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 111 Benchmark Hospitality Executives Converge on Norfolk, Virginia
Landmark To Expedite Major Wetlands Restoration Project
 
Benchmark's Hometown Hospitality Initiative Put into Practice Again
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The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, June 8, 2006 - Well over 100 executives of Benchmark Hospitality International converged recently at The Hermitage Foundation Museum of Norfolk, Virginia, to put the company's Hometown Hospitality Caring for Our Communities initiative into practice.  The executives were attending a management forum at The Founders Inn, which is operated by Benchmark and located in nearby Virginia Beach.  The executives participated in Norfolk's "Living Shoreline Wetlands Restoration Project" at the Hermitage.
 
The Benchmark team spent the day clearing debris that had washed up on the banks of the Lafayette River flowing near the circa 1908 Tudor-style historic house museum, formerly the residence of the prominent William and Florence Sloane family of Norfolk.  The museum is operated by a non-profit foundation and open to the public.
 
The group also removed several non-Native plants and returned native species to the area to create an environmentally friendly "Living Shoreline" protection for an historic local landmark.
 
The "Living Shoreline Wetlands Restoration Project" is an initiative of the Hermitage Foundation with the strong support of the Elizabeth River Project, the City of Norfolk and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The restoration will create or restore more than 24,000 square feet of native tidal wetlands and riparian buffer.   
 
"Having more than a hundred eager business executives give up several hours to perform hard work in the mud and overgrown shoreline helped expedite the restoration process," said Yolima Carr, curator of gardens and grounds at The Hermitage.  "We were absolutely thrilled they offered their assistance.  This project would not have been possible to accomplish in time for planting this spring without their help."
 
"We were excited to make this project possible," said Steve Migliara, director of sales and marketing for The Founders Inn.  "The Hermitage's sensitive environmental shoreline will be reclaimed, benefiting the environment, and restoring an historic sanctuary that will be enjoyed by both locals and visitors."
 
The Lafayette River is a major tributary of the Elizabeth River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and the cleanup will help increase native habitats for aquatic life, reptiles, birds and mammals in Southeastern Virginia, which has lost 50 percent of its tidal wetlands since World War II. 
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111 Benchmark Hospitality executives take a break from their management forum at The Founders Inn to assist with Virginiaâ€ôs 
Living Shoreline Wetlands Restoration Project. 
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Boasting old-world charm and the finest southern hospitality, The Founders Inn provides the appeal and warmth of a country inn, accented by beautiful antiques and historic artifacts.  The property features a new $5 million full-service resort spa, the grand scale pool with a circular slide and interactive fountains, luxurious amenities and award-winning cuisine.   The Inn's 240 guestrooms and suites include High Speed Internet access, generous workspace and views of 26 landscaped acres.  Select rooms include gas fireplaces, and views of the lake and formal gardens.  The Founders Inn is located at 5641 Indian River Road in Virginia Beach, Virginia, near exit 286B off Interstate 64 East.   For reservations and additional information, please call 800-926-4466 or visit www.foundersinn.com.  Benchmark Hospitality International operates the Founders Inn.

Benchmark Hospitality International, an independent hospitality management company based in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, operates resorts, conference centers, hotels and condominium resorts both domestically and internationally.  For locations of Benchmark Hospitality properties and for additional information, visit Benchmark's Website at www.benchmarkhospitality.com.  
                        
Formerly home to the Sloane family, the Hermitage is surrounded by twelve acres of woodlands and gardens on the shore of the Lafayette River.  The Hermitage offers 45-minute guided tours, on the hour, of fifteen galleries filled with the Sloane familyâ€ôs worldwide art collection, furniture, and history.  Two galleries feature changing art exhibitions.  The Visual Arts School, located on the beautiful grounds of the Hermitage, houses classrooms, a complete ceramics studio, and darkroom photography facilities.     For more information on the Hermitage and the Wetlands project, call 757-423-2052 or visit www.thfm.org.  The Hermitage Foundation is a member of Virginia Association of Museums, American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, American Association of State and Local History, and a partner of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

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Contact:

Benchmark Hospitality International
The Woodlands (Houston), Texas
www.benchmarkhospitality.com 
 
Ken Ellens
Ken Ellens Communications
201-758-2864 / 201-758-2865-Fax
KenEllens@aol.com
                                
Sara Jo Rubin
Rubin Communications Group
757-456-5212, 757-287-0362-cell
sarajo@rubincommunications.com

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Also See: Benchmark Hospitality Appoints Ellen Ruane-Johnson General Manager of The Founders Inn / April 2006
Benchmark Hospitality Appoints Brent Haste Controller at The Founders Inn / November 2005


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