Hotel worker Sarah Hawkins has checked in to the hall of fame - she's won the YEP's People's Choice title at the 10th annual Leeds Hotels & Venues Association Awards.
The top industry awards honour the city's best workers in the hospitality sector. Full list of winners below.
VIDEO: Watch our exclusive video report, at the top of this page and you can see the full Leeds BID sponsored ceremony, first streamed live on the Yorkshire Evening Post's Facebook page, now available on demand - CLICK HERE.
AUDIO: Listed to our audio recording of the full ceremony including winners and runners up judges comments - CLICK HERE.
E-MAG: Check out our interactive digital page-turning version of the Leeds Hotels and Venue Association 2017 Awards dinner booklet, with full details of all the finalists, sponsors, charities and rmore, including the running order so you can easily follow the event while watching our Facebook Live video or audio streams, above. We've included the People's Choice Award finalists video and on the back page we've embedded our video report from the night featuring all the winners - CLICK HERE.
Sarah, aged 40, Director of Sales at DoubleTree by Hilton Leeds, was nominated for her love and passion for Leeds, her enthusiasm for work and her ability to form 'fantastic relationships'.
She led the launch of the hotel's newly refurbished Sky Lounge bar and her dedication has helped to make it a city landmark,bosses said.
The People’s Choice, sponsored by Yorkshire Evening Post, was voted for by the general public and this year saw more nominations than ever before.
It was presented by the YEP's Commercial Content Editor Graham Walker and awards host BBC Look North's Harry Gration at the Queen's Hotel.
Sarah, from Leeds, who has worked at the hotel for two years, said of winning the award: "It means everything to me. It's amazing because it's not just my colleague who feel I should win it, but readers of the Yorkshire Evening Post, the corporates that I work with. I've been in this industry 17 years and it now feels like it's paid off.
"All the hard work has brought me to winning this. I'm really passionate about my city. This is a really big accolade, I've worked really hard for and I'm really proud that I've got it tonight."
Gordon Jackson, LHVA chair and and General Manager of Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, said: “This 10th anniversary ceremony was the best yet, with the calibre of nominees far surpassing the judges expectations. A huge well done to all nominees and congratulations to all of the winners.”
Harry Gration said: "It's a fantastic location, with the Queen's Hotel itself celebrating 80 years and no, I wasn't here for the opening. It's appropriate that we can celebrate all that is good about this vibrant city and this hospitality offered to visitors day after day. It's something we should be very proud of.
"Your first impression of a city is the impression you get in a restaurant and a hotel, so what we are seeing is excellence in every sense of the word - people who are wonderful ambassadors for their hotel, celebrating the very best practices that make this city what it is - one of the best in Europe."
LHVA received headline sponsorship from Leeds BID and gold sponsorship from Trinity Leeds, ensuring the 10th anniversary celebrations were a roaring success, said organisers.
Gordon Jackson, Chair of Leeds Hotels and Venues Associations and General Manager of Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa said: “It’s incredible to think that we’re now into our 10th year of the awards and as one of the most highly anticipated events of the calendar, this year did not disappoint.
"With over 260 guests including the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, the ceremony was heralded as the best yet, with the calibre of nominees far surpassing the judges expectations. A huge well done to all nominees, and congratulations to all of the winners.”
Alex Verity from DoubleTree by Hilton took the first award of the evening, the newly established Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by Leeds City College. The judges were impressed with Alex’s determination to achieve his ultimate ambition, to become a Head Chef one day.
Sponsored by St Gemma’s Hospice, the Unsung Hero Award is a chance for those staff members who are often ‘behind the scenes’ to gain recognition. The merited winner, Aidan Healey, from Oulton Hall, was recognised for his passion for his role as a Golf Membership Advisor, despite having to overcome serious health issues earlier in life.
Awarded for her ability to develop individuals and nurture their talents to help them progress to the next level, Dorina Tutuianu from Park Plaza Hotel took home the coveted Mentor of the Year Award.
Joanna Ritchie from The Queens was commended for her exceptional Customer Service Back of House, and took the trophy for the Award. Impressed with her passion, vibrancy and innovative ideas, the judges were delighted to award Joanna with the accolade this year.
A tough category to judge, the Customer Service Front of House Award, sponsored by Trinity Leeds, is always fiercely competitive and highly regarded amongst the hotels and venues. The well-deserved winner, Matthew Bebbington from Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa was awarded for his ‘above and beyond’ mentality, positivity and confidence.
The award for Lifetime Achievement acknowledges those staff members who have dedicated their careers to the hospitality industry. Congratulations went to Peter McMahon of Oulton Hall, who is celebrating his 25th year of service at the hotel this year.
A passionate and innovative young talent, Andrew Revill from Cosmopolitan took the award for Rising Star. Having quickly risen through the ranks from a pot wash at the young age of 15, to now being part of the managerial team, Andrew blew the judges away with his dedication to the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
The Top Team Award, with headline sponsorship from Leeds BID, was certainly one of the most raucously applauded throughout the night, with the Conference Team from Well Met taking first place.
The judges were extremely impressed with Well Met’s wealth of experience and team mentality, along with their creative and passionate outlook.
The judging panel was made up of a range of Leeds hospitality, educational and industry leaders, including Liz Smith-Mills, Institute of Hospitality who said: “With more nominations than ever before we knew that we’d have our work cut out this year, but we honestly were blown away by the standard of nominees in every single category.
"It’s an incredibly tough job to judge a number of candidates who are all so clearly dedicated and passionate about their role and their place of work. It’s testament to the hospitality industry that we have such a diverse range of people working in our hotels and venues in Leeds.”
For further information on Leeds Hotels & Venues Association visit www.lhva.co.uk
WINNERS AND RUNNERS UP
Apprentice of the Year:
1st: Alex Verity, DoubleTree by Hilton
1st: Aidan Healey, Oulton Hall
2nd: Kevin Wilkins, Mercure Leeds Parkway
3rd: Bob Maginess, Cosmopolitan Hotel
Mentor of the Year:
1st: Dorina Tutuianu, Park Plaza
2nd: Karolina Spedding, DoubleTree by Hilton
Customer Service – Back of House:
1st Place: Joanna Ritchie, The Queens
2nd Place: Elaine Hemingway, Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa
Customer Service - Front of House:
1st: Matthew Bebbington, Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa
2nd: Ian McCallum, Oulton Hall
Joint 3rd: John Ritchie, DoubleTree by Hilton
Joint 3rd: Oliver O’Reilly, Crowne Plaza
Sarah Hawkins, DoubleTree by Hilton
Peter McMahon, Oulton Hall
1st: Andrew Revill, Cosmopolitan Hotel
2nd: Davinia Martinez, DoubleTree by Hilton
Joint 3rd: Dalia Santana, The Met Hotel
Joint 3rd: Lara Jiminez Giganto, Park Plaza
1st: Conference Team, Well Met
2nd: Spa Treatments Team, Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa
3rd: Housekeeping Team, Cosmopolitan Hotel