AHTA celebrates excellence in tourism during Annual National Tourism Awards Gala

The tourism industry turned out in force to honour its brightest stars during the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association’s (AHTA) 8th Annual National Tourism Awards Gala held at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa last Thursday evening (June 26th).

Tourism and hospitality industry workers, who generally take the backseat in their professions, were given the opportunity to take centre stage.  Honourees arrived in style to the red, black and white themed event to be recognised and celebrated by nearly 250 of their peers.

The atmosphere was alive with excitement and anticipation as the evening, hosted by radio personality Julian Rogers and Trinidadian comedian Tommy Joseph, opened to encouraging words from AHTA Chairman Andrew Hedley who urged the grouping to take advantage of AHTA sponsored trainings.

“We at the AHTA look forward to supporting the growth and evolution of the Antigua & Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute so that it, in turn, continues to support the industry and turn out the next generation of hospitality leaders,” Hedley said.

The AHTA chairman said the organisation continues to offer scholarships towards an Associates Degree in Hospitality Management and, most recently, in Resort Management.

In his first address to the industry, newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy the Honorable Asot Michael offered salutations, addressing the 58 nominees.

“It is your capacity to rise above your own self to deliver quality service that makes you successful not only for yourself and the industry but for your country,” the tourism minister said.

He added, “You …are on the frontlines of our nation’s survival. The responsibly upon you is great and so to is that expectation. When you fulfill that responsibly and live up to that expectation you provide a very important national contribution.”

And when the winners were announced, Tourism Employee of the Year for Non-Hotels was awarded to Diamond International’s Brenda Albert; Tourism Personality of the Year was awarded to Blue Water Hotel’s Carolyn Williams; Hotel Employee of the Year was awarded to Curtain Bluff Hotel’s Leon Bachelor; Hotel Supervisor of the Year was presented to St James’ Club’s Nicon Wilson Grayman; Young Chef of the Year was awarded to Sandals’ Jason Richards; Chef of the Year was awarded to Jumby Bay’s Garret Henry and Young Hotelier of the Year was awarded to Jumby Bay’s Jimmy Abraham.

Additionally, a special presentation of the Chef’s World Award was presented to Lejorn Hill of Carlisle Bay.

IMG_5121 300pDuring the awarding of the Prime Minister’s Award to Jimmy Abraham, Prime Minister Gaston Browne made an impromptu address, taking the time to laud AHTA for its work.

“I would especially like to commend the AHTA for this very important annual gala. It is important for us to identify, celebrate and reward top performers. In fact, this is part of the cultural change that we would like to see throughout the country…What you are doing here is very important,” the prime minister said.

After being presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, 50-year industry veteran, Stanley Francis, owner of National Tours spoke to the room of up-and-coming industry professionals.

“It is not usual that I am on this side of the stick, I am usually on the other side where I am giving. Most times I am trying to provide jobs for Antigua and Barbuda,” the destination management company owner said.

IMG_5186 300The evening that included dinner, concluded with guests enjoying a comedic performance by Tommy Joseph, followed by dancing the night away to the Kutting Edge band.

The panel of judges for this year’s awards included, AHTA General Manager Neil Forrester, Ian Benn, Jeannette Charles, Nicole Eastmond, Lorraine Headley, Ted Isaac, Shirlene Nibbs, Cynthia Simon, Alison Sly-Adams, Anthea Watkins, Chef Marika Anthony, Chef Leroy Hodge, Chef Mitchell Husbands and Chef Julian Waterer.

The Annual National Tourism Awards Gala seeks to promote and reward excellence in the tourism industry by recognising the achievements of industry professional over a twelve-month period.

For further information on the AHTA and events, visit http://members.antiguahotels.org/  or contact the AHTA at 462-0374.