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Check out which local hospitality leaders earned elite honors

 Check out which local hospitality leaders earned elite honors

The Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner was held at the Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth on Nov. 9.

LANSING, MICH. – The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association celebrated the excellence within Michigan’s hospitality industry by honoring the industry’s top leaders during its annual Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner that was held at the Saint John’s Resort in Plymouth on Nov. 9.

“In our ever-evolving industry, it’s imperative that we take time to honor those who consistently elevate the standards of hospitality,” said Justin Winslow, MRLA President and CEO. “These dedicated professionals continue to shape the guest experience, inspire their colleagues, and drive our industry forward.

“We take great pride in celebrating these outstanding leaders and innovators within Michigan’s vibrant hospitality community.”

Above and beyond

The Stars of the Industry Awards recognize the outstanding individuals within Michigan’s hospitality industry who have demonstrated professionalism and creativity while going above and beyond their roles to contribute to the positive image of the industry.

Honorees are nominated by their peers and then selected as winners by a panel of industry leaders. This year featured two new publicly-voted categories, including “Bartender Star of the Year” and
“Resort Star of the Year.”

Several hospitality leaders from southeast-Michigan were lauded for their efforts over the past year.

Novi star honored

Emily Moir
Emily Moir

Emily Moir of Novi-based Epoch Hospitality was awarded Emerging Hospitality Leader Star of the Year. She was selected for her attention to detail, quick resourcefulness, and undeniable connection to the people she is serving.

The Sales and Marketing Star of the Year Award is awarded to an individual for innovative marketing and sales efforts generating increased sales and retention of guests.

Jennifer Sochocki
Jennifer Sochocki

The 2023 award was given to Jennifer Suchocki of Birmingham’s Daxton Hotel for her exemplary performance, exceptional service and consummate professionalism.

Marcelo Ponti
Marcelo Ponti

The Engineering + Operations Star of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding operations, engineering and maintenance employee who works tirelessly to improve efficiencies, maximize machinery life, reduce costs and improve property appearance to provide all guests the best stay possible. This year’s winner is Marcelo Ponti of Saint John’s Resort.

Hopcat HR ‘Star’

The HR Professional Star of the Year Award is designated for an individual working behind the scenes efficiently and loyally to ensure that all team members of a hotel or restaurant have the support they need to be successful and hospitable to guests.

The 2023 award winner is Ellen Winterburn of Project Barfly, Inc., which owns southeast-Michigan’s Hopcat restaurants.

Ellen Winterburn
Ellen Winterburn

The MRLA also awarded Larry Brown of Affinity Group and Dave Lorenz of Travel Michigan with Stellar Legacy Awards.

Lorenz will be missed

Dave Lorenz will be retiring as the state’s tourism director at the end of the year, signaling the end of a 21-year career with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

He joined the Travel Michigan team in 2002 and rose to Vice President in 2015, guiding the state’s revitalization through vivid marketing campaigns, community engagement efforts, and improved travel options.

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Ed Wright

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