11th Annual Hotel Hero Awards

March 19, 2014 | The Fairmont

Winners are noted with an asterisk (*).

Beyond the Call of Duty

  Nino Pelaez
Chief Engineer, Galleria Park Hotel
 
Nino Pelaez is every GM’s dream Maintenance Manager. Not only does he operate his department efficiently and resolve issues quickly, he consistently works to improve himself and his team. Nino took it upon himself to add a personalized touch for in-room guest calls. Now after an engineer has been to a room to address an issue, he leaves a calling card with his name and the time he was there, asking the guest to call if anything was not resolved to their liking or if they experience any other issues. Nino doesn’t just serve our guests though. This year, he built a cash/prize wind booth that employees can enter during recognition events.This has helped all of our employees think creatively about how they interact with one another and our guests. Nino is truly the glue that holds Galleria Park together, sometimes literally!
Thanh Trieu*
Bellman, Hotel Drisco

Thanh grew up in Vietnam just as the American involvement in the conflict began. After many days on an overcrowded boat with little food and water, Thanh made his way to America, where he found work as a Bellman at the Stanford Court Hotel, later moving to the Hotel Drisco. With his ever-present broad smile, gentle demeanor and his dedication to service, it comes as no surprise that on one occasion a guest was so enamored with him that Thanh received a $10,000 tip. There are far too many other stories about Thanh’s generosity to mention, but here is an example: Upon speaking with an elderly couple just before Christmas, Thanh learned they had several grandchildren who were unable to visit Santa. Thanh obtained the children's address and wrote each a personal note, and he signed each with “Santa.” Thanh introduced himself to the children the following week as Santa’s friend and asked them if they received the postcards. Positively beaming, the children were so excited that yes, they had, and were so grateful that Santa remembered them. Thanh is an example to us all of dedication to service, incredible moral fiber and utter selflessness.
Eugene Mace Talusan
Security Officer, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport

Since his arrival to the Hotel Services/Security Team, Mace has distinguished himself as friendly, outgoing, and thoughtful. Recently, Mace demonstrated his first responce skills when he used CPR to save a guest’s life. On April 07, 2013, Mace responded to a call of an unconscious guest who was not breathing. Mace utilized his work place acquired skills of CPR to re-establish a heart-beat and save the guest’s life until paramedics responded to the scene. In keeping with department standards of humbleness and modesty, Mace quietly celebrated his triumph over adversity and kept his deed low key. It was not until his Supervisor read his report report did they realize the level of stress Mace had been under. Because of feats like this, Mace’s Supervisors Manuel Lock and Tim Toy nominate him for a Hyatt Hero Award.
Chris Ennis
Concierge, Huntington Hotel & Nob Hill Spa

Fortunately for the Huntington Hotel, we have a hero like Chris Ennis to save the day. Mr & Mrs. Swanson extended their stay over the Christmas holiday because of an emergency procedure. Mr. Swanson wanted his wife to feel as if they were at home. Chris helped set-up a Christmas tree with decorations to the room. When Mrs. Thompson returned from the hospital, she was felt right at home. Before they left, they made sure to wait for Chris to personally thank him. Life Saver Last March, Chris suddenly, he heard a loud  sound in the lobby. The front desk agent suffered a heart attack. Chris called for help and without delay administered CPR until the paramedics arrived. Miraculously, only three months later, the agent was back at the Front Desk with a new lease on life, all thanks to our Huntington hero, Chris Ennis.
Salvador Sorro
Doorperson, InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Joining the InterContinental Mark Hopkins in April 2012, Sal immediately made an impact on the seasoned team. A great example of the service Sal provides took place in December 2013. A family of international travelers stayed at The Mark Hopkins and had asked Sal questions about fishing in the area. Sal, who is a passionate fishing man, not only shared his favorite local spots, but also brought in his personal fishing pole, hooks, bait, a cooler for refreshments and everything else one needs for a great day of fishing, so that the family, including a 10-year-old boy, could have a unique experience. The family thanked him profusely for his kindness and generosity before drafting a personal thank you note. Sal stated that he put himself in the kid’s place because really got into it around the same age as this young boy. Because of actions like this, Sal is consistently singled out by guests receiving countless compliments.

Rising Star

  Kauila "Kaui" Rivera
Assistant Controller, The Fairmont

Kaui has quickly risen through the accounting ranks while gaining the admiration of his colleagues. Kaui has assisted with implementation of the new Opera system, sales of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and The Fairmont San Francisco, evention, a new payroll system, and assisted sister properties. Following the Regional Controller’s departure last year, Kaui slid in seamlessly to assume not only the responsibilities of Internal Director of Finance, but the critical role of dealing with ownership. Kaui led accounting for eight months while the Controller role was vacant. Matt Blackmore, Hotel Manager notes, “This is a huge compliment to Kaui, as most hotels could perhaps go a couple months, but after eight, would face some serious issues. Not so under Kaui’s eye. He’s a strong, silent type of personality that people are drawn to. Kaui is extremely humble, always sharing praise with those who work around him.”
  Elva Li*
Housekeeping Manager, Handlery Union Square Hotel

Elva Li immigrated to the United States from China in 2003 and graduated from Galileo High School the following year. She enrolled in San Francisco State University (SFSU) and graduated with a major in Hospitality Management and minor in Business Management. Upon graduation, Elva began working for the Handlery Union Square Hotel as a Housekeeping Coordinator. In her first years, Elva quickly learned the hotel business and operations in Housekeeping. Although her English skills were still developing, she continued learning and is now fluent. She never missed a shift, was never late, and always followed through on her work assignments. In 2012, when our Executive Housekeeper departed, Elva stepped up and managed Housekeeping without hesitation. She managed the team of nearly 50 Housekeepers, Housemen, and Inspectresses. In 2013, Elva’s hard work, dedication, leadership and tremendous contributions led to her promotion to Housekeeping Manager.
  Nathalie Toribio
Local Sales Manager, Personality Hotels
Nathalie is one of the best sales managers that I have ever worked with in my 15+ year career. She has grown her market by uncovering leads that most sales people would ignore and say “that’s too hard or time consuming.” For example, when the SF Bulls hockey team came to San Francisco in 2012, Nathalie lived and breathed almost every game at the Cow Palace. She always brought clients to get them excited and introduce this new sport for SF. She also helped introduce the Bulls to Personality Hotels’ partners who she thought would be a good fit for them. Ghirardelli Chocolate is one partnership of Personality Hotels’ that now works with the Bulls.
  Andrew McLaurin
Front Desk Agent, Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa
Andrew arrived at Casa Madrona in 2011 without any hotel experience. He started as a bellman and was promoted to front desk agent within a year. In his second year, Andrew was again promoted to senior front desk agent. Andrew became an expert on the hotel's complex Property Management System and he is now "the go-to guy" for training new hires on night audit procedures, front desk duties, and - still - bellman and valet responsibilities. Andrew is a key player in laising between the front desk and guest services staff while working closely with our Rooms Director in ensuring our guest scores remain high. As a guest recently remarked in an email to the hotel: "Our stay at Casa Madrona was a delightful experience. All the staff were wonderful but I do have to mention Andrew who was extremely helpful and answered all our questions since this was our first time in Sausalito."
  Whitney Okuda
Sales Coordinator, Hotel Nikko

Though soft spoken, Whitney Okuda made great strives as a student Leader, which attributed to her steady growth and development in the hotel industry. Whitney Okuda began her career interning for Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Upon learning of Whitney’s graduation, we brought her on board as Catering Coordinator and quickly saw the diamond we were looking for. After only one year, she proactively took on additional challenges and responsibilities. She quickly began working directly with clients from initiating contracts to becoming the main contact during room setup. She has exceeded all expectations and developed rapidly with her understanding of the industry.

Unsung Hero

  Jose Garcia
Steward, St. Regis

Jose Garcia has worked tirelessly for 8 years at the St. Regis San Francisco as a Steward in the kitchen. He has put in 110% each day without expecting any recognition or fanfare. Even without a title, he provides leadership through his experience and passion for his work. He takes great pride in his work and takes initiative every day to ensure all his team members understand the value and impact of their work. “My parents always said to me, it doesn’t matter what you do or what you become, just be the best at it”, said Jose when asked how he encourages his team members. Jose embodies our core values through his actions each day and is truly an unsung hero.
  Maggie Luu*
Assistant Director of Housekeeping, Hotel Nikko

Although Maggie Luu’s job is primarily behind the scenes, her contributions at Hotel Nikko have been recognized for the past 26 years. Turning moments into memories is Maggie’s personal ‘mission statement’. One time, a guest was planning on proposing to his girlfriend, but he would only go through with it if he had special candles in the room to set the mood. Unfortunately these candles were nowhere to be found in the entire city! So after work, Maggie researched a shop in Daily City that had these special candles in stock. So she made the trip to Daily City to pick up these special candlesso that he could ask his lovely girlfriend to marry him! Maggie is reliable, trustworthy, and an exceptionally hard working team player. No matter how high the occupancy during our busiest times of the year, she does it all with a smile.
  Yolanda Cheung
Laundry Attendant, Mandarin Oriental

Imagine someone who defines the very best of our profession, someone who regularly anticipates the needs before asked and who is resourceful and willing to do far more than her job description. Mandarin Oriental is fortunate in having such a colleague, and her name is Yolanda. There is a quiet grace about the way Yolanda works, whether she provides services for a guest, a colleague or for the operation as a whole. Her enthusiastic willingness to consistently find ways to provide outstanding service sets an example for all of us. She meticulously checks guests' garments to ensure everything is in excellent condition. Buttons or tears are repaired and mended without a mention and care instructions are carefully checked to ensure the guests' garment is royally cared for.
  Rolando Rillo
House Attendant, Westin St. Francis
It was a very windy night in San Francisco, and Rolando was asked to take down the Westin flag that hangs off of our thirteen storied Landmark building. As he and a colleague reached the rooftop they saw the flag thrashing in the wind. As they reeled in the halyard, gusts of wind increased. Finally the flag was nearly down but a huge gust of wind forced Rolando and his colleague to lie on the roof to ensure the flag would not blow away. At that moment, the Manager on Duty arrived to check on the progress as she had seen how windy it became. She told both of them to let go of the flag as their safety was more important. Roland held on to the flag and exclaimed “I don’t want to damage hotel property”. Finally security stepped in and freed him from the flag. Once everyone was safe, the MOD asked Rolando why he continued to hold the flag even after it had become dangerous. He answered with pride in his voice, “ I didn’t want the hotel to look bad if one of our flags fell and hurt someone.” With this the MOD’s heart swelled with warmth as she could see how much the hotel mattered to Roland. Rolando is truly an unsung hero in our hotel, always taking action behind the scenes.
  Thomas Gerber
Chief Engineer, Marriott Union Square
As his GM, I was going to write the nomination. However, this letter from the hotel owner says it all! "Tom Gerber is a nimble, gentle giant so adept at orchestrating the maintenance and engineering functions of a many decades old, 400 key hotel, that staff and guests are likely oblivious to his efforts, and that’s just the way he likes it. Tom’s efforts at maintaining and improving the hotel asset are legendary in the offices of FelCor Lodging Trust. Tom was once given a newly created ‘MacGyver Award’ for his ingenious workaround fix to keep a system operational while a permanent fix was being researched. The results of Tom’s efforts can easily be measured in the normal ways such as equipment uptime, accident free days, on time and on budget. However Tom doesn’t stop there, he touches significantly more. Things like guest satisfaction, guest return intent, ROI, Real Estate value, Brand value, Room Revenue, Capital Replacement, market share all benefit from his leadership. Those of us that have been in the business for decades know the difference between someone who is just doing their job and those special people with really remarkable talent combined with humility and a hospitable spirit – and that’s Tom." Tim Van Allen FelCor Lodging Trust 1/7/14

Lifetime Achievement - Operations

  Margarita Diaz
Guest Room Attendant, Hotel Kabuki

Over the last 36 years with the Hotel she has assisted numerous guests and created amazing experiences for them. At one time, we had guest who stayed with us for several months. He was suffering from a long term illness and had with him a young daughter. Margarita helped with looking in on this young girl and her father daily, helping the guest to ensure the room was well organized as he was taking several medications, and overall checking in to make sure both were doing well, just like she would her own family. She is currently the star of a Youtube video dedicated to demonstrating and teaching her stretch routine! Margarita has shown not only a "lifetime" of dedication to the Hotel Industry but to all those who work in the Hotel Industry. She is an exemplary role model of what ‘hospitality’ truly entails and can create for any given guest in any given moment.
  William May
Head Doorperson, The Fairmont
William was featured in FOOD ARTS “Big Hello” piece, where Charlotte Shultz, San Francisco’s chief of protocol officer (late-husband, Mel Swig, once owned the Fairmont), called him a San Francisco treasures saying, “He is so articulate, so warm, and so real. I’ve seen him welcome Presidents, heads of state, the weary traveler, and limos of rambunctious teenagers arriving for a prom. He treats them all with grace. Not only is he an asset to the Fairmont, but he is an ambassador of good will for the city of San Francisco.” William is a “doorman to the city” – warmly welcoming all that arrive and wishing them well at departure, and always aiming to ensuring that they experience the best of San Francisco!
  Tom Cheung
Bellman, Mandarin Oriental

In the many years that Tom has worked for Mandarin Oriental, he has been acknowledged for outstanding customer service. Guest comments cards regularly praise his thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Tom was the recipient of a Mobil 5 star award, one of two hotel employees in the United States to receive such recognition. His warm welcome to arriving guests is always caring and enthusiastic. He has even recognized guests in our hotel (San Francisco) who have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, which reaches back more than 20 years. His warm welcome and genuine care of our guests have created quite a loyal following. He greets everyone by name and welcomes them back, as if they were guests in his home. Guests return repeatedly to enjoy the many treasures of our City, while being treated like royalty.
John Hermann*
Bellman, Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Whether escorting Paris Hilton, a Saudi Prince and his nine wives and 21 children, or a conventioneer from Iowa to their suites, John Herrmann is a master of poise and equanimity. His dignified presence and soft spoken demeanor are both welcoming and reassuring. John is one of a select group of hotel staff who is allowed access to the Prince’s floors and has gained the complete trust of this delegation when they make their yearly visits to the hotel. John has been in the front line of customer service, here at the Hilton, for 26 years. For the first six months he was a doorman. For the last 25 and a half years he’s been a bellman, first covering the night shift for 21 years before switching to days five years ago. His quiet charm and efficiency have calmed many of the arriving and departing guests at what are, undoubtedly, the most stress inducing times of a hotel visit. Tired and hungry from the journey and eager to just get to the room, or anxious about departing flights and triple checking luggage, iPads and phones, John’s interpersonal skills come to the forefront dealing with these anxieties.
  Darryl Sneed
Doorperson, Omni San Francisco Hotel

Recognized as “a one-man welcome committee”, Darryl has the ability to make our guests feel as if they were a part of his family or a long lost friend. Doormen are usually asked to take photos; Darryl is asked to be in them. Known for inviting passersby in off the street to take a look, enjoy some cider or see the restaurant, Darryl often persuades them to stay with us on their next visit to the city. One guest said of Darryl, “an exceptional ambassador, made my wife and I feel like long lost friends. I certainly will mention him anytime we refer anyone to your hotel”. Equally adept in conversation with a CEO, a five year old or a lost tourist Darryl is likely to make a lasting impression within minutes. His manager said, “At check-in he puts an Omni backpack on each kid and explains that it has magical powers, he tells them stories and they give him high-fives each time they pass his doors”.

Lifetime Achievement - Department Manager

  Mesui Pale
Director of Rooms, Hilton San Francisco Financial District

After asking several people whom Mesui worked with since he started his career with Hilton Worldwide in 2000 to present, what resonates is that they see Mesui as passionate about his work, inspirational and someone who cares about the customers and his employees, like a football coach who cares about his team. Having played football and been a football coach in his early college years, Mesui’s approach is about teamwork. Paula Ghilotti, the Reservations Manager, a colleague when he was at the Doubletree San Francisco Airport-Burlingame remembered him having a pep talk with his bellstaff, as a group, on how to make sure that they all take care of the guest, that they should work together so that they could deliver an exceptional customer service. She also added, “when you ask him to do something, he would do it…” adding that Mesui follows through with any tasks at hand.
  Judy Cronkhite*
Director of Sales, Grand Hyatt

Michael Jokovich, Area Vice President from Grand Hyatt San Francisco states: “We are very fortunate to have Judy on our team and be the ambassador of Hyatt to the entire city of San Francisco” She is the ultimate professional who provides human care and kindness on a day to day basis with associates and clients. Judy is so deserving of this recognition.” Judy has been with Hyatt for 32 years. During her years of service with Hyatt, Judy has been an instrumental part of the success of Hyatt’s Sales and Marketing initiatives. Some of her previous hotels include the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, the Grand Hyatt San Francisco and she joins us most recently from the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, where she was the leader of Sales & Marketing team for the last 13 years. You will never find a person with something less than wonderful to say about Judy Cronkhite. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated and skilled professional on our Leadership Committee, at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco.
  Oliva "Ollie" Rodriguez
Executive Housekeeper

Oliva provides outstanding customer service because she cares and truly wants to please the guest. There is no request too silly or too difficult. We have guests that want particular pillows on their bed, their rooms a special way and she always has it done for them upon arrival. When a guest asks for bathroom accessories added to their room or the furniture modified, she makes it happen - even if she has to go out and get the things herself. She has taken guests from room to room to lie down on a bed to find the one they liked. Then, she switched beds while they were out rather than make the guest move rooms. Nobody handles lost and found like Oliva does. We have many letters and emails that have come in over the years thanking her for getting their lost item back to them. Oliva has an attention to detail and record keeping that insures the highest level of guest service and without her, the Chancellor Hotel would not be the highest ranked independent hotel in San Francisco on TripAdvisor.
  Jeanne Gafar
Director of Housekeeping, Parc 55 Wyndham

With a certificate in Hospitality Management from Golden Gate University in hand, Jeanne began an internship at the Stanford Court in 1981. Dedicated to learning all that she could about the San Francisco Hotel Market, she gained knowledge while working at the Mark Hopkins and the St. Francis before landing at a hotel that would be her home for more than two decades, the Parc 55. She passes along a deep sense of empowerment to her team of Associates to create memories for the guests that they encounter and she celebrates guest acknowledgments of her team with the entire property. Jeanne’s onboarding of new managers into her department is one that covers the full spectrum of knowledge that one would need to know to be successful. She is looked upon as a mentor for countless other managers who turn to Jeanne for guidance and advice. Associates and Managers alike feel comfortable asking her questions and she freely shares her experience and wealth of knowledge.
  Xiao Wong
Chief Steward, Mandarin Oriental

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco guests are very discerning and often have enormous expectations. Xiao meets each challenge with determination and resolve. His organizational abilities are remarkable as he sorts through the various crystal, china and silver that are used in the Food and Beverage outlets. There was a particularly challenging wedding, which required a last minute change in plates, but something that the bride wanted. The logistics involved were Herculean, but Xiao came through, and she was almost as happy with him as she was with her new husband. With internal performance reviews, the stewarding staff consistently gives Xiao outstanding kudos for his leadership and managerial skills. He is also an integral part of MOSFO’s Fire, Life, Health, Safety and Security Task Force, where he has earned great respect from his peers due to his involvement.

Lifetime Achievement - Hotel Executive

  Niki Leondakis
CEO, Commune Hotels + Resorts

Niki has truly modeled servant leadership in her first full year as CEO of Commune. She sent 52 deeply personal notes each week of the year sharing her experiences, her perspective and making herself accessible to all employees. In the recent employee engagement survey, we received numerous comments like this, "The organizational changes seem to be very positive. I also enjoy Niki's notes. Even though I have not met her personally, I feel that it helps connect her to me/everyone." Finally, Niki has an email address called questions4niki. She answers and responds to every question that is submitted to that email address. This is just scratching the surface of how she serves her employees. We could type an entire essay on how she serves employees, guests, communities, vendors, owners, and any one that she comes in contact with.
  Peter Koehler
Regional Director of Operations and General Manager, InterContinental San Francisco

With over 25 years of experience as a general manager, Koehler has experience with many of the world’s top hotels, including the Morgans Hotel in New York City. In 2007, Koehler accepted the position of General Manager for the InterContinental San Francisco which is regarded as one of the most successful openings in IHG's history. In this role, Koehler was responsible for ensuring superior customer satisfaction and guiding the property’s mission of being the most technology and eco-friendly hotel in the city. In 2009, Koehler was appointed Regional Director of Operations Northern California for IHG, where he assumed responsibility of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, in addition to the InterContinental San Francisco. In 2012, Koehler was promoted to manage multiple brands within the Northern California region, including the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Staybridge Suites.
  Agata Berbeka
Area Director of Revenue Management, Westin St. Francis

Aggie’s caring personality makes delivering top-notch customer service seamless and effortless. She genuinely wants to help people which makes guests feel well taken care of , even when they cannot always have what they want. Aggie’s attitude extends beyond the workplace, whether it’s helping schoolchildren in Myanmar while on vacation or making the locals laugh during a getaway to the Yucatan in Mexico. Even in a role that is mostly behind the scenes, the guest interactions Aggie has deliver on the namesake of our industry. As the Area Director of Revenue Management, Aggie’s influence extends beyond her primary hotel. She is actively engaged with other Starwood hotels in Northern California, imparting her knowledge and insight to assist and challenge them to be even better. The relationships she cultivates beyond our walls have strength and longevity from the respect she earns. She is an invaluable asset to her hotel, Starwood, San Francisco and the hotel industry.
  Anna Marie Presutti*
Vice President and General Manager, Hotel Nikko

If it seems unusual that a blonde, Italian female serves as the Vice President for a very male-dominated Japanese corporation, then your thoughts would be correct - it is quite unusual. As the first female ever to be appointed for Nikko Hotels International, Anna Marie Presutti has lead with a vengeance and determination to “bridge the gap” professionally & culturally across the pond. Her superiors would concur that she has not only been successful but has done it with grace, confidence, and always with a big vivacious laugh! Anna Marie’s career has spanned over 28 years. In 2010 Anna Marie earned the “Outstanding General Manager of the Year” by the California Hotel and Lodging Association. She has been recognized time and again by the SF Business Times as one of “The Most Influential Women in the Bay Area”, & she also received The Legend award from PCMA in 2012. And finally AMP~ has been a finalist for the Hotel Heroes Lifetime Achievement award 6 times! She is the Nikko’s very own Susan Lucci, a streak we would like to end!
Christophe Thomas
General Manager, Palace Hotel
Christophe Thomas is new to San Francisco. We recognize that there are GMs who have had more time to make their mark in our great city, but when Christophe arrived at the Palace, he shed a bright new light. He hit the ground running his first week at the Palace - beautifully handling the return of the Pied Piper. He is extremely passionate about the industry and completely dedicated to creating an impeccable guest experience. As a General Manager, his customers are both his team and the Palace guests. As the leader of the Palace team, Christophe raises the service level throughout the entire hotel. One of his many strengths is that Christophe is a great listener. He hears what his customers are saying and responds to their needs and concerns. One of his favorite mantras is “Feedback is a Gift”. When he starts a conversation with this – everyone perks up and is prepared to take it in and get ready for action! He is always striving to reach the best solution to elevate the overall guest experience.

Community Spirit

The Fairmont
Since 1907, The Fairmont San Francisco’s has upheld Fairmont Hotels & Resorts brand-wide commitment to making a positive impact in the places we live, work and play. Annually, dedicated colleagues make a significant impact across a variety of community service platforms. Highlights of 2013 included: Annual Green Initiatives such as California Coastal Cleanup Day, Presidio Cleanup Day, and Muir Woods Earth Day Cleanup. Annual Local Efforts including SF AIDS Walk, Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk, and Pajama Program PJ Drive (benefitting Larkin Street Youth Services). For its inaugural Artist in Residence reception, the hotel incorporated local art non-profit ArtSpan, offering a hotel-stay for the organization’s fundraiser drawing and a table to raise awareness of its efforts to assist Bay Area artists. The hotel aims to support local artists through this organization in 2014 as well. Sweet 16 Party for Make-A-Wish “Wish Child” Melanie who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis.
Omni San Francisco Hotel
One of Omni San Francisco’s core values is to be a local market leader. In 2013 we supported a variety of organizations that our associates felt passionate about. Omni participated in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, a 5k run which benefited Larkin Street Youth Services, a program dedicated to helping homeless young people get off the streets by offering housing, medical care, education, and job training. Omni’s team of runners joined 11,000 participants from 360 companies to benefit this worthy organization. As the weather dipped, Omni supported One Warm Coat and partner Saint Anthony’s Foundation to donate coats to local families in need. Over 30 coats were given to make winter warmer. Over the holidays, Omni donated complimentary rooms to families with children in intensive care at UCSF Children’s Hospital. We were happy to host three families chosen by the hospital over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Associates continued giving by contributing to the Omni Circle, a company-wide program dedicated to helping Omni associates whose lives have been disrupted by disasters, accidents or other emergencies.
Hotel Nikko
The Hotel Nikko San Francisco believes that compassionate support to the local community is pivotal to the neighborhood’s vitality and the hotel embraces this spirit by supporting and volunteering to help underprivileged babies, youths, adults, seniors, veterans, domestic violence victims, programs for the chemically dependent, AIDS patients, the mentally disabled, several homeless shelters, transitional housing centers, rehabilitative centers and a variety of programming on a monthly basis. This work has become part of a continued effort to give back to a community that we work in each day and has also become a cohesive part of the hotels culture and mission statement. As the only Nikko Hotel within the United States, our relatively small number of employees (compared to a larger chain) has made a huge impact in the community. The employees have embraced projects that impact several organizations; Project Homeless Connect where we have dedicated over 800 hours interacting with the homeless and preparing hygiene kits, Project Night Night where we committed over 300 hours helping homeless children sleep better at night by providing books, blankets and stuffed animals as comfort, Salvation Army benefiting Back To School and After School programs, GLIDE, Florence Crittendon, TNDC, and Parks and Recreation to name only a few continue to make a positive and significant difference to the community and to all the Hotel Nikko SF employees who volunteer over 1200 hours annually. To put all of that into perspective; the number of volunteer hours equates to nearly $50,000 dollars a year, in company time, that is donated by the hotel. A big feat for a stand alone property!
InterContinental Mark Hopkins
As a finalist in this category in both 2012 and 2013, the InterContinental Mark Hopkins is recognized as one of the leading hotels in San Francisco when it comes to Community Involvement. Although we are a relatively small hotel when compared with our fellow nominees, we have a dedicated Committee which holds regular meetings to prepare the year’s events in advance, and to reengineer our approach after each event to plan for future years. Ever challenging colleagues to build on our commitment to the community, the Mark Hopkins held 24 events in 2013 benefiting more than 15 organizations, contributed countless hours and a total of more than $18,000.00 to a wide variety of local and international causes.
Grand Hyatt*
At Hyatt, we are committed to doing our part to enable thriving communities – places where we are proud to work, our neighbors want to live, and our guests want to visit. One of our greatest moments was being a part of Make-A-Wish: Bat Kid’s SF Adventures. Grand Hyatt San Francisco was able to orchestrate and coordinate all events for Miles’ family. Make-A-Wish used our loading dock as the “Bat Cave” and we had a line of associates create a line of support for Bat Kid as he departed for his first mission. This was a once in a lifetime experience and we are so grateful to have been a part of it. Some of our other community initiatives include, but are not limited to, The Philippines Typhoon Relief, Thanksgiving Turkey Donations, Big Brother’s & Big Sister’s Community Fundraising, Salvation Army- A Season of Giving and many more! This year alone Grand Hyatt San Francisco has donated a value of over $124,000!

Innovation

Four Seasons
Four Seasons focus as a company has always been on driving innovation in our hotels to promote branding, growth and the 5 star service for which we are known. As we completed a renovation of our Bar and Restaurant this year, we significantly improved our Internal Customer service (which then impacted the service provided to our External customers!) with our new uniforms for the area. The Hotel partnered with the school of design for the San Francisco Academy of Art and planned a "Project Runway" for the creation of the uniforms to be worn by the staff. The students met with staff to understand some of their needs and how uniforms could better work. All students presented designs, with three finalists chosen (by mgmt. and staff) to make a prototype of their designs. It was an amazing partnership experience and brought a great buzz to the team around the hotel. A winner was selected, and now all of our restaurant staff proudly wear the top design every day.
W San Francisco
Aqua-phonic system on W San Francisco rooftop: The idea for our Aqua-phonics system was inspired by the banquet Chef, Linh Gioa. Our GM challenged the team to keep W moving forward by contributing green and sustainable initiatives to the internal council for consideration. Chef Linh stepped up and pitched the idea, researched and presented design options, and worked with a vendor to install our very own system. Aqua-phonics is the symbolic relationship with plants, fish, bacteria and humans. Fish release byproduct which is converted, by bacteria, into nutrients for plants. We currently grow amazing herbs and beautiful edible flowers that we serve in TRACE restaurant. Linh feeds the fish and maintains the system as well as tours and educates our talent and customers on the benefits of sustainable practices. Not only is this innovative but it has inspired many of our talent to think out of the box and challenges us to think differently.
Hotel Nikko
ABC Channel 7 News contacted the hotel because of its reputation for innovation and energy savings highlighting many programs on the evening news. Hotel Nikko has enriched and educated guests with our efforts as the only SF hotel to earn the US Energy Star Award nine times, the Hotel Nikko San Francisco takes their carbon footprint seriously. Hotel Nikko continues to exercise it’s passion for saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint, by pursuing GOLD certification under the US Green Building Council’s LEED for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance program. We recently replaced our Laundry ironer to accept larger linen at the same time reducing energy. We will move from pneumatically controlled HVAC system to a Direct Digital Controlled system. These projects, along with other innovations will allow The Hotel Nikko to be a model for existing hotels to pursue LEED certification. The goal is to reduce the carbon foot print for San Francisco without sacrificing guest comfort. The hotel’s management team realized the quick payback on their investment by taking advantage of SF’s Energy Watch’s high financial incentive and free technical services. The annual savings is over $80K. This payback took less than one month. To conserve resources and help others in the community Hotel Nikko donates linens and towels, furniture, and bath amenities; soap, shampoo, lotions and hygiene kits to those in need. Food is recycled into compost and the purchase of anything styrofoam is very limited.
Palace Hotel*
Although The Palace guest experience is historic and palatial, we strive in many ways to be on the cutting edge of doing business. In order to be mindful of our impact on the environment, we have implemented many initiatives including low flow toilets in all of our rooms and variable speed motors in our equipment that regulates power use during off peak hours. Initiatives like these have allowed us to reach our goal of reducing water use by 30%, 7 years before our goal of 2020 and well on our way to meet our energy reduction goal. Looking for new ways to communicate with both our staff and our guests are also a high priority. Our houseman now received guest requests directly on their telephone via text message, they are also able to communicate with a push of a button that a guest request has been delivered so our guest services team can call and follow up to ensure the guest is satisfied. Guests can request to have their cars valeted directly from their room by entering a simple code. When their arrive downstairs, their care will be waiting for them. Guest billing disputes are now managed via a an online portal where the guest themselves can log on and track the status of their issue. Our accounting team can also use this portal to pull data and look for trends in billing disputes that we can proactively solution against. We now use an online notebook to capture all of our meeting notes and shift recaps. Here, multiple members of our team can read, make adjustments and edit the notes and share documents and changes are updated and synced in realtime.
Galleria Park Hotel
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