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Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces 2015 Annual Award Winners & Southland Stars of the Industry

By published October 15, 2015

The Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, the regional destination management organization for Chicago’s 60 south and southwest suburbs, recognized its members, municipalities and organizations for their outstanding service in the hospitality and tourism industries during Fiscal Year 2015.

The awards were presented at the CVB’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon Wednesday, October 7, 2015, at the Hilton Chicago / Oak Lawn & Conference Center. CVB President / CEO Jim Garrett focused on the Chicago Southland’s Monumental Year in tourism. “The good news is the Chicago Southland hospitality industry is healthy, strong and doing very well. This year, Chicago Southland hotel occupancy hit an all time record high of 77.4 percent,” said Jim Garrett President / CEO for the Chicago Southland CVB. “We had a monumental year and the only way to remain competitive is if the state of Illinois continues to fund the economic engine of tourism.”

Keynote speaker Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism spoke on the economic impact of tourism on the state and local levels. “I’m very proud of our economic impact figures and the work we’ve done to stimulate travel in Illinois,” said Cory Jobe, Director for the Illinois Office of Tourism. "The [Chicago Southland] region generated over 1.3 million hotel/motel overnight stays and tourism spending directly supported more than 12 thousand jobs.”
The annual Stars of the Industry Awards honor the work of exceptional regional hotel employees.

2015 Food & Beverage Employee of the Year: Betsy Nowakowski of the Country Inn & Suites Tinley Park

2015 Guest Service Employee of the Year: Luanne Tarvid of the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago - Alsip

2015 Housekeeping Employee of the Year: Maria Castenada of the Baymont Inn & Suites - Alsip

2015 Maintenance Employee of the Year: Juan Madrigal of the Holiday Inn Express Chicago South - Lansing

2015 Manager of the Year: Heather Stevens of the Hilton Chicago / Oak Lawn & Conference Center

“From the general managers to the housekeepers and guest services departments, these are the people making a difference in the hospitality industry,” said Sally Schlesinger, CPA, Executive Vice President for the Chicago Southland CVB.

The Chicago Southland CVB also presented five awards highlighting the contributions of its members and partners to the tourism and hospitality industries in the Chicago Southland.

Awards of Merit: Drivin the Dixie for their dedication in promoting activities in the 12 municipalities along the Dixie Highway and for their involvement in the Centennial Celebration.

Illinois Toll Authority for their work on the implementation and completion of phase one of the I-294 and I-57 interchange and for the installation of Midway Airport signage along I-294 at the Cicero Avenue exit.

Linda Morgan Award for Volunteerism: JoAnne Alexander, for her constant engagement with the CVB throughout the development of the Ambassador and Front Line Training Programs and for assisting in CVB functions throughout the Chicago Southland.

Patricia Chase Magon Municipal Leadership Award: The Village of Oak Lawn for their development of visitor activities, public art, attractions like the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn and economic development expansion. The village of Oak Lawn is also being recognized for their contributions in securing Midway Airport Signage directing travelers to businesses in the Chicago Southland.

Senator Aldo DeAngelis Leadership Award: Claude Gendreau, for opening the first boutique hotel (La Banque), French restaurant( La Voûte) and not only turning Ravisloe Country Club public but into a top 20 course by Golf Digest. His leadership in guiding future community and tourism development has been monumental in the Chicago Southland.

Member of the Year: Pullman National Monument Visitors Information Center, for their concerted effort which earned the community of Pullman, National Monument Status and for their continual efforts in assisting the Chicago Southland CVB with travel writers and group tours.

“Our winners today understand the value of tourism as an economic driver in the Chicago Southland,” said Jim Garrett President / CEO for the Chicago Southland CVB. “Their efforts helped make this a monumental year in tourism, congratulations to them all.”

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