myself, I want to meet the guy who convinced me to spend so much money on a closet [laughs]. That room has since been redone. Why did you move in-house? I’ve been in-house for seven or eight years now [previously, Siegel was GC of Stamford, Connecticut � based IMS Health Inc.] Having spent 17 years in private practice, I found that outside counsel was getting pushed farther and farther away from the decision-making, and I realized that in-house is where the action is. What’s your favorite travel destination? Italy. My favorite hotel in Italy is the Westin Excelsior Hotel in Florence. What’s your favorite hotel anywhere? The St. Regis in New York. What is always in your briefcase or overnight bag? My BlackBerry. How often do you travel? It depends on the year. I travel on average one day a week. Sometimes I go to Asia, sometimes just Washington, D.C. I try to go away with my kids [two sons, 13- and 16-years-old] three times a year. So, your teenagers still want to travel with you? When you stay in the kinds of places we stay, they really want to. When I started showing them the world, they came to the conclusion that there are cool places that don’t involve Mickey Mouse. What is your favorite time of year to travel [for personal trips]? We like to travel at the end of August, because that’s when my kids are free. What’s your favorite and least favorite airports? I have no favorite airport. My least favorite is Detroit. The good news is it’s being renovated. Last book you’ve read: The Company: A Novel of the CIA by Robert Littell. CD currently in your stereo: Norah Jones, much to my older son’s chagrin. Where would we find you on a Saturday afternoon? Either at my house or sitting beside some Olympic-sized swimming pool watching my sons compete. What is your career goal? As far as I’m concerned, this is about as good as it gets for GCs. I’d be happy to retire here. Life goal? Right now everything revolves around my children and making sure that they’re prepared for life and have plenty of choices.

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