press release

AH&LA HONORS HOTELS WITH NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Hotels with Innovative IT, Environmental, Service Programs Recognized

Phoenix, Arizona, June 16, 2010—The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today announced the winners of the AH&LA Achievement Awards, part of the annual Stars of the Industry Awards, which honor stand-out initiatives at hotel properties.  In a ceremony held during the AH&LA Summer Summit at the Arizona Biltmore, these awards, which have been awarded annually since 1966, distinguish individual hotels that have developed outstanding programs, events, and campaigns.  Winners were chosen in the categories of Good Earthkeeping, Guest Relations, Community Service, Special Events, Diversity, and a new category, Technology.

The winner of the Special Events, One-Time Only, small property award, is the Chancellor Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco.   Through this event, the hotel takes the opportunity to directly involve the community in giving back.  Employees choose a Bay area family and, along with the neighboring businesses, fulfill their holiday wish list.  At the event, all proceeds are matched and donated to the family and a food drive is coordinated and donated. 

The Special Events, One-Time Only, large property award is presented to the Arizona Biltmore for their 80th Anniversary Celebration.  This one-time event was marked by a series of celebrations, including the opening of two additions to the resort, the re-enactment of the Key Drop ceremony conducted on the resort’s opening day in 1929, and a variety of travel package promotions. 

The winner of the Special Events, Ongoing, small property award, is the Hermosa Inn in Paradise Valley, Arizona, for their Arts-in-Residence Dinner Series.  Inspired by the inn’s artistic roots as the private residence of renowned cowboy artist Lon Megargee, the year-round program brings a diverse array of prominent performing, visual, and literary artists to the inn.  Hosted by award-winning author Pam Swartz, guests mingle with the featured artist during a wine reception and enjoy a four-course dinner.  Although the original concept was launched six years ago, the program has been expanded to include demonstration brunches, lunches, charitable events, as well as strategic partnerships with arts organizations throughout the state. 

The Special Events, Ongoing, large property award is presented to the Fairmont Scottsdale for their National Geographic Explorers Camp.  Offered to guests aged 5-12, kids learn about conservation and the world through activities created exclusively for the hotel by National Geographic, including navigating with GPS to discover desert creatures, going on a photo safari, or meeting real-life adventurers.  In its first year, the program had more than 1,300 “explorers.” 

The award for achievement in Guest Relations, small property, goes to the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix for their CARE program, which reflects the hotel’s core values of communication, accountability, respect, and ethics.  More than a decade in the making, the program is comprised of three components – Guest Intimacy for all guests, which includes advance calls from the hotel concierge and VIP codes to ensure employees have knowledge that empowers them to personalize visits.  The other two programs - Guest Recognition and Home Away from Home - are personalized for repeat guests. 

The winner of the Guest Relations, large property award is the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in NashvilleThe hotel welcomes nearly 1 million visitors during November and December for the 26-year-old Country Christmas celebration.  Because of the huge entertainment options, size of the crowd, and size of the resort, information stations were erected in high traffic areas to provide a personal touch and instant information to overwhelmed visitors, improving guest satisfaction scores by 10 points. 

The winner of the Good Earthkeeping Award, small property, is the Hilton Garden Inn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for their work to become the first state LEED certified hotel.  The hotel’s team began work in late 2007 and opened May 28, 2009, with the multi-pronged goal to meet owners’ ROI expectations and guests’ service and satisfaction expectations, while trying to achieve sustainable goals and LEED certification.

The Good Earthkeeping Award, large property, went to the Hilton Grand Vacations Club in Las Vegas for the work of their R3 Committee, which stands for reduce, reuse, and recycle.  The committee, which is comprised of a volunteer representative from every operations department, was created to help the hotel achieve Hilton Worldwide’s sustainability goals.  Within the first year, the committee was able to reduce water consumption by 13 million gallons, natural gas consumption by 96,000 therms, electrical consumption by 1 million KWH, and reduce waste disposal to landfill by 125 tons.  And they’re awaiting word on their submission to become the first LEED certified timeshare resort. 

The Hilton Grand tied with the Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.  Most park visitors and employees are unaware of how climate change impacts the parks and how their own behavior is key to ensuring the parks’ survival.  National Park concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts launched an innovative “For Future Generations” campaign aimed at raising the awareness of park guests and employees about climate change.  Central to the initiative was the opening of a retail store dedicated to interpreting climate change in parks featuring educational displays and sustainable product scorecards, which provides information on the impact each item has on the environment.  The campaign also includes an innovative educational display in guest rooms with a plush animal toy, an educational brochure and Website on being a green guest in national parks.  An extensive training program also was developed and required for all 2,800 employees.  Xanterra is now expanding the store to its other locations including its operations at Grand Canyon and Crater Lake.   

This year’s award for Outstanding Community Service, small property, goes to the Carlyle Suites Hotel & the Savoy Suites Hotel in Washington, D.C., for their Serve America & Stay in DC campaign.  Running simultaneously with President Obama’s United We Serve program, the hotel’s campaign gave guests the opportunity to pay for 50 percent of their stay with the hours of community service they donated to organizations back home.  Through this program, contributions in both dollars and service were made to organizations from Maine to California.  With the success of that campaign, the hotel launched You Served, Now Stay program on Veteran’s Day, giving a 50 percent discount to any active or retired member of the military. 

This year’s award for Outstanding Community Service, large property winner is the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort in Tucson for the work done on behalf of their internal Team Really Matters committee.  The committee meets monthly to plan events and initiatives through partnerships with almost 30 organizations in the Southern Arizona community.  

The Prism Award recognizes creative and innovative diversity programs that have been integrated into a hotel’s strategic plan and are making a difference in the overall success of an operation.  This year’s winner is the Hyatt Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort and Marina in Cambridge, Maryland, for their partnership with two programs.  The first was with the South Dorchester High School, School of Technology during National Groundhog Job Shadow Day, where eight students got to work in different areas of the hotel.  The second is the Mentor Maryland Program, designed for children and teens from troubled families, where five students have come to work in the hotel’s f&b and rooms divisions. 

Winning the newest Stars award for technology innovations is the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel for their Link@Sheraton, a new lounge area created to help guests remain connected during their stay.  In partnership with Microsoft, the area offers guests one-of-a-kind networking opportunities, coupled with an f&b component. 

Many of AH&LA’s partner state associations choose their own property award winners, which are submitted to the association for national judging.  Making the decisions in this year’s competition were Alyssa Prince, senior director of community relations, National Restaurant Association; Len Vermillion, editor, Lodging magazine; and Pat Maher, owner of The Maher Group, LLC, and AH&LA’s green consultant.

The Stars of the Industry awards luncheon was sponsored by U.S. Foodservices and HD Supply.  For more information on AH&LA’s Stars of the Industry Awards program and a full list of this year’s property and employee winners, please visit www.ahla.com/stars

 

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Serving the hospitality industry for a century, AH&LA is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.