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12 Hospitality Workers Receive 2009 SUNSensational Courtesy Awards by the
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau
for Service Excellence

By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 4, 2009--The bus driver who delivered a baby, the housekeeper who sewed a bride's dress, the train station agent who makes coffee for passengers -- all are among the winners of the 2009 SUNSensational Courtesy Awards presented Thursday by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The group chose 12 finalists from 157 nominees who demonstrated excellence in service at hotels, restaurants and transportation services in Broward County.

Robert Bastien, a driver at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, exemplifies the spirit of hospitality. While driving a European couple to the airport, he noticed the man seemed distressed and disoriented. He pulled over, called 911 and helped the woman remain calm, as the man apparently suffered an aneurism. For nearly a month, the guest remained at Broward General Hospital. The resort accommodated the woman with a free room, while Bastien drove her daily to see her husband. He also picked up their daughters who flew in from Denmark and drove them to and from the hospital. Many times, Bastien spent his personal time -- beyond work hours -- waiting to drive the women back from the hospital.

Other award winners include:

Angela Catalfamo, Airport Operations Supervisor, Broward County Aviation Department

Among other services, Catalfamo helped arrange transportation for an Italian couple who realized their honeymoon cruise left not from Fort Lauderdale but rather from Port Canaveral, 200 miles away. She even dropped them at their hotel and picked them up the next day to catch their flight.

Jimy Duroscar, Taxi Driver / Inspector, Yellow Cab

A taxi inspector by day and driver by night, Duroscar recently found a small bag in his cab containing $600 in U.S. cash and thousands of Jamaican dollars. He returned it to the Jamaican passenger who had been in his taxi.

Jackie Girardi, Restaurant Server, Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach

Girardi's exceptional service earned her recognition as the hotel's employee of the year.

George Khoueiri, Banquet Server, Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa

Since joining the Diplomat team in 2000 as a server, Khoueiri has won more service awards, letters of commendation, and meeting planner recognition rewards than all other 100 departmental associates combined..

Mary Kilroy, Bus Operator, Broward County Transit

A bus driver since 2004, Kilroy was stopped at a gas station when she saw a couple in distress. The woman was about to give birth. She called 911, but before help arrived, she delivered the bay.

Goitom Mengs, Van Driver, Days Inn Hollywood

Africa-born Mengs was driving a guest from the airport to the hotel, when the man realized he'd left his medicine home. He drove the guest to the drug store in his own vehicle to get the prescription filled, not wanting to violate the hotel's policy of using the company van only for airport trips.

Patrick Rhone, Executive Concierge, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

In July, a family headed to the hotel suffered a car accident. After hours in the emergency room at a local hospital, the guests arrived bruised and shaken up. Rhone helped them with a wheelchair, ice packs, room service and other personal attention.

William Rivera, Engineer, Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport

When a distraught guest said she'd lost the gold earring that her husband gave her, hotel staff searched the property -- to no avail. But Rivera would not give up. He turned off the cascading waterfall in the swimming pool and found the earring sparkling in the calm water.

Otto Rizvani, Head Concierge, Westin Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale

Since the hotel opened in March, Rizvani has been personally mentioned for his excellent service in 12 of 69 reviews on TripAdvisor.

Pamela Tyther, Station Agent, Pompano Beach Tri-Rail Station

Tyther greets Tri-Rail passengers at her kiosk in Pompano Beach with a smile and coffee that she buys with her own money and makes them daily.

Sharon Wildman, Housekeeping Manager, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

An hour before a wedding, the zipper on a bride's dress broke. Wildman drove to a seamstress, with no luck. She sewed the bride's dress shut and after the wedding, cut it back open.

Winners received a stay at a local hotel, dinner for two at an area restaurant and other prizes.


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Copyright (c) 2009, Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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