Great Wolf Resorts names Murray Hennessy CEO

Great Wolf Resorts' portfolio includes the Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Mass. Photo credit: Great Wolf Lodge (Hennessy previously served as advisor to Great Wolf Resorts’ senior management team during his tenure on the company’s board of directors.)

Great Wolf Resorts announced that Murray Hennessy will serve as the company’s next CEO. Hennessy has familiarity with the family-friendly collection of indoor water park resorts, having served as advisor to Great Wolf Resorts’ senior management team during his tenure on the company’s board of directors. Hennessy was serving as interim CEO following the departure of Rubén Rodriguez in December, and now officially assumes the permanent role. 

Murray Hennessy. Photo credit: Great Wolf Resorts

Hennessy brings to Great Wolf Resorts a broad array of leadership and expansion experience from a number of hospitality and leisure-focused companies. Previous roles include CEO for Avis Europe and, more recently, CEO of the United Kingdom’s largest online train ticket retailer, Trainline. In addition to his role on Great Wolf Resorts’ board, he has served as chairman of the board for a number of companies including the United Kingdom’s division of the restaurant chain TGIF, and the out-of-home specialty advertising firm Talon Outdoor. 

Hennessy takes the helm at Great Wolf Resorts during a period of growth.  Already North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts with 15 properties, the company has three additional resorts currently in construction. The new resorts include Great Wolf Lodge Georgia and Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, which are scheduled to open by summer 2018, and Great Wolf Lodge Arizona which is slated to open in late 2019. 

“Great Wolf Lodge is well known for its indoor water parks and this is certainly reason enough to visit, but the brand’s ability to deliver a distinct and immersive family experience in all aspects of the resort is what truly makes Great Wolf unique, and why families have developed such a strong affinity for the brand.” Hennessy said in a statement. "This commitment to excellence makes me extremely excited to be part of the Great Wolf pack, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead one of the industry’s best management teams as we continue to expand the brand within North American and internationally.”

“Murray is an exceptional leader.  His diverse experiences, collaborative approach, personable attitude and ability to develop high performing teams to drive growth, together with his proven experience and relationships leading Great Wolf, make him such a compelling choice to lead Great Wolf Resorts through this powerful growth phase,” William D. Rahm, chairman of the board of directors of Great Wolf Resorts, said in a statement. Rahm is also a senior managing director with Centerbridge Partners, an investment firm which holds a majority ownership stake in Great Wolf Resorts.

Hennessy holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, a BA from Williams College in Massachusetts and a diploma from L'Institut d’études politiques de Paris. His earlier career roles include CEO of UK, managing director of and commercial director of John Lewis department stores, along with executive appointments at Tricon Global restaurants (now Yum) and Bain and Company.

Hennessy currently resides in Philadelphia, and will will commute to Great Wolf Resorts' Chicago headquarters and various resorts.