The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has named respected Caribbean hotelier Simón Suárez as the 2017 Caribbean Hotelier of the Year.
Suárez, Vice president of Institutional Relations and Projects of Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic, received the coveted honor at the opening of the third annual Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), hosted by CHTA, in Miami on Friday night.
Accepting the region’s premier hospitality award, Suárez, a former CHTA president, recognized his colleagues, friends and family, while reminding delegates in attendance to “embrace unity, diversity and ingenuity” in the Caribbean.
“Simón Suárez is a pioneer in Caribbean hospitality. He has played and continues to play a major role in the development and growth of Caribbean tourism, and we are indebted to him for all that he has done for his native Dominican Republic and the Caribbean,” said Frank Comito, CHTA’s director general and chief executive officer.
CHTA said Suárez began his professional career in the Dominican Republic tourism industry at the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic in 1974.
Since these early beginnings, he has served as the president of Occidental Hotels’ local operating company, Occidental Hoteles Dominicana, S. A.; executive vice president of Coral Hotels & Resorts; president of the Dominican Republic’s Tourism Promotion Council; chief development representative - Central America and Caribbean for Hilton Hotels Corporation; and president of the Dominican Republic’s Hotel and Tourism Association (ASONAHORES).
Also in winners’ row on Friday was Obrian Forde of Jus’ Sail in St. Lucia, who was named Caribbean Employee of the Year; while Marcia Rhoden-Morris, of The Jamaica Pegasus, was recognized as Caribbean Supervisor of the Year.
CHTA said Lisa Hamilton, of the United States Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association, captured the Caribbean Association Executive of the Year Award; while Edward “Eddie” Weitz was named Allied Member of the Year.
The association also presented awards in the areas of operations, sales and marketing, social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
In operations, the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association was the winner, with second place going to Elegant Hotels in Barbados.
For the best practice in sales and marketing, the winner was the Aruba Tourism Authority, with The Crane and Elegant Hotels in Barbados placing second and third, respectively.
The recipient of the CHIEF Award for Social Responsibility was Hyatt Regency Trinidad, CHTA said.
It said second place went to the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association; while the third place winner was Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba.
CHTA said Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba captured the CHIEF Award for Environmental Sustainability.
Runners-up honors were jointly shared by Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts and Elegant Hotels in Barbados. Third place went to CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa in Anguilla, CHTA said.