Westin Maui Receives Catering and Event Management Awards

March 15, 2016, 11:20 AM HST · Updated March 15, 11:20 AM
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Fresh garden salad photo courtesy

Fresh garden salad photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa clinched the “Catering & Event Management Team of the Year” title for properties in the category’s mid-tier revenue goals, at the 2016 North America Sales Awards for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. held recently in Denver, Colorado.

Resort Meetings & Special Events Director Stephanie Zrelak was separately presented with the “Catering & Event Management Leader of the Year” award.

Westin Maui’s 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, TeamHOT, MPSI (Meeting Planner Satisfaction Index) and CEI (Customer Experience Index) goals.

Themed lunch break photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Themed lunch break photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

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

According to Westin Maui’s 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 resounding success.

“Being in Hawai‘i, the warm spirit of aloha is immersed in everything we do,” said Bruno. “Combined with the full commitment and dedication of our events team in delivering outstanding services, it was a well-deserved win.”

Bruno was quick to add that the team focuses on effective communication and supporting one another to overcome unforeseen challenges.

Sunset dining and night s'mores photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Sunset dining and night s’mores photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

“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 which has been accomplished in resort destinations around the world—the Caribbean, Middle East and Hawai‘i.

Appointed to Starwood’s 12-member Events & Meetings Regional Council, Zrelak 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” meeting setup and sustainable meeting practices.

S'mores and starlight photo

S’mores and starlight photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

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.

The team continues to seek opportunities to capture the essence of aloha for group attendees within the resort’s venues, such as the indoor-outdoor Aloha Pavilion on Kā‘anapali Beach and the Ocean Lawn, near the water’s edge.

Zrelak firmly 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,” said Zrelak. “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.”

Westin Maui beach barbecue photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Westin Maui beach barbecue photo courtesy Westin Maui Resort & Spa.

Applying Westin brand’s most recent culinary initiative, “Crafted by Westin,” Zrelak and the resort’s chefs create a new spin to taste, whether it is using local produce for artful meal touches, such as Moloka‘i sweet potato in deserts, or innovative beverages featuring pineapple and other tropical fruits.

“Salads are also refreshingly presented in small pots with quinoa and planter boxes filled with varied choices to create an outdoor garden experience,” explained Zrelak. “We are also working on introducing lounge-style seating for meeting attendees to engage in lively conversations that typically take place in lecture halls.”

She added that the resort’s beachfront settings and outdoor venues invigorate all senses and enliven the taste buds.

Zrelak and her managers, together with resort Director of Sales & Marketing Brent Lausterer, embrace the newest tools and initiatives from Starwood, with focus on improving event experience for the resort’s clients, guests and associates.

“With Westin Maui’s idyllic setting on Kā’anapali Beach and its magnificent garden surroundings, the events and sales teams enjoy rich possibilities in designing events that embrace the host culture and natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands,” said Lausterer.

He also added that the catering and events team fully support Starwood’s TeamHOT initiatives by recommending sister hotels to meeting and group planners seeking alternative destinations after successful experiences in Maui and Hawai‘i.

In 2015, the team almost quadrupled their leads from 2014.

For more information about The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, visit www.westinmaui.com.

For more about Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., go online.

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