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A number of heartwarming testimonies displaying integrity and excellence
were given at the 12th Annual Hospitality Awards.
March 22, 2016 (Arlington, VA) - The Arlington Chamber of Commerce honored over 80 front-line workers in Arlington's hospitality field at the 12th Annual Hospitality Awards on Tuesday, March 22 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott. The event focused on those who make Arlington County a wonderful place to live and visit through their hard work, dedication, and outstanding customer service.

"The hospitality industry is incrediby important to Arlington and to our Chamber," said Arlington Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Kate Bates"Getting the additional Transient Occupancy Tax surcharge reinstated was our number one legislative priority for 2016, and we're thrilled that our efforts resulted in success and much needed funding for Arlington Convention and Visitors Services to help better promote and serve all of you!"
2016 Hospitality Award Winners
During the awards presentation, incredible testimonials were given that represented the excellence and dedication of the award winners and their continuous efforts to go above and beyond their job requirements to provide superior customer service to their guests. One winner, Russel Forbes of the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston, didn't hesitate to step up and save the day when people were in need. Last July, there was a fire at a coffee station inside the ballroom. Mr. Forbes was downstairs in the maintenance shop and heard the radio call for assistance. Without hesitation, he grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the fire. He immediately began extinguishing the fire and was able to put it out. Because of his courageous act and quick reaction, major damage was avoided and no injuries occurred.  
Elsy Maldonado (left) with Dori Familiant (center) and Chris Raines (right)
Elsy Maldonado of  ROCKLANDS Barbeque and Grilling Company is another example of someone who goes "above and beyond" to assist guests. Originally from El Salvador, when Spanish speaking customers come in, the nominee will take it upon herself to go out and help them navigate the menu. She will recommend items and let the customers do tastings to see what they like. Once when IDing a guest to see if they were of age, she noticed that it was their birthday. Even though the restaurant was busy, she wanted to do something special for the customer so she brought out a cupcake with a candle and wished them happy birthday. The customer was noticeably moved by the gesture as was the rest of the group.  

Emerlita Baltazar of the Sheraton Pentagon City is a floor concierge who provides outstanding service and is often reviewed highly by guests.  She can handle up to 90 guests by herself on any morning. Recently, the hotel had a Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient's family staying in the hotel. This nominee wowed them during their stay and was very generous and kind, helping them wherever they needed. The family was so appreciative that they invited her to attend the ceremony with the family at the White House. 

These are just a handful of the many examples of the Hospitality Superstars in Arlington whose  selfless deeds for the sake of others keep guests returning to Arlington's fantastic hotels and restaurants. The winners are not managers, who are oft en  recognized in this type of awards ceremony, but rather the employees whose work directly effects the customer on a daily basis.

The ceremony also honored 17 individuals who have served in the Arlington hospitality industry for 25 or more years through the Bob Klein Legendary Service Award.  Of all of the awards, the awards for legendary service, 25 years or more, are often the most inspiring.  The award was renamed The Bob Klein Legendary Service Award several years ago in honor of the General Manager of the Holiday Inn National Airport who was instrumental in creating this program and its success for the first five years. The award winners included  Assefa Alemu ( Hyatt Regency Crystal City),  Shahed Ali ( Hyatt Regency Crystal City),  Lisbe Antayhua ( Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston),  Mercedes Daleney ( Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston),  Josefina Doral ( Crystal Gateway Marriott),  Kheim Duong ( Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston),  Janice Edmonds ( Crystal City Marriott),  Gledia Fernandez ( Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston),  Alan Fon ( Hyatt Regency Crystal City), Joyce Garrett ( Crowne Plaza National Airport),  Jember Gebrewahid ( Crystal Gateway Marriott),  Grace Kumi ( Crowne Plaza National Airport),  Dora Marin ( Ritz- Carlton Pentagon City),  Emily Minor ( Holiday Inn National Airport),  Ester Pabico ( Crystal Gateway Marriott),  Rose Simms ( Holiday Inn National Airport), and  Blanca Ventura ( Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston).
Chris Raines, General Manager of the  Holiday Inn Rosslyn and co-chair of the Arlington Chamber Hotel General Managers Committee, opened the ceremony.  In addition to Mr. Raines, Dori Familiant,  General Manager of the  DoubleTree Crystal City  hotel and co-chair of the Arlington Chamber Hotel General Managers Committee,  assisted with the presentation of the awards.

Tourism and the hospitality industry are among the most important business sectors in our community, and those being honored are key in continuing the success of the industry. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor the "Superstars" of our important hospitality industry.
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Founded in 1924, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce is a member-centric, volunteer-based, non-profit organization of over 700 businesses committed to the economic and civic well being of the community. For more information or to become a member, visit