Longtime Starwood Hotels & Resorts veteran Keith Vieira is retiring at year’s end from his leadership role as head of a region that includes Hawaii and French Polynesia.

Vieira, 57, who has been Starwood’s senior vice president of operations for the two areas since 1998, has been a fixture in Hawaii’s hospitality industry for 40 years. Born and raised in Hilo, Vieira rose quickly in the industry and worked his way up from bouncer and bellhop to become one of the state’s only local senior tourism managers.

“It was a difficult decision to leave, but it’s the right time,” Vieira said in a news release. “Thanks to the hard work and tremendous spirit of our team, we have not only made it to the other side of the financial crisis, but our business is stronger than it has ever been and our leaders and associates in the region are the best in the business.”

During the 32 years that Vieira spent with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., he enlarged its presence in Hawaii and French Polynesia to 14 hotels. He also made numerous contributions to Hawaii’s visitor industry beyond Starwood. Vieira served two terms on the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the agency that sets tourism policy and decides how to spend the state’s tourism budget. He also served on the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Oahu Visitors Bureau.

“I would like to thank Keith for his numerous contributions to Starwood throughout his three-decade career with the company, and recognize the critical role he and his team have played in building Starwood’s enviable position in this highly competitive hospitality market,” said Sergio Rivera, Starwood’s co-president, The Americas.

“We are grateful for Keith’s service, and wish him the best in the next chapter of his career.”

Rivera and Bob Hermany, Starwood’s chief operating officer for North America, are heading the search to find Vieira’s replacement. The company will consider internal and external candidates.