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Hotel workers cheered at ceremony

If you're at a hotel today and everyone from the manager to the valet seems a little hoarse, blame Tuesday's Inn Key awards. The 17th annual ceremony, put on by the Greater Miami & The Beaches Hotel Association, honors hourly hotel workers -- and provoked a lot of cheering.

At the event, 21 people were honored in categories ranging from valet to engineering to bellperson and room keeper. The top prize is lodging employee of the year, which went to Melissa Szulszteyn from the W South Beach.

Szulszteyn is new to the hospitality industry; she got her job as executive assistant to the general manager and hotel manager two and a half years ago after her position at her last job was eliminated in a major downsizing. At the time, she was upset to lose a job she'd held for four years. But Tuesday, as she clutched a bouquet of roses and plaque, she was all smiles.

"Everything happens for a reason," she said.

More than 800 people attended the 17th annual event at the InterContinental Miami, with 55 hotels represented, said Wendy Kallergis, the association’s president and CEO.

Winners in 10 categories were given a plaque and $500 each. A winner was chosen in each category for a hotel with more than 200 rooms and one with fewer than 200.

Winners were: Alvaro Reyes of Eden Roc Renaissance and Jean Pierre Isaza of The Hotel for bellperson; Hannah Lombardo of Eden Roc Renaissance and Ariel Flores of the Raleigh for food and beverage; Megan Etchison of Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay and Jade Spano of the Delano for front office; Marie Jolis of W South Beach and Nadia Jean Louis of Canyon Ranch for room keeper; Elvia Zambrano of InterContinental Miami and Eduardo Penalva of the Setai for security officer; David Arth of the Mondrian and Jeff Dolgan of Canyon Ranch for recreation; Fidel Farias of Sofitel Miami and Alberto Ruiz of Acqualina for engineering; Brenda Cooper of Four Seasons Miami and Rashaan Patterson of Clevelander/Essex House for culinary/kitchen; Keena Blum of Fairmont Turnberry Isle and John Durham of The Hotel for concierge and Charles Coley of the Biltmore and Maydee Bauta of Clevelander/Essex House for valet.

Hotels were also honored in various categories: Loews Miami Beach for guest relations; Trump International and Canyon Ranch for employee relations; Fontainebleau for diversity in the workplace; Shore Club and The Betsy for community service and InterContinental Miami and Setai for environmental achievement.

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