Sonesta’s Culture of Caring philosophy stems from our core value of contributing to the lives of our employees and respecting them as individuals. We make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs. And our consistently respectful treatment of them gives them reason to stay with us and continue providing exemplary service to our guests. The long tenure of our team speaks to the effectiveness of our culture.
Many employees, from housekeeping to reception, go above and beyond what anyone would expect in their day to day duties. The Sonesta leadership recognized some of them at the recent Sonesta 2015 Annual Conference in Philadelphia with the presentation of three awards to two employees each: Rookie of the Year, Trendsetter and the Sonny and Esther Culture of Caring Award, named for the founders of Sonesta. We applaud the winners for proving that small changes can make a big difference for employees and for guests, and for showing some heart. Should you see them during your next Sonesta visit, be sure to congratulate them!
The new Rookie of the Year Award was presented to two talented and dedicated employees. Michelle Seamon, Director of Sales at the re-imagined Sonesta ES Suites Charlotte, walked into her new job in June of last year and rallied her team to almost double reservations for meetings (versus the previous year), even as parts of the hotel were undergoing renovation. David Leffew, Director of Catering at the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island, joined Sonesta in January of 2014. He knew the resort was the perfect venue for weddings, so he almost doubled bookings for nuptials over the previous year, personally giving tours of the property to prospective brides and grooms. But it wasn’t just the bookings that he and his team worked hard to secure. They also achieved satisfaction ratings from guests of more than 96%.
Two Trendsetter Awards were also presented, one to an individual and one to a hotel, each of which is breaking new ground and creating innovative ways of doing business at Sonesta and in the hotel industry. Vernon Sanders, Director of Housekeeping at the newly redesigned Royal Sonesta Houston, crafted thoughtful and efficient new ways to clean rooms, introducing a step-by-step process that’s smarter and faster, but no less thorough. He also championed a cart-less service environment, clearing corridors for guests and decreasing back strain for housekeepers. Meanwhile, at the beautifully renovated Royal Sonesta Boston, General Manager Michael Mederios’s team at the newly installed Studio Coffee Shop is giving room service a casual flair. For breakfast and lunch, they are delivering select menu items to guests’ rooms in 15 minutes or less. The service is called Studio Express, and guests so far are loving it.
The Sonny and Esther Culture of Caring Award holds a special place in Sonesta’s heart, named for the founders of Sonesta. This prize is given to those who embody a warm spirit of caring and compassion. Take Nicole Emery of the Housekeeping Department at the re-imagined Sonesta ES Suites Princeton, for instance. This award winner has been known to greet repeat and first-time guests with a hug and has established long and caring relationships with many guests. She has even brought guests who aren’t feeling well a cup of soup. Her work ethic, bright smile, and pride in her work inspire all her colleagues. At the Royal Sonesta Houston, Peter Schreurs, Director of Food and Beverage, also inspires. Fully dedicated to the professional and personal growth of his staff, he thanks them for all they do – twice yearly – the old-fashioned way: by writing each of them a letter. He helps guide team members on a career path and participates in hotel-wide committees and holiday drives, all the while remaining committed to the Food Is Art and Liquid Art programs that make Sonesta so distinct.
We’re proud of all our employees and all the ways they contribute to making the Sonesta Collection a special place for guests – for our community partners, for themselves and for their team members.