Hard-Working Hospitality Employees Earn a Big Salute


(Sunday, March 2, 2008 6:07 PM EST)

Ida Bolden has been a breakfast cook at the Crowne Plaza National Airport for 31 years. During all that time, she's never taken a sick day.

“She is known for her dedication, as well as making the best fried chicken around,” said Rich Doud, president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce who presented Bolden with a “Legendary Service Superstar” award at the Chamber's fourth annual Hospitality Awards, held Feb. 27.

Bolden was one of six women who were honored as Legendary Service Superstars. About 25 other “Superstars” from hotels and restaurants all over the county also were recognized and given awards. All the award recipients were described as being the force behind Arlington's successful tourism industry.

“Arlington County is proud of each of you recognized today,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “What you do is so very important to all of us in Arlington.”

One superstar who was recognized was Steve Stanby of the Doubletree Crystal City. A guest was checking into the hotel, when he realized he'd forgotten a dress shirt for a funeral he was attending. Stanby rushed home and brought one of his shirts for the guest to wear.

Loi Nguyen of the Key Bridge Marriott also was an award recipient.

Described as someone with passion for her work, she is known for making sure nothing leaves her kitchen until it's perfect.

When a group of people from small villages in China came for the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, Nguyen took it upon herself to prepare each of the meals for the group of 100 for two weeks.

The diverse group of honored hospitality workers was from all walks of life and from many different cultures, ranging from recent immigrants to those born and bred in the United States.

“The recognition you receive today is more than a personal recognition,” Tejada said. “It speaks to the diversity we in Arlington have . . . Each of you makes Arlington a good place to live, work and play.”

Superstar Fiesha Lima of the Sheraton National Hotel made his contribution by keeping his hotel safe.

Monitoring the security cameras with his undivided attention, Lima found an intruder entering a restricted area, He confronted the intruder, which led the suspect to flee the property.

Lima gave a detailed report to his supervisor and, the next day, when the suspect returned, he was identified and apprehended by the county police department.

“Being a superstar is not just doing an excellent job,” Doud said. “It means being an active participant in the community.”

Also honored at the awards were George Bishop, Sheraton National Hotel; Aziz Wardak, Crystal Gateway Marriott; Sameer Abuelgasim, Key Bridge Marriot; Ivonne Camacho, Residence Inn Pentagon City; Robert Stewart, Crowne Plaza National Airport; Alison Christ, Willow Restaurant; Nicolle Chavez, Key Bridge Marriott; Sabrina Virgil, Hyatt Regency Crystal City; Evan Davis, Westin Arlington Gateway; Samantha Penny, Embassy Suites Crystal City; Elizabeth Nikola, Crystal Gateway Marriott; Ernest Todd, Columbus Club of Arlington; Merceditas Sargent, Residence Inn Pentagon City; Abiy Tsega, Holiday Inn National Airport; Gonazalo Camacho, Key Bridge Marriott; William Asport, Sheraton National Hotel; Naomi Teklelemariam, Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City; Sandy Liu, Crowne Plaza National Airport; Pablo Martinez, Crystal Gateway Marriott; Portia Conerly, Arlington Visitors Center; Viktor Kshov, Residence Inn Pentagon City; Fredis Gonzales, Crowne Plaza National Airport; Michael Brooks, Crystal Gateway Marriott; Jember Gebrewahid, Crystal City Marriott; Grace Kumi, Crowne Royal National Airport; Betty Florence, Columbus Club of Arlington; Marnie Williams, Holiday Inn National Airport; and Vatcharee Lertmongkol, Crowne Plaza National Airport.

Recipients of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s “Hospitality Superstars” award were honored Feb. 27. The annual awards honor front-line employees who make a difference in Arlington’s hospitality industry.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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