GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE CELEBRATES NATIONAL TOURISM DAY AND 30TH ANNUAL SUNSATIONAL SERVICE COURTESY AWARDS FOR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS

SUNsational luncheon winners 2019

Caption: Recipients of Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s SUNsational Service Courtesy Awards, from left to right: Sebastian Serna, Stacy Ritter (Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB President and CEO), Kelli Tretina, Kiley Lamey, Henry Munoz, Dieulila Joseph, Jorge Valencia, Joadis Boza, David Farr, Sue Peregrin, Anne Gourdet, and Jason Blacklock.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (May 8, 2019) – In observance of National Travel and Tourism Week, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted its 30th Annual SUNsational Service Courtesy Awards luncheon on Wednesday, May 8. The event, attended by approximately 500 industry partners, recognized Broward County’s finest frontline hospitality professionals who deliver SUNsational Service to the millions of visitors in the destination.

“We are so proud to honor our 11 SUNsational Service Courtesy Awards winners of the class of 2019, and we salute them for their commitment to providing WOW experiences for Greater Fort Lauderdale visitors and residents,” said Stacy Ritter, CEO and President of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our hospitality industry colleagues make Greater Fort Lauderdale a welcoming destination, and their dedication to providing exceptional service is one of the reasons Greater Fort Lauderdale continues to grow in popularity among leisure and business travelers.”

Each award winner received prizes including a Greater Fort Lauderdale staycation at a resort property, dinner for two at a Crave Greater Fort Lauderdale restaurant, SUNsational Service Courtesy Award plaque, SUNsational Service watch, Greater Together water bottle and $100 Play Pass for two at Xtreme Action Park. All 82 award nominees received an Underground Lauderdale robe, Winterfest Boat Parade Grandstand tickets, roundtrip ride on Brightline and a SUNsational Service pin.

This year’s winners and their stories include:

Anne Gourdet, Lobby Attendant at Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach

During a convention at Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach in the summer of 2018 one of the wheelchaired-bound ladies was using the lobby restroom when she found herself unable to care for herself. Anne was cleaning the lobby restroom when she walked in and heard someone struggling. She asked if she could assist, and the lady said yes. Anne crawled under the bathroom stall door after the lady asked her to come inside and assisted the lady with her personal needs in using the toilet. She helped her all the way through washing her hands and taking her back out to the meeting room. The guest was extremely grateful for Anne's willingness to assist.

David Farr, Crew at Water Taxi

In November 2018, the Water Taxi’s Margaritaville Express boat was about a mile north of the Hollywood stop in the Intracoastal Waterway. The mate, David Farr, heard shouts from the starboard side of the boat. He called to the captain, who immediately throttled back and slowed the boat. A disoriented man had fallen off his kayak and was struggling with the tide. David asked if he needed the lifebuoy, which he declined. The mate then placed the buoy close by in case it was needed later. With the boat still idling and drifting alongside, David deployed the rescue platform and clambered down to the water level. David reached the gentleman’s hand and got him onto the boat. He also helped retrieve the kayak.

Dieulila Joseph, Housekeeping Manager at Riverside Hotel

In October 2018, there was a big wedding at the Riverside Hotel. The bride was going on her honeymoon the following day, so she left her mother in charge of all the wedding envelopes and cards. The bride’s mom had put all the envelopes and cards in a shopping bag and had it on the floor with many other shopping bags by the guestroom trash bin. The bride’s mom had checked out of the hotel and left that bag on the floor with the rest of the trash. Dieulila was helping load the trash in the bin, and she just happened to stumble on the bag with the envelopes and cards, with many checks. Later that day, the bride’s mom arrived home and called the hotel crying, in a complete panic. The hotel informed the guest that they had the bag in their possession and overnighted it to her.

Henry Munoz, Pedicab Driver at Ocean View Rickshaw

Henry has been with Ocean View Rickshaw for almost 15 years. In that time, he has given tours and rides to thousands of visitors and locals who visit the beach and downtown. He is now 67 years old and still puts in about 25 hours every week pedaling around and often singing in his baritone voice.

Jason Blacklock, Reservationist at Majesty Day Spa

Jason makes it a priority to go above and beyond, not only for each Majesty Day Spa guest he encounters, but also the employees. For example, if Jason recognizes a guest’s name on the schedule, and he knows their favorite snack or soft drink, he goes out of his way to make sure it is there for them when they arrive. The spa frequently receives reviews such as: “The spa was absolutely wonderful, but Jason completed my experience.” Jason brings birthday and condolence cards, flowers, and gifts that he purchases with his own money for guests celebrating something special or going through a rough time. He won’t hesitate to come in early or stay late to accommodate a guest who would like an appointment before or after hours. Even after he clocks out, he refuses to leave until a fellow employee gets picked up, or he ends up offering a ride, so they don’t have to wait.

Joadis Boza, Server at Landshark Bar & Grill at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

With her magical smile and aura of positivity, Joadis of Landshark Bar & Grill at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort embodies SUNsational Service. She has been recognized for her expert execution of the 10-5 rule (eye contact and a verbal greeting). She impressed a potential client doing a site visit so much, that the client wrote an email to the resort’s general manager, calling out her amazing experience with Joadis. Here’s a snippet of that letter: “Our server Jo was the most friendly, grounded, smart, effervescent, outgoing and outright good at what she does server I ever had. Her desire to be helpful and to make sure there were no complaints come out loud and clear.”

Jorge Valencia, Engineer, Embassy Suites Hotel (17th Street)

Jorge was walking across the Embassy Suites Hotel parking lot and noticed a female guest in distress. He approached and asked if he could be of assistance. She explained she was from out of town and here for a meeting. She had driven over the parking bumper and tore the right side of her bumper off and was unable to drive it back to her home some 50 miles away. Jorge responded that he would be happy to assist and do a temporary repair while she attended her meeting so she could drive home after. She was so grateful for his kind assistance and made it home safely.

Kelli Tretina, Senior Catering Sales Manager, and Kiley Lamey, Meetings and Special Events Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale

In November 2018, a man contracted his wife’s celebration of life event at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale. During the sales and planning phase, Senior Catering Sales Manager Kelli Tretina and Meetings and Special Events Manager Kiley Lamey were able to listen carefully to the man as he spoke about their beautiful life together, soon to be celebrating 60 years of marriage. He wanted his wife’s life to be celebrated among their closest family and friends. During each meeting, the man always wore a bow tie. He also requested his wife's favorite flowers for the main floral decoration - wildflowers. Kelli and Kiley went above and beyond, surprising him with a handmade bow tie, monogramed with his wife's initials, as well as small wildflowers on the fabric. In addition, fresh-planted wildflowers handmade by the two of them, accompanied by a wedding photo of the couple, were left in his suite upon his arrival. This was a truly beautiful, personal and memorable experience thanks to these two.

Sebastian Serna, Maintenance Worker, T.Y.

On January 5, 2019, Sebastian was visiting shelters at T.Y. Park to empty trash when he noticed something was wrong with a patron. He asked her if she was choking. She was unable to verbally respond, and her friends and family said she was choking. Sebastian immediately stood her up and began performing the Heimlich Maneuver. She vomited and spit the food she was choking on out. She was okay following the incident. Sebastian's quick action helped saved the lady, as the family and friends did not know what to do.

Sue Peregrin, Executive Administrative Assistant at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale

A family from Norway was staying at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale with their young son, Trym. The boy brought along his favorite stuffed animal – a Disney character named Bolt. Trym was heartbroken after misplacing Bolt. When Sue heard of Trym’s plight, she worked on finding Bolt or as close a replacement as she could find. With persistence Sue found a replacement. Sue then took it a step further and wrote a letter to Trym from Bolt, saying that Bolt loved Fort Lauderdale so much that he had decided to stay behind for a few more days of vacation. She took pictures of Bolt enjoying the hotel’s lobby lounge, guest suite, pool and beach areas, and shared those photos with Trym. Sue received a note from Trym’s mom saying that Bolt had arrived and that Trym was so extremely happy. This one incident is but a glimpse of Sue’s ability to provide extraordinary guest service on a regular basis.

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About Greater Fort Lauderdale

From the seagrass to the sawgrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a “beach chic” vibe. Visitors enjoy 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, discover 300+ miles of inland waterways that run from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Everglades, dine at thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping.

For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 22-SUNNY or visit www.sunny.org. Get social and engage with Greater Fort Lauderdale on social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest: @visitlauderdale.

Media Contact: 
Ivonne MacMillan
Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB 
Tel: 954-767-2408
E-mail: imacmillan@broward.org