Aug. 9, 2004 – Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award recipients don't fade away; they come together years later to choose the recipient of an even more special honor.
Recently, nine of the former recipients, including two from the Virgin Islands, met in Miami and voted to bestow the title of Honorary Caribbean Hotelier of the Year on veteran hospitality industry leader Jim Pepperdine.
It was in 1977 that the Caribbean Hotel Association began bestowing its Hotelier of the Year Award, which was the brainchild of Pepperdine. The award recognizes excellence in hotel operations along with leadership and achievement in fostering the goals of the region's hospitality industry.
Over the years, the award has recognized hoteliers throughout the region, including Lorette Resch, owner of the Island Beachcomber Hotel on St. Thomas, in 1984; Dick and Joyce Doumeng, owners of what is now known as the Bolongo Bay Beach Club on St. Thomas, in 1988; and the late Betty Sperber, owner of the King Christian Hotel on St. Croix, in 1993.
Two weeks ago, at a gala dinner in Miami, it was Pepperdine's turn to be recognized for his contributions over more than three decades to the Caribbean travel and tourism industry. Resch and Doumeng (father of current Bolongo general manager Richard Doumeng) joined fellow former award recipients Ewald Biemans of Aruba, Frank Rainieri of the Dominican Republic, Peter Odle of Barbados, Jag Mehta of Jamaica, Rob Sherman of Antigua, Berthia Parle of St. Lucia and Royston Hopkin of Grenada in presenting the honorary award.
Pepperdine served as president of the CHA, a private sector hospitality industry association, in 1972-74 and as executive director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, an association primarily of government tourism officials, in 1974-76. In 1977, he co-founded the advertising and public relations agency which today bears the name Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown and Russell; he retired from the firm in 2002. The agency has sponsored the Hotelier of the Year Award since 1978, with American Express as co-sponsor for the past two years.
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