5th Annual Hotel Hero Awards

April 2, 2008 | Westin St. Francis

Winners are noted with an asterisk (*).

Beyond the Call of Duty

Larry Bell
Doorman, Hotel Whitcomb
Known as "The Singing Doorman", Larry Bell is a San Francisco ambassador who makes everyone's day special. He frequently assists guests in extraordinary ways, such as personally helping to get  gentleman's clothing laundered after his luggage was lost by the airline or escorting an elderly guest with her luggage all the way to the BART Station and getting her situated on the train...while singing to her. After witnessing a purse-snactching, he pursued the thief, who dropped the purse which Larry wsa able to return to the happy and relieved woman. Larry Bell likes to "wow" his guests with a song in his heart.
Bob Boone
Accounting Supervisor, Cathedral Hill Hotel 
Compassion and dedication are qualities that are exemplified by Bob Boone. Not only is he hardworking and extremely efficient, he does not hesistate offering his time and talents to his colleagues at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in a very supportive way. He may be assisting a guest with a thorny accounting issue (he enjoys solving problems) or even helping an employee resolve some personal difficulty. Bob's generous spirit is also evident in the numerous community endeavors he undertakes on his own time. This is Bob's second nomination as a Beyond the Call of Duty Finalist!
Kent Cunningham
Security Officer, Cathedral Hill Hotel
Not one, but two acts of heroism on the same sunny afternoon at the JdV Company picnic earned Kent Cunningham in his Beyong the Call of Duty honor. Kent, a retired police officer, works part-time as a Security Offver. While monitoring the area, Kent noticed a child flailing in the pool. Wihtout hesitation he jumped in, fully clothed, and pullted the terrified child to safety. No sooner was he dried off than, amazingly, another youngster was in trouble in the deep end. In he goes again, pulling out the child to safety, this time the weight of the water made his trousers drop, revealing his "Sponge Bob Square Pants" boxer shorts Father's Day gift. Witnesses to these rescues were both relieved and amused by te scene.
Citra Darmawati*
Front Desk Supervisor, Hotel Palomar
Extraordinary care, ingenuity and thoughtfulness are personified by Citra Darmawati. Exammples of her remarkable customer service include hopping on a streetcarto stand in line for same-day release tickets to Alcatraz; sewing buttons on a guest's suit coat immediately before his presenation; helping housekeepers clean a suite needed for a guest's conference call; volunteering to baby-sit on short notice for a guest's child. Citra loves personalizing frequent guests' experience and has been known to arrange holiday decorations in their rooms.
James Nelson
Concierge/Doorman, Orchard Hotel
James is remembered fondly and sinceerely missed by his colleagues and associates. In 2002 he joined the Orchard as a Concierge and Doorman. KNown for his good humor and enthusiastic customer service, he took sincere delight in attentive care of guests. James was also active in the Northern California Concierge Association. James embraced life thoroughly by his love of travel and recreational marathon competitions. His exuberance carried over to his career and every aspect of his life.

Unsung Hero

Valentino Low
Supervisor - Housekeeping, The Ritz-Carlton

Valentino exempligies the 5-Star customer service provider. Technical expertise, an engaging pesonality and winning attitude are teamed with a desire to tke on new challenges. His associates with whom he has developed an extraordinary working relationship, rely on Valentino providing them with the supplies and tools they need to maintain the hotel's ranking as No. 1 in the company for guest room cleanliness. Their trust is well founded as Valentino is also the department's Learning Coach and is responsible for training and ceritfying new hires.
Rene Monje
Guest Services Supervisor, Hotel Whitcomb

Since beginning his career at the Hotel Whitcomb in 1972 as a busser in the hotel's coffee shop, Rene began a steady professional growth based on his guest service skills and eagerneess to learn and adapt to new technology. From Bell Captain to Front Office Supervisor, he embraced change enthusiastically, applied himself at Vocational and English courses, and became a trainer and a role model for his co-workers. He conducts himself with quiet dignity, and thanks to his exemplary approach to customer service, many a visitor to San Francisco feel they have made a friend in Rene.  
Celia Schulthess-Lota
Lead Housekeeping Coordinator, The Ritz-Carlton
She's called the right arm and backbone of the Housekeeping Department. Her expertise encompasses many critical areas: tracking and maintaining inventories; scheudling and coordinating laundry activities; and completing th daily board assignments for room attendants. In 2007, her department was ranked No. 1 in hotel room cleanliness in the entire company. Although offered opportunities to apply for leadershup positions, Celia chooses to remain where she feels she can best contribute to the success of her department and hotel. Celia exemplifies the gold standard for service.  
Gene Sevilla
Income Auditor, Hilton San Francisco

In 2005 his daylight position as Income Auditor began. His oversight and execution of the numerous details involved with capturing the revenue the hotel has earned and ensuring that customers have been properly charged is flawless. Gene says, “Ensuring our reporting accuracy is in our customers’ and our best interest. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves or our customers.” Customer service, attention to detail and hard work are constants. Gene embodies these virtues and attributes.
Yee Lam Yu*
Cook, Palace Hotel
For over 25 years, Yee Lam Yu has made it his mission to share his culture, tradition, and talents with his peers, supervisors and guests of the Palace Hotel. He designs lavish, authentic Chinese banquets and produces every item himself. Diligent and reliable, he is also zealous about the quality of his work. He takes great pride in single-handedly producing all the cold items for the famous Garden Court Sunday Brunch. A gentle man of quiet humility who brings time-honored values of hard work and integrity to his artistry and craft, Yee Lam is also a champion of goodwill. He's viewed by staff and guests alike as a "Palace treasure", a living symbol of the Hotel's history and presence in San Francisco.

Rising Star

Angel Aroche*
Director of Security, St. Regis

A true professional, Angel blends the worlds of hospitality and protective services. A roloe model and mentor, under his tutelage, his officers have obtained Citizen Police Certificates, National Emergency Response Team Training, one joined he Police Force and one in the US Air Force Reserves. An innovator in security processes, he developed an early warning notification of criminal activity on hotel property, Be On the Lookout "BOLO", now used throughout the City and responsible for apprehending a purse-snactching ring. Angel's uncompromising dedication to service excellence has resulted in some of the highest guest satisfaction scores throughout the Starwood brand.
Adam Beer
Front Office Manager, Westin St. Francis
Arriving at the Westin St. Francis as a management trainee, Adam immediately proved himself capable of being hired as a Front Desk Manager. HE made he transition to Housekeeping Manager shortly thereafter, developing operations and management experience. Adam has taken the time to learn key phrases in Tagalog, Cantonese, and Spanish to better understand the needs and culture of his staff and has fostered relationships with senior management, taking their mentoring to heart. Adam's abilities and winning attitude were responsible for his leading the entire Arrival Operations of over 3,000 attendees of the recent Starwood global sales conference at 9 properties.  
Constance Desousa
Sous Chef, St. Regis

Constantly setting the bar high, leading with passion and determination, Connie has consistently demostrated the ability to deliver the uncompromising Five Star food and beverage service she helped establish at The St. Regis. Connie's superious performance reviews brought her the coveted St. Regis Uncompromising Service Award in June 2007. Her international training and work experience in Germany, Canada, and South Africa were steps in her journey to placing the St. Regis San Francisco on the culinary map of San Francisco. 
Chad Merced
Assistant Front Office Manager, Mandarin Oriental
Within three weeks of beginning his hotel career as a Guest Relations Agent, Chad checked-in nd out the AAA "Mystery Shopper" Inspector. His charisma, charm, and talent were so impressive, he earned 5 Diamonds for flawless performance. Consistently and professionally dealing with the expectations of serving discerning guests and demonstrating an uncanny ability to deal diplomatically with challenging situations, Chad earned a quick promotion to Front Office Supervisor. A "go-to" leader, enormously popular with guests and co-workers alike, he brings dedication and compassion to all his endeavors.
Heather Powell
At Your Service - Program Coordinatr, JW Marriott

The San Francisco State Hospitality Management Program led Heather Powell's quick ascendency from intern in t2004 to full time Room Service Operator. In 2006, when the property became the JW Marriott, Heather joined the newly founded "At Your Service" Department. Heather also takes an active role in the JW Marriott community service programs. With a rady smile, she is always eager to be of assistance to other departments. Her work ethic and eagerness to learn and assume more responsibilities are paving the way for this Rising Star!

Lifetime Achievement - Operations

Richard Chan
Concierge/Bellman, The Cartwright

For 33 years, Richard Chan has welcomed visitors to San Francisco and The Cartwright Hotel with a warm smile. During his years of service, he has witnessed the transition of The Cartwright to new owners three times. The hotel team looks to him as a role model, not just for his length of service, but for his wealth of knowledge of the hotel's and San Francisco's history. In his many years of working in Union Square, he has helped nearby merchants and retailers by referring guests to their businesses. Richard Chan carries his spirit of hospitality wherever he goes.
Albert Flores
Houseman, Hotel Monaco

Each morning, Albert Flores sets up and maintains the coffee service, the "first impression" of the day for the Hotel Monaco's guests. Albert enjoys this opportunity to warmyl greet each guest and thank them for staying at the Monaco. Throughout Albert's 17 year-tenure with Kimpton, he has been the recipient of numerous Emloyee of the Month Awards and, recently, the "Workaholic" award for service above and beyond. His high standards and work ethic are passed on to the housekeeping staff and interns he has trained. He takes tremendous pride in the hotel's cleanliness and motivates others to exceed with his spirit and energy.
Barney Garcia
Doorman, Omni San Francisco

Barney is the face of the Omni San francisco...the first to welcome guests and the last to wish them a fond farewell. Barney greets passersby, drivers, and cable car conductors, building relationships with all he encounters. Throughout more his more than 26 years in hospitality, his public relations skills have become legendary and his exploits in customer service awe-inspiring. A trainer and mentor to staff and management alike, he leads by example and brings an unmatched passion for his work to the San Francisco hospitality scene.
David Shortz
Suite Coordinator, Hilton San Francisco

The Hilton San Francisco's clients may only have been acquainted with David's voice, but his warmth and willingness to satisy each request enthusiastically recognized by meeting planners and clients in post-convention meetings and satisfaction surveys. His behind the scenes work through his interaction with sales and operations staff makes for a seamless transition from sale to stay. During his 18 years at the Hilton, he has volunteered with many of the hotel's programs, such as "adopting" seniors and children during the holidays, pledge nights on KQED or participating in AIDS Walk.
Tom Sweeney*
Doorman, Sir Francis Drake

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, “it must have been hard to get a cab at a San Francisco hotel Tuesday night, since at least two dozen doormen from the city’s top hotels, each wearing his own costume, showed up to honor Sweeney.” That’s Tom Sweeney, 30-year, legendary doorman at the Sir Francis Drake. The occasion was a celebration to honor Tom’s 30-year career as the country’s most famous doorman. At the age of 19, he was really interested in being a fireman or working for the Police Department, but after he took a “temporary” job as one of the hotel’s three doormen, he was hooked on hospitality. But, he may still be able to get a police badge. Tom once tackled two robbers who stole a guest’s luggage. The luggage was then returned to the happy guest. As a testament to his stature, Tom arrived for his anniversary party in Rescue One, the San Francisco Fire Department’s biggest and best emergency unit. Tom says, the secret of his success is staying calm, “and you have to love dealing with the public.” This love is certainly returned in full measure by all those who know and admire Tom Sweeney.

Lifetime Achievement - Department Manager

Stanley Liu
Chief Engineer, Westin San Francisco Market Street

In the past 21 years, from journeyman to department chief, through four re-flaggings, Stanley Liu has consistently distinguished himself in both internal and external customer service. Through renovations and conversions, his leadership and mentoring have inspired his team to continuous improvement and innovationfor the efficient maintenance of their property and guest satisfaction. Stanley has led initiatives in conservation and eco-friendly practices throughout the years, working with PG&E for energy savings and the Water Department on conservation.
Sonia Melendez
Executive Housekeeper, Harbor Court Hotel

Each day she starts her staff with the same ritual: stretches and exeercises while grooving to "Greased Lightning," followed by a training topic and ending by asking what can be done to improve guest loyalty. A powerhouse of energy, passionate about guest satisfaction, and respected throughout her company through her 21 years of service, Sonia has been tapped to train teams at new Kimpton properties across the country. One of the early pioneeds of the hotel community in donating excess goods and supplies for re-use to non-profit agencies, she currently heads the "EarthCare" initiative at her hotel.
Karen Rambaud
Room Service Manager, Mandarin Oriental
Part of the hotel's opening team over 20 years ago, Karen's high standards and dedication to service have never wavered. Her pursuit of perfection and innovation have made her a leader and role model among her colleagues. She was handpicked to train Room Service staff for the openings of the Mandarin Oriental's sisterm properites in New York, Washington D.C., and Miami. Ever minful of the health of our community and planet, Karen is involved with numerous non-profit organizations and "green" events.  
Jerre Riffle
Director of Conference Services, Palace Hotel
Working with dignitaries may be all in a day's work for many Conference Directors, but orchestrating simultaneous visits by the Queen of England and the President of the United States gave Jerre Riffle her title as "Customer Service Queen". In 1983, her seamless accomplishment of these tandem visits, complete with security details, bad weather, and a full house while at the West St. Francis, laid a foundation for her career and the undying respect of her colleagues. Involved in numerous national advisory boards to find ways to strengthen contracting for both hotels and clients, she is sought after by taskforce groups to pilot complex service systems. Jerre as set the standard for excellence in customer service.  
Philippe Striffeler*
Director of Food & Beverage/Executive Chef, Hotel Nikko

Recognizing that the dining experience encompasses more than just enjoying food, Philippe is driven to providing nothing less than the finest ingredients and creating each menu as though it was his first. President of he Chef's Table, an active member of the Toque Blanche and a local radio personality, Philippe gives unstintingly of his time and talents to many local organizations nd has graciously donated his services to be auctioned off to raise money. He has groomed and mentored associates who have moved on to thead their own restaurants.

Lifetime Achievement - Hotel Executive

Yvonne Lembi-Detert
CEO & President, Personality Hotels
A pioneer in the San Francisco hospitality community, Yvonne Lembi-Detert opened San Francisco’s first boutique hotel more than 26 years ago, and has grown Personality Hotels into a successful collection of seven boutique hotels. She has dedicated her entire career to customer service since graduating from San Francisco State University. A hands-on owner, she can be seen each day at one of her properties, working with and mentoring staff, asking for their input, thinking creatively to solve challenges and leading by personal example. Yvonne knows that the success of Personality Hotels lives and breathes with customer satisfaction and you can find her, each day, warmly greeting guests and answering their e-mails, ensuring that their experience exceeds expectations. Highly regarded as a pace setter in this very competitive industry, Yvonne continues to set the bar in marketing efforts and trends in San Francisco and throughout the world.
Stefan Muhle*
General Manager, The Orchard Hotel

The first San Francisco General Manager to construct a “green” hotel, the Orchard Garden, which opened in 2007, is California’s first LEED-New Construction certified hotel, built to the exacting specifications of the U.S. Green Building Council.  Stefan was determined to achieve this milestone in San Francisco’s hospitality scene as studies have shown that LEED certified buildings have lower operating costs, higher employee productivity and happier, healthier occupants.  Stefan, who is also General Manager of The Orchard Hotel since 2001, has created not one, but two, exceptional properties.  Leisure, business and eco-conscious travelers are unanimous in their praise of the service, staff, rooms and value of both hotels, all run by Stefan’s hands-on example and leadership.  It is a testament to Stefan’s management and talent that the Orchard Hotel and Orchard Garden have again been voted the Best Places to Work by the San Francisco Business Times.
Anna Marie Presutti
Vice President/General Manager, Hotel Nikko
An industry trail-blazer for two-decades, Anna Marie Presutti was named vice President/General Manager of Hotel Nikko San Francisoc isn 2006., the first and only woman ever to serve as an Executive or GM for the Nikko organization. Recently recognized as on of "The Most Influential Women in the Bay Area," by the San Francisco Business Times, she is a board member of both the Hotel Council of San Francisco and the Convention and Visitors' Bureau. An active and passionate voice for our industry's success in San Francisco, Anna Marie is also the driving force behind the entire Hotel Nikko San Francisco's community service involvement.

Community Spirit

Handlery Union Square Hotel
The reputation of a hotel on the community is beyond its four walls contributes to the vitality of San Francisco. Handlery Union Square Hotel's employees take great pride in the hotels many programs that support the community with both monetary and in-kind contributions. Among the hotel's many charitable beneficiaries are the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Salvation Army's Housing Project, and Jewish Vocational Services, along with numerous contributions to the Hotel Management Programs locally and across the country. They also provide complimentary rooms for cancer patients receiving treatment in the City. Lookng to the future, Handlery offers educational opportunities in the form of tuition reimbursement as well as educational assistance in the form of financial rewards to children of employees when they graduate from high school and through college.
Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Since opening their doors 20 years ago, Hotel Nikko San Francisco has been invested in the community. Their involvement has concentrated right in their own backyard. Over a 1,000 hours volunteering at Glide Memorial Church; numerous hours beautifying neighborhood parks and playgrouns; and conducting tours for school children, our future hospitality professionals and guests, are just a few examles. Nikko San Francisco's General Manager, Anna Marie Presutti, believes that compassion and support to our local community is pivotial to the neighborhood's vitality, and the hotel embraces this spirit by volunteering to help underprivileged youth and adults.
San Francisco Marriott*
Marriott International's Spirit to SERVE the community with projects that impact Shelter and food, Environment, Readiness for hotel careers, Vitality of Children, and Embracing diversity and disabilities is embodies by the San Francisco Marriott team. The hotel continues a nearly 2-year alliance with Toolworks, an agency dedicated to promoting independence, equality, and personal satisfaction for peple with disabilities. Currently, 14 Toolworks employees are working at the hotel. Marriott san Francisco's Volunteer Council is justifiably proud of the hotel's variety of and commitment to community service.  


Argonaut Hotel
Each Kimpton Hotel has a distinct personality and its own story. The Argonaut's story is Adventure. The nautical decor, elegant cruise-liner style, compass-inspired light fixtures, port-hole shaped mirros and "deck" chairs hold a promise of setting sail for adventure. The hotel houses the National Historic Park Museum, the Visitor's Center for the San Francisco Maritime National History ark, and an interactive learning exhibit in the Discovery Room. The hotel's unique relationship with the National Park Service provides videos in the guest rooms, complimentary passes for the historic Hyde Street Pier, in addition to free, one-hour guided walking tours twice a week with rangers from the Aquatic Park. Each guest is considered an Argonaut, an explorer, and th hotel utilizes its location to fulfill the promie of adventure.
Hotel Tomo 
From the high-tech vending machines in the lobby to the oversized bean bags in the guest rooms, the Hotel Tomo channels anime and manga (comics and print cartoons) throughout the guest experience. From the moment a guest steps into the lobby, they enter a world that has created a buzz in technology, gaming, art, and fashion circles. Drawing from its environment in Japantown, the hotel blends together Japan's fascination with animation, graphic novels, cartoons, bright colors, funky furniture, and elaborate street fashion. Two outdoor geo-domes in an interior courtyard are equipped to handle everything from birthdays and weddings to corporate retreats. The hotel's transformation fromthe Best Western Miyako Inn to the Hotel Tomo represents a completely new hotel option in San Francisco. RevPAR has gone up 40%, but more importantly, its popularity has helped invigorate the revitalization of San Francisco's Japantown.
Orchard Garden Hotel*
The first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified hotel in California (and only fourth in the world), the Orchard Garden is leading the hospitality industry toward a healthier, more sustainable future. Key aspects of the Orchard Garden’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.