Human Resources and Travel & Tourism

Hospitality industry names WAVE winners

November 20, 2015
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Downtown hotel names GM
Brian Behler. Photo via

Eight hospitality professionals have been recognized for excellence at a special awards celebration.

Experience Grand Rapids and the Kent County Lodging Association announced the winners of the 2015 WAVE (Way Above Visitor Expectations) Awards and recognized two certified tourism ambassadors, or CTAs, during their Impacting Hospitality Celebration yesterday.

"The Impacting Hospitality Celebration allows us to show our gratitude and sincere appreciation to the hospitality industry by acknowledging the many dedicated employees, businesses and hometown champs that have each gone above and beyond to provide exceptional service and create memorable experiences for visitors,” said Doug Small, president and CEO, Experience Grand Rapids.

WAVE Awards

The WAVE Awards is a program that recognizes outstanding service providers in the Grand Rapids and Kent County hospitality industry.

A judging panel evaluated the nominees on a set of criteria: the individual’s attitude, attentiveness, performance, knowledge and consistency within the local hospitality industry.

Six winners were selected in six categories: Restaurants/Breweries; Attraction/Events; Lodging 150+ Rooms; Lodging Less Than 150 Rooms; Retail & Service; and Volunteer in Hospitality.

The six winners will also be nominated in their categories for the Stars of the Industry Awards.

The winners will be announced at the 2016 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference, which is the annual industry gathering of tourism and lodging leaders hosted by the Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association and Travel Michigan.

CTA recognition

Two CTAs were also recognized at the Impacting Hospitality Celebration for their commitment to improving the customer experience.

The CTA program educates individuals on Grand Rapids and the importance of exceptional customer service to the area.

The categories included CTA Star of the Year and CTA Business of the Year.

WAVE Award winners

Haley Salander, Bull’s Head Tavern

Lodging 150+ Rooms
Heather Kullgren, JW Marriott Grand Rapids

Lodging Less Than 150 Rooms
Megan Clark, Hyatt Place Grand Rapids South

Retail & Service
Robert Arrington, Celebration! Cinema Woodland

Deb Christopoulos, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

Volunteer in Hospitality
Ruth Visser, STAR at Experience Grand Rapids

CTA winners

CTA Star of the Year
Brian Behler, JW Marriott Grand Rapids

CTA Business of the Year
Ed Wilson, Country Inn & Suites East Beltline

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