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. These awards, awarded annually since 1966, distinguish individual hotels that have developed outstanding programs, events, and campaigns. Winners were chosen in the categories of Community Service, Special Events, Guest Relations, Good Earthkeeping, and Technology Innovation.
The winner forOutstanding Community Service in the small property category is the Holiday Inn Express Horseheads, in Horseheads, New York. The staff at the hotel is committed to helping others within the community by organizing and participating in fundraising events. The staff built structures out of canned goods, raising a total of 29,000 pounds of food, valued at $45,000 for a local food bank, while a bowl-a-thon benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters raised $1,000.
In the same category, the medium property category winner is the Ritz-Carlton Denver in Denver, Colorado. Through the hotelâ€™s Community Footprints Succeed Through Service program, the hotel partners with local, disadvantaged schools and childrenâ€™s organizations to help students explore career options and leadership development. The program also focuses on those in the community who are facing hunger, homelessness, and poverty, sending employees who offer job readiness training. In addition to staff support, the hotel has donated more than $34,000 to various charities in the community.
The final winner in the large property category is the KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee, Illinois. The hotelâ€™s active involvement in community service projects has formed a special culture among staff. Last yearâ€™s Annual Community Days Campaign raised $54,000 that benefited three local organizations. Since its inception four years ago, the initiative has raised $280,000. Other initiatives include the donation of $53,000 in goods and services in 2011; in 2012, more than $38,000 was donated; and in 2013, $25,000.
The Special Events, Ongoing award in the small property category goes to the Mandarin Oriental in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as the centerpiece for Boston Fashion Week, the initiative provides a venue for established designers and promising newcomers in New England. In addition to hosting the runway and sponsor lounges, the hotel created an array of complementing offerings, including an overnight package, cocktails, and a special fashion exhibit displayed throughout the hotel. The event proved to be an enormous success, attracting more than 4,000 guests, and garnering attention in local and online media outlets.
The other winner in the large property category is The Westin Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia. As a pet-friendly hotel, dogs receive a complimentary Westin Heavenly Dog Welcome kit with a special ID tag, clean up bags/gloves, bowls, and even a Westin Heavenly dog bed. Quarterly puppy events, which feature light bites and cocktails for both guests and their canine companions, benefit local animal rescues. These Puppy Love parties attracted more than 70 guests and raised more than $1,000.
The Special Events, One-time Only, small property winner is the Mandarin Oriental in Boston, Massachusetts. On March 10, 2012, the hotel hosted Celebrate China, which was billed as an afternoon to celebrate and explore Chinese culture through a host of educational activities, including creating whimsical folding fans, listening to storyteller Li Min Mo, learning the significance of tai chi, dance performances, and demonstrations of Chinese brush painting. This free event attracted more than 300 guests and garnered coverage from more than 30 press outlets.
For the same award, the winner for the medium property category is the W Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona. From November through January, the hotelâ€™s pool deck was transformed into a winter wonderland that included a 2,100 square foot ice skating rink, twinkling lights, private rink-side cabanas, and specialty cocktails, as well as live music performances and DJs. More than 30 press outlets covered the event.
The final recipient for the award in the large property category is the Revere Hotel, Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts. The hotel opened on April 18, 2012, with a vertical fashion show featuring climbers from Boston Rock Gym walking down the side of its 24-story facade. The event showcased hotel uniforms designed by students at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The climbers relied on high-tech rappelling rope and form-fitting body harnesses to walk "Geneva-style" (which means face-forward) down a 24-story "runway." Revere staff members dressed in the new uniforms served as "models" in a traditional runway setting for 150 guests. This one-of-a-kind, media-driven event introduced the brand on a local, national, and international level by delivering a highly visual and memorable experience that garnered more than $17 million dollars in earned publicity.
The winner of the Guest Relations award in the small property category is the Glorietta Bay Inn in Coronado, California. The hotel is a recent recipient of their second â€œBest Guest Relationsâ€ award from the California Hotel & Lodging Association, making it a 10-time winner over the past 14 years on a state and national level. Their guest relations program uses a personalized approach and continuously adds new services to keep the program fresh. The hotel credits their empowered, enthusiastic, and energetic staff as the discerning characteristic that keeps the inn winning the award.
For the same award in the medium property category, the winner is the InterContinental Milwaukee in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When guests stay in one of the hotelâ€™s two Pink Rooms, a portion of the proceeds is donated to After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, a Milwaukee-based organization. The Pink Rooms have garnered local, regional, and national media attention, and guests have traveled from as far away as New York and California to stay in one of the rooms. Since the Pink Room opened in 2010, it has raised more than $30,000 in donations.
The final recipient for this award in large property category is the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. For 38 years, the hotel has been a landmark in downtown Atlanta, known as a leader in guest satisfaction. This core belief is personified everyday by the associates at the only AAA Four-Diamond convention hotel in downtown Atlanta, a rating reinforced by the guestsâ€™ feedback. From helping essential staff keep â€œHeadline Newsâ€ and CNN.com on the air during a recent snowstorm to relocating more than 100 guests when the hotel was oversold, employees go the extra mile proactively assisting guests ranging from securing accommodations to arranging transportation.
The winner of the Good Earthkeeping award in the small property category is The Huntington Hotel in San Francisco, California, for successfully implementing a hotel-wide trash training program that reduced the trash output by almost 70 percent, saving $12,000 a year. The hotel organized a hotel wide trash training and created a â€œtrash policeâ€ task force to look into the waste bins in their areas and identify items that were not being thrown in the right place. The program changed habits and the way people think about trash not only at work, but also at home.
For the same award in the medium property category, the winner is the Brown Palace Hotel & Spa in Denver, Colorado. Built in 1892, the hotel has made a commitment to not only be the best hotel in Denver, but also be the best hotel for the community. The hotel hosts five bee colonies on its roof, provides natural day lighting in the atrium lobby, and features artesian well water flowing through the faucets. The hotel sustainability committee works to raise awareness among guests and associates, reduce consumption of water and energy, increase waste diversion rate through recycling, and create a culture of sustainability.
The final recipient for the award in the large property category is the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. The hotel has recycled 490 tons of material since 2010, and has reused more than 5,000,000 gallons of rain water in 2013. Additional initiatives include purchasing patio furniture created from 100 percent recycled water bottles, check-in kiosks that reduce paper, extensive use of sustainably manufactured and recycled carpet, and 100 percent use of hybrid hotel vehicles. In November, the hotel received a rating of four keys (out of five) through the Green Key Eco-Rating Program.
For the Technology Innovation award in the medium property category, the winner is the Atlanta Marriott Suites Midtown in Atlanta, Georgia. The hotel introduced several new innovations in the mobile arena, including a mobile check-in system that allows guests to make reservations, provide an arrival time, and receive room ready notifications on their iPhone or Android device. Another initiative, Red Coat Direct, gives the hotelâ€™s meeting planners the ability to customize and communicate directly with clients without their having to make a call or leave the venue, including ordering more chairs, additional amenities, and even a temperature change.
For the same award in the large property category, the winner is the Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco, California. The hotel provides many technological guest amenities, including being the first hotel in the city to offer the iPad2 to guests. Another first was the launch of real time interactions with guests via their mobile devices, including requests and concierge services before, during, and after their stay. Each room features a running map with a QR code, which allows guests to scan the map using their smartphones to give them a running route through the city. And, e-brochures have taken the place of sales kits.
Many state lodging associations chose their own award winners, which were submitted to the association for national judging. This yearâ€™s national judges are Patrick Mayock, HotelNewsNow; and Megan Sullivan, Lodging Magazine.
The Stars of the Industry awards ceremony was sponsored by American Express, Cornell University, HCareers, HD Supply, and Heartland Payment Systems.