Burt Cabañas Named FIU’s Alumnus of the Year

THE WOODLANDS (Houston), Texas—The Florida International University (FIU) Alumni Association recently honored Benchmark Hospitality International’s Founder and Chairman Burt Cabañas with the “Alumnus of the Year Award.” The award is given to a prominent alumnus of FIU who has achieved distinction through exceptional contributions in their field on the national level, the international level, and within their local community.

“Giving back is very important to me,” Cabañas said. “At this point in my career, I have a dual focus, which includes supporting Benchmark Hospitality in delivering the best possible service to our hotel owners and guests, and to our corporate clients. And, equally important, doing everything I can to help strengthen, support and grow my alma mater, Florida International University.”

Under Cabañas’ leadership, Benchmark Hospitality has grown to nearly 40 luxury properties in the United States, Japan and the Caribbean. Founded in 1980, Benchmark provides management, marketing, and development services. Cabañas began his career within the hospitality industry when he was a young man, working as a lifeguard for Miami Beach’s Shelborne Hotel.

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Additionally, Cabañas is a founding board member, past president, and active supporter of the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC). In 1988, IACC presented him with the Mel Hosansky Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the association and to the conference center industry globally.

Finally, Cabañas is an active supporter of initiatives designed to assist and recognize U.S. military personnel and their families, such as the USO. He also provides annual scholarships to gifted students in the culinary arts through the Bob Zappetelli Scholarship, which he established in recognition of Benchmark Hospitality’s first vice president of food and beverage.

This is the third award Cabañas has received from Florida International University. In 2006, he was honored with the FIU Torch Award as well as the FIU Medallion Award, recognizing his active and long-term involvement as chairman of the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Industry Advisory Board.