Washington’s lodging industry achievement awards recognize employees who make difference for guests and communities.

Washington’s lodging industry achievement awards recognize employees who make difference for guests and communities.


December 3, 2015

Contact: Stephanie Davenport
Washington Restaurant Association

Stars of the Industry Awards given for service, teamwork and professionalism

OLYMPIA— On November 17, in a ceremony at Hyatt Regency Bellevue, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA)’s Stars of the Industry Awards recognized eight individuals and five hotels for their exceptional service to Washington’s traveling public, to their communities and the state’s hospitality industry as a whole.

Among the winners, Tonya De La Cruz, general manager of the Coast Gateway Hotel in SeaTac, and Keith Coleman, general manager of Springhill Suites Bellingham and TownePlace Suites Bellingham, were recognized as General Managers of the Year.

Individual awards were also given in three other categories: Rising Star of the Year, individuals who are new to the industry or their position that embody the essence of hospitality; Outstanding Lodging Employees of the Year and Outstanding Manager of the Year. Employees of the year are non-management staff who go above and beyond their normal job responsibilities to provide outstanding and unusual service to the property, guests, and the community.  Each employee award is given to an individual at a full-service property, which includes restaurant service, and a limited-service property, which does not have a full restaurant onsite.

Lodging establishments were honored at the achievement awards for making a difference in their communities. This year the Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport received the Community Service Award for its ongoing support of the Genesis Project, a charitable organization that helps victims of sex trafficking get a new start, and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel was recognized for its holiday events which raise money for charity. Other property winners include Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle and the Best Western Plus Heritage Inn Bellingham for their sustainability practices, and the Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for its inclusive workplace culture.

An Allied Member of the Year Award was given to the Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking (BEST) for their work with hotels and motels on the issue of sex trafficking. In 2013 BEST partnered with WLA, law enforcement and victim service providers to develop and deliver its “Inhospitable to Trafficking Training,” which has helped hotel owners, operators and staff prevent trafficking and related crimes from occurring at their properties. BEST recently expanded its efforts with the launch of the BEST Employers Alliance, a public-private partnership that engages employers in the prevention of sex trafficking and sex buying.

Moss Adams LLP, a nationally recognized, industry-focused tax, accounting, and consulting firm, sponsored the awards and Roy Cupler, CPA, a Moss Adams partner based in the Tacoma office and the allied officer on the WLA Board of Directors, presented the awards.

Photos are available for each winner upon request.

About the Stars Award Winners


Keith Coleman, General Manager, Springhill Suites and TownePlace Suites Bellingham
Kevin Coleman returned to his hometown of Bellingham in 2013 to open the 360° Hotel Group’s new Springhill Suites, and this year the company entrusted a second brand-new property to him, the TownePlace Suites Bellingham. He is active in the community and sits on numerous boards, including the Advisory Board to the Charter College Hospitality Program, the Whatcom Community College’s Hospitality & Tourism Program’s Advisory Board.


Tonya De La Cruz, General Manager, Coast Gateway Hotel, SeaTac
Tonya De La Cruz demonstrates each and every day the way in which Washington’s lodging industry offers ladders to career success. She got her start in the industry as room attendant and working the front desk. With a “hands on – can do” attitude, she has worked her way up to general manager of a 143-room hotel.  She has turned the Coast Gateway Hotel into a major player in the three-star market in SeaTac, steadily growing her occupancy rate and other industry indicators of success. 


Megan Greenawalt, Front Office Supervisor, Springhill Suites Bellingham
The Rising Star of the Year Award honors an outstanding individual new to the hospitality industry. Megan Greenawalt’s hospitality career began on a construction site of the 360° Hotel Group’s first Bellingham property, the new Springhill Suites. She showed her mettle while studying in Whatcom Community College’s new hospitality program and helping open the new hotel. She showed she was up to the challenges and changes that come with an opening, and her ability to meet these challenges showed that she clearly has great potential for professional growth.


Chloe Lee, Cook, Fairmont Olympic Hotel
As a cook at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Chloe Lee creates original treats and offers complimentary bites of her own creations to our guests during happy hour time in the terrace. Her nominator wrote that her passion for food shines through in everything that she does, and it traces back to baking bread with her mother in a village near Papua Indonesia. She joined the Fairmont Olympic Hotel team after moving to America to attend culinary school. 


Dzenana Prozorac, Breakfast Bar Manager, Holiday Inn Express Downtown Spokane
As the hotel’s breakfast bar manager, Dzenana Prozorac generates dozens of glowing comment cards each year and is described by both her employer and hotel guests as someone who goes the extra mile. During a recent early morning power outage she prepared what she could, set up an order with Starbucks and picked up the coffee so the guests wouldn’t have to do without. Dzenana has also been recognized nationally as Holiday Inn Express Hotels best breakfast bar attendant.  Holiday Inn Express Downtown Spokane is a Sterling Hospitality Management property.


Bert Hayward, Shuttle Driver and Bell Person, Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Known as the property’s unofficial “mayor,” Bert Hayward served 20 years in the armed forces as a security forces specialist and had a career in loss prevention and security before joining the Embassy Suites Seattle Tacoma International Airport Team. His nomination described him always demonstrating a dedication to his job and a genuine concern for his fellow team mates and guests alike. It also notes that Bert promotes internal communication by sharing insights, issues and opportunities for improvement, and he his never seen standing still. Bert has received more “shout-outs” in the Embassy Suites guest satisfactions and loyalty tracking over the past 10 years than any other team member.

Outstanding Manager of the Year, LIMITED SERVICE

Magdalena Correa, Executive Head Housekeeper, SpringHill Suites by Marriott – Kennewick/Tri-Cities
Magdalena Correa has played a critical role transforming three newly-built properties from construction sites to “guest ready” hotels. As The Hotel Group (THG) was getting ready to open without access to its elevators, Magdalena organized the staff in a line to deliver supplies to all five floors of the new hotel. She has also helped THG open its Homewood Suites in Issaquah and the Courtyard by Marriott Walla Walla. Her team’s dedication to their work has lead SpringHill Suites Kennewick  to be 4 out of 333 in guestroom cleanliness out of all SpringHill hotels.

Outstanding Manager of the Year, FULL SERVICE
Kim Peterson, Director of Catering & Event Management, Sheraton Seattle Hotel

Kim Peterson, Sheraton Seattle Hotel’s Director of Catering & Event Management, handles high profile groups, countless charity galas and convention groups at Seattle’s largest hotel.  He oversees an events team and works closely and collaboratively with other departments to ensure an exceptional experience for meeting attendees and guests Described as a great leader with an eye for talent, Kim Peterson has identified and developed more than 30 managers and associates who have been promoted to larger roles in the industry.


Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle
Best Western Plus Heritage Inn for its inclusive workplace culture.


Radisson Hotel Seattle Airport
Sheraton Seattle Hotel


Embassy Suites by Hilton Seattle-Tacoma International Airport


About the Washington Lodging Association
Founded in 1920, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) is the trade and professional association for Washington’s lodging industry. WLA is an advocacy organization and works toward a favorable legislative and regulatory environment for lodging and tourism. WLA also works to promote Washington as a tourism destination and publishes the Washington State Visitors’ Guide and its online companion, StayInWashington.com. On Oct. 1, WLA began working under a joint operating agreement with the Washington Restaurant Association and will launch a new hospitality association with the WRA in 2016.

To learn more, visit www.walodging.org.