CHICAGO—Sometimes an award comes around, and it seems like it was designed to honor particular people.
The inaugural Stevan Porter Emerging Hospitality Leader of the Year Award, which was named in honor of the late InterContinental Hotels Group president and his legacy of compassion, dedication and forward-thinking, was given to Randall Williams, an area GM for Roberts Hotel Group in Tampa, Florida, and an outgoing member of the AH&LA’s Under 30 Gateway Council.
Williams received more nominations than anyone has ever received in the history of American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Stars of the Industry award program—23. Williams, 30, said accepting the award has given him an overall sense of humility.
“I’m aware of the significance of Steve Porter and his legacy,” he said.
Indeed Williams, who’s the GM of the Comfort Inn Conference Center in Tampa and the Best Western Coral Bridge in Fort Myers, Florida, seems to be passionate about the hospitality industry.
“I’ve gone through my career mastering the art of my craft and being a lifelong student,” Williams said in late June at the Chicago Hilton after accepting the award.
The description of the award says the recipient should illustrate out-of-the-box thinking in his professional and personal life, a dedication to the industry by actively participating in association, community or industry programs, according to the AH&LA. He should also be actively involved in community service in the local or national arena.
The award was presented to Williams by Tom Corcoran, chairman of the board of FelCor Lodging Trust and friend of Porter.
Corcoran said Williams embodies everything the award represents and offered a few comments from the people who nominated him: “the epitome of a gentleman and a hospitality professional” and one who has “implemented a family-oriented concept to running daily hotel operations,” all while remaining “humble and approachable.” One nominator said how he mentored him and taught him “to meet challenges with grace and professionalism.”
After at brief discussion with HotelNewsNow.com about being humbled by the honor, Williams said he only wanted to thank some of the people he learned from, such as his first housekeeping supervisor, Shirley Canterbury, and the wine captain, Freddy Carter, both of The Greenbrier hotel in White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia.
“These people took me in,” he said. “I walk with them everywhere I go.”
Williams also mentioned he owed an immeasurable debt to Fred and Ted Kleisner. The former is CEO and president of Morgans Hotel Group, and the latter is the former CEO and president of Greenbrier Resort and Club Management Company and the current CEO of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without them,” he said.