Four stalwarts nominated for Hospitality Jamaica 'Tourism Personality of the Year'
Four distinguished tourism stalwarts have been nominated for the premier award Tourism Personality of the Year, to be presented at the second Hospitality Jamaica Awards ceremony at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on November 19.
Named after The Gleaner's fortnightly publication Hospitality Jamaica, the event "recognises organisations and individuals who have contributed significantly to improving the quality and experience of the hospitality industry in Jamaica" in 12 categories.
The nominees for Tourism Personality of the Year 2016 are Kevin Hendrickson, owner and managing director of The Courtleigh Hotels and Suites, the Knutsford Court Hotel, The Jamaica Pegasus and the former Wyndham Hotel - all in New Kingston - and the Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay; Shireen Aga and Barbara Walker, co-owners of Port Antonio's Hotel Mockingbird Hill; and Josef Forstmayr, managing director of Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Hanover.
Hendrickson has had a career in Jamaica's hospitality and tourism industry for more than 35 years, beginning in 1981 as the general manager of the Courtleigh Hotel.
Hendrickson has since proven himself a committed player in Jamaica's tourism industry, investing continually in upgrading and refurbishing of his properties and providing service and products beyond expectation.
Philanthropy is one of the core values of the group of companies owned by Hendrickson, and they support a number of initiatives to the benefit of the needy, the infirm and the disadvantaged in the society, including feeding programmes, health fairs, and community development.
Shireen Aga and Barbara Walker preside over one of Port Antonio's most precious gems. Hotel Mockingbird Hill is home away from home for the many repeat guests who visit annually.
Having acknowledged that "there is much more to Jamaica than sun, sand and sea", the owners set about carving out an experience for their guests that includes bird watching, and a music tour in which various community stakeholders give guests insight into the origins and history of the island's music and culture.
Hotel Mockingbird Hill guests can enjoy hikes under the supervision of local guides from various surrounding communities and Aga and Walker routinely encourage them to enjoy activities and experiences outside of the hotel, spreading the benefits of tourism well beyond their own doors.
They regard their guests as family sharing their home, and this is borne out in the personal welcome on arrival, evening chats before or after dinner, and conversations about experiences and cultures. They can also take home a little piece of Jamaica, as the hotel replaces the traditional 'Good Night Chocolates' with jars of homemade jerk, guava jelly, pepper jelly, pimento liqueur or a collection of spices - pimento, cinnamon leaf, nutmeg - and bags of chocolate tea with the recipe of how to make it.
Josef Forstmayr has been welcoming guests to Round Hill Hotel and Villas since he began as managing director in 1989. Prior to that, he served as assistant manager at Coconut Cove, Negril, resident manager at Tryall Club, and general manager, Trident Villas, Port Antonio.
Forstmayr is passionate about the local industry and the promotion of 'made in Jamaica' products, from beer and rum to sauces, to support the economy.
Under his stewardship, Round Hill Hotel and Villas has won many prestigious international, Caribbean and Jamaican awards and accolades, including the World Travel Awards' Best Villas for six consecutive years, and they have been featured in major publications such as Conde Nast Traveler's 'Gold List' and Travel and Leisure's 'World's Best List'.
Forstmayr, too, has been honoured at several levels. In 2005, he was made a member of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for his contribution to Jamaica's tourism industry; twice named Hotelier of the Year by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA); and Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA) Hotelier of the Year. He has served as president of both the JHTA and the CHTA.