The 20th Annual Hotel Excellence Awards: The Best Of New York’s Hospitality Business Gathers For A Grand Gala!

The stunning 583 Park Avenue was the perfect setting for Where Traveler’s 20th Annual Hotel Excellence Awards. The most talented folks from NYC’s hotels and restaurant groups gathered to pay respect to each other and it was so to be an outsider getting an inside look.There were a little over a dozen winners including the man of the hour, Benjamin Prelvukaj of Benjamin Restaurant Group who along with family members started out as wait staff members of Peter Luger. This accomplished and hardworking gent took home the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of these properties is Ben & Jack’s in Midtown East which I recently visited and reviewed for New York Lifestyles Magazine and all I can say is that their staff was so gracious and attentive and served some of the most remarkable dry aged steaks in the city.

I sat at the press table with the gentlemen who run Where Traveler Magazine and were introduced to the crowd. Pictured above, they are Haines Wilkerson, Chief Creative Officer is Morris Media Network (who publishes Where Traveler) and Francis Lewis, Editor of Where Traveler. This free travel guide has been available in NYC hotel rooms and lobbies for many years and features the best sightseeing and play listings available. Wilkerson and Lewis originally came up with the idea for the Hotel Excellence Awards way back in 1999 and it has grown into a more massive and fabulous event every year.Guests were treated to performances from Beetlejuice and Oklahoma while having elegant fare including Peruvian chicken and molten chocolate cake. The spectacular hydrangea-filled arrangements were created by La Fleur d’Harlem. Sponsors included Empire CLS, New York City Pass, The Benjamin Restaurant Group, Tourneau, T-Mobile, MOMA, NYCgo.com, Dr. Donald Primas, The Empire State Building, La Fleur D’Harlem and PINKO. Briana Davis Of 1 Hotel Central Park was named Chief Concierge Of The Year and her table looked like they were having a blast all evening. A couple of them even took home luxury raffle prizes at the end of the festivities. The winners were divided into different groups. The Silver Plume Awards are in honor of the best concierge and management team members. As mentioned, Briana Davis Of 1 Hotel Central Park took home Concierge Of The Year. Other winners were David Rahner of JW Marriott Essex House who received the Concierge Of The Year Award, Francois Luigi Of The Pierre who won the Best Supporting Manager Award, Lek Kidkarndee of The New York Hilton who won the Excellence Award For Community Service and Tea Ferrari of the Times Square Edition who won the Rising Star Award. Winners of the Hotel Experience Rewards were The Benjamin which got the Best Budget Friendly Award, Trump International Hotel & Tower which got the Best Business Service Award, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge which got the Best Concierge Service Award, the New York Marriott Marquis which got the Best Family Friendly Award, the Mandarin Oriental which got the Best Hotel Amenities Award, 1 Hotel Central Park who got the Best Hotel Restaurant Award, the St. Regis which got the Best Luxury Hotel Award and The Carlyle which got the Best Overall Hotel Experience Award. This was truly an exciting event where guests both inside and outside of the hospitality business got to mix and mingle–and learn about each other’s brands. I cannot wait to go back next year. I have never seen a profession where execs are so enthusiastic about what they do!

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