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Industry Leaders Lauded During Hospitality Hall of Honor; Annual Induction
Ceremony Recognizes Masters of Luxury Hotels, Consulting
and the Chicken Sandwich

HOUSTON, Oct. 22 2008 — The call of bagpipes and a procession of flags heralded their arrival, the assembled guests stood and cheered, and three brown silk cloths fell away to reveal portraits of three hospitality icons who formally took their place among the industry’s leadership elite.  

On Oct. 15, more than 200 guests, including hospitality leaders from around the country, filled the ballroom at the Conrad N. Hilton College as S. Truett Cathy, founder and chairman of Chick-fil-A; Sir Rocco Forte, chairman of The Rocco Forte Collection; and Steve Rushmore, chairman and founder of HVS, were inducted into the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor. 

(L-R) Sir Rocco Forte, John T. Bowen and Steve Rushmore
“These are true legends of our industry,” said John T. Bowen, dean of the Conrad N. Hilton College. “By honoring them, we celebrate their incredible achievements and hold them up as examples for our students aspiring to greatness in the hospitality industry.” 

The Hospitality Hall of Honor, housed at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston, recognizes those industry  leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to both American and international business and society.  Now, in its 13th year, the induction ceremony and dinner followed two days of hospitality “think tanks” during which industry leaders interacted with Hilton College students to provide expert perspectives on the trends and challenges facing our industry. And perhaps most noteworthy of all, the proceedings, from the first think tank to the final glass of wine, were orchestrated and executed by students. 

Michael Davidson, vice president, National Circulation Sales for USA Today, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. USA Today is a platinum sponsor of the Hospitality Hall of Honor. 

But it was the trio of honorees who took center stage. Sir Rocco earned words of high praise from Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, who introduced this British hotelier at the ceremony, calling him “a man of high standards, ethics and integrity, a taskmaster and a visionary … but always fair.” 

Sir Rocco has become one of the world’s premier hoteliers by acquiring premier, historic hotels in leading European destinations and transforming them, through renovation, new technology, design and service, into their former image of first-class hospitality. Among the pearls of his collection are the Balmoral in Edinburgh, Scotland, Le Richemond in Geneva, the Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Charles Hotel in Munich, Germany, and the Brown Hotel in London. His future plans call for further expansion of the collection with new hotels in Prague, Morocco, Sicily and the United Arab Emirates.

Cathy, who opened the first Chick-fil-A in Atlanta in 1967, has overseen the creation and evolution of a fast-food juggernaut that has become synonymous with both delicious fried chicken and core Christian values. He has compiled a truly phenomenal record of 40 consecutive years of annual sales growth, but his proudest achievement is his commitment to charity and improving the lives of his employees and the community. 

In his acceptance speech, Cathy offered delicious nuggets of wisdom and advice wrapped in his tangy Southern wit. 

“Fall in love with what you do, then you won’t have to work anymore,” Cathy said. “Be kind to one another. Courtesy is cheap but it pays big dividends. Always go the extra mile. I'm proud of the motivation of our young people. And you can do one thing for me—eat more chicken!”

Rushmore, who founded HVS in 1980, is the first consultant to be inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor. From modest beginnings, Rushmore built HVS into the foremost consultancy in the industry, having served owners and lenders of more than 12,000 hotels, HVS boasts expertise in dozens of management disciplines. HVS is the leading source of hotel valuation and investment information in the world.

Before seeing his portrait unveiled, Rushmore told the audience of industry leaders, faculty and students that hospitality schools such as the Hilton College are vital to the continued success and growth of the industry. 

“A company is defined by its people,” Rushmore said. “Schools such as the Hilton College are invaluable resources to the hospitality industry. I know firsthand what kind of graduates the Hilton College produces, because they’re some of my best associates.” 

The evening became a family affair, as both Cathy and Rushmore were introduced by their sons, each of whom has joined their father’s business and become a vital member of their leadership teams. Dan Cathy, now chief operating officer for Chick-fil-A, said his father was a role model to not only his family, but also to each of his employees. Steve Rushmore Jr. noted that his father has always held to the Quaker belief in diversity and equality of the sexes, and said his commitment to philanthropy was “inspiring, asking nothing in return.” 
And Sir Rocco, in a moment of intimacy with the audience, restrained his tears as he smiled at the memory of his father, the late Lord Charles Forte. The son has now joined his father among the ranks of master hoteliers previously inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor. Lord Charles Forte, head of Forte PLC, was inducted in 1997. He died in February of 2007. 

“I feel rather good to see my portrait hanging alongside his,” Sir Rocco said quietly in his urbane Oxford tongue. “I’m sure he would be proud of me. I know I’m proud of him. But it’s a bit early. I’ve got a great many things still to do. More adventures still to come.” 

The inaugural Hospitality Hall of Honor class of 1996 included four inductees —J.W. Marriott, Conrad Hilton, Vernon Stouffer and Kemmons Wilson. Since that time, 43 industry luminaries have joined them, including Ray Kroc, Howard Johnson, Ernest and Julio Gallo, Walt Disney and Conrad Hilton’s sons, Eric and Barron Hilton. 

Members of the Hospitality Hall of Honor Board of Overseers, including representatives of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Restaurant Association, the Travel Industry Association of America, the International Hotel and Restaurant Association and the American Gaming Association, nominate and elect each year’s new inductees into the Hospitality Hall of Honor. 

For more information on the UH Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and the Hospitality Hall of Honor, visit
About the University of Houston 
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students. 


Barrett Goldsmith

Walt Disney, Barron Hilton and J. Willard Marriott Inducted into Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor / Oct 1998

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