|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
|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
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:
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
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
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 &
Dominic Watley, Engineering Supervisor, Crowne Plaza-Downtown
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
Diann Mitchell, Director of Sales & Marketing, Omni Houston
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
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.
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
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.