Top GMs from across Hilton discuss how they use recognition to motivate their team, improve performance, and address business objectives. Watch video.

Meet Our 2019 CEO Light & Warmth Award Winners

CEO AwardSince our founding 100 years ago, our Hilton Team Members have had a significant positive impact on billions of lives and thousands of communities around the globe. This year’s CEO Light & Warmth Award winners exemplify The Hilton Effect every day, showcasing excellence in Hospitality, contributing to the growth and success of their teams, and acting as forces for good in their communities.

The CEO Light & Warmth Award is our highest form of Team Member appreciation, recognizing the best of the best across all brands and corporate locations who live our shared Mission, Vision and Values. Each winner will receive a one-time bonus of USD $10,000; a surprise call from a company leader; global recognition; and much more. Since 2011, we’ve awarded USD $930,000 to 93 different recipients.

Thanks to everyone who made a nomination this year, and congratulations to our winners below.


Carlo Espiritu: Thriving at Hilton

Despite his illness, Carlo was at the forefront of the hotel’s very first Travel with Purpose programs, volunteering for meal packing events for needy children.

As Housekeeping Coordinator at Conrad Manila, Carlo Espiritu is the go-to guy for laundry issues, towel art, and even babysitting. But it‘s Carlo’s work ethic and positive attitude that stand out most. Carlo volunteers with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose program, spending his off-hours cooking hot congee and packing meals for malnourished children and women in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

In 2017, Carlo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Even while battling cancer, he continued to work, scheduling chemo treatments on Mondays — the least busy day at the hotel — and staying home on Tuesdays to rest. Despite side effects and pain, his performance and smile never wavered. He has now completed chemotherapy and is doing well.

Recently, a job search company sought Carlo out, offering him another position at a different hotel. Carlo declined, telling the recruiter he was proud to be a Team Member at Conrad Manila, where he knows his career will continue to thrive and flourish.


Irene Estes: The Heart of Housekeeping

Irene’s sympathy and innate ability to comfort others not only shine at the property — she takes care of her neighbors as well.

As Executive Housekeeper of Hilton Garden Inn Albany Medical Center, Irene Estes works with many Burmese Team Members who face language barriers. She assists them in opening bank accounts, buying vehicles, and even purchasing homes. Her team values her leadership so much, they honored her on Burmese Independence Day.1

Irene takes ownership of every aspect of the hotel, helping with other departments whenever she can. She also excels at managing expenses, and has achieved her department’s budgetary goals for the last eight years. The property has received multiple outstanding QA audits under her watch.

Irene is known for her ability to calm and comfort others, a helpful quality at a hotel attached to the area’s largest hospital. She personally connects with patients and their families, listening to their stories and checking on them in their rooms. She also leads a program with Questar, a local school for kids with learning disabilities, and brings young adults into the hotel for an hour each week.

1 You can download country-specific holidays from the Recognition Calendar.


María Del Pilar García: Leading Technology. Helping People.

This year, together with Human Resources, multiple workshops have been implemented as part of Thrive in which Team Members can learn to manage their emotions through breathing.

María Del Pilar García, Systems Manager for Hilton Panama, helps the hotel’s technology — and its Team Members — thrive. In 2018, she helped the hotel save USD $20,000 on the purchase of multifunctional printers. María provides Bell Team, Concierge, Maintenance, Reception, and Housekeeping Team Members with a special “In-room Technology” workshop, empowering them to resolve technical issues on their own. She also prepared tutorial videos in Spanish.

María is a certified instructor at the Art of Living Foundation and opened a yoga and meditation space for Team Members at the hotel, where she has taught several breathing and meditation classes. In her free time, she teaches these techniques to people in the community, including more than 800 children living in high-risk areas of Panama. María is also a leader in a group called “Dule Buledi”, which gives sick children opportunities to fulfill their dreams — such as visiting the cockpit of a plane, meeting the First Lady of Panama, and interacting with therapy horses.

Thanks to María, Hilton Panama’s systems run smoothly, and its people are healthier and happier, too.


Alneasa Jordan: A Resource for Hope in Her Community

Leading a charge of 1,600 volunteer hours at the hotel in 2018 alone, Alneasa’s goal is to rebuild the Reading community, one person at a time.

At DoubleTree by Hilton Reading, Alneasa puts the “Human” in Human Resources Director. Alneasa works with the YMCA, Hope Rescue Mission, Safe Berks, and Habitat for Humanity to help place Team Members who have struggled with abuse, addiction, and eviction. She also brings in financial institutions to provide financial literacy education, and as the CARE president, she leads the hotel’s Meals on Wheels partnership to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets.

Alneasa is passionate about helping youth, too. She has two biological children and three adopted children, and is active in Thread of Change, which supports foster children. She also started her own organization, Girls Empowerment Movement, which helps high school girls get dresses, makeup, and hairstyling help so they can attend prom. Alneasa recently led the hotel in hosting a Back to School Fair with vendors providing free school supplies, books, and haircuts. She also works with the Literacy Council, Careers in Hospitality with CareerLink, and local high schools.


Meghan Macaulay: Leading with Integrity

Meghan has always used her influence to help groom the next generation of leaders in hospitality, helping Team Members grow and acquire new roles within the hotel and other Hilton properties.

Meghan Macaulay is an outstanding Revenue Manager for Hilton Garden Inn Woodbridge, and she cares about people as much as her performance at work. After she coached the Front Desk Team on how to flag sales leads, the hotel added over USD $100,000 in revenue. And because of her diligence, the hotel has earned six overall Outstanding QA scores in a row and was ranked 6th place overall in TQS for 2016 and 2017. Meghan also created a training program to provide experience and cross-training for Team Members who show promise in hospitality.

Meghan cares for guests and her community, too. When a guest took too many sleeping pills, Meghan immediately contacted emergency personnel. The guest returned later to thank Meghan for saving her life. When a guest on a business trip went missing, she inspected security camera footage in an attempt to locate him. When it was discovered that the guest had passed away, she sent flowers to his wife on the hotel’s behalf. In her free time, Meghan assists in building houses with Habitat for Humanity and fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She truly leads with Integrity.


Bob Niu: Spreading Hospitality Around the World

Bob is committed to being an innovator and a leader, and has helped nearly a dozen of his crew members to be promoted, both within the department and across to other departments.

As Chief Concierge for Conrad Beijing, Bob Niu ensures that guests have the best possible experience traveling in his city — but his influence doesn’t stop there. He also serves as Deputy General Secretary of the Beijing Concierge China Golden Key Association, where he promotes the profession across China. Within the Hilton brand, Bob created a WeChat group and invited all the Hilton concierges in Greater China. The group now has more than 150 members who regularly share information, ideas, and best practices.

Bob also exemplifies excellence as a concierge. He once arranged to have a concierge Team Member hand-deliver a lost iPad to a guest as he arrived at the airport. On another occasion, he encouraged his supervisor to develop an app that helps guests find information about Beijing, including directions to points of interest, dining recommendations, and more. The app makes traveling in China easier. He has also helped nearly a dozen Team Members earn promotions at Conrad Beijing, and because of his efforts, the hotel’s Concierge SALT scores have ranked among the top three hotels in Greater China for the last five years.


Trinten Ore: A Service-Minded Leader

Tristen has set the path for the Front Office team to be the most efficient auditing team in the region, contributing to a record USD $80,000 in overall incremental revenue.

As the Front Office Manager at Hilton Orlando, Trinten Ore is known for exceptional service in the hotel and in his community. He is a champion of upselling; his coaching, determination, and time management efforts helped bring in over half a million dollars in upsell totals during 2018. Trinten is also adept at boosting morale. He successfully revamped the Journey Ambassador program, which was highlighted on H360. He also famously led a Chicago Task Force Team in energetic sing-alongs of “The Circle of Life,” which he recorded for hotel executives to enjoy.

Trinten’s community service is boundless. He is active in the Orlando Serve Foundation, UP Orlando (United Against Poverty), Charity Challenge, and YMCA of the Suncoast. He is also a Board Member on the YMCA Spice it up for Autism annual fundraiser, which sponsors a summer camp for students on the autism spectrum. Trinten embraces the spirit of inclusiveness and organized a “Hiltons of Orlando” float for the 2018 Orlando PRIDE Parade with financial support and Team Member participation from multiple Hilton brands. He is a champion of diversity and an outstanding brand ambassador.


Yordanka “Dani” Raynova; Giving to Others

Dani is the perfect example that despite all the difficulties life puts us through, we all are able to give something of ourselves to help others, to show hospitality towards others, and to really embrace the true meaning of hospitality.

As a Public Area Attendant for Hilton Sofia, Dani Raynova makes sure the hotel is sparkling for guests — but it’s her warm personality that shines the brightest. Dani was born with Down Syndrome, but has never let it get in the way of living her best life. She travels throughout Europe as an official representative for a Bulgarian association for Down Syndrome, raising awareness and sharing the message that Down Syndrome is not a barrier to success. The way she lives her own life sets a great example.

At work, Dani is dedicated, engaged, and a reliable source of support for colleagues. She plays a crucial role in deep cleaning and takes ownership of time-consuming tasks, improving overall productivity. A certified classic sports masseuse, Dani also volunteers to give massages to Team Members to help them thrive. Dani is a proud supporter of Travel with Purpose activities, assisting with charity bazaars, donations, and visits to orphanages. In her free time, she volunteers at a local home for children who need special medical care. She is a true representation of how, despite life’s challenges, we are always able to give something of ourselves.


Aisha Saleh: Helping Sustainability Bloom

Aisha’s commitment to Travel with Purpose doesn’t stop with sustainability and youth skills. She helped raise 30,000 meals through local Food Banks in 2017 and 2018.

Aisha Saleh is the Learning & Development Manager at Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences, and she’s always learning new ways to make her hotel, and the world around her, better. After learning about hydroponic rooftop plantation systems, she helped establish rooftop gardens in five Egyptian hotels, which produce crops with high nutritional value and no harmful chemicals. She also negotiated a deal between a renewable energy company and all Hilton hotels in Egypt to convert used cooking oil into bio-diesel fuel. Her efforts have reduced CO2 emissions and generated over USD $4,200 for hotels.

A certified Passport to Success trainer, Aisha shares inspirational life skills with youth Team Members and the local hospitality and tourism institute. She is a leader, organizing monthly presentations and creating quizzes and games to improve knowledge and service. She is also passionate about recognition.

Aisha is active in her community, too. Since she began managing hotel Food Bank relationships, two USD $5,000 Action Grants were awarded, providing funds to improve school kitchens and establish rooftop gardens for family homes.


Marian Stefanik: Brightening and Creating Guest Experiences

Known as the “Superman of Hampton by Hilton Exeter”, Marian embodies Hamptonality and has come to the rescue of many guests and Team Members.

When Deputy General Manager Marian Stefanik is on shift at Hampton by Hilton Exeter Airport, the entire team lights up. Maybe it’s because he greets everyone by name in their native language. Or maybe it’s because he knows what every Team Member is best at and recognizes their excellence, and is willing to do any job to help others.

In the dead of winter, Marian climbed onto the roof to get generators up and running. When a chef called in sick, he grabbed a frying pan and got to work. He’s also happy to serve guests when the bar is busy and cover for others during holidays. Marian made one Christmas very special for a homeless man who was given a room at the hotel through a local charity, by organizing the collection of food and gifts.

He also brightens guests’ experiences. On one occasion, he drove out to meet an elderly couple that was lost and led them to the hotel. Another time, a guest forgot to book a shuttle, so he drove her to the airport. Marian spreads the light and warmth of hospitality by making guests and Team Members his priority every day.


Terry Taylor: Strengthening Communities

Terry is a true hero, and was instrumental in saving 60 guests and Team Members (as well as the hotel) during an East Tennessee wildfire.

Terry Taylor, Chief Engineer for The Park Vista – a DoubleTree by Hilton – Gatlinburg, has been a true hero, putting his life in danger to save others on multiple occasions. In 2016, when local areas were overcome by wildfires, Terry led a team effort that saved the hotel, as well as the lives of 60 guests and Team Members. With no help from the overwhelmed fire department, Terry fought the fires and directed others for over nine hours.

In 2018, Terry approached a young man on the hotel’s roof whom he suspected of being an active shooter. When he discovered that the 18-year-old was contemplating suicide, he convinced him to change his mind. Later that year, when a domestic dispute arose between two guests, the husband fled before police arrived. Concerned for the wife’s safety, Terry stayed at the hotel overnight, in a nearby room, so he could quickly notify authorities if the man returned.

Because of his dedication to others, Terry’s departmental Team Member opinion survey scores are consistently 100%. He is a master at managing his staff, keeping them happy, and holding them accountable for their performance.


Eva Wang: Spreading Warmth and Light of Hospitality

A volunteer at a local animal shelter in her free time, Eva also helps to clean cages, feed animals, and advocate for pet adoptions. She also helps raise funds for stray animals at the hotel.

Eva Wang is an Executive Housekeeper at DoubleTree by Hilton Shiyan. The winters there are very cold, but thanks to Eva, the hotel is always warm and welcoming. Eva noticed snow sweepers shivering by the side of the road, and asked management what the hotel could do. At her suggestion, they established a Caring Corner in the hotel, providing water, snacks, and a warm place for workers to rest. The program was featured on the news, and other businesses were inspired to follow suit. Eva also cares for animals, and organized a cookie sale at the hotel with proceeds benefiting an animal shelter where she volunteers.

Recruiting from other cities is a challenge in Shiyan, so Eva took it upon herself to train local residents. She also helped eight Team Members in her department earn promotions into management positions. Eva goes the extra mile for guests, too. She tracked down a special curry for a guest from India, and had it delivered to the hotel. To accommodate a guest from Japan, she learned the basics of Japanese to give the guest a warm welcome. Eva also looks for ways to reduce hotel costs and increase revenue. Her efforts saved more than USD $13,000 in 2018.


Jacky Zuo: Helping Team Members. Inspiring Youth

Jacky fills each day with an attitude of cooperation, active problem resolution, random acts of kindness, and a willingness to perform tasks beyond his job description that simply ensure the hotel’s success.

Jacky is the Housekeeping storekeeper at Hilton Beijing Capital Airport. Although he doesn’t have much contact with guests, his work behind the scenes inspires others and keeps the hotel running smoothly.

On his own time, Jacky completed Microsoft Excel accounting training. Then he revamped the hotel’s storekeeping program to improve efficiency and reporting. On peak occupancy days, Jacky arrives early to assist other divisions. He spent two months helping other departments prepare for QA audits, and helps with laundry and linen, distributing master keys to Housekeeping, and more. With his help, the hotel was ranked number 1 for their QA score in their region.

Jacky’s passion for efficiency extends to the environment. He leads the hotel’s soap recycling project, which collects 100 kilograms of soap each month and re-purposes water from guest water bottles for daily plant watering. In his off time, Jacky works with a nonprofit training center for disabled youth, including bringing the group to the hotel to demonstrate its environmental efforts.

Posted on Mar 13, 2019

Topic(s): CEO Light & Warmth Award

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