The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, Rebecca Kollaras, who was regional director of public relations for Benchmark Hospitality International and an esteemed colleague of the company’s sales, marketing and public relations teams, passed away suddenly on April 19 while on a seaside outing with her family.
A seasoned and exemplary public relations professional for Benchmark’s Personal Luxury collection in Florida, Rebecca was one of the most exceptional human beings anyone could have the pleasure of working alongside or meeting in life. She was pure class: a feisty, courageous and adored leader who loved rocking a red power dress!
Rebecca had an infectious enthusiasm for life as is evidenced by her favorite quote, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” from one of her beloved classic films, Auntie Mame.
What Rebecca will be most remembered for, however, is her love for and fierce devotion to her family. She was a supremely committed and attentive mother to her daughter, who colorfully documented her adventures as a single parent on her award-winning blog.
Of Cuban American heritage, Rebecca attended Loyola University, and was a graduate of Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Professional Writing. She was a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the Public Relations Society of America and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. She was also active in a number of charitable organizations, including the Diabetes Research Association.
Rebecca joined Benchmark Hospitality International in 2010, supporting the company’s growing portfolio of Personal Luxury resorts throughout Florida, a market she knew and understood well having been born into it. Her insights into rapidly evolving social media platforms proved invaluable to Benchmark Hospitality in Florida and to the company globally as it successfully launched proprietary social media programs across two hotel and resort brands.
"Rebecca was a gifted, special person,” said John Davies, vice president of marketing for Benchmark Hospitality International. “She was always quick with a smile or a laugh, and the first to raise her hand for the most challenging tasks. Everyone who knew and worked with Rebecca finds it particularly difficult to imagine her absence in our lives and within our team. Rebecca was our friend, our colleague, and a highly valued member of the Benchmark family.”
Few have been more creative and thoughtful in life than Rebecca, and fewer still have been more loyal to colleagues and friends. When called upon, she responded swiftly, with grace and unique intelligence—whether joining her Benchmark colleagues planning and executing major national press events in New York City, or tending to the requests of a budding travel journalist's first visit to a Florida resort for her inaugural story in a local travel publication. Rebecca was there, on point and ready to assist, and always exhibiting her signature smile and characteristic wit.
Rebecca's mantra was to live in the moment and for the moment. She refused to dwell on the negative, because in her words, "There's too much to do, too much life to live, and we are too fortunate for that."
In tribute to Rebecca, Benchmark Hospitality International has established a College Education Fund for her beloved daughter.