LOS ANGELES—The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation (AHLA Foundation) honored the resilience of hotel employees across the country who selflessly led their teams and supported their communities during the challenges of the pandemic. The 2021 Night of a Thousand Stars gala, which featured the introduction of two new awards, celebrated the 2021 Stars of the Industry Award winners and up-and-coming hospitality superstars while raising funds to support the AHLA Foundation programs that are helping the industry recruit and retain the stars of tomorrow.
The 2021 Night of a Thousand Stars Gala raised $600,000 to support the AHLA Foundation’s continued effort to strengthen the lodging industry, help people build careers, and improve their lives. Funds raised support Foundation beneficiaries such as Tiffany Holland, graduate of the AHLA Foundation’s Lodging Manager Apprenticeship Program and current Front Desk Supervisor at the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Marianna, Florida. The Foundation’s training prepared Holland to take over the many positions she had to cover in the hotel, which had a limited staff during the pandemic. “Everything I needed to know about the hotel industry is in that program,” said Holland. “That program is a blessing to me, and I know it can be a blessing to others.”
“The Night of a Thousand Stars gala offers a unique opportunity to support the AHLA Foundation and showcase the stars of our industry—the passionate women and men who make hotels feel like home and move our industry forward, even during the most challenging of circumstances. So much of their work is behind the scenes, and this is a wonderful opportunity to give them the praise and recognition they deserve,” said Chip Rogers, CEO and president of AHLA. “Tonight’s distinguished honorees go above and beyond for their guests and our hotels because of their commitment to their work and our industry. We are humbled to be here tonight to celebrate the true stars who keep our industry strong.”
This year’s event saw the introduction of two new awards:
- The Shining Star Award honors a person or organization that has gone above and beyond to advance the Foundation’s mission of helping people build careers, improve their lives, and strengthen the lodging industry. The heroic security department of the Los Angeles Airport Marriott received this award for their anti-human trafficking work.
- The Arne Sorenson Social Impact Leadership Award, in memory of former Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson, will be given in conjunction with The Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) to an industry professional who demonstrates extraordinary efforts to advance positive societal change and make the lodging industry, and the world, more hospitable. The first honoree will be announced at the 2022 Night of a Thousand Stars gala.
AHLA’s 2021 Stars of the Industry winners were honored for their service to the industry during an unprecedented time.
North Star Award
- Winner: James “Jimbo” Leahy, door attendant, Boston Marriott Long Wharf, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Finalists: Ivan Salazar, director of outlets, Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, Florida; and Patrick Montgomery, training specialist, Marriott International Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, Aurora, Colorado.
Outstanding General Manager of the Year (Small Property):
- Michael Porter, general manager, Motel 6, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Outstanding General Manager of the Year: (Large Property):
- David Piscola, general manager, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans.
Paving the Way Award
- Vanessa Stanley, vice president, new builds & transitions, PM Hotel Group, Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader Award:
- Siji John, Front Office Manager, Hyatt Regency Orlando, Orlando, Florida.
The AHLA Foundation would like to highlight the 2021 Night of a Thousand Stars Visionary Sponsors, Curator Hotel and Resort Collection, G6 Hospitality, and HD Supply.