LHVA Awards 2024: Vote for the inspiring Leeds hotel staff up for the People's Choice Award

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The finalists for the People’s Choice trophy at the LHVA Awards 2024 have been named - and you can decide the winner.

These star contenders provide a warm welcome to guests, help visitors to enjoy a truly memorable stay in Leeds and ensure those who work alongside them excel too. Customers are full of praise for their efforts and their own colleagues have put them forward for recognition as the Leeds Hotels and Venues Association (LVHA) gets ready to host its annual awards.

Taking place at Leeds United Football Club on Thursday June 20, the awards will celebrate the very best of the city’s hotel and hospitality industry.

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The finalists of the People's Choice Award at the LHVA Awards 2024 The finalists of the People's Choice Award at the LHVA Awards 2024
The finalists of the People's Choice Award at the LHVA Awards 2024 | LHVA

The People’s Choice category, sponsored by the Yorkshire Evening Post, is decided by you, based on the public vote. This year, there are 11 outstanding nominations to choose from. 

Voting is now open on the LHVA Awards website and voting closes at midnight on Monday June 10. The winner will be announced during the ceremony.

Here are the 11 finalists and what their colleagues have to say about them. 

Chloe Pemberton, Sales and Marketing Assistant at Hollins Hall Hotel

Chloe Pemberton, Sales and Marketing Assistant at Hollins Hall HotelChloe Pemberton, Sales and Marketing Assistant at Hollins Hall Hotel
Chloe Pemberton, Sales and Marketing Assistant at Hollins Hall Hotel | Submitted

Chloe has been recognised as an integral part of the team at Hollins Hall Hotel. After starting as a leisure assistant, Chloe later began spending one day in the week in the Sales Office, creating promotional material for the Leisure Department where she is highly regarded and an integral part of the team.

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It took no time at all to realise that Chloe had a significant talent for marketing and one day a week soon became two. Working on the main hotel Facebook page she was able to grow the page’s organic reach of around 6,000 to 423,800 in just 12 months. A growth of 6,900% is just phenomenal and this is all down to Chloe’s determination to create the perfect social media campaigns.

Earlier this year two days became three and now four. She is passionate, hardworking and eager to learn. Chloe has completed various sales training programmes and is now an invaluable member of the sales team who will keep working hard and developing her skills year on year – a true asset to the hotel. 

Debbie Dobson, Director of Sales at Dakota Leeds

Debbie Dobson, Director of Sales at Dakota LeedsDebbie Dobson, Director of Sales at Dakota Leeds
Debbie Dobson, Director of Sales at Dakota Leeds | Dakota

Debbie’s remarkable contributions have left an indelible mark on Dakota Leeds, and she embodies the spirit of excellence.  When the Salon Prive Bar faced closure, Debbie stepped up. She juggled booked events, rearranged schedules, and accommodated guests with grace and efficiency. Her dedication ensured that the clients felt valued even during challenging times. Debbie’s prowess in selling the new 10 bedrooms is unparalleled. Her persuasive skills and deep understanding of the product have significantly boosted the revenue.

As a champion of the new product, Debbie orchestrated captivating showcases. Her attention to detail and passion for perfection ensured that potential clients saw our offering in the best light. The new events space she hosted became a magnet for clients, resulting in a substantial £55k uplift in November 2023. 

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Debbie’s reputation precedes her. Her name resonates throughout the city, and her impact extends beyond our walls. Debbie embodies the essence of Dakota—a beacon of excellence and unwavering commitment. In summary, Debbie Dobson is more than a nominee; she’s an inspiration. 

Laurinda Silva, Housekeeping Manager at Village Hotel Leeds North

Laurinda Silva, Housekeeping Manager at Village Hotel Leeds NorthLaurinda Silva, Housekeeping Manager at Village Hotel Leeds North
Laurinda Silva, Housekeeping Manager at Village Hotel Leeds North | Submitted

Laurinda has been at the Village Hotel Leeds North for 19 months with the new role as Housekeeping Manager. Laurinda is an excellent Head of Department and supports the entire hotel when needed, she takes pride in everything she does and is well respected by her team and peers alike. Her attention to detail is formidable, her punctuality and management tasks are always on time.

Laurinda was nominated to attend Village’s own internal rising star programme to support a longer-term ambition of becoming an Operations Manager or Hotel Manager within Village Hotels. Laurinda is loyal, driven and motivates her team daily with rewards, competitions and quite often, food! She has a wonderful relationship with her peers and will often go the extra mile to support them.

The hotel have monthly Mystery Shop Audits of the hotel and Laurinda is often 95% plus on these audits when the target is 85%, and across the 33 hotels, Laurinda is seen as one of the top performing Housekeeping Managers by her KPI scores and brand directors experience when staying in the hotel. The hotel also has team engagement surveys for all employees to complete and Laurinda’s team scored her as above 90% on the “Manager” questions.

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Jelena Halavanja Rakin, Reception Supervisor at Hilton Leeds City

Jelena Halavanja Rakin, Reception Supervisor at Hilton Leeds CityJelena Halavanja Rakin, Reception Supervisor at Hilton Leeds City
Jelena Halavanja Rakin, Reception Supervisor at Hilton Leeds City | Submitted

Jelena’s dedication, professionalism, and positive attitude make her an invaluable asset to the team and a shining example of excellence in the hospitality industry.  As the Front Desk Supervisor, Jelena consistently demonstrates exceptional leadership, dedication, and a remarkable commitment to excellence, making her an invaluable member of the team. Jelena’s journey began as a receptionist, and over the past year and a half, she has risen to the role of Front Desk Supervisor with remarkable grace and determination. 

Since her promotion, Jelena has displayed a remarkable level of initiative and leadership, significantly impacting the operations in a positive way. She tackles challenges head-on, never shying away from difficult situations, and consistently delivering results. Her ability to remain calm and composed under pressure has been instrumental in maintaining the smooth operation of the front desk. 

When the Front Office Manager went on sick leave, Jelena stepped up to the plate without hesitation. Taking on added responsibilities, she achieved remarkable results, ensuring that operations continued to run seamlessly. Her can-do attitude and proactive mind-set were truly commendable, inspiring her colleagues and earning her the respect and admiration of the entire team. Moreover, Jelena’s leadership skills were on full display as she rallied the team together during challenging times. It comes as no surprise that Jelena was awarded the Team Member of the Year award. 

Ellie Charles, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall 

Ellie Charles, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton HallEllie Charles, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall
Ellie Charles, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall | Submitted

Ellie has a character that you simply cannot dislike. Her role, which revolves on guest experience, satisfaction and follow-up communication has and continues to be carried out at such a high level.  Her approach and overall dedication have seen guest feedback, team engagement and standards taken to the next level. 

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When Ellie joined the hotel, the hotel was experiencing extremely poor guest feedback, and response rates and general team morale needed repair in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic. Two years later, Ellie has established herself as the go-to person for guests new and returning. Any query, any question, any request is handled by Ellie with the utmost professionalism but most importantly with empathy and personability.

During her time at Oulton Hall, Ellie has undergone a massive life adjustment, making the choice to transition from male to female. Unarguably, Ellie has followed what she feels is the right path in life for her, and in doing so has reached a place where she can feel comfortable and happy with the person she is. Ellie has challenged any adversity she has faced and used this emotion and passion to further her skills and relate to customers in any means necessary to get the right feedback and right solution. She’s an incredible role model for hospitality, for those in the Transgender community and women in general.

Jayne Uren, HR Manager at Leeds Marriott Hotel

Jayne Uren, HR Manager at Leeds Marriott HotelJayne Uren, HR Manager at Leeds Marriott Hotel
Jayne Uren, HR Manager at Leeds Marriott Hotel | Submitted

Jayne, a prominent figure in Leeds Marriott Hotel management team, stands out as a natural leader committed to the core strategies of the business. With a remarkable 18 years of service, she initially served as the Executive Head Housekeeper for three years before assuming the role of Human Resources Manager for the past 15 years. Her extensive experience includes roles at both the York Marriott Hotel and Leeds as a Multi Property HR Manager, along with providing support to the HR Team at Hollins Hall Bradford. 

Jayne has been instrumental in mentoring, training, and empowering 11 HR Officers, guiding them to obtain their CIPD qualifications. A standout achievement for Jayne has been her unwavering efforts in securing and maintaining the Disability Confident Leader (DCL) level 3 for the hotel since 2019. She not only led the hotel to this recognition but also supported two other businesses in obtaining their DCL Level 3 accreditation. The Leeds Marriott Hotel remains the only hotel with this prestigious level, earning Jayne a nomination for the Disability Confident Award Category for the Springboard Award of Excellence in 2023. 

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Jayne epitomises the value of “Putting People First,” one of the CORE Values, demonstrating genuine care for the welfare and wellbeing of associates. She willingly offers counselling beyond work matters, using her free time to provide sound and honest advice with the best interests of associates at heart.  Jayne is a consummate professional in her field and is an absolute asset to The Leeds Marriott Hotel Team, deserving of this recognition. 

Matthew Dunkley, Front Office Manager at Double Tree by Hilton Leeds

Matthew Dunkley, Front Office Manager at Double Tree by Hilton LeedsMatthew Dunkley, Front Office Manager at Double Tree by Hilton Leeds
Matthew Dunkley, Front Office Manager at Double Tree by Hilton Leeds | Submitted

Matthew Dunkley, a cornerstone of the Double Tree by Hilton Leeds hotel for 15 years, has been a part of the furniture since the hotel started trading in the summer of 2009. Initially serving as Night Manager before transitioning into the role of Front Office Manager, Matthew is a beacon of excellence in the hotel. His interactions with guests are consistently outstanding, characterised by warmth, professionalism, and genuine concern for their comfort and satisfaction. His gentlemanly demeanour leaves a lasting impression on everyone he encounters, making him a standout figure in the hotel.

Beyond his exemplary guest service, Matthew is known for his multifaceted skills and unwavering dedication. Whether it’s troubleshooting IT issues or providing first aid assistance, Matthew is always on hand to lend his expertise and support. His breadth of knowledge and willingness to assist in various capacities make him an invaluable asset to our team. 

Matthew’s leadership style is characterised by strength, compassion, and a deep commitment to fostering a positive work environment. He leads by example, inspiring his team members to strive for excellence and empowering them to reach their full potential. In every aspect of his role, Matthew consistently surpasses expectations, embodying the spirit of hospitality and professionalism. His outstanding contributions and remarkable leadership make him a true asset to the hotel.

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Nick Herhenteris, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall

Nick Herhenteris, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton HallNick Herhenteris, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall
Nick Herhenteris, Guest Experience Manager at Oulton Hall | Submitted

Most people, if they are asked to describe Nick, could have a two-hour conversation explaining all the wonderful things that make Nick who he is, and most importantly the impact he has had and continues to have on the guest experience. Nick joined the team in the wake of the Covid pandemic when the hospitality industry had been hit incredibly hard and customer service and satisfaction was at points impossible to achieve.

From the get-go, Nick made it his focus to ensure everyone that walked through the front doors would leave with a first-class impression of Oulton Hall. Nick set the example to the rest of his team by recognising what’s important to the guest, and how the smallest things make the biggest impact. Two years later, Nick is well-known amongst regular guests and could even be described as part of the furniture, with people asking if he is around simply to say ‘Hello’ or ‘Thank you’.

His continued efforts and dedication can be seen in the astronomical transformation of Oulton Hall statistics. His ability to tackle any guest issues, big or small, has paved the way to Oulton Hall’s success and reputation. Oulton Hall received the title of ‘Hotel of the Year’ at the 2024 Q-Awards, not solely but heavily based on this transformation, which is all down to Nick.

Anna Pumawarin, Guest Service Assistant at Hampton by Hilton Leeds

Anna Pumawarin, Guest Service Assistant at Hampton by Hilton LeedsAnna Pumawarin, Guest Service Assistant at Hampton by Hilton Leeds
Anna Pumawarin, Guest Service Assistant at Hampton by Hilton Leeds | Submitted

Anna won Star of Quarter 3, voted for by colleagues for being a ‘very positive member of the team, always happy to get stuck in and bringing a smile to shifts. She is very reliable, always on her feet and ready to help the team or guests.’ Anna is a credit to the team at the hotel and the wider company displaying her passion for hospitality on every shift she arrives to. Not only do the team agree, but guests have nothing but positive feedback for Anna.

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Anna has been a lifeline at times, due to her willingness to cover night shifts. She averaged 50 Hilton Honors Enrolments per month in 2023 (achieving her target and more) and she generated £2,350 in upselling early check-ins, late check-outs in 2023. Anna’s confidence since joining the team has rocketed and she has really come out of her shell. She knows the hotel and the team well. She aspires to progress in her role and is working towards Guest Service Manager within the hotel. 

There can be many challenges faced daily in the industry, whether it is operational issues impacting the team flow, a dissatisfied guest, an emergency that requires resilience, Anna has proved that she can overcome challenges to still deliver exceptional guest experiences. This is reflective of her passion and her drive for hospitality and the hotel. She is up to date with all her online training and never has to be asked twice about completing it. Anna is without a doubt a role model to the team.

Darian Smith, Cluster Accounts Assistant at Leonardo Hotel Leeds

Darian Smith, Cluster Accounts Assistant at Leonardo Hotel LeedsDarian Smith, Cluster Accounts Assistant at Leonardo Hotel Leeds
Darian Smith, Cluster Accounts Assistant at Leonardo Hotel Leeds | Submitted

Darian has been with the company before as night manager and decided to make a change into working within the finance department, Darian is a well-respected and key team member within the Leonardo Hotel team. He supports all the departments with the financial aspect but also is keen to help those who need advice or support operationally. Darian deserves the recognition and is well deserving of this award.

Janet McAteer, PA to General Manager at Hilton Leeds City

Janet McAteer, PA to General Manager at Hilton Leeds CityJanet McAteer, PA to General Manager at Hilton Leeds City
Janet McAteer, PA to General Manager at Hilton Leeds City | Submitted

Janet demonstrates outstanding commitment and embodiment of Hilton Values and consistently demonstrates a remarkable dedication to upholding the core principles that define the business. Janet serves as an inspiration to others and helps cultivate a culture that sets us apart from other Hotels and truly exemplifies what it means to be a Hilton Team Member.

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Janet proactively contributes to fostering a collaborative and inclusive work environment, where teamwork, and excellence are not just encouraged but embraced. Her efforts are hugely appreciated and positively impacts all her peers as well as the community, as she demonstrates unwavering commitment. The work she does in the community is hugely impactful and whilst she ‘just gets on with it’, it cannot go unrecognised.

In the last 12 months, Janet has raised £2,500 for Children’s Heart Foundation. Through her daily interactions with colleagues, guests, and external stakeholders, Janet consistently exhibits integrity, professionalism, and respect, approaching tasks with a positive attitude. Janet is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the values are not only upheld but also integrated into every aspect of her work for her colleagues and the guests at Hilton Leeds City.

Head to the LVHA website to read the full nominations for each of the 11 finalists - and to cast your vote. Voting closes at midnight on Monday June 10.

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