By JAMES WILKINSON IN AUCKLAND
The nation’s leading hotel executives, properties and staff have been recognised for their performance and hard work at the 2012 New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference (NZHIC) in Auckland.
From a lifetime achievement award to recognising the post-earthquake efforts of two Christchurch General Managers, this year’s recipients of the 2012 NZHIC Awards are some of the most outstanding individuals the New Zealand hotel industry has ever produced.
The biggest gong on the night (May 31), was the New Zealand Hotel Industry Achievement Award, which went to the Managing Director of Dynasty Hotel Group, Jeffrey Tang.
From opening his first New Zealand hotel in 1995, Tang has gone on to grow the Heritage Hotel, CityLife Hotel and Heritage Boutique Collection brands into some of the nation’s largest.
He said the Award was not one for him, but one for both his family and the Heritage staff around New Zealand.
“On behalf of the Heritage Family, I am honoured and delighted to receive this award,” he said. “I am extremely grateful for the privilege and opportunity to be involved in the New Zealand hospitality industry over the last two decades.
“I am indebted to my brother Keith and our beloved father, Mr Tang Wee Cheng, whose wisdom and guidance remains with us in all our endeavours to this day. I would also like to thank the Dynasty Hotel Group Board members, our corporate team, our hotel managers and all the unsung heroes on our staff who always go the extra mile treating each of our guests as someone special staying somewhere special,” he said.
NZHIC co-host Horwath HTL’s Director, Stephen Hamilton, said Tang was a more than worthy winner of the Industry Achievement Award.
“In two decades Jeffrey Tang has established a respected group of New Zealand hotels, built strong brands and been a constant innovator,” he said.
“He also provides employment for more than 500 people and is committed to numerous local children’s charities and community projects, making him a very worthy recipient of this special award.”
Senior Hotel Executive of the Year for 2012 went to The Langham, Auckland’s Managing Director, Jeffrey van Vorsselen.
“Jeffrey always puts excellent customer service at the top of his priorities and is passionate about staff development. He has an impressive track record and has shown true leadership in the hotel industry,” Hamilton said.
Young Hotel Executive for 2012 was won by InterContinental Wellington’s Director of Rooms, Ben Schmidt.
“Ben has shown he has a lot of potential to offer the hotel sector. The judges are confident that he has an exciting and rewarding career ahead of him,” Hamilton said.
The Environmental Initiative Award for 2012 went to Novotel Auckland Airport, which opened in May 2011.
“The judges were looking for a hotel that showed innovation in its environmental programmes and had the potential to influence the way the hotel industry operates in future,” Hamilton said.
Two special awards were handed out on the night and recognised the efforts of Scott Wallace, Director of Operations New Zealand for Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and Tim Dearsley, General Manager of All Seasons Christchurch, in the aftermath of the city’s February 22, 2011, earthquake.
Wallace was particularly recognised for his effort immediately after the massive in quake in moving a large number of people away from The Press building in Cathedral Square just moments before it collapsed.
He also significantly helped Christchurch’s hotel sector with the evacuation of guests, care for staff and accommodation of rescue workers.
“Given that these hotels were understandably stretched, Scott was able to assign staff from the damaged hotels to work at competitor hotels doing whatever needed to be done – even to allocating General Managers to cleaning rooms so the guests could be given the best possible care,” Hamilton said.
Dearsley, who is the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority’s (CERA) Hospitality Industry Liaison and Tourism Advisor, has been one of the undisputed stars of Christchurch since the 2011 earthquake.
He has led the clean-up and recovery work in the city for the hotel industry, including helping ensure over 1000 pieces of luggage have been returned to owners in 37 countries.
“There has been a wonderful response from the people who received their personal belongings back – many never expected to see them again. This effort has reinforced New Zealand’s international reputation as a great host that cares for its visitors,” Hamilton said.
“These two exceptional hoteliers showed outstanding support for their staff, guests and the wider hotel sector, and we are pleased to honour their efforts with these special awards.”
Accor’s outgoing Vice President New Zealand and Fiji, Paul Richardson, said the two awards were a “great recognition of two areas in which Accor has a very strong focus”.
“We are delighted to see Novotel Auckland Airport and Tim Dearsley recognised with these two awards,” he said. “Accor has a strong focus on sustainability and on playing a role in the communities in which our hotels operate and these awards honour that commitment.”
HM was also honoured to be recognised on the night by Horwath HTL’s Terry Ngan, who praised the efforts of the magazine’s team in helping raise over NZD$50,000 for Christchurch at the 2011 HM Awards.
On behalf of the HM team, I would like to thank Terry for his kind words and the entire team is proud of helping raise much-needed funds for the people of Christchurch.