15 Mar The Westin Maui Resort & Spa clinched Catering & Event Management Team of the Year title
At the 2016 North America Sales Awards for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., held recently in Denver (Colorado), The Westin Maui Resort & Spa clinched Catering & Event Management Team of the Year title for properties in the Catering & Events mid-tier revenue goals.
The resort’s Director of Meetings & Special Events, Stephanie Zrelak, was separately awarded Catering & Event Management Leader of the Year. Westin Maui’s Event & Meeting Managers Vita Canizaro and Shelly Bright were also recognized as finalists under the Meeting & Event Manager of the Year category, which highlighted service excellence of both the team and its individual members. Nominations were based on team and individual successes in achieving gross operating revenue, new business development, TeamHOT, MPSI (Meeting Planner Satisfaction Index) and CEI (Customer Experience Index) goals. The resort’s double victory represents significant honor and recognition within Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
According to Westin Maui’s General Manager Tony Bruno, the team’s meaningful connections and genuine interest in customers’ needs as well as collaborative efforts with partners and various departments within the resort were definitely attributing factors towards their resounding success. “Being in Hawaii, the warm spirit of Aloha is immersed in everything we do. Combined with the full commitment and dedication of our events team in delivering outstanding services, it was a well-deserved win,” said Tony. He was quick to add that the team focuses on effective communication and supporting one another to overcome unforeseen challenges. “By being creative listeners and understanding the goals of our customers and meeting planners, we are able to create a distinctive experience for attendees,” he elaborated.
Stephanie Zrelak joined The Westin Maui Resort & Spa in November 2013, leading the catering and events team including wedding specialists. Her experience and expertise in the hospitality industry spans over two decades, most of it in beautiful resort destinations around the world including the Caribbean, Middle East and Hawaii. Appointed to Starwood’s 12-member Events & Meetings Regional Council, Stephanie assists the company’s hotels and resorts in Arizona by providing information on new catering trends and other essential updates.
Together with her Westin Maui events team, Stephanie made several operational improvements to menus and service delivery, including implementing Westin brand’s “clutter free” meetings set-up and sustainable meeting practices. The team also dedicated itself to designing creative ideas, such as “S’mores and Starlight” dessert party on the resort’s oceanfront lawn, complete with fire urns and comfortable oversized seats. They continue to seek opportunities to capture the essence of Aloha for group attendees within the resort’s amazing venues such as the indoor-outdoor Aloha Pavilion on Ka’anapali Beach and the Ocean Lawn, steps away from water’s edge.
Stephanie firmly believes in making meaningful connections and adopting a “Can Do” approach to meet and exceed clients’ needs. “At Westin Maui, we have a good amount of repeat businesses based upon past successes and the strong level of connection we have built with group representatives and meeting planners. We are always aiming towards higher levels of satisfaction and impressing groups who come to expect a certain level of comfort and expertise. It is also crucial to get to know key players of each group and the business they represent as this ultimately helps us to design a personalized experience and WOW them with our innovative and creative touches,” said Stephanie.
Applying Westin brand’s most recent culinary initiative, ‘Crafted by Westin’, Stephanie and the resort’s highly-skilled chefs create a new spin to taste, whether it is using local produce for artful meal touches, such as Molokai sweet potato in deserts, or innovative beverages featuring pineapple and other tropical fruits. “Salads are also refreshingly presented in small pots with quinoa and planter boxes filled with varied choices to create an outdoor garden experience,” explained Stephanie. “We are also working on introducing lounge-style seating for meeting attendees to engage in lively conversations that typically take place in lecture halls,” said Stephanie. She added that the resort’s beachfront settings and outdoor venues invigorate all senses and enliven the taste buds.
Stephanie and her managers, together with resort Director of Sales & Marketing Brent Lausterer, embrace the newest tools and initiatives from Starwood, with focus on improving event experience for the resort’s clients, guests and associates. “With Westin Maui’s idyllic setting on Ka’anapali Beach and its magnificent garden surroundings, the events and sales teams enjoy rich possibilities in designing events that embrace the host culture and natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands,” said Brent. He also added that the catering and events team fully support Starwood’s TeamHOT initiatives by recommending sister hotels to meeting and group planners seeking alternative destinations after successful experiences in Maui and Hawaii. In 2015, the team almost quadrupled their leads from 2014.