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AH&LA Honors Hotels With National Achievement Awards

Hotels with Innovative IT, Environmental, Service Programs Recognized

Atlanta, GA, June 15, 2011—The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today announced the winners of the AH&LA Achievement Awards, part of the annual Stars of the Industry Awards, which honor stand-out initiatives at hotel properties.  In a ceremony held during the AH&LA Summer Summit at the Hyatt Regency, these awards, which have been awarded annually since 1966, distinguish individual hotels that have developed outstanding programs, events, and campaigns.  Winners were chosen in the categories of Good Earthkeeping, Guest Relations, Community Service, Special Events, Diversity, and Technology.

Winning the Community Service, Small Property, is the Best Western Plus Executive Inn in Seattle, WA, for their Operations Night Watch.  For the past eight years, employees have prepared and served dinner once a month to a local shelter.  Typically more than 100 people show up, so the hotel estimates that more than 9,000 people have been fed to date.

The winner of the Community Service, Large Property, is The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, CO.  In late 2008, the hotel launched Trash to Trees to draw attention to the amount of waste created during the holidays.  Area elementary and middle school students participated in a competition to create ornaments out of recycled or re-purposed everyday trash items like bottles, paper rolls, and chip bags.  The ornaments were used to decorate trees at the hotel and guests were invited to vote for their favorite.  The money raised was donated to the winning schools and to the Mile High Million, a Denver initiative to plant one million trees by 2025.

Winning the Special Events, Ongoing, Small Property, is the Barnsley Gardens Resort in Adairsville, GA.  In 2009, the hotel created a spring and fall event to drive traffic during the down economy.  In the spring, the hotel hosts a month-long “Firefly Nights,” which was billed as a romantic evening of live music and dancing in the hotel’s historic Manor House Ruins and gardens.  In the fall, the hotel hosts “Under the Autumn Moon Nights” with firepits and dancing. The hotel’s two restaurants enjoyed record numbers and occupancy rose to 100 percent around the two events.

Two properties won the category of Special Events, Ongoing, Large Property.  The staff of the St. Regis Atlanta in Atlanta, GA, was inspired by a 1934 photo of an event that took place at the original St. Regis in New York City and created the Astor Holiday Rink.  The ice rink opens in mid-November and attracts more than 5,000 guests and people from the community, creating a local holiday tradition.

In 2009, the W Los Angeles – Westwood in Los Angeles, CA, transformed their pool into a hybrid ice rink, an environmentally sound alternative to a real ice rink.  The rink attracted more than 15,000 people and brought in revenues of more than $30,000, with an additional $12,000 from catering several holiday parties.

Winning the Special Events, One-time Only, Small Property, is The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, WI. The historic hotel celebrated the 77th anniversary of the “The Repeal of Prohibition,” transforming the property into a 1933 speakeasy.  The staff donned elaborate costumes and party-goers competed for Best Gangster and Best Flapper, while enjoying a performance from a flapper mime troope.  The event included a ceremonial key tapping, and popular prohibition cocktails were offered, including the Iron Horse Prohibition Ale, which was served to guests for the 1933 going price of five cents a pint.  The hotel invited 3,500 VIPs, and despite the five-cent taps, total beverage sales exceeded $13,000.

The winner of the Special Events, One-time Only, Large Property, is the Hyatt Regency Bethesda in Bethesda, MD.  Each year the hotel holds an awards banquet to recognize associates and managers.  A month prior to last year’s banquet, the devastating earthquake struck Haiti.  More than 20 associates are from the country and could not locate family members.  The staff was polled and it was unanimously decided that the money for the banquet would be donated to the families in Haiti instead.  At a staff meeting, each of the associates was given $400 to send to their families, the equivalent of a 6-month’s salary in that country.

The winner of the Guest Relations, Small Property, is The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, WI.  Top ranked on TripAdvisor and Google Places, positive guest relations is the number one priority at the hotel. For their business travelers staying during the week, the hotel hosts events to encourage guests to mix, mingle, and network with fellow travelers instead of staying in their rooms.  Repeat guests staying over the holidays find stockings or Easter baskets. “Star Sightings” is an intranet Website for staff to post exemplary customer service stories about each other, encouraging the hotel’s culture.  In 2010, nearly 25 percent of all stays and total room nights were repeat business, and independent guest satisfaction surveys noted an overall 91 percent for overall satisfaction, responsiveness to problems, friendly/efficient service, and intent to return.

Winning the Guest Relations, Large Property, is the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, AZ.  The hotel created the Guest WINS program, which targets frequent guests and personalizes their stay.  The hotel created a database with guests’ preferences, habits, and any special needs to help staff enhance their visit and provide special touches.  Employees are rewarded for submitting new guest information, from housekeepers who note in-room preferences to food and beverage staff who note favorite foods or brands.  The program encourages loyalty to the resort and has more firmly established personal connections with the staff.

Winning the Good Earthkeeping, Small Property, is Hotel George in Washington, D.C., for their work implementing Kimpton’s corporate philosophy of EarthCare throughout their operations.  The hotel uses environmentally-friendly cleaning products, has eliminated the use of Styrofoam cups and packages, prints only on a minimum 35 percent post-consumer recycled paper, and offers discounts for parking hybrid vehicles.  The hotel also pioneered twice weekly on-site yoga classes; installed an occupancy-based, state-of-the-art energy management system; offers organic, biodynamic sustainable wines at the Manager’s Hosted Wine Reception; serves complimentary organic and fair trade-certified coffees and teas; and much more.

There were two winners in the category of Good Earthkeeping, Large Property.  The Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort in Stone Mountain, GA, has achieved national and international recognition for their many environmental efforts, including being recertified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and in the Audubon International Golf Course Program; creating an Evergreen Habitat program, which features five gardens throughout the resort with birdbaths and feeders; expanding their Nature Trail System; and implementing water conservation programs that have saved 100 million gallons of water since 2006.

The W San Francisco in San Francisco, CA, officially launched their eco-program, WORLD, in 2007.  As a result of their comprehensive program, more than 70 percent of guestroom lighting and 90 percent of back-of-house lighting is energy efficient and 80 percent of waste is recycled.   The hotel was the first commercial building in the city to install wind turbines on the roof and offer carbon neutral events, served as a pilot hotel for a city-wide plastic bag recycling program, and spearheaded the creation of green initiatives to market San Francisco as a green destination.  Most telling, in 2010, the property became only one of seven U.S. hotels to be certified LEED EB Silver.

There were two winners for the category of Prism (for Diversity).  The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA, has partnered with World Relief, an organization that works with refugees to rebuild their lives in the U.S., for almost 10 years.  The hotel has hired more than 100 relief candidates and many have moved into supervisor and manager positions.

The Quality Inn in Daytona Beach, FL, boasts a very diverse staff, which is a direct result of a proactive effort to recruit a diverse workforce via local colleges and veteran and senior citizen groups.  Cross training of English and Spanish is promoted to better communicate with one another and guests.

Winning the award for Technology Innovation is the Best Western Clock Tower Inn in Billings, MT.   The 127-room hotel has gone hi-tech in the maintenance and housekeeping departments via the implementation of iPads and mobile apps.  Through this upgrade, the departments are now paperless, operate in real time, and sustain the property in ways not possible with manual tracking.

Many of AH&LA’s partner state associations choose their own property award winners, which are submitted to the association for national judging.  Making the decisions in this year’s competition were Len Vermillion, editor, Lodging magazine; and Pat Maher, owner of The Maher Group, LLC, and AH&LA’s green consultant.

The Stars of the Industry awards luncheon was sponsored by Cintas and HD Supply.  For more information on AH&LA’s Stars of the Industry Awards program and a full list of this year’s property and employee winners, please visit .

Serving the hospitality industry for a century, AH&LA is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members

Kathryn Potter
[email protected]

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Also See: American Hotel & Lodging Association Presents 2011 John Whitaker Award to David Goldstone and State Leadership Awards to Members of Each Partner State Association in Recognition of Their Assistance with AH&LA Programs / March 2011

American Hotel & Lodging Association Quizzes Hoteliers on Mandatory Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 Regulations; Deadline to Comply with ADA is March 15, 2011 / March 2011

Mayur Chheda Of Infinity Hotel Group Named To American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Board Of Directors / February 2011

Joe Martin Takes Role of 2009 American Hotel & Lodging Association Chairman John Campbell Elected Secretary/treasurer, Will Serve as Chairman in 2011 / November 2008

The AH&LA Elects David Kong as 2008 Secretary/treasurer; The President and CEO of Best Western International Will Serve as the Association’s Chairman in 2010 / November 2007

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