Hawaii Ben Rafter out as Aqua Hospitality CEO By Shane Nelson / December 15, 2014 Share 1 -- Ben Rafter will step down as president and CEO of Hawaii-based Aqua Hospitality and president of Aston Hotels and Resorts, effective Dec. 18. Matt Bailey, the current COO for Aqua Hospitality and Aston Hotels & Resorts, will take over Rafter’s position as president for Aqua and Aston, according to a statement. Bailey, a 30-year hospitality industry veteran, will retain his COO responsibilities. Aqua Hospitality and Aston Hotels & Resorts are subsidiaries of Honolulu-based AHR Hospitality Partners, which acquired Aqua late last year. “We couldn’t be happier with Matt stepping into his new role,” Kelvin Bloom, the president of AHR Hospitality Partners, said in a statement. “He shares our focus and values, and has proven himself to be an exceptional leader throughout his career.”Rafter will remain “an active participant with the company” while pursuing other professional opportunities, according to AHR officials. Rafter has served as Aqua’s president and CEO since 2008 and was named president of Aston Hotels & Resorts in April.