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Team Spirit: Celebrating GTHA Spirit Award Winners

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
DAN BELL, Commis chef, Westin Harbour Castle

Since he first walked through its doors in 1977, Dan Bell has been an integral part of the culinary team at the Westin Harbour Castle. Both guests and colleagues can attest to his ability to anticipate guests’ needs and provide personalized experiences.

Bell’s 42 years at the hotel have made him a master of the omelette station at the hotel’s buffet, where he creates specialized egg dishes for guests each morning. Often referred to as the “egg man,” Bell ensures all dietary needs are considered when cooking. Bell can often be seen personally delivering his omelette creations to table.

Throughout his career, Bell has been recognized for his excellent service and attention to detail through letters and comments from guests, as well as multiple awards. In 1982, he was the recipient of the Toronto Hilton Harbour Castle Manager’s Award; in 1996, he received the Thurston-Dupar Inspirational Award for Exemplary Service; and in 1997, he was named Westin Hotels and Resort’s Employee of the Year.

F&B OUTLETS AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
BOGUSALWA KONEFAL, Sheraton Club attendant, Sheraton Gateway Hotel, Toronto

For the past 16 years, Bogusalwa Konefal’s mission has been to create unique and personalized experiences for guests of the Sheraton Club lounge. Her conscientious work ethic and unparalleled communication skills have ensured all guests leave the lounge feeling welcomed and valued.

Konefal remembers the names of all Sheraton’s Elite guests and goes out of her way to familiarize herself with their preferences so she can provide personalized experiences.

She provides exceptional service by not only making guests’ stays memorable, but by ensuring customer feedback reaches the individuals it needs to so the Sheraton can constantly improve its guest experiences.

GUEST SERVICES AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
JONAS GONZALES, Guest Service agent, The Strathcona Hotel, Toronto

Jonas Gonzales is known for going above and beyond the expectations of both guests and colleagues at The Strathcona Hotel. In his 17 years with the company, Gonzales has gained a reputation as one of its most-dependable employees. He’s always smiling, has a positive attitude, is consistently on time and willing to cover his colleagues’ shifts, stay late or come in early.

Gonzales is meticulous with information and completes tasks to company standards — often checking group day files and reviewing log books, emails and extranets to ensure no detail is missed or unaccounted for. He’s an integral part of the communications team for Guest Services and ensures all information, from memos to SOP, travels seamlessly between shifts.

Gonzales is often mentioned by name in guest reviews as he is the first to offer assistance with luggage and takes the time to truly connect with his guests throughout the check-in process. By inquiring what brings guests to the city, Gonzales is able to ensure they have fantastic experiences by suggesting relevant restaurants, activities, attractions and shows in Toronto.

Apart from his interactions with guests, Gonzales has won multiple Employee-of-the-Year awards and actively participates in the improvement of operating standards at Strathcona by providing feedback and suggestions. He’s involved in leading weekly culture celebrations, volunteering for charitable events run by the hotel and launching a “Carbon Footprint” program, which will focus on reducing the hotel’s overall carbon-dioxide production.

CONCIERGE OF THE YEAR
NAWIN MUTTI, concierge/lounge attendant, Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville, Toronto

Nawin Mutti lives and breathes hospitality. After overcoming adversity at a young age due to a minor disability, Mutti enrolled in Taekwondo and read books which led him to believe life was about helping others.

Dreams of becoming a firefighter quickly changed as Mutti realized he could still be a hero and work in the hospitality industry. While enrolled in Humber College’s hotel program, he was excited to help other people and that kept him motivated. His dream shifted and Mutti now wants to be a top leader in the hotel industry.

Mutti’s strengths in hospitality are his ability to be both aware and attentive to all his guests’ needs and preferences. He once overheard some regular guests mention that their favourite meal in Toronto was mac and cheese. Knowing that their business contract was ending and this would be their last day in Toronto, Mutti arranged for the kitchen to make it for them on the last day of their visit.

Mutti actively volunteers on a regular basis and helps encourage future generations of hospitality workers by providing inspirational talks to hospitality students at Humber College.

HOUSEKEEPING ROOM ATTENDANT AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
YAN POW CHOW, room attendant, Novotel North York, Toronto

In her 29 years at Novotel, Yan Pan Chow has become known as one of the hotel’s top team players. She’s demonstrated a keen interest in mentoring and assisting her colleagues over the years and understands that to ensure guests have an enjoyable stay, work must be completed on time and with exceptional quality. When Novotel introduced a new operating system, Chow took it upon herself to master the system so she could teach her fellow colleagues how to use it. She can always be counted on to cover a shift for one of her colleagues, even at the expense of her own vacation time.

Chow goes above and beyond in her work as a room attendant and likes to offer guests personalized experiences by leaving special welcome gifts in their rooms. She always remembers her guests’ names and preferences and follows up with them to see how their stay is going and if she can improve it in any way. For one guest who was staying for an extended time at the hotel with his son, Chow created a scavenger hunt for the boy by leaving small surprises for him hidden around the hotel. Every day, she gave him clues on how to find them. The experience made the guests’ stay unforgettable and Chow was happy to become the boy’s special friend for the duration of their visit.

Written by Shelby O’Connor

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