People, Places & Things


Cheeca Lodge & Spa in Islamorada, Fla., is proud to announce Tyler Walters as general manager. Walters is responsible for directing the beachfront resort’s overall strategy and handles its day-to-day operations. Walters brings 20 years of experience in the hospitality field, having worked at a number of resorts in the Florida Keys as well as in Colorado. Cheeca Lodge & Spa is situated on 27 beautifully landscaped acres with more than 1,200 feet of palm-fringed beach and crystal-clear water. It features 199 luxurious guestrooms and suites, three restaurants, a nine-hole pitch & putt golf course, a complete tennis program with six courts, two swimming pools and a whirlpool spa. For more information, call 800/327-2888 or visit

Tyler Walters, general manager of Cheeca Lodge & Spa in the Florida Keys

VOA Associates Incorporated, architecture, planning and interior design, announces that Kristine M. Gregonis has been promoted to vice president. She previously served as interior design director for VOA’s Hospitality Practice Group. Gregonis brings exceptional talent and thorough understanding with regard to the field of hospitality design, having provided full-service interior architecture/design and production for numerous destination resorts worldwide for more than 25 years. For more information, visit

The Orlando, Fla., office of VOA Associates Incorporated, architecture, planning and interior design, announces the promotion of Kristine M. Gregonis to vice president.


Gary L. Schimmelpfennig has been named director of housekeeping at Orlando’s premier International Plaza Resort & Spa. A veteran in the Central Florida hospitality industry, Schimmelpfennig brings more than 20 years of experience to his new role at the 28-acre, 1,100-room hotel. Prior to his position at International Plaza Resort & Spa, Schimmelpfennig served for six years as director of guest services and executive housekeeper at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, renowned as the flagship of Walt Disney World Resort. He also led operations as executive housekeeper for three years at Universal’s Venetian-inspired Portofino Bay Hotel. Earlier in his career, Schimmelpfennig held leadership positions with the Rosen Centre Hotel, Adams Mark and Grosvenor, an international property development, investment and fund management group. For more information, call 800/824-0026 or visit


The Tennessee Business Travel Association (TBTA) has awarded its 2007 Chairman’s Award to Jennifer Adams, director of business and entertainment travel for Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. The President’s Award is presented annually to a TBTA board member to recognize exceptional service and dedication to the organization. A member since 1999, Adams joined the board of directors as treasurer in January 2007. Adams has been with Loews Vanderbilt Hotel since 1998. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Marymount Manhattan College. For more information, call 800/23-LOEWS or visit


Keith Hensley was appointed director of sales & marketing at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Atlanta’s largest hotel, located in the heart of Peachtree Center. The 24-year industry veteran will oversee development and execution of all marketing initiatives for the hotel. Hensley was formerly the director of sales & marketing for Marriott Hotels & Resorts in Memphis, Tenn. He co-authored “Guiding Principles” for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau to aid in creating a better synergy among its sales team and the hotel sales team. Outstanding accolades during the course of his career have included being named Marriott International Central Region Property Sales Leader of the Year (2005) and Marriott International Global Event Team of the Year (2005). Hensley holds a BBA in hotel management from Belmont University in Nashville. For more information, call 404/521-0000 or 800/780-0983 or visit


Industry veteran Carole Martin has been named president of the Hotel Human Resources Association (HHRA) of Central Florida. A human resources professional for more than 25 years, Martin serves as vice president, human resources, for Orlando-based Buena Vista Hospitality Group, one of America’s leading hospitality and golf management companies. As president of HHRA, Martin will oversee educational initiatives that provide valuable job resources and support for more than 100 members. Martin will also direct monthly professional meetings and seminars at Orlando-area hotels. Prior to her position with Buena Vista Hospitality Group, Martin was vice president of human resources of Oak Hotels Inc., a hotel management company based in New York. Earlier in her career, she served in a variety of positions in the hospitality industry, including director of human resources for a casino/resort on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi as well as corporate recruiter for Florida Power & Light Company. Martin holds a certification as Professional in Human Resources from the Human Resources Institute and is an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management. For more information, visit


LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples, Fla., received the “Most Excellent Resort” distinction in the United States and Canada from Conde’ Nast Johansens 2008 Awards for Excellence, which selected premier properties throughout the United States, Mexico, Central and South America and the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific Islands. With luxurious beachfront accommodations overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the exotic SpaTerre, to chic BALEENnaples and the Bob Cupp-designed LaPlaya Golf Course, the upscale Naples resort was nominated by inspectors, readers and hotel guests from more than 326 properties in the category of “Most Excellent Resort.” For more information, call 800/237-6883 or visit


Luxury Lifestyle Hotels & Resorts, a collection of some of the world’s most distinctive and exclusive boutique properties, announces its expansion into the Americas with the addition of five member hotels to its portfolio of more than 120 properties worldwide. The carefully selected, newly added hotels include Casa del Mar in Cabo, Mexico; Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina; The Dylan Hotel in New York City; Eurostars Blue Tulum in Tulum, Mexico; and the Lake Resort Le Sirenuse in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, opening soon. All hotels in the collection must be locally authentic and meet a rigorous set of compulsory standards before being considered for membership in Luxury Lifestyle Hotels & Resorts. These include offering personalized service in a relaxed atmosphere, exceptional amenities, commitment to guest satisfaction, a combination of architectural and/or historical significance and intimately sized with no less than 40 and no more than 200 rooms. For more information, visit or call 888/620-5547.



Giles foodservice equipment is going green. Giles is introducing two new environmental hoods that duct and vent like traditional hood systems. The Environmental Hoods take the company’s patented system one step further by cleaning the air exhausted into the outside environment. The Environmental Hoods use a patent pending process of cleaning the grease laden air prior to discharge into the air duct. The air passes through a four-step cleaning process that includes a grease filter, an electrostatic air cleaner, a special carbon filter and a UV light. Not only does this effectively reduce the location’s carbon footprint, but ducts, roofs and building exteriors are kept cleaner as well, reducing the need for building maintenance due to waste emissions that are a result of standard ventilation systems. For more information, call 334/233-5893 or email


Glen Raven Custom Fabrics featured a new world of design possibilities with its Sunbrella® performance fabrics during this year’s HD Expo in May. Sunbrella Sheers are full flowing, fade resistant fabrics for drapery applications, privacy screening and elegant touches for interior and outdoor décor. Sunbrella Shadow is an open-weave, light filtering Sunbrella fabric ideal for privacy screening and fast drying, textural cushions. The height of luxury is Sunbrella Velvet, which has all of the look and feel of traditional velvet, yet is bleach cleanable. For more information, visit


Aprilaire, a recognized leader in the indoor air comfort industry, is offering environmentally conscious homeowners a whole-home humidifier that uses 100 percent of the water in the unit, uses virtually no electricity and helps conserve valuable energy resources by allowing higher thermostat settings. The new technology behind the Aprilaire Model 400A drainless humidifier is the use of a wicking water panel, which allows for 100 percent of the water in the unit to be used in the evaporation process with virtually no standing water. It also incorporates a unique patented water delivery system that eliminates the need for a reservoir and only needs eight ounces of water to operate, making it the most environmentally friendly humidifier on the market. For more information, visit

EYE Lighting announces EYE Shatterproof Metal Halide, a series of metal halide lamps designed with a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) coating on the exterior to prevent shattering of the outer bulb jacket glass if accidentally broken. These EYE Lighting PTFE coated lamps meet U.S. FDA Food Code 6-202.11 requirements, making them an ideal choice for food processing, food warehouse, grocery, industrial, restaurant, retail, sports and other facilities where a reduced potential for glass shard related injuries or contamination is critical. For more information, call 888/665-2677, email or visit


Michael Grimmé, CEO of AMC Liquidators, a liquidation company in Fort Lauderdale, announces the all-new retail and accessories division that is now available to the public at both AMC Liquidators locations. AMC is world renowned for its liquidation services including hotel liquidation, asset recoveries, salvage operations, office furniture liquidation and removal of excess inventory. With its much-anticipated arrival of a new retail division, AMC Liquidators opens its inventory to the public, providing upscale furniture and home accessories. For more information, call 954/525-5353 or 888/762-7060, or visit is redefining the way travelers plan and book their hotel stays by being the first and only website that combines comparison shopping for the best hotel deals, hotel recommendations based on personalized criteria and extensive social networking features. Unlike other sites that pre-negotiate hotel prices, forcing travelers to visit multiple websites to find the best rates, saves travelers time and money by comparing rates from more than 30 leading websites for more than120,000 hotels worldwide all on one hotel booking site so travelers get the best possible deal and a quick and easy booking experience. For more information, visit


LowCountry Barbecue Restaurant’s first birthday was celebrated with a Pig Pickin’ Party on April 19, 2008. Featuring authentic Carolina-style barbecue, the restaurant was opened in April 2007 in the Johns Creek area by LowCountry Barbecue Inc., a full-service catering company founded in Atlanta by Bennett A. Brown III in 1986. For more information, visit


EMPIRE Turf, Florida’s first greatly improved zoysiagrass, meets the Florida Green Building Coalition Green Building standards. This allows Florida builders seeking Green Home Certification to specify EMPIRE and receive certifying credits (Category Two: Water/Drought Tolerant Turf - 2 points). EMPIRE was designated because of its ability to reduce landscape water usage, its inherent pest resistance and its requirements for minimal fertilizer. EMPIRE Turf is a medium-bladed, dark green zoysiagrass that features excellent wear tolerance, requires less mowing and chemical applications and is chinch bug resistant. More importantly, EMPIRE Turf allows the water supply to be shut off in severe periods of drought without the danger of permanently harming the lawn. For more information, visit or call 843/849-1288.


Merchant Link, a leading payments gateway company, said today that its flagship credit card security product, TransactionVault, has been integrated with Squirrel Systems suite of payment solutions, led by SquirrelOne. Squirrel Systems’ fully modular and highly scalable restaurant point-of-sale and management system now includes the Merchant Link security solution, which removes sensitive customer credit card data from the point of sale, and transports it to a safe “vault.” For more information, visit


What is (really) old is new again as the latest craze sweeping the food industry worldwide is ancient grains. Packaged food and beverage markets are seeing a growing influx of new products featuring grains that were favored by civilizations thousands of years ago. According to Datamonitor’s Productscan Online database of new products, some 515 new food and beverage products were introduced worldwide in 2007 featuring ancient grains like quinoa, spelt, kamut, amaranth and chia. This represents a doubling of the 257 new products featuring these grains in 2005 and a nearly five-fold increase over the 112 new products that used these grains in 2004. For more information, contact Tom Vierhile, director of Productscan Online, at 585/374-6326 ext. 28 or has launched a unique worldwide mystery client program, assisting companies in targeting their marketing strategies to satisfy consumers. is a community of people and businesses working on one common goal: an improved service industry. To help keep operations consistent, offers businesses a chance to do further mystery client visits if they wish, and each business receives a page on the website, including 400 words that can be changed according to current business focus and three pictures (all for one year). For more information, visit


In any hotel, motel or resort, making guests feel welcome is the cornerstone of the industry. Whether they are there for business or pleasure, with the entire family or alone, communication to guests is key. Incorporating effective signs and graphics is a vital part of efforts to make each guest’s stay as convenient, comfortable and safe as possible. FASTSIGNS® sign and graphics centers use innovation and technology to make the sign buying process simple by offering a full range of custom sign and graphic products. For more information, visit


Simon Property Group Inc., the country’s largest owner, developer and manager of high-quality retail real estate, celebrated more exciting retailer and restaurant openings during April and May at Pier Park, located on 93 acres that covers land from Front Beach Road (at the City Pier) to the heavily traveled Highway 98 (Back Beach Road) in Panama City Beach, Fla. The new stores will occupy portions of the 900,000 sq. ft. retail and entertainment lifestyle center, which will soon be home to a mix of nearly 90 retailers and restaurants. For more information about Pier Park, visit


Governor Charlie Crist, Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp and the Florida Sterling Council announced The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota as one of five organizations that will receive the prestigious Governor’s Sterling Award for 2008. The Sterling Award is the highest award an organization can receive for performance excellence in Florida, according to Gov. Crist’s office. Other winners were the Hillsborough County Tax Collector, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Clerk of Courts and Shands HealthCare System. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is a full destination resort consisting of 266 guestrooms and suites. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota opened in 2001 and currently employs more than 600 people. For more information, contact Liza Kubik, director of public relations, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, at 941/309-2043 or, or visit

Nilfisk CFM, the world’s leading supplier of industrial vacuums, announces the launch of its new Nilfisk GD 10 Back vacuum. Designed with comfort and ease-of-use in mind, the GD10 Back is incredibly powerful for its small size and equipped with a variety of features for fast, effective cleaning in a multitude of industries. In an independent European study conducted by the Sweden-based Två Ergonomer testing and ergonomic consultancy bureau, researchers rated the GD10 Back “better than rivaling backpack vacs on all design criteria,” when compared to three other internationally recognized brands. The ergonomic evaluation further noted the importance of the Nilfisk unit’s lighter weight and overall harness design in minimizing stress and strain on the body, resulting in higher productivity rates. For more information, call 800/645-3475 or visit


The Maison Francis Miot has been at the forefront in gourmet confectionary arts for more than 20 years. Its simmered fruit jams, award-winning confections and delicate French chocolates all set the Maison Francis Miot as one of the top firms in the traditional “gourmandise” area. The company will be showcasing its line of sucrose-free jams and the “French Lovers” candies at the 54th Summer Fancy Food Show in New York from June 29 to July 1 at the Sopexa French pavilion at booth 2310. For more information, call 800/721-4778 or visit


Providing clients a comfortable, clean and memorable stay is always the top priority in the hospitality industry. No hotel wants the call, “There are bugs in my room!” Finally, there’s a safe, easy and economical solution—Bug-Juice Insecticide Paint Additive. Bug-Juice is the first and only product of its kind to receive an EPA registration (No. 47332-11) for both interior and exterior applications. Use it to control insects in, on and around hotels/motels, commercial buildings, kitchens, restrooms and garbage areas. It mixes easily with water-based and oil-based paint, stains or sealers. It lasts the life of the coating. For more information, call 208/452-3489, email or visit


The Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta just steps from Peachtree Street, has named acclaimed chef Steven Jamison as its new executive chef. Boasting an impressive background, Jamison is responsible for overseeing the culinary themes, menus and preparation of a range of food dishes for the hotel’s upscale Fandangles restaurant, casual Collage restaurant, 24-hour deli and 24-hour room service. With a career that began nearly 20 years ago at Walt Disney World’s Culinary Institute, Jamison is very skilled at preparing a range of cuisines, which includes Asian-Fusion, Caribbean, Cajun-Creole, Italian, French, Southwestern, California seasonal, seafood and steakhouse. He comes to the 760-room Sheraton Atlanta Hotel from Wyndham Orlando Resort in Central Florida, where he served as executive chef for four years, and as sous chef for the prior two years. His diverse experience also includes serving as corporate chef in training for Gunther Toody’s, executive chef for the upscale Del Mar Crab House in Denver, executive chef of the chic Floor 50 Restaurant and the landmark Tower Restaurant in Los Angeles and as restaurant chef of the exclusive Heathrow Country Club in Central Florida. For more information, call 866/221-9922 or 404/659-6500, or visit


Benchmark Hospitality International has recognized the newest recipient of its annual Chairman’s Award of Excellence: George Ables, guest services manager at Stonewall Resort, located in Weston, West Virginia. The award, which was launched by Benchmark in 2005 to recognize extraordinary employee contributions to their communities and the company, was presented by Burt Cabañas, chairman and chief executive officer. Ables was selected out of a field of nominees from Benchmark’s 5,200 employees worldwide as one who personifies the company’s core values of integrity, the intrinsic value of the individual, entrepreneurship, partnership, realism and dedication to service.

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