7th Annual Hotel Hero Awards

April 6, 2010 | Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Winners are noted with an asterisk (*).

Beyond the Call of Duty

Robert Finney
Concierge, Kensington Park Hotel

In 1982, when San Francisco’s first boutique hotel, Personality Hotels’ Hotel Union Square, opened, Bob Finney embarked on his life’s passion as a Concierge. In 1984, he moved to the Kensington Park for the opening of the San Francisco Democratic Convention. There was no marble flooring in the lobby; the hallway carpet had not been installed, but Bob made each and every guest feel so special, no one seemed to notice the hotel was still under construction. Bob has been called, “Ambassador to the Stars,” as his client list includes celebrities from television, stage and screen, the worlds of politics and business. However, each and every guest gets “VIP” treatment from Bob. Bob received his 25 year recognition from Personality Hotels in 2007, and his passion for providing the ultimate in customer service is still as strong as the day he walked into the Hotel Union Square in 1982.
Erica Goldblatt
Concierge, Clift

There should be a story called, “Erica’s Exploits,” because this Concierge has certainly managed some extraordinary “saves” in her three years at the Clift. She has been commended by guests, staff and other industry professionals for being proactive in anticipating guests’ needs and following through with great creativity and attention to detail. One evening Erica received a frantic phone call from a guest who had departed the hotel earlier in the day. He’s forgotten to retrieve a Fedex package which was waiting for him at the Clift front desk. He called from Sacramento in a panic and in desperate need of the contents of the package for a very important meeting. Erica contacted a courier and determined it would cost the guest over $300 to have the package sent to Sacramento, so she volunteered to drive the package to the guest herself, as soon as she was off work. The guest received his package to his great relief and we understand his meeting was a great success.
Yahane Mendel*
Bellman, Hotel Whitcomb

For over ten years, Yahane Mendel has delivered genuine hospitality and dedication to the guests of the Hotel Whitcomb as a Bellman extraordinaire. Fluent in several languages, he is able to make people from all corners of the globe feel at home. He has a ready smile and meets each day….and guest…with warmth and enthusiasm that is positively contagious. His mantra is, “Being grateful for every day is a blessing in itself.” His truly heroic actions brought those words of wisdom to a guest in a very profound manner. Last November, a guest had a heart attack in his room. Yahane heard the emergency alert on the switchboard and sprang into action. He ran to the elevators but noticed that guests were waiting, so he ran up the stairs to the fifth floor guestroom. He later related that he thought, “Every second gone is a breath of the guest wasted.” So, he pushed himself to run faster. Outside the room, a housekeeper was calling for help and the guest’s fiancée was in tears and in great distress. Yahane rushed into the room where the guest was on the bed, lifeless, with no heartbeat, and beginning to turn blue. Yahane began to administer CPR…..no response. Yahane tried faster and harder to bring him back…still awaiting the ambulance…but Yahane did not stop, he couldn’t give up. Finally, a pulse…color begins to return to the man’s face as the paramedics arrive and took over the CPR. He was literally brought back to life by Yahane’s actions and determination. Although the guest lived only a few more hours after the incident, in those hours he was made aware of the care and love surrounding him. It was time on this earth that would not have happened if Yahane had not risen above and Beyond the Call of Duty.
Cornell Richmond
Doorman, Orchard Hotel
Cornell Richmond’s sunny disposition, great smile and can-do attitude make him the perfect doorman and hospitality ambassador, a role he has excelled in since first coming to the Orchard Hotel ten years ago. Guest comments continually attest to his depth of service and the joy he brings to all he encounters. Over time, Cornell has become more than the hotel’s Doorman. He serves as Bellman, Concierge, and most importantly – as Cheerleader. He studied welcome phrases in foreign languages to greet and assist international guests. Always looking out for others, Cornell has returned countless misplaced articles to otel guests, located owners of wallets found on the street, assisted sick or insured passers-by and neighbors, and tended to those in need of help. One of many examples of his dedication…Cornell chased down the street, with no regard for his own safety, following a cab who kept an incoming guest’s luggage in his cab. The luggage was retrieved before the guest could even register what had happened! Cornell found his calling and he’s dedicated to others finding theirs by actively assisting with recruiting at the Orchard. With his help, two more Walden House grads have become valuable staff members….thanks to Cornell.
James Tapscott
Journey Ambassador, Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Going Beyond the Call of Duty is all in a day’s work for James Tapscott, the Hilton San Francisco Union Square’s Journey Ambassador. James speaks Japanese and Chinese and always astounds our guests from Asia with his language skills. But that’s just one aspect of his many talents and remarkable loyalty to his hotel and guests. In late 2008, a Japanese family were sightseeing around town in a rented car. They stopped at the top of Lombard Street to take pictures and fell victim to thieves who prey on tourists. Everything was stolen: money, passports, tickets, souvenirs…and dignity. James learned what happened and for two full days he escorted the family to the Japanese Consulate, the passport agency, the airlines and every other official agency who had to be informed. He finally escorted them to the airport and saw them off. His heroic efforts on their behalf turned the nightmare back into a dream holiday. From distributing umbrellas on a rainy day to quoting chapter and verse on baseball stats to other sports fanatics he runs into in the hotel, to mentoring new employees on the art of service, James Tapscott has already earned Hero status at the Hilton.

Rising Star

Sarah Crown*
Assistant Front Office Manager, Omni San Francisco Hotel
Sarah Crown arrived on the scene in June of 2009, made herself at home in San Francisco in record time and has wowed guests and associates, alike. A big heart, infectious laugh, easy demeanor and gracious style are the hallmarks of this young, Assistant Front Office Manager of the Omni San Francisco. Her amazing reviews at a sister property in Boston got her hired sight unseen. Consistently mentioned in TripAdvisor reviews, Sarah has a firm grasp on the company’s culture of satisfying the guest, the owner and the associate. Going far beyond solving problems; she makes memories. Sarah consistently exceeds expectations, not only in service recovery but in preemptive strategies. By determining why a guest is staying, she will provide a special treat for an anniversary celebration, a special welcome for a honeymoon couple or a favorite snack for a returning guest. Far beyond job duties, her assistance with a family whose child walked out of the hotel and was “lost in the City” for nearly 8 hours certainly helped establish her credentials as a manager of the first order. Sarah, in just a few short months, has demonstrated her leadership skills and her ability to become a well rounded manager.
Janell Dirksen
Front Office Manager, Larkspur Hotel Union Square
A graduate of the Washington State University’s Hospitality Business Management Program, in June 2006, Janell Dirksen became Larkspur Hotels and Restaurants’ first Management Trainee. In her first nine months, Janell learned the company’s values and mission and the operation practices of each of the departments. Less than a year later, in March, 2007, Janell became the Front Office Manager. Always exceeding service expectations and garnering the respect of management and staff, alike, Janell proved that her skills and gracious style would ultimate lead her to Rising Star status with Larkspur Hotels. In fact, during a time of transition with the hotel, in November of 2008, when the General Manager resigned, Janell was left in charge of the hotel. Knowing that the Managing Director and the Executive Team was there to support her, but also knowing she needed to assume the responsibility of the hotel, Janell took the reins. It is her passion for “Team Larkspur,” in support of the company’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility where she has been and continues to be a true champion. Janell’s star is still ascending! 
Erin Finnegan
Marketing and Social Media Manager, Kensington Park Hotel

In five short years, Erin Finnegan has moved from a high school graduate intern, filing paper in the Marking Department to Personality Hotels’ Marketing and Social Media Manager and “Queen Diva,” a website character she created, who acts as a travel concierge. Never shying away from a project, seemingly just out of reach, Erin spearheaded the company’s loyalty program, called “Personality Perks” and worked to change the company’s branding, which, incidentally, won first place in How Magazine’s International Design Competition. Dispelling any doubts of attaining her goals, this young dynamo consistently manages to exceed expectations. Always a gracious ambassador for her property, Erin is front and center at in house events.Most recently, Erin developed the companies all important social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.  Erin’s talents, passion and dedication have already taken her far, and it’s only the start of the journey for this young rising star. 
Ed Moreno
Assisant Director of Food and Beverage, Hilton San Francisco Union Square

The hospitality bug bit Ed Moreno while working his way through college as a successful bartender and bar manager at a popular restaurant in Sacramento. He joined the Hilton a little more than three years ago, but in that time, his numerous promotions have brought him from Bar Manager to Assistant Director of Food and Beverage. Ed successfully managed operations during the hotel’s major renovation in 2008, while also managing Room Service, Lobby Bar and Banquet Bars and also helping improve the financial performance from “break-even” to a double-digit profit margin. He also took the Mini-Bar Department’s annual loss of several hundred thousand a year to break-even.
Great things are expected from Ed Moreno, but only because he expects a lot from himself, and he works diligently to achieve his and the hotel’s service and financial goals. He has recently been dispatched to the Hiltons at Waikoloa, La Jolla Torrey Pines and the new Waldorf Hotel in New Orleans. Not least of all, Ed immediately set his sights on participating and contributing to the hotel’s long-established commitment to the community and sustainability. 
Joanne Tan
Marketing Director, Hotel Whitcomb

Joanne Tan was hired as an Executive Assistant in the summer of 2007, just a few short months after arriving from the Philippines. In a remarkably short time, she took on additional responsibilities as the Project Manager for the renovation of the Associate’s Café, the Breakfast Room, Lobby, Ballroom and guestrooms and suites. She also created a “Hall of History” as part of the hotel’s historic preservation…all while still managing her duties as Executive Assistant. She was recently named the Marketing Director and has produced the hotel’s collateral, advertising, and social media sites. She has represented the Hotel Whitcomb on KRON4’s Best of the Bay, and appeared in a short film, “Making a Better Market Street in San Francisco.” While these accomplishments were achieved with motivation, energy, hard work, and dedication, it is Joanne’s enthusiasm and selflessness to be of service to others that is a testament to her loyalty to her property and passion for excellence. Her vision and strong commitment to San Francisco has achieved a close partnership with the City and County and community agencies in beautification and improvement of Market Street.

Unsung Hero

Ana Duarte
Human Resources Coordinator, Westin St. Francis

Remember when people used to say, “Meet me at the clock?” They meant at the St. Francis Hotel….where Ana Duarte, Human Resources Coordinator, began her career over 27 years ago. On average the hotel hires about 70 associates a year. Multiply that by 27, plus the 800 associates employed, and you might say that Ana is like the mayor of a small town, greeting and touching the lives of thousands of people, including a young management trainee who arrived 15 years ago and who was welcomed back again as General Manager….Jon Kimball. Often people don’t realize someone’s time and effort, and not waving a magic wand, create the unexpected special moments for associates such as decorating the cafeteria for holidays, making the coffee and pastries appear at the employee entrance on special occasions. A force behind the scenes, Ana keeps everything in place and in perspective. Ana Duarte continues to make an impact on another generation of hospitality professionals by representing the voice of the associates, and with the dedicated work of her hands and the warmth and generosity of her heart.
Mary Jane Haney
Revenue and Reservation Manager, Orchard Hotels
For the last ten years, Mary Jane Haney has made a positive and lasting impression on the guest experience at the Orchard Hotels. At the newly opened Orchard Hotel, she began at the Front Desk, where her innate customer service skills were immediately evidenced, as she soon became the favorite of regular guests. As the Orchard’s popularity was growing, Mary Jane established the Reservations Department. When the new Orchard Garden was under construction, Mary Jane’s experience and skills resulted in her being named Revenue and Reservation Manager for both properties.
Mary Jane’s position and her personal attention touch numerous customers. She has assisted guests coming to San Francisco for chemotherapy by securing affordable accommodations for them, which made the trip possible, and then insured that they were very comfortable while here for their treatment. Whether it’s the occasional leisure traveler, the guest, in need, who comes to San Francisco for medical treatment, or the business traveler who spends over 100 nights in the City, and is able to secure a room in a sold out City, all are in the capable hands and enveloped in the warm and gracious attention of the Orchard’s Mary Jane Haney.  
Aida Hernandez*
Office Attendant - Housekeeping, Palace Hotel
Since re-opening its doors in 1991, the Palace Hotel has been home to Aida Hernandez. Aida began as a Lobby Attendant, and then, because of her efficiency and thoroughness, was quickly named Office Attendant in Housekeeping. This position is the direct connection between guests, other co-workers, departments, outside vendors and the Housekeeping Department. Aida takes it upon herself to resolve as many issues as possible and, while doing so, takes the time to learn something about many of the guests who phone in. She gets to know frequent guests, such as a regular customer who inquired about purchasing one of the luxurious hotel bathrobes. Within minutes of this inquiry, Aida got the necessary approval based on the guest’s history, pulled a new robe, wrapped it and presented it to the happy guest. This graciousness is also extended to her co-workers and she is known throughout the hotel as a loyal and caring friend. Known as the department “Controller,” she’s the one who starts the collections for friends in need. Unsung heroes like Aida help define the culture of a property, and we are happy to now sing her praises. 
Guadalupe “Lupe” Mendoza
Housekeeping, Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Known in the Housekeeping Department as the “Class Clown,” 15-year veteran of the Hotel Nikko San Francisco, Guadalupe “Lupe” Mendoza’s radiant smile, witty jokes and positive attitude brought a ray of sunshine to the hotel in the gloom of the 2009 economic downturn. During these challenging times, when so many have been asked to do so much with much less, Lupe’s upbeat attitude has helped keep morale high in her department, when it could have hit an all time low. With the reduction in hours due to falling guest occupancy, many of her less senior co-workers were in danger of losing their benefits. To help out, Lupe volunteered to give up some of her shifts to others. Her actions were contagious and other employees began to do the same. As a result, none of the Nikko’s employees lost benefits due to not enough hours worked. With staff reductions, Guest Comment Scores could have tanked. However, the exact opposite occurred with Lupe’s spirit and attitude. She never missed a beat and was an example to other staff members on how to roll up their sleeves, pitch in, get the job done and not only maintain but increase guest satisfaction. Lupe’s efforts brought her the coveted 2009 Hotelier of the Year Award, and when she won, the first words out of her mouth were, “Viva La Housekeeping!” This sums up her attitude toward her co-workers, her department and her hotel.  
Bobby Tang
Reservationist, Hotel Vitale

Hotel Vitale’s Reservationist “extraordinaire,” Bobby Tang is considered by the Hotel Vitale management, staff and guests alike as a phenomenal team player and maker of memorable moments. With the Hotel Vitale since 2006, Bobby’s passion is to exceed guests’ expectations by creating a unique and remarkable experience. All are treated with the utmost respect and a genuine interest is taken in their lives. He successfully relates to everyone, instantly putting them at ease and actively listening to their needs. Going beyond the call of duty is all in a day’s work for Bobby in creating memorable and individualized experiences. From special treats for important occasions, to a sense of “coming home” Bobby has become a friend, confidant and hero to many of San Francisco’s visitors. When memories of a visit to San Francisco are shared back at home, the whole experience of the City is enhanced by the warmth of his loving care. Thank you, Bobby.

Lifetime Achievement - Operations

Fred Abaoag
Banquet Houseman, Hotel Nikko San Francisco
In addition to holding down his two full time jobs, Fred takes care of his father, who is 102, and he just finished putting two children through college. No wonder he is referred to as a superhero! He joined the Hotel Nikko San Francisco twenty years ago as banquet houseman after working at the Palace and The Meridien. His day begins at 3 am and ends at 10 pm. But despite the long hours, Fred has never been late or absent from work…and he doesn’t even own an alarm clock! Meeting Planners ask for him by name; his advice is sought by long-time professionals, and when a room needs to change from theatre for 400 to luncheon for 200, he can manage the turn….alone….in record time. Fred always projects a warm and cheerful attitude, even when things can be a real challenge….like changing the set minutes before an event. Fred trains all the new employees in his department and he mentors and enjoys passing along his knowledge to the next generation of banquet employees. Several of his “students” have been promoted and won awards for their skills. He has dedicated his life to hospitality and is a gracious role model and advocate. In 2009, Fred was awarded the coveted Hotelier of the Year Award. Well done, Fred!
Beth Comandao
Operations Manager, Orchard Hotels

Beth’s ascent within the Orchard Hotels family has been an inspiration for many others. She started out as an accounting clerk in 2001, after working for the Triton and Villa Florence Hotels. She is the poster child for promoting from within. Many staff members refer to her as “Ate Beth” which means the eldest sister…the leader of the pack. A winner of the Employee of the Year Award, Beth moved on to become Operations Manager of both the Orchard and Orchard Garden in 2006. She now responsible for Accounting, Guest Services, including Front Desk, Bell and Door Staff, Concierge and Night Audit. All of this while insuring that the owner’s vision of two “green” hotels is maintained in the hotel’s day to day operations.  Beth is constantly promoting the industry….and she really lives it, because even her husband, sister and mother work in hotels around the City. Thank you, Beth…you’re our hero.  
Martha Corson
In-Room Dining, Omni San Francisco Hotel

Martha Corson arrived in San Francisco in 1973 and worked, at the San Francisco Hilton in the Gazebo Restaurant and Cable Car Lounge. In 1979 she moved on to the Clift Hotel were she worked for 22 years at the fabled Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel. She remembers serving regular guests such as Sean Connery, Diana Ross and Ed Bradley. Frank D’Ambrosio (who was the Phantom of the Opera) would come in for drinks with the cast during the Phantom’s long run, here in San Francisco, but if Martha wasn’t working, they’d go elsewhere. Now that’s loyalty to a favorite cocktail server! She now garners that type of response from the Omni’s guests, where she has been the In-room Dining Order Taker for the last eight years. Since that time, the Room Service Department has always had guest satisfaction scores among the top three within the company. Guests ask for Martha by name…and comments praising her attention and stellar service are routinely received. Meticulous in ensuring that each detail is perfect, she has been known to chase after managers and cooks until an amenity is prepared and presented to her own high standards. Always committed to improvement of her department, Martha encourages others to contribute. Associates feel comfortable going to her with questions and concerns and she’s there to help. It’s no wonder she’s known as our “Mama Martha.” 
William MacMillan*
Bell Captain, Grand Hyatt
William “Mac” MacMillan has spent a lifetime focused on customer service. Forty-two years have been with the Hyatt family and since 1972, he’s been our Bell Captain at the Grand Hyatt. He currently holds the most tenure for all Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. But it isn’t just the length of service that makes Mac a legend. The personal connection made with every guest he encounters, always finding a way to tailor an interaction around an interest or emotion expressed that makes him a model of the industry and a leader for his peers and colleagues. As a new hire trainer and a coach for new managers, he conveys his expertise and models his customer skills with a warm and gracious manner. He instills in all the importance of conveying the needs of repeat guests who then become loyal guests. After making a connection with a guest who stayed last year, he learned that the area in which he lived was being devastated by wild fires. He searched for the home number, made a call and discovered all was well. Needless to say the guest felt extremely touched by this gesture of kindness. Additionally, one would be hard pressed to find anyone who knows San Francisco’s Union Square area better than Mac. Not only will he offer suggestions outside the tourist options, he is able to recount personal experiences of what it was like years ago. A lifetime of dedication to a hotel and an industry….that’s why Mac is a Hero at the Grand Hyatt…and certainly a San Francisco treasure.
Robert Romano
Food and Beverage Manager, Palace Hotel
Robert Romano has spent nearly 30 years with Starwood. An outstanding manager of a team of 30, responsible for maintaining the equipment for the busy kitchens, three restaurants, room service and all of banquets, he is a key player in the success of the food and beverage department. Although offered many opportunities for advancement to other departments, he says, “Not everyone can say they really love their work and the people they work with. But, I can. That’s why I stay. It is just what is most important to me.” Well respected as a supervisor by his team and by everyone at the hotel, his staff is fiercely loyal and Robert makes sure they are recognized for their contributions. He has also been instrumental in the Starwood Ecosure Program that maintains the health and safety standards with food product and equipment. Robert is the founder and champion of a hotel recycling program where he and his team collect the recyclables from the Palace and sell the glass and plastics to the recycling center and the money goes to local non-profits. He’s a great guy, a valued employee and he will continue to serve the hospitality community by being an outstanding role model. He simply loves to help people and making life better for others is one of his greatest passions.

Lifetime Achievement - Department Manager

Eric Ackley*
Director of Safety and Risk Management, Hotel Nikko

Eric Ackley’s passion for the safety and security of the hotel’s guests reaches far beyond the Hotel Nikko. It extends to neighboring hotels, the neighborhood and even overseas, where his advice is sought on hotel safety and security. As our Director of Safety and Risk Management, he understands as well as anyone the homeless issue we face in San Francisco. These are the very skills that make Eric a favorite with the San Francisco Police Department, the Secret Service or other agencies dealing with high profile guests or “sting” operations. Always striving for ways to improve the safety, security and technology of the hotel, he is a certified EMT, a graduate of the FBI Citizen Academy, Past President and Board Member of the Security Directors’ Association, and a Certified High Rise Fire Safety Director and, more importantly, a role model and mentor. His persistence and passion for education in and rewarding safety programs has paid off in over half a million in rebates to the hotel the last two years. All this, in addition to the countless hours of mentoring his colleagues at work and teaching his 16 year son to drive, keeping our streets safe!
Edward Brandes
Senior Director of Engineering, Grand Hyatt

Ed Brandes has been part of the Hyatt family for 40 years. He is Senior Director of Engineering for all the Hyatt Hotels in the region and was a member of the Opening Team at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco in 1973. Passionate about customer service, and a highly motivated and strong manager, Ed leads his team by example, while establishing clear goals and a vision for his department and the hotel. Ed implemented a creative preventative maintenance initiative that allows the hotel’s engineers to make a lasting impression on guests. A sweet treat – a chocolate wrench – is left in a guest’s room, with a personalized thank you note from the engineering associate, when they are called for a room repair. The many prestigious honors Ed has received during his tenure with Hyatt include Department Head of the Year, and the Pritzker Operations Rcognition Achievement Award. Ed has been the driving force behind the Grand Hyatt’s “green initiatives” and the successful implementation of an integrated energy efficiency plan with PG&E, dramatically lowering both our energy consumption and bottom line expenses. For four decades, Ed Brandes has been…and remains…a model of integrity, loyalty and dedication to Hyatt, the hospitality community and San Francisco.  
Johnny Gallegos
Executive Steward/Banquet Manager, The Fairmont
For 30 years, Johnny Gallegos has dedicated himself to the Fairmont’s guests and team. Johnny started as a Steward, and it was clear from the beginning that his passion for service and his hard work would take him far. Refining his management skills as Assistant Executive and then Executive Steward, he merged both his back and front of the house talents and became Executive Steward/Banquet Manager in 2003. His finely honed instincts and careful attention to detail have made him a favorite with meeting and event planners. His thoughtful attention and goal of exceeding every group’s expectations have been embraced by his colleagues. Johnny not only contributes to the San Francisco Hotel Community but to the community at large. He’s the first to sign up for the hotel’s community outreach programs, such as AIDS Walk or the California Coastal Clean-up. The driving force behind our Green Team, his unrelenting efforts at conservation have resulted in numerous awards for the hotel and a diversion rate of 65% in 2009, with a goal of 75% by end of 2010. And because he’s instilled this passion for the environment in his team, we’re going to make it.
Stanley Liu
Chief Engineer, The Westin Market Street
Twenty-three years, four re-flaggings and four Hotel Hero Nominations later, at the hotel that is now The Westin San Francisco Market Street, Chief Engineer, Stanley Liu, is still managing the plant and keeping a tight rein on the hotel’s conservation programs and eco-friendly practices. Stanley’s passion for improvement is exceeded only by his commitment to customer service and maintaining the highest department standards. Stanley rose to the challenge of running his department with his usual high standards of excellence while going through the most recent multi-million dollar renovation and conversion. His department has an extremely low turnover, with departures usually the result of promotions made possible by Stanley’s role as a mentor. Additionally, he continues to improve himself with yearly Local 39 Trainings and Certifications. Although a busy member of the hotel’s Executive Committee Team, Stanley takes an active role in all the hotel’s gatherings, even acting as paparazzi at team events and Santa’s elf at the holiday party. Recognized by the Business Energy Coalition many times from 2006 to 2009 for his active participation, under Stanley’s stewardship and through his diligent efforts with the Water Department and PG&E, The Westin San Francisco Market Street has become a leader in conservation practices and in conserving our precious resources.
Robert Rhodes
Director of Banquets, Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Whether planning the Academy Awards or a Papal Visit Luncheon, you want Hilton San Francisco’s Director of Banquets orchestrating the event. This 20-year veteran of both restaurant and banquet management has an encyclopedic knowledge of food, wine and customer service. His loyal following of event planners from the City’s top organizations is a testament to his skills and expertise. He is also dispatched around the country to assist other Hilton properties during transitions or openings. His own team is fiercely loyal because they know he’s walked in their shoes. He has managed to exceed his department’s financial goals each year. While controlling costs and expenses, he has never short-changed the customer, his team or the hotel. In 2009, Robert took over management of the Banquet Beverage and Facilities Departments and the added responsibilities have not hindered his department’s performance one bit.
Robert is a standing member of the Banquet Committee, a Joint Task Force of the hotels and Local 2, and has been involved with countless trainings and hirings of banquet extras.

Lifetime Achievement - Hotel Executive

Michael Dunne*
General Manager, Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Immediately upon arriving in the Bay Area from Los Angeles in 2003, Michael jumped into community activities, organizations and events that support neighborhood and city-wide economic development and improvement. A Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce, the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Hotel Council of San Francisco, he worked hard on garnering support for the San Francisco Tourist Improvement District, which will provide repairs and improvements to Moscone and also aggressively promote San Francisco. Deeply committed to environmental sustainability, the hotel supports the Ocean Conservancy and numerous greening initiatives. By being an active and engaged good citizen and good neighbor, he has made a positive impact on San Francisco and the hospitality community. Most early mornings and late afternoons, Michael can be found in the lobby, talking to guests. He rarely misses a team-sell, pre-con and makes it a habit to say hello to clients’ meeting and event planners every day. His daily message is that every guest and team member is important to success. Michael Dunne, General Manager of the West Coast's largest hotel, never misses an opportunity to celebrate a success, or commend a positive outcome.
Thomas Klein
Regional Vice President and General Manager, The Fairmont

Thomas Klein brings three decades of hospitality leadership to his position as Regional Vice President and General Manager of the Fairmont San Francisco. He exemplifies all the attributes that add up to the consummate hotelier… sharp business savvy conditioned by strong values; a passion for perfection tempered by compassion; ambassador and bon vivant, and a model corporate citizen who leads and improves the communities in which Fairmont does business. Despite his hectic travel schedule, he always makes himself available to the staff. Recently, the Fairmont lost an employee in an automobile accident, and Tom personally handled all the arrangements of the memorial service. Tom ran a successful state-wide initiative supporting the Fairmont Brand’s commitment to sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, raising more than $17,000 in guest donations for the California Save our Parks Campaign.
Michael Pace
General Manager, W San Francisco

Michael Pace’s passion for hospitality is positively contagious. Constantly networking with guests, he is always looking for ways to showcase the W Brand and talent. Animated, engaging and innovative, he motivates his team to become the best practitioners of customer service. A veteran of over twenty years in hospitality, he first made a name for himself with the Kimpton Group, and became known, both locally and nationally, as a leader in the environmental movement and “green” lodging long before it became popular. Michael is truly a community leader in sustainability. He is a member of the Mayor’s Committee to explore the use of wind energy. Under Michael’s stewardship, the W achieved LEED certification in 2010. Michael is the president of the Hotel and Restaurant Foundation Scholarship Board. He has worked to completely reenergize the scholarship program. He actively engages studentsby sponsoring networking events. Michael’s enthusiasm and knowledge of environmental issues resonates quite powerfully with the next generation of hospitality leaders…and they all “want to be like Michael!”
Anna Marie Presutti
Vice President and General Manager, Hotel Nikko

Anna Marie’s career in hospitality has spanned nearly 25 years. From her first job as a little “mouse” at “The Happiest Place on Earth” in Orlando, to being named Vice President and General Manager of the Hotel Nikko San Francisco in 2006, she has blazed many trails. The first woman ever appointed to a leadership position with the Japan-based company, Anna Marie has received much acclaim in Japan and here for her industry accomplishments. As a result, she has been a mentor, coach and model to young women on both sides of the Pacific. She declares that gender has nothing to do with the difficulties and challenges the hospitality industry faces and that the key is being honest to your constituents about the state of the business, including the challenges you face, and communicating that information and your strategies effectively to your stake holders. In addition, Anna Marie serves on the Executive Committee of the Hotel Council and the Board of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. She is the driving force behind the hotel’s community service involvement. Always ahead of the curve, this three-time Hotel Hero Award Finalist is a hospitality and community leader.
Jerry Simmons
General Manager, Hyatt Regency San Francisco

For 40 years Jerry Simmons has been an ambassador of hospitality. He has worked almost every job in the hotel and can relate to almost any situation. He understands that to provide exceptional service, you must extend genuine concern and care to both internal and external guests. His staff can relate hundreds of “Jerry Stories” and here’s one. Sometimes these walks allow him to come to the rescue of a guest. For example, he ran into a gentleman with a look of distress on his face. He had forgotten his cuff links and he was on his way to the Ballroom as the Keynote Speaker! Jerry just said, “No problem…Here, take mine.” These are everyday occurrences…both large and small… that make his team proud of him and of their hotel. Jerry is also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Convention and Visitors Bureau and sits on various boards throughout the City. Having played professional football, Jerry Simmons understands team dynamics. He has been a “coach” for hundreds of people who consider it a privilege to have worked with him. Jerry has made a profound impact on many lives, his hotel and the hospitality community.  

Community Spirit

Hotel Nikko San Francisco*
Their team believes that compassionate support to the local community is pivotal to their neighborhood’s vitality. The Hotel Nikko San Francisco embraces this spirit by supporting and volunteering to help underprivileged youth, adults, seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence and other disenfranchised groups. They have dedicated over 800 hours with Project Homeless Connect and over 300 hours with Project Nite Nite, helping homeless children sleep better by providing books, blankets and stuffed animals as comfort. Whether dishing up at Glide or pulling weeds in Union Square, or by their regular support of the AIDS Foundation or the San Francisco Food Bank, their community work is an important part of the hotel’s culture and mission statement. Recently, The Hotel Nikko San Francisco stepped up and raised nearly $10,000 in charity relief funds in one week’s time for the people of Haiti.
InterContinental San Francisco
When it comes to Social Responsibility, the InterContinental San Francisco provides numerous non-profit service agencies with support through a variety of different projects. From employee blood drives to in-kind donations of supplies, room nights and food, the hotel is sharing its resources with those in need. There have been holiday toy drives for Hamilton Family Center and Raphael House, Sock Drives for Seniors and Bake Sales to raise funds for disaster relief. Organizations such as San Francisco Animal Care and Control, Meals on Wheels, and UCSF Children’s Hospital Home for the Holidays Programs have also been aided. The employees have also supported and participated in Operation Care and Comfort for our Troops. The outreach of the InterContinental San Francisco provides genuine care and ongoing involvement for those in the community. 
Westin St. Francis
The Westin St. Francis has a rich tradition of giving back to the community. Each year, the number of activities grow as associates realize how rewarding it is to participate. Last year, over 500 employees donated volunteer hours. The hotel organizes community service that offers a variety of activities, from participating in the Ocean Beach Clean-up to serving breakfast at the Ronald McDonald House, to preparing emergency food packages at the San Francisco Food Bank. Associates also collected over 120 pairs of glasses to donate to the Lions Club. During the last year, they organized a coat drive for One Warm Coat, provided holiday gifts for 100 underprivileged children and held blood drives and various sales with proceeds benefiting organizations such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. The Westin St. Francis’ Social Responsibility Program reaches far and wide in the community.


Hotel Nikko
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.

InterContinental San Francisco
The team at the InterContinental San Francisco carried out a green campaign with the direction of Harry Hobbs, Area Director of Engineering for the hotel and through this campaign produced a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2011. The hotel partnered with PG&E and the U.S. Department of Energy's DOE Gateway Program. The DOE and PEC experts selected the new lighting to meet the hotel's strict standards. 900 new 6.5 watt LED lamps were installed in the lobby and other public areas of the hotel.  Having identified the best available LED technology, the hotel moved forward with the retrofitting of 3000 guest room lights with LEDs. The largest and most impactful energy-saving measure to date has been the installation of a water side economizer for the rooftop HVAC system. The hotel partner with Zip Car to have a docking station for an electric proto Prisus Electric Hybrid. The hotel has achieved a trash diversion rate of 83%, closely approaching the 90% needed to be considered a zero waste stream hotel. In addition, the Hotel's ENERGY STAR rating has improved from 64 to 87, which in conjunction with LEED Gold, makes the InterContinental San Francisco one of the greenest large hotels in the nation.

Joie de Vivre Hospitality*
Joie de Vivre Hospitality’s innovation in the face of increasing online hotel room purchases is a truly remarkable one. While booking online makes a lot of sense for rental cars and airline tickets, it provides challenges for choosing a hotel room, which is a much more personalized product. Yvette, Hotel Matchmaker is an online hotel-matching engine designed to match people with their ideal hotel. After a simple personality test, Yvette, Hotel Matchmaker serves up five hotels, two locales, and six things to do in the Bay Area that match the personality of the consumer. This is the important first stage in the complete Joie de Vivre experience for which the company won the 2001 “Experience Stager of the Year” award in Las Vegas.