Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association has announced its recognition of its 2013 Outstanding Industry Award Recipients at the Hampton Convention Center on Nov. 20. VHTA member Allison Dugan, of Shenandoah Caverns Family of Attractions, announced each award recipient as an audience of roughly 350 watched some of Virginia's finest hospitality employees be recognized.
There were eight award recipients ranging from all levels of leadership and each was recognized for unique and over the top service as well as dedication to the industry, their customers and company. The first award, Travel Employee of the Year, went to Charlie Buser, a past outstanding member. The award was given in his memory.
John Freeman of Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau was named VHTA's Travel Employee of the Year and was awarded for his dedication to the CACVB and for his winning strategy for its eMarketing programs.
Bill Dillon owner of the Abbey Road Restaurant in Virginia Beach, earned the Restaurateur of the Year award, singled out for his dedication and support of the hospitality industry by serving on numerous committees and with local charitable groups as well as being the wonderful owner of what is now a Virginia Beach landmark, the Abbey Road Restaurant.
Lorraine Gilb, of the Griffin Tavern & Restaurant, won the Restaurant Employee of the Year. The award was presented by Debbie Donehey, owner of the restaurant in Flint Hill, for Gilb's outgoing personality and welcoming nature that she brings to the restaurant's customers and staff.
Mark Carrier, CHA, president of B F Saul Hospitality Group, received the Hotelier of the Year award from friend and hospitality colleague Patrick Foley.
The Lodging Employee of the Year award went to a long-standing employee in the hotel industry, Shima Chenzaie, who has been with The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, for over 18 years and was recognized for her outstanding customer service.
Jenifer Jackson, CHA and CLM, general manager of the Comfort Inn Harrisonburg, won the Lodging Manager of the Year award for her work and guidance as a general manager throughout her years in the hotel industry with many of her properties she has worked at winning numerous awards under her leadership. She is the immediate past chair of VHTA.
David Webster was awarded the VHTA Rising Pineapple Award for his service with Q-Principle LLC. He has been a long-standing member of the hospitality industry and
is recognized for his lifetime commitment to successful communication between hospitality workers and guests as well as the improvement of workload for those in the hospitality industry.
The VHTA Golden Pineapple Award was presented to Kristen Karrfalt, an avid supporter and member of VHTA who currently serves as secretary on the Virginia Hotel and Lodging Association component and is the director of marketing at the Residence Inn by Marriott Arlington Courthouse. She was the chosen recipient by comments from co-workers and customers that defined the dedication, creativity and energy she brings to her job each and every day.
The Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association is the unified voice for the restaurant, lodging, travel and hospitality suppliers associations. It creates value for members by promoting the legislative interests of the industry, protecting free enterprise and providing networking and educational opportunities.