LOS ANGELES— The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF) honored the winners of the 2019 Stars of the Industry Awards, which included top hotel employees for their outstanding accomplishments, service, and leadership. The winners were chosen from 320 nominations from all sectors of the industry and across the country.
“The Stars of the Industry awards showcase the amazing and passionate women and men who make hotels feel like home and move our industry forward. 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 winners and finalists go above and beyond for their guests and our hotels because of their commitment and passion to their work and our industry. We are honored to be here tonight to celebrate the true industry stars who keep our industry strong.”
Jon Bortz, AHLA vice chair and chairman, president, and CEO of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, and Justin Knight, AHLA secretary/treasurer and president and CEO of Apple Hospitality REIT, hosted the award ceremony at the JW Marriott in Los Angeles as part of the first ever “Night of a Thousand Stars” gala, the Foundation’s premier fundraiser ahead of the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS). The pair presented the winners with their awards, alongside the new incoming AHLA Board Chair and President and CEO of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Geoff Ballotti, and AHLA immediate past chair and President of B.F. Saul Hospitality Group, Mark Carrier. Incoming AHLA President and CEO Chip Rogers was also in attendance.
This year’s Stars of the Industry were selected by a panel of industry leaders. The winners are listed below:
NORTH STAR AWARD: LODGING EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
Lee Dratch, night auditor for the Columbus Airport Marriott in Columbus, Ohio received this year’s North Star Award, the most prestigious award presented at AHLA’s Stars of the Industry ceremony. The award is given to a non-management level associate who makes a significant difference day in and day out in the hospitality business. Over the past eight years, Lee Dratch has gone above and beyond in his duties as a Night Auditor for the Columbus Airport Marriott in Columbus. Dratch’s contagious personality, dedication to his job, and reliability at Marriott is the reason he is considered “a true rock star” by his peers.
NORTH STAR AWARD FINALISTS
Maria Delgado, room attendant at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois, was a North Star Award finalist. Maria Delgado has spent the past 32 years taking great pride in her work. Delgado’s commitment and passion for the industry shows through her work and dedication to her job. Her leadership and outlook inspire others, which is the reason her peers refer to as “the heart of Hyatt.”
Gloria Quintanilla, laundry attendant at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Houston by the Galleria, was a North Star Award finalist. Over the past ten years, Gloria Quintanilla has been a dedicated member of the hotel team. During Hurricane Harvey, Quintanilla arrived to work despite a three-hour walk in the rain through the flooded and devastated streets. She inspires those around her and is referred to as a “super star” at the DoubleTree Hilton.
OUTSTANDING GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR (SMALL PROPERTY)
Matthew Parsons, general manager of the AC Hotel Atlanta Buckhead at Phipps Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia, is the Outstanding General Manager of the Year (Small Property). Matthew Parsons manages the 16-room AC Hotel in Atlanta, entering its second full year of operation. Parsons was instrumental in the hotel’s opening process, focusing on innovative ways to generate buzz, and in turn received one of the highest scores for a pre-opening test by Marriott. Because of Parsons’s leadership and success, the AC Hotel, now entering its second full year of operation, has the same management team from day one.
OUTSTANDING GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR (LARGE PROPERTY)
Steven Cunningham, complex general manager of the Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa Galvez, Tremont House & Harbor House, Galveston, Texas, is the Outstanding General Manager of the Year (Large Property). Steven Cunningham has been the GM of the Wyndham hotel in Galveston for the past nine years. Cunningham’s passion for the industry and compassion for his staff is what sets him apart. After Hurricane Harvey impacted the area, Cunningham provided displaced employees and their families with housing, meals, resources at the hotel, and even gift cards to help during the difficult time.
PAVING THE WAY AWARD
Stacy Smith, general manager of Hyatt Place Washington, DC/National Mall, Washington, D.C., is the winner of this year’s Paving the Way Award. Over the past four years as general manager at the Hyatt Place Washington, DC/National Mall, Smith has shown exceptional leadership as a role model at the hotel and within her community. In 2015, she started a program called City Partner Pathways, now funded by the D.C. government, that provides disadvantaged people with the opportunity for a life-long career. As a result of the program and Smith’s mentorship, more than two dozen 18- to 24-year-old young adults have gotten training and a job at the hotel.
STEVAN PORTER EMERGING HOSPITALITY LEADER AWARD
Andrew Carroll, grand club concierge at the Grand Hyatt Denver, Denver, Colorado is the 2019 Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader Award winner. Carroll takes great pride in his job, knowing that he is making an honest difference in his guests’ lives. His colleagues have said that they have never come across someone so dedicated to customer service, and his guests agree: Over a one-year period, more than 55 guest service surveys have mentioned Carroll by name, citing specific examples of how he goes above and beyond for his guests.