Hotel Online
News for the Hospitality Executive


advertisement



Hometown Hospitality for the Holidays:
Warming Lives in a Cold Economy




By: Burt Cabañas, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International & Tom Cupo, Managing Director, The Chattanoogan, Chattanooga, TN, and Benchmark’s Internal Hometown Hospitality Champion
December 2011

For most Americans, “home for the holidays” is more than just a seasonal song by Perry Como.  “Home for the holidays” means sharing simple pleasures like a great meal, a roaring fireplace and the warmth of family togetherness.  This year, the phrase takes on a poignant new meaning. 

As we write this, thousands of troops are making their way home from Iraq.  Although the war is over, families and loved ones know these brave soldiers are facing new challenges at home.  The economy is recovering but finding a job, dealing with layoffs, low budgets and higher prices are the new reality facing our heroes as they file through Atlanta airport and head toward their own hometowns all over America.  And as each soldier marches through that Arrivals Hall, the USO calls out the name of that unit and an entire airport of travelers pauses for a moment and bursts into applause as if to say, “Thank you for putting your life on the line to make us safe and secure.  Welcome home.”

It’s a homecoming that doesn’t end there for the USO.  It continues in efforts like their Wounded Warrior Program and through the work of the Mobile USO which travels throughout the United States and overseas to support troops and their families.  Seeing the extraordinary homecomings of troops returning from Iraq this holiday season gives us at Benchmark Hospitality a special feeling of pride and connectedness. 

We feel very much a part of the United States' military family through our Hometown Hospitality program, whose special partner is the USO.  Since naming the USO as the primary partner of our Hometown Hospitality initiative in 2011, Benchmark’s network of 35 plus hotels and resorts nationwide have welcomed our troops back home through hundreds of complimentary guestroom stays for troops about to deploy or just returning from action.

We’ve also been involved in Event Support (e.g. Homecomings, Galas and Dinner Events) and in holding silent auctions and Operation USO Care Package (OUCP), and of course Holiday Boxes for the troops.

And along the way, even in a fragile time of economic recovery, our own family of employees has grown more committed to giving back through the Program -- and more connected and committed to their communities and to each other in the process. 

At the launch of the program, Laura Neumann, then vice president and general manager of our Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado said, “We see every day here in Colorado Springs what military personnel and their families endure on behalf of all of us within the United States.  They are truly remarkable and if we can do our part to help them with a touch of home during and following deployment, we want to do so and are grateful to have the opportunity to help.”

Kelli Seely, senior vice president and chief development officer of the USO responded that “Benchmark's Hometown Hospitality initiative supports, comforts and delivers the goodness to really make a positive difference in our programs and services that impact the lives of the military and their families.”

For us, it all falls into place when we see a soldier and his or her family ushered into the lobby of one of our hotels and resorts for a treasured time to say “goodbye for now” or “welcome home.” The faces of these families, as our staff greets them with a sea of hand-held American flags and smiles, say “we are family, too” and this is worth much more than the cost in dollars and cents.   And speaking frankly, our dividend for the program is much higher than anything we spend. 

We see the value in terms of moving our boundaries beyond the limits of the four walls of our hotels and resorts to becoming a vital part of the community.  Our own staff connects with each other in ways that build morale, encourage team performance and create good will that lasts well beyond the final farewells to the troops and their families in the lobby. 

Our business model at Benchmark Hospitality International has always been based on relationships. Working side by side together in the Hometown Hospitality program to help others is one of the best ways to build relationships that we know.  We really believe that if we invest in these relationships the financial side of things will take care of itself.  As Suzie Orman likes to say, we “stand in our truth” and know that our prosperity is people-driven: one-on-one caring for people who live in our hometowns and now, especially for the brave men and women who are coming back to those hometowns after serving their country in Iraq and all over the world.

Our efforts with the USO are one important way that we give back to the community through our Hometown Hospitality program.  But we continue to reach out in other ways.  This December at our annual James Beard Dinner in New York City, we announced the 2011 winner of our annual $10,000 scholarship for student chef in the name of our beloved, late Vice President of Food and Beverage Bob Zappatelli, who passed away in 2009.   Like James Beard, Bob was a man with a larger than life appetite for living.  He was a gourmet Santa Claus, with a bag full of truffles instead of toys.  His generosity of spirit, like Dickens’ “Spirit of Christmas Present” was boundless and his hearty laugh and boyish enthusiasm for fine food, wine and conversation about the two were contagious.  We are sure he would have beamed with pride at this year’s recipient, Kevin McGowan, a student at SAIT Polytechnic School of Hospitality and Tourism in Alberta, Canada.  Kevin is a mature student, furthering his education and developing his career while also managing the responsibilities of supporting his family. 

And now Kevin is a member of Benchmark Hospitality's extended family.

“The reason I entered the hospitality and tourism industry, and more specifically the culinary arts,” says Kevin, “is that I love to entertain people with food.  All my life I’ve enjoyed serving people and making them happy with creative, inspired, well-executed food.  This is my passion.  I’m so grateful for the support of Benchmark Hospitality's and the James Beard Foundation's Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship fund in helping me continue my culinary education.”

After the announcement we raised a celebratory glass of wine (handpicked by our own wine impresario, Mary Watson-DeLauder) and enjoyed an Italian feast presided over by Benchmark chefs and our new Vice President of Food and Beverage Giorgio DiLemis.  As we toasted Bob and Kevin, many Benchmark chefs and staff members were misty-eyed.  Bob was family. 

So are our troops.  It’s good to have them back with us in our hometowns for the holidays.  Welcome home everyone!

About Benchmark Hospitality International
Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of resorts, conference centers, hotels, and Personal Luxury Resorts & HotelsSM.  The independent company, launched in 1980, is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations.  Benchmark's international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. Benchmark Hospitality is also a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers.  The company's eastern regional office is in New Jersey, western regional office is in Washington, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan, and Santiago, Chile. For the location of Benchmark's properties and additional information, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com.

.
Contact: 

Ken Ellens
KEN ELLENS COMMUNICATIONS
201-758-2864
KenEllens@aol.com



Receive Your Hospitality Industry Headlines via Email for Free! Subscribe Here  

 To Learn More About Your News Being Published on Hotel-Online Inquire Here

Also See: Benchmark Hospitality International Names Guy Tomlinson as Controller for the 316-room Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado / December 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Chris Nelbach as Director of Revenue Management for the Hotel Contessa in San Antonio, Texas / December 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Honored with Four Adrian Awards from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International / December 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Lisa Blair as Director of Catering for the Sorento Hotel in Seattle, Washington / December 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Randall Obrecht as Director of Food & Beverage for the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, Washington / November 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Tom Cupo as Managing Director; To Oversee Operations of The Chattanoogan in Tennessee and The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Virginia / November 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International’s Chefs to be Featured at James Beard House, New York; The Seven Course Dinner to Occur December 15, 2011 / November 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Adds the 124-room ONE Bal Harbour Resort & Spa in Miami Beach, Florida to its Management Portfolio / November 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Appoints Laura Batchelor Director of Operations at The Chattanoogan, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Will continue role as Director of Conference Services / October 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Appoints Andrew Powers as Executive Chef for the 55-room Sorrell River Ranch Resort & Spa in Moab, Utah / October 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Appoints Michael van Emmenes as Director of Food and Beverage for Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia / October 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Appoints Warren Breaux Corporate Director of National Sales / September 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Todd M. Felsen as General Manager for the 316-room Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado / September 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Partners With USAA Real Estate; Expands Owner Advisory Group / September 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Cindy Gagle Director of Sales & Marketing for Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu / September 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Appoints Alex Cabañas to the Newly-created Position of President, Business Development and Finance / August 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Michael O'Neil Director of Corporate Accounting / August 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Brad Hayden as Chief Financial Officer / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Jim Treadway Vice Chairman of Benchmark's Advisory Board; Will Continue as General Manager of Bardessono / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names James Simkins Chief Operating Officer for new Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Brian Dunne Director of Sales & Marketing for Hotel 718, Brooklyn, New York / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Lisa Maria Stice Vice President of Global Online Marketing / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality Names Max Kiebach as Director of Food and Beverage for the 147-room Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Virginia / July 2011

Benchmark Hospitality Appoints John Santangelo Director of Food & Beverage for 295-room Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Illinois / June 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Acquires MTM Luxury Lodging; Launches Personal Luxury Collection with 13 Properties / June 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Michael J. Taylor General Manager for Hotel 718, Brooklyn / May 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Completes its $20 Million Resort-Wide Renovation of 316-room Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado / April 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Announces $25 Million Hotel Adjacent to Brooklyn’s Historic Downtown; Introducing “Hotel 718” / March 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Danna Holck General Manager for Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu / March 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Jeff Henschel Director of Information Technology / March 2011

Benchmark Hospitality Appoints Rachel Tandy Manager of the Spa and Fitness Center at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Illinois / February 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Maryann White General Manager at The Heldrich / February 2011

Benchmark Provides Travel Confidence to Conference Guests; Lansdowne Resort and Eaglewood Resort and Spa Deliver Real-Time Airport Departure Displays, Boarding Pass Printing / January 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International’s 2011 Top Ten Meeting Trends / January 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International’s Villas of Grand Cypress, Orlando, Achieves Travel + Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels in the World List; Sister Property on Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort, Is A Top 25 Resort in HI / January 2011

Benchmark Hospitality Home Office Contributes Military Care Packages to Armed Forces Personnel in Afghanistan / January 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Promotes Ted A. Davis to Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing / January 2011

Benchmark Hospitality International Announces Agreement with Virginia Tech to Operate The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International Adds World of Whirlpool, Chicago, to Management Portfolio; Private Day Conference Center to Create Next Generation Insperience Studio / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International Names Recipient of the First Annual Bob Zappatelli Award for Culinary Excellence; Beverlie Terra, Executive Chef at Chaminade Resort & Spa, Santa Cruz / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality Names Taylor Amara as First Recipient of the Bob Zappatelli Culinary Arts Scholarship In Partnership with The James Beard Foundation, New York / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International's Steve Kander Receives Prestigious Certified Specialist of Wine Certification from The Society of Wine Educators; Mentored by Benchmarks Chief Sommelier, Mary Watson-DeLauder / December 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International Named A 2010 “Top Work Place” by The Houston Chronicle; Places in the Top 50 / November 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International’s Hawaii Resorts Achieve Travel + Leisure’s “2010 World’s Best Awards” List as “Top 25 Resorts in Hawaii” / August 2010

Benchmark Hospitality International Announces $20 Million Renovation at Cheyenne Mountain Resort / July 2010

Benchmark's Turtle Bay Resort A Top 25 Hotel in Hawaii for 2008 According to Travel + Leisure Magazine / July 2008

Benchmark Hospitality International’s Cheyenne Mountain Resort Named One of the “Best Companies to Work For in Colorado”; Only Hotel on List / July 2008
.


To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.OnlineSearch

Home | Welcome | Hospitality News
| Industry Resources

Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.