Assembled with integrity to stand the test of time the Marlin Leadership Team reflects the synergy that occurs when the effort and results of the whole are greater than the sum of the individual parts.
With industry-specific expertise in related disciplines, Marlin’s innovative leadership team dreams big and readily embraces all possibilities to create one of a kind lodging experiences. We transform undeveloped property, rejuvenate defunct spaces and bring new life to tired buildings—where other people see wide open space or deteriorating buildings we see an opportunity to create something that is not only beautiful and interesting but also unusual and perspective changing. Our diverse depth of knowledge supports our partners from development through long-term growth. We build lasting relationships by earning the trust of our clients with responsible stewardship and meticulous management of their assets.
Our Leadership Team
Ken Leone, President and Operating Partner
As Marlin's President, and Operating Partner, Ken leads and oversees the management teams and hospitality portfolios for the company. He has built a successful career in hospitality development and management by increasing bottom line growth in direct relation to improving guest and team member satisfaction.
A veteran lodging and hospitality executive, Ken has served in senior-level leadership positions, including Vice President of Business Development and Lodging for Delaware North Companies and Executive Vice President and COO for Larkspur Hotels & Restaurants.
As a leader in hospitality operations and development, he is driven to continually improve the guest experience at every level of accommodations and service from select service hotels to resort properties. Ken believes that travel expands a guest’s perspective along with their world, whether they travel for business or pleasure.
Ken’s hospitality career began with Interstate Hotels overseeing upscale, full-service hotels in the Northern California area. As hotel acquisitions grew throughout U.S. and Canada, he oversaw transition teams, assisted in development, and trained department heads to become General Managers of their hotels. As the Vice President of the Hotel Division of Winship Properties, Ken established Sales & Marketing and Revenue Management departments and oversaw five full-service franchise hotels located in the Bay Area of Northern California.
As Partner and Executive Vice President of Operations of Larkspur, he was responsible for the overall operations and strategy for the company portfolio that included full-service independent boutique hotels and high-end extended stay properties, with annual revenues over $135 million and a combined value of over $525 million in assets.
As the Vice President of Lodging/Development at Delaware North Companies, Ken was the subject matter expert on hospitality operations for the portfolio of nearly 4000 rooms located on landmark destination properties globally. He was responsible for the acquisition and development of new hotels and other lodging assets as well as new hotel operations, asset management, contract management, and hospitality best practices. Ken brings a strong, balanced knowledge base in hospitality development and management to the Marlin team.
Darby Campbell, Chief Executive Officer
Darby Campbell started his career in building construction then expanded into development. His company’s sizable portfolio of projects is diverse, encompassing everything from marinas and real estate to hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, and retail. As an entrepreneur, he is a visionary with a unique grasp of profit potential and an insightful and successful entrepreneur.
Whether he is converting and renovating buildings to serve a higher purpose, maximizing the potential of undeveloped land or developing waterfront projects and marinas, Darby Campbell is a thoughtful steward of the resources entrusted to him. He is committed to developing financially profitable projects that enhance their immediate surroundings and are a source of pride for all stakeholders.
The Island, a $150,000,000 entertainment and retail complex in the heart of Pigeon Forge with 250,000 sq. ft. of retail and entertainment space was developed by Darby Campbell and his Marlin Partner, Bob McManus. The project brought restaurants, retail, and entertainment to the area in an attractively designed multi-use complex. A significant game changer for the City of Pigeon Forge the complex has effectively changed the demographics and increased the average spend of visitors in Pigeon Forge. At The Island Darby and Bob developed the award-winning Margaritaville Island Hotel, starting a trend of upscale lodging products, that elevated the hotel market mix in the area.
The partners also developed the LeConte Center, a $50,000,000 multi-function events venue with 232,000 sq. ft. of space that accommodates groups of 10,000 people.
Through his affiliated company, Safe Harbor Development, Campbell has developed successful marinas with restaurants and waterfront entertainment in the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest. Safe Harbor recently acquired the entertainment complex at Lanier Islands, north of Atlanta, GA. The lakefront entertainment destination includes a water park, restaurants and bars, campgrounds, marinas, and docks that have been refreshed and rebranded with the Margaritaville brand. Plans are underway for future development to maximize the potential of the property.
BOB MCMANUS, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER
Bob McManus has extensive experience in the development of restaurant, entertainment and retail venues, and hotels. After rising through Applebee’s as a single unit manager and multiple unit manager, Bob started his development career becoming a franchisee of Applebee’s’ restaurants, later selling them to a publicly held company where he became corporate vice president over 145 restaurants.
Bob, along with Marlin Partner, Darby Campbell, developed The Island Entertainment Complex in Pigeon Forge, converting a defunct site into a $150,000,000 entertainment and retail complex in the heart of Pigeon Forge. With 250,000 sq. ft. of dining, shopping, and entertainment, the complex effectively changed the visitor demographics and increased the average spend in Pigeon Forge. The partners also developed the LeConte Center, a $50,000,000, multi-function events venue with 232,000 sq. ft. of space that accommodates groups of 10,000 people.
At The Island, Bob and Darby developed the award-winning Margaritaville Island Hotel, starting a trend of upscale lodging openings that upgraded the hotel market mix in the area. Bob also spearheaded the development of the Margaritaville Island Inn, the brand’s first limited service Inn, at the entrance to The Island and the recently opened Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg, the area’s first luxury resort.
He changed the restaurant environment in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area by concepting or bringing restaurants with updated and popular menu offerings to the area, previously populated with traditional “mom and pop” restaurants. Through his affiliate company, Diverse Restaurant Group, he currently owns and operates over twenty restaurants in the southeast.
McManus led an investor group to purchase a significant ownership stake in Paula Deen ventures to development Paula Deen branded products and offerings, including restaurants, retail stores, and hotels. The first phase of development includes locations in Pigeon Forge, TN, Gatlinburg, TN, and Myrtle Beach, SC. Nashville, Orlando, and Branson are slated for potential Paula Deen Family Kitchen venues for the next phase of development.