Leeds prides itself on having some some of the best hospitality workers in the world and today we are agains inviting readers to vote for their favourite - to win the industry's prestigious People’s Choice Award.
It is one of nine titles up for grabs as the Leeds Hotels and Venues Association (LHVA) celebrates the tenth anniversary of its annual hospitality awards this year at The Queens Hotel, Leeds, on Thursday, June 29.
The LHVA is the trade body for the hospitality sector in Leeds, with 32 members, representing in excess of 5,000 bedrooms, 3,000 staff and £140m in joint turnover. Hospitality is a major UK employer, the fourth largest industry sector with 2.7 million people employed in hospitality and tourism, which is 10 per cent of the UK’s workforce.
The People’s Choice Award, supported by the Yorkshire Evening Post for the third year, is the only category voted for by the general public of Leeds and the surrounding areas and you have just two weeks - to Thursday, June 15 - to vote online at www.lhva.co.uk/peopleschoice17.
But before you do, check out their details, with video, on this page.
This year's six nominees are Colin Gaines, Head Doorman at The Queens Hotel; Sarah Hawkins, Director of Sales at DoubleTree by Hilton Leeds; Harlon Haye, Head Chef at The Met Hotel; Karolina Karasek, Breakfast Host at Park Plaza; Graham Stalgis, Concierge at Oulton Hall Hotel and Laura Swan, People and Training Manager at Thorpe Park Hotel.
The other awards categories include Top Team, Front of House Customer Service, Back of House Customer Service, Rising Star, Mentor of the Year, Unsung Hero and Lifetime Achievement.
A new Apprentice category, created in partnership with Leeds City College and Leeds Beckett University, will recognise the valuable contribution apprentices make to individual businesses and the wider hospitality industry in Leeds.
Before you do, check out full details, photos and video about each of them below, to help you decide.
The LHVA Awards are a seminal celebration of Leeds hotels and venues staff and have previously seen winners go on to be nominated for national awards including the The Caterer’s Hotel Cateys – an award ceremony likened to the Oscars of the hospitality sector.
The Leeds awards, which include support from LeedsBID, Conference Leeds and The Queens, will also celebrate the 80th anniversary of the opening of this year's ceremony venue, The Queens Hotel. It will be marked with a 1930’s themed awards dinner and meal inspired by the original menu.
Gordon Jackson, Chairman of LHVA and General Manager of Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, said: “The awards are such an important part of the association and this year is made even more special with not one but two anniversaries coinciding, so we are incredibly excited to welcome members, judges and sponsors to be a part of our celebration.
"The hospitality industry is integral to Leeds growing tourism sector and the awards are a chance for us to formally acknowledge this. We hope that by recognising the apprentices and rising stars in our hotels and venues, more young people will consider hospitality as a fantastic career choice.”
Kerry Adams, Executive Housekeeper at DoubleTree by Hilton and last year’s People’s Choice winner, today told why winning the award meant so much to her:
She said: “It was an absolute honour to be named as the People’s Choice winner last year, although extremely nerve wracking as it was such a strong category. I’ve been working in hospitality for 38 years and I love everything about it, so to be honoured with an award voted for by the people of Leeds is wonderful – thank you once again and good luck to all of the nominees this year!”
VOTE: Now it’s over to you – cast your vote for one of the following nominated for The People’s Choice Award 2017 at www.lhva.co.uk/peopleschoice17
COLIN GAINES, Head Doorman at The Queens Hotel
In his 27-years of service, Colin has seen thousands of visitors to Leeds come and go, but he has remained firmly at the front door of the Queens Hotel and has become somewhat of an institution in Leeds. Professional to the end, Colin starts his day ensuring that the hotel front doors are spotless before metamorphosing into his trademark top hat and tails; ready to guide, direct and welcome people to Leeds. His personal pride for the city is coupled with a level of commitment and professionalism which are second to none.
SARAH HAWKINS, Director of Sales at DoubleTree by Hilton Leeds.
Known by colleagues and guests as the personality of Leeds, Sarah’s love and passion for her home city is matched only by her enthusiasm for the environment she works in. Well known in the business community, Sarah is famed for her ability to form truly fantastic relationships with everyone she meets. Leading the launch of the newly refurbished Sky Lounge bar, Sarah’s dedication to showing off the Leeds skyline in style ensured that the bar has become a landmark in the city.
HARLON HAYE, Head Chef at The Met Hotel
Harlon originally came over to Leeds from his home of Portland, Jamaica to play professional cricket for Yorkshire – so when he took on a job as a pot wash back in 2004 little did he know that food was his real passion. Rising through the ranks with incredible determination, Harlon progressed to be Head Chef at The Met whilst taking on the role of mentoring budding chefs throughout his career. He is known for his calm and approachable attitude, creative flair in the kitchen and passion he puts into his teams progression. A real gem in Leeds’ hospitality industry.
KAROLINA KARASEK, Breakfast Host at Park PlazaBringing positive energy to a breakfast table each morning is no mean feat, but for Karolina the start of the day is the perfect opportunity to ensure that each guest is ready to hit the ground running – even on Christmas Day! Karolina’s first Christmas in Leeds saw her volunteering to work all day in order for her colleagues to be able to spend time with their families. Her fiercely optimistic nature is coupled with a wonderfully polite and willing attitude which is establishing Karolina as a key team member who is well liked by guests and colleagues.
GRAHAM STALGIS, Concierge at Oulton Hall Hotel
Meeting and greeting guests is in Graham’s blood and his ability to ensure that each guest is welcomed as a VIP to Oulton is just a small part of Graham’s role. From re-organising last minute Easter Egg hunts on a rainy Easter Sunday to ensure the event still went ahead, to blowing up flat tyres of guest’s vehicles, Graham will happily go out of his way to please each guest and is not afraid of a challenge. With a fantastic knowledge of the local area, Graham is a true advocate for Leeds and an asset to Oulton Hall.
LAURA SWAN, People and Training Manager at Thorpe Park Hotel
Laura is a natural when it comes to looking after people, at Thorpe Park Hotel she’s known for her infectious personality and optimistic approach to each new day. But it’s her modesty which sets her apart from her peers; supporting charity causes with a selfless commitment that belies her youthful aspect. Organising the Float for Sainsbury’s Leeds Pride, getting hands on with DIY, fundraising and managing everything in between is no small job, but she doesn’t stop there. Laura also supports ‘Selby Hands of Hope’, a local charity dedicated to relieving financial hardships of families in the area, not to mention fundraising whilst at the hotel.
VOTE: Vote online now for The People’s Choice Award 2017 nominees - deadline is Thursday, June 15 - at www.lhva.co.uk/peopleschoice17