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 Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston Names Five Nominees
for Special Houston Hero Award for Extraordinary Actions
During and After Hurricane Ike
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November 10, 2008 - When the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston celebrates its Fourth Annual Hospitality on Parade Awards Dinner this year, Hurricane Ike will not be left out. The extraordinary actions of five industry members during and after the storm have put their names in nomination for a very special Houston Hero Award.

Hotels, lodging facilities and allied members of the Association were asked to submit names of employees whose actions before, during and after the hurricane deserve special merit for dedication and selflessness. Narrowing the list down to five became the most difficult part.
 

The day before Ike came ashore, the decision was made at the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa to move all remaining guests to safety in the Forest Ballroom away from exposed walls and windows. However, as the storm raged, debris impeded drainage off the roof and soon, some 18 inches of water was pooling. The Forest Ballroom roof was in danger of collapsing. In hurricane-force winds and total darkness, Project Manager Kent Maulsby went out on the roof and manually cleared the debris from the drains, releasing the water.
As the storm moved north out of the Houston area, Guest Suite Attendant Delmi Rencinos rushed to her job at the Residence Inn by Marriott-Medical Center asking what she could do. She worked for the next five days cleaning rooms in the dark and working in the kitchen to help feed and serve more than 650 people. She awake every morning in a room with no power, helped prepare breakfast, cleaned rooms and then was back in the kitchen to help with lunch and dinner. More remarkable, when a sister hotel opened the Monday after, she offered to go help at that one as well.
On Galveston Island, General Manager Paul Schultz stood fast at The San Luis, but when the impact of the storm became clear the next morning, he immediately began assessing the needs of his employees, many who had lost everything. He organized clothing, food and furniture drives. He scoured his own home for things he could donated. He secured rooms in his hotel and others for employees and their families. Those who needed it, received three hot meals a day throughout the month of October. He organized caravans to the island so that employees could get to the hotel and not suffer further financial loss because they could not get to work. His retail manager was authorized to purchase basic toiletries and clothing for those whose homes were gone.
Not long after the storm passed, basic services returned to the Hilton Americas-Houston, but Director of Laundry Operations Clif Smith knew others werenít as fortunate. While maintaining his hotelís laundry requirements, he began providing services to four other hotels in the Galveston area. His department handled the pick-up, laundering, processing and delivery to each property. They also took over laundry jobs for six hotels in Houston, as well as those for the George R. Brown, which was housing many displaced storm victims. He and his crew worked 13 hours a day to handle the workloads.
At the George R. Brown, the American Red Cross created its main staging area for hurricane relief.  On the front line was the City of Houston Convention & Entertainment Facilitiesí Director of Sales, Arthur Zehnder. It was hardly in his job description, but he became a driving organizer in acquiring the delivery and assembly of 2,500 cots, working with food and beverage teams to provide 45,000 meals for storm victims, arranging the delivery of 17,000 cases of water, and participating in janitorial duties. In the midst of all this, he was also doing his actual job by working with convention clients to make alternate arrangements for events originally scheduled for the Center. His own residence in Magnolia was damaged and without power. 

The special award winner will be announced at the dinner, Friday, Nov. 21 at the Hyatt Regency Houston. 
 
Chairing the black-tie event - after creating a near sold-out gala for its debut in 2005 and serving as chair every year since - will be Doug Horn, past Chairman of the Board of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitorís Bureau as well as a lifetime member of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston.
 
The awards celebration will begin at 6 p.m. There will be dinner, an awards ceremony, a silent auction and dancing. Tickets are $100 per person or $1000 for a table of ten.

Joining in on the celebration and recognition dinner will be The University of Houston ~ Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, continuing a partnership that dates back almost forty years. The event will recognize men and women whose day-to-day contributions give hospitality its meaning as well as special faculty and alumni who have contributed so much to the industryís future. 
 
Besides The Houston Hero Award, there will also be a surprise Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominees in the other annual award categories are:

GUEST SERVICES

  • Sheila Bowie, Concierge, Hyatt Regency Houston
  • Maxvin Castillo, Front Office Supervisor, Renaissance Houston Hotel
  • Gabriel Daw, Bellman, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott
  • Roderick Robin, Front Office Supervisor, Four Seasons Hotel Houston
  • Eddie Silva, Luggage Attendant, Westin Galleria & Westin Oaks Houston
OPERATIONS
  • Jose Cervantes, Director of Housekeeping, Hilton Americas -Houston
  • Nazie Greenwell, Revenue Manager, Hilton Houston-NASA Clear Lake
  • Alice Poindexter, Housekeeping Supervisor, Four Seasons Hotel Houston
  • Rosa Salazar, Housekeeping Supervisor, The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
  • Dominic Watley, Engineering Supervisor, Crowne Plaza-Downtown
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Frederick Brown, Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza-I-10 West
Diana Kendrick, Server, The Alden
Joe Kline, Lead Cook, Houston Airport Marriott-IAH
Regina Martinez, Pastry Chef, Hyatt Regency Houston
George Reynoso, Banquests Manager, The St. Regis Houston
COMMUNITY SERVICE 
Diann Mitchell, Director of Sales & Marketing, Omni Houston Hotel-Westside
Team Members, CARE Committee, Doubletree Houston-Downtown
Team Members, Employee Relations Committee, Hilton Americas-Houston
Team Members, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority
Team Members, Westin Wonder Walkers, the Westin Galleria & Westin Oaks-Houston
HOUSTON SPIRIT
  • Fred J. Domenick III, Area General Manager, The Woodlands Waterway Marriott
  • Thomas Rosepink, General Manager, Houston Airport Marriott-IAH
  • Team Members, Hilton Americas-Houston
  • Team Members, Omni Houston Hotel-Westside
  • Team Members, The St. Regis Houston
Candidates for all the awards are nominated by their peers and employers. The names of the nominees are submitted with detailed information on why they have been nominated and then given to a panel of industry leaders from all over Southeast Texas. The panel then selects the winners.

Industry representatives from throughout the greater Houston area and the state will be on hand for the awards ceremony. Proceeds from the special event will benefit programs and services of the HLAGH and the Hilton College Alumni Board Endowed Scholarship. This newly-created scholarship will be awarded to students interested in pursuing studies in the hospitality industry.

Recognized internationally for its preeminence in the hospitality industry, the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management meets the high demand for education in management, leadership and the numerous disciplines of the complex hospitality industry.

The HLAGH represents the hotel industry that provides over 25,000 jobs in the city and is responsible for an economic impact of $9.8 billion in revenues. The Association strongly believes in supporting the community through outreach events such as the annual Bike Building Event as well as works to educate future hospitality employees through its scholarship programs and mentoring activities.

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Contact:
Joan Johnson 
Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston
(713) 437-5250
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Also See: The Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston Selects Nominees For Annual Excellence in the Hospitality Industry Awards / October 2007
Wolf Hengst Presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston / January 2007

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