8th Annual Hotel Hero Awards

March 21, 2011 | Hyatt Regency

Winners are noted with an asterisk (*).

Beyond the Call of Duty

John Hegarty
Bellman,Clift Hotel

Bellman John Hegarty has the largest number of positive mentions of any other Clift Hotel employee. John’s dedication is often shown through his interactions with hotel guests. One example was during a recent guest check out. Our guest decided that she simply did not want to take her bags with her to her next destination. John offered to pack her things into boxes and have them shipped to her next destination, even though the Fed-Ex pick up time at the Clift Hotel had expired. The guest agreed to the idea and John took the bags and went forward, boxing her bags and writing out the Fed-Ex shipping labels. John then walked the boxes to Fed-Ex to ensure they would be delivered on time. John’s genuine hospitality is demonstrated through his commitment to our guests and willingness to go the extra mile every time. When given a difficult issue, he rises to the occasion to come up with a workable solution for our guests and the Clift.
Juan Jimenez
Guest Services, Omni San Francisco

Juan Jimenez has defined his career by going above and beyond the call of duty for his guests at the Onmi San Francisco. Treating every visitor as if they are staying in his own home, Juan’s connections with Omni guests are at once personal and exceptional. One example was when he assisted a mother and her 5-year-old son who were staying at the hotel. Juan found out that the boy had recently lost his father, and immediately set out to make sure that their stay would be a memorable one. After learning that the boy was a Giants fan, he found an autographed baseball and presented it to the boy, hitting a home run and scoring a smile on the face of our young guest. Juan’s efforts to provide exceptional service and lasting memories often go beyond the call of duty.
Magalie Pognon*
Director of Welcome Office, W San Francisco

Magalie Pognon, of the W San Francisco, demonstrates this acute awareness of guests’ needs when her attention was recently put to the test. During a typical overnight shift, Magalie took note of some strange behavior by one of our guests when she received a phone call from his room. When she answered the call, she was met with silence. Instead of ignoring the call and thinking nothing of it, Magalie tried to follow up with the guest by calling the room. No one answered. Sensing that something was not right, Magalie quickly notified security and asked they check in on the guest, a VIP company executive. Security found that the guest had attempted suicide, but they had arrived in time to save his life. Thanks to Magalies’ quick thinking and concern, a life was saved.
Lilian Tantosubrato
Guest Services Agent, Larkspur Hotel Union Square

Guest Service Agent Lilian Tantosubrato consistently receives high marks for customer service – a clear demonstration of her dedication and commitment to our guests. Lillian’s considerable efforts have not gone unnoticed. In October, Lilian checked in an engaged couple visiting in San Francisco to be married. There was just one problem: the airline has misplaced the groom’s luggage and the bride’s luggage had been stolen in the UK. Lillian realized that the bride and groom were on their way to the happiest day of their lives wearing what they flew into San Francisco in. Lilian had housekeeping check to see if there were any dresses in lost and found that would fit the bride. She then quickly turned her attention to shoes and jewelry and asked a co-worker to help with a bouquet. Now on to transportation, Lilian had a limo ready for the bride and groom to take them to the courthouse, and a photographer on the ready to make sure they had photos of the happy occasion. The couple was so grateful; the smiles on their faces were priceless. Lilian’s efforts went a long way and made a world of difference for the newlyweds.
Megan Terheyden
Reservation Agent, Hotel Vitale

Reservation Agent Megan Terheyden feels that her job is a lot about listening to her guests as they make their reservations at the hotel. Last January, Megan assisted a guest during a reservation for her stay at Hotel Vitale and San Francisco. During the conversation, Megan learned that the guest and her husband were excited about their short stay at Hotel Vitale, and that it was a stopover on their way to China. Megan also learned that they were on their way to China to adopt a child, a boy. The guest shared that the whole adoption process was tiring and that she was overwhelmed and excited. The guest also confided that adoptions in general did not seem to be celebrated the same way as giving birth to a child is. This resonated with Megan and as soon as they ended the call, Megan felt the need to do something special for the couple. She requested a complimentary upgrade and felt that a “baby shower” was in need. She decorated the couple’s rooms with Chinese decorations, complete with an “It’s a Boy!” banner and gifts. The couple was awestruck.
Megan demonstrated clearly that with a little effort, planning and especially listening, going above the call of duty can really make a difference in the lives of our guests.

Rising Star

Erin Desabla
Catering Sales Manager, Omni San Francisco

While Erin Desabla’s career in the hospitality industry is just beginning, she has already become a favorite of her fellow associates and guests. As a restaurant manager, she focuses her efforts on raising her associate’s engagement scores through customer satisfaction and efficiency. In Erin’s brief time as a catering manager, she has opened the door to new markets, visiting churches and non- profit organizations in an effort to raise the profile of the Omni. Our clients fall in love with Erin the instant she speaks with them. She is known for keeping her eye on the ball with clients and prospects alike, making sure that every detail is looked after professionally and with a smile. Nothing short of perfect execution of an event is what we have come to expect from Erin.
Richard Gidda
Director of Security, Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Richard Gidda began his career at the Hotel Nikko as an on-call security officer, and has evolved into his current role as Director of Security. His consistent and outstanding performance has contributed to the success of his department, and the hotel. Even during the most stressful situations, Rich remains calm, cool and unfazed. Rich’s performance has earned him several nominations and wins as Hotelier of the Quarter and a coveted Hotelier of the Year Award. 
Jaimie Knight
Human Resource Manager, Orchard Garden Hotel

In her 2 -year career as Human Resource Manager at the Orchard Garden Hotel, Jamie Knight has worked to streamline processes and reduce costs for her department and the hotel. She has managed to renegotiate recruiting contracts, resulting in an annual savings of $75,000. Jamie’s ongoing green effort to convert new hire welcome packets to a flash drive has reduced these costs by 90%. Valuing, recognizing and rewarding staff is a passion for Jaimie and is evidence by her dedication and commitment to our associates. 
Tyler Layton*
Concierge, Hotel Abri

Having been with us for less than two years, Tyler Layton is considered a rookie at Hotel Abri. Even so, Tyler has been an outstanding team member and continues to exceed all expectations. His service-oriented attitude continues to contribute to his promotions. Tyler is bright, engaging, humble, genuine, caring and above all committed to making sure each and every guest has a memorable stay. He has been mentioned by name in guest surveys over 60 times in 2010 alone, which led him to be nominated for the Star of the Industry Award. He was also named Lodging Employee of the Year.
Marc Passetti
Executive Sous Chef, Fairmont San Francisco

Marc Passetti started his six-year career with Fairmont San Francisco as a station cook. Today, through hard work and dedication to his art, he is an executive sous chef. Marc’s strong work ethic and drive to support the team makes him a trusted leader at the Fairmont. He engages with his colleagues and actively makes time to stop and listen to concerns or questions they have. Marc’s undying passion has led him to successfully move his team and cuisine forward.

Unsung Hero

Yung Cheng Hong
Dishwasher, Orchard Garden Hotel

Yung Cheng Hong is one of the most conscientious employees at the Orchard Garden Hotel. Yung has redefined taking pride in his work during his 12-year tenure, and enjoys being a part of the kitchen team at Roots, the hotel’s restaurant. Not only does he wash dishes but volunteers to assist with prep work, from cutting vegetables to peeling potatoes. He even repairs kitchen equipment, ensuring that the kitchen continues to run smoothly and efficiently. Yung has earned the respect of his peers and we are proud to have him at the Orchard Garden Hotel.
Eduardo Martinez*
Maintenance Engineer, Hotel Drisco

Maintenance engineer Eduardo Martinez has a combination of talent, expertise, creativity, enthusiasm and dedication, which makes him a phenomenal asset to the Hotel Drisco. A16-year veteran of the hotel industry, Eduardo is always willing to take on any problem with a can do attitude and a winning smile – and sometimes is called on to help return a smile to one of our guests’ faces. Recently, while enjoying his day off, Eduardo learned that a guest had lost the cap to a tooth down the drain in his room sink. Eduardo drove to the hotel and dismantled the plumbing to the sink and recovered the tooth. Now that’s loss prevention. 
Eugene Mendoza
Steward, Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Exceptional. Dedicated. Hard working. These are only a few words to describe steward Eugene Mendoza. Eugene has been with Hotel Nikko San Francisco for almost 12 years. Over the years, Eugene has shown his dedication to his job. Eugene has had several promotions throughout his career with Hotel Nikko and won the 2010 Hotelier of the Year Award. He is seen as a role model and an advocate for working safely. 
Fely Semana
Housekeeping Supervisor, Westin St. Francis

With more than forty years of hospitality experience, Housekeeping Supervisor Fely Semana plays an important role at the Westin St. Francis. Her years of service are only matched by her passion for her career. Ms. Semana, in her role as housekeeping supervisor, works in the background, and is thereby not recognized for the critical function she plays at the hotel. She starts her day at 5 am every day, and rumors have it that she has never been late. She truly is the unsung hero at The Westin St. Francis. Always displaying a positive attitude, professionalism, grace and the ability to balance the needs of the hotel with the needs of her coworkers. 
Robin Wong
Sous Chef, Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Five-time Hyatt All-Star Award Winner Robin Wong is a hero both in the hotel industry as well as in the San Francisco community at large. A 25-year veteran of the industry, Robin is both union sous chef and a Red Cross volunteer. She has a significant impact on the Hyatt Regency and is a brand ambassador for the hotel. She is dedicated to her job and has a positive attitude. As ambassador, Robin ensures standards are implemented and are upheld throughout the hotel. 

Lifetime Achievement - Operations

Darrell Beaird
Linen Sorter, Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Darrell Beaird began his career in the hospitality industry in 1988 with Hotel Nikko. He is known as the gentle giant and as a master at his craft. He is the only employee who can perform every job in both the housekeeping and laundry departments. Darrell continues to demonstrate his exemplary performance, passion and care for his co-workers. He has earned numerous Hotelier of the Quarter nominations and a Hotelier of the Year award. Darrell is humble in his accomplishments; he does whatever it takes to get the job done.
Barney Garcia*
Doorman, Omni San Francisco

Barney Garcia is a 30-year veteran Doorman in the hospitality industry. He is recognized as “one of a kind” and has the ability to make our guests feel as if they are a part of the family. Barney continues to do his job with enthusiasm and expertise. His passion for hospitality is contagious and his dedication to the success of our team is evident in his feedback to improve our level of service. Not only does Barney uphold our high standards, he is a second pair of eyes for the managers and recognizes opportunities for training our staff. 
Kam Goon
Sous Chef, Holiday Inn Golden Gateway

Kam Goon’s 40 years of dedication is reflected through his commitment to his work and team. He has been and continues to be a working chef. Kam is infamous for his can do and positive attitude. He shows consistency in his cooking and consistently creates a great product. Kam is successful due to his legendary organizational skills. He plans out portions and ingredients ahead of time for all the banquets ensuring his time. Kam is accommodating to his guests and always prepared whether they prefer a vegan or kosher meal. He shows strong leadership, training and mentoring from his 40 years of experience. Kam leads his team and inspires them to follow. 
Michael Thorburn
Concierge, Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

Michael Thorburn began his career with Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 1987 as a restaurant manager. He eventually decided that he wanted to try something else at the hotel and moved to the concierge desk. It was a “match made in heaven” for Michael. His outgoing personality and can do attitude made him a hit for guests staying at the hotel. Many of our guests return to our hotel because Michael directly takes care of the guests needs and remembers everyone by name. Michael possesses the most eloquent way of speaking which is referred to as his “magical communication skill”. Michael epitomizes the essence of luxury hospitality. 
Jorge Trejo
Door Attendant, Palace Hotel

Jorge Trejo is a 20-year veteran doorman at Palace hotel who is consistently praised on guest comment cards for his warm and generous spirit. His personal attention to all of our guests creates an emotional connection second to none. Jorge is very good at remembering guest names and recognizing faces – an essential talent for every doorman. Jorge often goes above and beyond to accommodate our guests. He is famous for aggressively running after cabs to chase down forgotten items. Jorge is dedicated to his work and takes great pride in what he does and it shows in the comments from our guests.

Lifetime Achievement - Department Manager

Maria Campbell*
Executive Housekeeper, InterContinental Mark Hopkins

Maria Campbell’s is a 27-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has been working for the past 16 years with InterContinental. During that time, she has been focused on creating the best possible experience for our guests. She has led her team to achieve some of the highest scores in the Hotel Cleanliness category – a category chosen from guest surveys. Maria stays personally involved in maintaining the highest standards, not for only guests, but for our employees as well. She successfully resolves issues, implements new service programs, and proactively revisits service topics to anticipate the ever changing needs of our guests.
Jose Castrillo
Director of Housekeeping , Palace Hotel

Jose Castrillo’s experience in the hospitality industry began when he was a young boy working in his family’s hotel in Nicaragua. The Palace Hotel feels fortunate that Jose joined the team 20 years ago. Through his experience with the Palace, Jose has mastered the art of customer service and has taught colleagues how to provide excellent service to all of our guests. His number one rule is that the guest always comes first. Jose continues to offer excellent service to our guests and is a dedicated team player. Jose is loyal, caring and extremely hard working. He is a strong leader and displays genuine gestures that are memorable and unforgettable to our guests. 
Joseph Curran
Director of Sales and Marketing , Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Joseph Curran’s 23- year career in sales and marketing has made him a sales leader at Hotel Nikko. In the five years he has been with the Nikko, he has proven that he has mastered sales as an art form. Joseph has and continues to find ways to improve his skill set to better understand perspective from both the customer and the owner’s point of view. While sales has become one of the most difficult jobs in the hotel business, it is what keeps the hotel functioning and profitable. Joseph’s work is consistent and fruitful. He is a mentor, a coach, a cheerleader and a student of and for the industry. When Joseph was not studying for his MBA, he was giving back to the hotel community by teaching hospitality classes at SFSU and sharing his knowledge of the industry.  
Bob Helstrom
Director of Operations & Executive Chef , Villa Florence

Kuletos Restaurant and the Villa Florence Hotel are fortune to have Bob Helstrom as their Director of Operations and executive chef. Bob has dedicated his career there since 1987. From the beginning, Bob focused his energy on making sure that Kuletos served obly the finsest and most authentic Italian cuisine. 24 years ago, Bob began his work by traveling the Italian countryside learning and exploring the regional cuisines. His perseverance paid off and today Kuletos restaurant is considered one of the finest Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Bob’s commitment and passion are evident in every dish prepared at Kuletos and his vision of creating a unique dining experience for all of his guests is evident in every dish served and every personal interaction with patrons. With high expectations of his staff, Bob directly supervises each of his creations ensuring that quality and consistency is never sacrificed. Even after so many years, Bob continues to surprise us with his tremendous dedication and passion for great cuisine. 
Bernd Liebergesell
Executive Chef & Food and Beverage Director , The Westin St. Francis

Bernd Liebergesell’s 40-year career in the hospitality industry began at the age of 14 back home in Kassal Germany where he attended hotel school. For as long as Bernd could remember, he wanted to become a chef. His dedication, devotion and persistence has contributed to his success at The West St. Francis San Francisco as an executive Chef and Food and Beverage director. Bernd is comfortable in both, behind the hot line as he is with meeting clients. He plays an intricate part of our sales effort to close deals with potential clients. He is a leader highly regarded by mangers and line associates. Bernd is truly dedicated his entire adult life to pursue his ultimate career and goal. 
Jesus Ochoa
Executive Steward, InterContinental San Francisco

Jesus Ochoa is a 38-year veteran of the hospitality industry. He instinctively, with no doubts, knows what will work and what will not. For our hotel, Jesus has managed to create viable processes that make the lives of employees, managers, vendors and guests simple and drama free. He ensures the satisfaction of both his internal and external guests. He is a living example of compassion and endeavors to do the right thing in all situations. Jesus continues to see the big picture, but pays attention to the minor details. He is humble whether he is washing dishes or traversing a dining room. Jesus always shows the same diligence and enthusiasm in even the most ordinary tasks. 

Lifetime Achievement - Hotel Executive

Thomas Klein
Regional Vice President and General Manager, Fairmont San Francisco

Thomas Klein is a 30-year veteran in the hospitality industry. His mantra and personal mission statement in providing exceptional guest service is “select, lead, train and recognize”. Thomas is committed to leading by example, imparting his success and consistently empowering those around him has been the key to his rapid rise from part-time waiter to one of the industry’s most respected international hoteliers. Thomas is an inspiring, charismatic leader. He has razor sharp business savvy conditioned by strong values and a passion for perfection. The same passion tempered by a sense of compassion for exemplary service standards that have created innumerable flawless guest experiences. Thomas truly exemplifies all the attributes of a consummate hotelier.
Toni Knorr
General Manager, The St. Regis San Francisco

Toni Knorr has dedicated her 34- year old career focused on delivering extraordinary experiences by inspiring her staff. Her warmth and gracious persona transcends to the customer experience. Toni has an eye for detail and she embodies the finesse and nuance needed to drive a five star environment successfully. Her style is collaborative and respectful and she is always looking to elevate the spirit of her team. Toni brings about positive results through teamwork. She takes pride in helping people reach their potential and is passionate about San Francisco. In addition, Toni has been recognized several times by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the 100 Most Influential Women of San Francisco. 
David Nadelman
General Manager, Grand Hyatt San Francisco

David Nadelman began his career in the hospitality industry 37 years ago. In his 30 + years with Hyatt, David has successfully exemplified the true meaning of authentic hospitality to our guests, our associates and members of the local community. He leads by example with his refined leadership and business skills. He has created a culture of exceptional customer service and employee engagement. David leads the team by building, balancing and maintaining a high level of engagement by cultivating relationships with our associates and guests. He is passionate about the business and is known for meeting challenges head on. David’s exceptional performance is evident through the many phenomenal results he and our team have achieved. The hotels record of improved service scores is a true reflection of David’s dedication and leadership. 
Jerry Simmons*
Managing Director, Hyatt Regency San Francisco

Jerry has shown his passion and dedication for the hospitality industry for 41-years. Visionary, quality-driven, charismatic, community-oriented and classy are just a few words to describe him. Jerry is always looking for new exciting ways to enhance what we do, which in his opinion is making memorable experiences for our guests. He takes customer services to a whole new level by being involved personally with our guests who have written us countless letters of praise. Jerry is a genuine leader, a faithful friend and a dynamic motivator. He has dedicated a lifetime to excellence. 

Community Spirit

Handlery Union Square*
The Handlery Union Square and our employees are pleased to be an active member in our community. The Handlery Foundation donates over $250,000 to local charities and colleges. The Handlery Hotel provides rooms for cancer patients who are receiving treatment and is a sponsor of the San Francisco Giants “Until There’s a Cure Day”. In addition to our charitable donations, the Handlery celebrates cultural diversity on holidays, such as, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Chinese New Year, Cinco de May, Philippines Independence Day, and 4th of July by providing luncheons for all of our employees. The employees of the Handlery Hotel participate in the Salvation Army Food and Toy Drives and the annual Breast Cancer Walk. Furthermore, the Handlery offers educational opportunities, such as tuition reimbursement for employees as well as educational assistance in the form of financial rewards to children of employees upon graduation from high school, and as they complete each year of college.
Hotel Nikko San Francisco*
The Hotel Nikko San Francisco is dedicated to an ongoing effort to give back to the community. We believe 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 the underprivileged. Hotel Nikko is committed to the community and will continue to support it. We organized and held our second annual blanket drive. The drive encourages our employees to donate new blankets to the needy babies and children of our community. In addition, our program was extended to encourage our guests to donate during their stay, which they did. Hotel Nikko was the recipient of the California Hotel and Lodging Association Community Service Award in 2010. Our effort is recognized statewide by the hotel community. 
The Westin St. Francis
The Westin St. Francis enjoys a rich tradition of giving back to the local community. Each year, the number of activities the hotel and its associates are involved in grows – a fact we are immensely proud of. In 2010, over 500 of our associates participated in collectively giving over 200 hours of community service to a variety of charities and causes including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Our goal has always been to let our associates pick the charities that mean the most to them. The Westin St. Francis is proud to have helped more than 440 individuals in addition to those who received items from food drives held by the hotel. 


Hotel Nikko San Francisco
The “go green” movement is nothing new for Hotel Nikko San Francisco. The 7-time winner of the US Energy Star Award hotel takes its carbon footprint seriously. Hotel Nikko has been practicing greening the hotel for over a decade, and has been featured on ABC 7’s evening news because of its reputation for innovation and energy saving efforts. Hotel Nikko has educated guests on the importance of being energy efficient, and continue to exercise a passion for saving energy and money by various special projects and trail programs on how to be “more green”. Hotel Nikko San Francisco’s green programs were innovative before it was “in” and the efforts continue to improve and show results each year.
Orchard Hotel
The first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified hotel in California (and only fourth in the world), the Orchard is leading the hospitality industry toward a healthier, more sustainable future. Key aspects of the Orchard’s programs insure that optimal indoor environmental quality is provided for hotel occupants and staff. Eco-friendly construction materials used were concrete made with fly ash, a byproduct of recycled coal, and wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as harvested in a sustainable manner were used. Only furnishings and finishes that do not off-gas harmful chemicals were chosen. Fabrics were made with recycled polyester without chemicals and are machine-washed to avoid dry cleaning chemicals. Natural citrus-based cleaning products are used, organic bath amenities offered in every room, and daylight is captured and brought deep into the interior through a ten-story indoor skywell. The City’s first built-in key card energy management control system reduces energy by 20%. Recycling and re-use programs and sustainable purchasing programs round out the eco-effort. The hotel’s staff is very knowledgeable on the subject of “green” and guests and visitors are welcome to pick up resource information or engage the staff with questions and feedback.
W San Francisco
For the past several years, the W San Francisco has made significant strides to make the hotel greener and more energy efficient, while not sacrificing guest comfort or experiences. The product of these efforts is a new LEED EB certification and Energy Star rating for the hotel. The W San Francisco team is committed to reducing energy consumption by 30% and water consumption by 20%. To achieve these goals, the hotel has installed new low-flow shower heads, low-flow faucets, one-gallon flush toilets, waterless urinals, and drought resistant plants. The W did not stop there. Changes to the menu have resulted in sustainable menu offerings in its food and beverage departments, further pushing the boundaries of reducing its climate impact. The W San Francisco’s goal is to reduce its ecological footprint in everything it does.