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Six Houston Hotel Workers Honored
as the Best in the Industry

Third Annual Hospitality on Parade Awards
HOUSTON, Nov. 2, 2007 - In a service business used to serving others, hotels and lodging facilities across the Greater Houston area came together November 2 and paid tribute to six of the most outstanding men and women in its ranks. 

The awards were announced at the third annual Hospitality on Parade Gala, sponsored by the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston and the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston. Both organizations presented awards.

From hundreds of nominees submitted by Association members throughout the Greater Houston area, an independent panel of judges narrowed the list to 22 finalists in five categories. At the Friday-night gala, the Hotel and Lodging Association of Greater Houston presented awards to six incredible individuals - two of whom tied in one category. Accepting awards before 650 attendees were:

Food & Beverage Award 

Flor Smiley, Hyatt Regency Houston - In her nomination it was said Ms. Smiley’s attitude and last name went hand-in-hand. However, it was stories from guests (such as personally paying for a man’s breakfast when he discovered his wallet missing) that makes her a role model for department heads and fellow employees alike.
Operations Award (tie)
Neria Alvarez, Hilton Americas ~ Houston - Even when votes were counted several places to the right of the decimal, judges’s scores for Ms. Alvarez and Ms. Presta remained identical. There was no question that both would be awarded. About Ms. Alvarez, judges were told how she did not speak English when she first came to this country in 1985. Yet as she applied for her first hotel job, she stated, in Spanish, she would one day be working in the human resources department. Today, she is doing exactly that and recruiting others to the industry.

Lia Inez Presta, Omni Houston Galleria  - For 26 years at the Omni, Ms. Presta has touched thousands of lives with her dedication and generosity. More than just being an example to follow in her job, she is even better knows as the person who solves problems. From repairing a guest’s clothing to fixing upholstery, she adds new meaning to dependability.

Community Service Award 
Jane Herring, Westin Galleria and Westin Oaks - The judges could only shake their heads in amazement as they reviewed Ms. Herring’s contributions to the Greater Houston community outside of her work at the hotel.  From doing laundry and sweeping floor at a homeless daycare shelter and making a monthly delivery of flowers to the elderly to taking in two, terminally ill AIDS patients, Ms. Herring would be an award-winner in any field of work. To the good fortune of the Westin Galleria and Westin Oaks, she has been a full-time employee there for 30 years. 
Guest Services Award 
Al Romero, Hotel ICON - The example Mr. Romero sets for how guests are treated and recognized is worthy of special recognition, but it was the volume and specific praise from so many Hotel ICON guests that captured the judges’ attention.
Houston Spirit Award 
Paul David Van Atta, Hilton Americas Houston - As the director of catering for his hotel, Mr. Van Atta has exceeded in taking care of the needs of hotel clients. However, it was his dedication to also catering to the needs of the community he lives and works in that brought him this award. He is a driving force in raising donations for the homeless and serving a number of foundations and organizations, including Star of Hope, Lazarus House and the Women’s Center.
Chairing the event for the third year was Doug Horn, immediate past Chairman of the Board of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau as well as a lifetime member of the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston.

The awards gala was held at the Hilton Americas Hotel

The University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and The Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston (HLAGH) continue a partnership that dates back thirty-eight years by hosting the annual Hospitality on Parade Awards Banquet and Dance.

Candidates for theses awards were nominated by their peers and employers and winners chosen by a panel of industry leaders outside Southeast Texas. 


Stephanie Haynes
Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston 
(713) 437-5230

Also See: Wolf Hengst Presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston / January 2007

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