Guests and employers nominated nearly 40 individuals in six categories between April and October. A judge panel evaluated the nominees on a set of criteria, including the individual's attitude, attentiveness, performance, knowledge and consistency within the local hospitality industry. Winners were selected in the categories of Attraction/Events, Dining, Lodging, Nightlife, Retail & Service and Transportation.
2011 winners include:
- Dining: Mary Metts JW Marriot - Grand Rapids
- Lodging: Norina Cadili JW Marriot - Grand Rapids
- Nightlife: Chris Kenyan The Gilmore Collection
- Transportation Terron Smith The Rapid
- Retail & Service Brittany Carter Rylee's Ace Hardware
- Attractions/Events Patty Alexander Meijer State Games of Michigan
"We are so grateful to the West Michigan community for its continued support of the Experience Grand Rapids mission. Our new name for this event - Impacting Hospitality Celebration - is reflective of our gratitude and is a sincere acknowledgement of the many service providers and Hometown Champs being honored as this year's WAVE award winners,"said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small. "You have each gone above and beyond to provide exceptional service, create memorable experiences and bring new convention business to Grand Rapids. Thank you for making such significant contributions to our industry."
WAVE winners and their employers will be formally recognized at the Impacting Hospitality Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 17 at the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival at DeVos Place. WOOD TV 8's Eva Aguirre Cooper will host the ceremony. Experience Grand Rapids will also recognize its "Hometown Champions" at the event for their help in bringing conventions to Grand Rapids (www.bringittograndrapids.com).
The six winners will also be nominated in their respective categories for the Stars of the Industry Awards. The winners will be announced at the 2012 "Pure Michigan Governor's Conference." Hosted by Michigan Lodging & Touring Association and Travel Michigan, the annual industry gathering of tourism and lodging leaders will be held next March in Grand Rapids.
Nomination for 2012 WAVE awards will open in April and will run through early October. Winners will be recognized in conjunction with the Wine, Beer & Food Festival next November. Program information is available at http://www.waveaward.com.