|By Doreen Hemlock, Sun
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 07, 2012--An event manager who helped save a life, a taxi call-taker who tracked down a forgotten bag and a shuttle driver who used his own car to make sure a visitor could buy medicine are all among this year's SUNsational Service Courtesy Award winners for Broward County hospitality employees.
Lynne Downs, an event manager at the Broward County Convention Center, exemplifies the group of 12 employees honored at an awards lunch Thursday.
Downs heard screams one night during setup for a trade show. She hustled and found an exhibitor from Ukraine, visiting with his family, suffering a stroke. She arranged for an ambulance and instructed the worried wife to ride with her husband.
She then drove the family's car with their teenage son to the hospital, arranged to be picked up there, and on her return to the show, packed up the family's exhibit materials for safekeeping.
"This is probably the most important day of the year for our industry," Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said at the 24th annual awards event. "It's an opportunity to say to people, 'Not only did you do everything right but then, you took an extra step. That encourages the next round of hospitality employees to get into this business.' "
Each award winner received a Broward County proclamation declaring a day in December in their name, and a framed document presented at the lunch by two county commissioners. Each also received a staycation at a Broward resort, dinner for two at a select restaurant, tickets to a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and other perks.
Here's what distinguished some winners among the 86 nominees for the awards:
Merlaine Simermon, call taker, Yellow Cab: When a family from Asia realized they'd left important travel documents in a bag in a taxi, call-taker Simermon tracked it the bag down. A driver took the missing bag to the family. Simermon sometimes handles more than 400 calls a day.
Jean D'Haity, van driver, Holiday Inn Fort Lauderdale: When an elderly man from Chicago in D'Haity's airport shuttle realized that he'd forgotten his medicine, D'Haity offered help. He drove the man in his own vehicle to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription in time for the man's cruise the next morning.
Yennifer Huguet, housekeeping supervisor, Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel: When Huguet received a call to bring an iron to a room, she found a bride anxious about her wedding that night. Huguet spent two hours ironing out every wrinkle from the bride's chiffon dress and its 6-foot train.
Ivrosette Andre, room attendant, Westin Beach Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale: Andre leaves a welcome note in rooms she tends that includes these words: "Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help elevate your experience during your stay. Sincerely, Ivrosette." One day, on hearing a couple from Canada was celebrating their anniversary, she brought them a cake on her own. When she receives tips, she often uses the money to buy doughnuts and other goodies for fellow housekeepers.
Priscilla Marie Berne, guest service representative, Hampton Inn Plantation: When a housekeeper found a backpack near the hotel dumpster, Berne sprung to action. She searched the bag, found the owner's name and a school name in books and called the school in Texas. She obtained contact information for the parents and arranged to return the bag, which had been stolen from the family's car. The family had not stayed at the Hampton Inn.
Nicole Rhone, restaurant chef, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort: When Nicole discovered that a co-worker's wife faced a kidney transplant, she helped coordinate fund-raisers. During a visit by a family with food allergies, she also helped out the group to find food options.
(c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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