Turks and Caicos bags tourism awards

Caribbean region hospitality industry professionals, from left; Harold Rasjmin; Stacy Cox; Neil Kolton and Nandana Kandabadage were honored at the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum awards ceremony in Miami.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) says tourism representatives from Turks and Caicos Islands captured two of four tourism industry awards at the opening of the fourth Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) in Miami last month.

CHTA said last Friday that Stacy Cox, executive director of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association, received the prestigious Caribbean Association Executive of the Year award during the presentation, which honors leading executives and employees in the Caribbean.

A native of the Bahamas and a citizen of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cox wields more than 20 years of hospitality experience, and is known for her advocacy, marketing and human resource development initiatives to build a sustainable tourism product through awareness, outreach and education, CHTA said.

It said Cox, who was appointed president of the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives (CSHAE) last year, “brings a rare combination of savvy, sophistication and a forward-looking view of the industry.”

She has volunteered her time not only with CHTA but also with community organizations and events such as Youth Explosion, Maskanoo, TCI Shines Clean-up Campaign and TCI Little Chefs.

CHTA said Nandana Kandabadage, of Seven Stars Resort in Turks and Caicos, was named Caribbean Supervisor of the Year “for demonstrating exceptional leadership in his management abilities.”

He started his career as a room attendant in 1994 in Dubai, where he began learning the importance of first class service through various positions, CHTA said.

Part of the original housekeeping team at Seven Stars Resort, CHTA said Kandabadage’s skills led to his promotion to Housekeeping Supervisor in 2012.

The first to volunteer for “lateral” service, he also introduced changes to work practices and procedures, which led to his department receiving a score of 100 percent on the recent Forbes hotel inspection, CHTA said.

It said other winners included Caribbean Employee of the Year, Harold Rasjmin, Restaurant captain of The Chophouse (formerly The French Steakhouse) at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa in Aruba.

Recognized as an outstanding hotel or tourism employee in the private sector who exemplifies above-average technical competence and hospitality skill, Rasjmin “brings more than 30 years of food and beverage and hospitality experience to the management of the restaurant, as well as to the training of staff, especially in his table-side dish preparations so beloved by guests,” CHTA said.

“His extensive knowledge of menus, food, wine and service was obtained through decades of dedicated service in the restaurant industry,” it said. “He takes wonderful care of both island visitors, as well as the many locals who frequent The Chophouse.”

The Caribbean Allied Member of the Year Award went to Neil Kolton of Interval International.

Described as a consummate sales professional with a keen eye for detail, “Kolton has been a valued Allied Member of CHTA,” CHTA said.

Joining Interval in 2005, Kolton “quickly made his mark and was promoted from a northeast regional position to Caribbean region manager,” CHTA said.

In 2010, it said Kolton was promoted to director of Sales and Service for the Caribbean and Florida.

“Demonstrating a great capacity to understand the region’s needs and offer valuable solutions that helped hotels grow in reach and revenue,” CHTA said. “His work with Interval has helped the company develop this key area of their business — the Caribbean.”

CHTA said Kolton also “has demonstrated a commitment to the education and promotion of Caribbean nationals.”

Through his dedicated involvement with the CHTA Education Foundation, CHTA said Kolton has helped raise more than US$700,000 in scholarships for Caribbean students pursuing degrees and certificates in tourism and hospitality.

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