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Westin Maui employees win prestigious awards

By Staff | Mar 17, 2016

Westin Maui Resort & Spa employees that were honored include (from left): front — Anna Kanaha and Shelly Bright; back row — Stephanie Zrelak and Vita Canizaro.

KAANAPALI – 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 honors for properties in the catering and events mid-tier revenue goals.

The resort’s director of meetings and special events, Stephanie Zrelak, was separately awarded Catering & Event Management Leader of the Year.

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, MPSI (Meeting Planner Satisfaction Index) and CEI (Customer Experience Index) goals, among other cretieria.

The resort’s double victory represents significant honor and recognition within Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

According to Westin Maui 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 toward their 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 Bruno.

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.

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, she 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, Zrelak 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 a “S’mores and Starlight” dessert party on the resort’s oceanfront lawn, complete with fire urns and comfortable oversized seats.

She 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 Zrelak.