Five special awards were presented in recognition for Visitor Experience in the categories of arts & culture, outdoor experiences, health & wellness, culinary, and diversity, equity & inclusion.
RANCHO MIRAGE, CA – More than 600 travel industry professionals from across the Coachella Valley gathered to celebrate the resilient and innovative spirit of the Greater Palm Springs tourism and hospitality industry at the first annual Champions of Hospitality Gala held at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California. The event presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs was an opportunity to unite Greater Palm Springs’ travel community and highlight the positive impact tourism employees have on local businesses and visitors.
More than 170 nominations were received. Awards were presented to five rising stars in the tourism industry. In addition, 19 individuals were recognized with the Hospitality Award for enriching the overall visitor experience by providing exceptional customer service and hospitality.
Five special awards were presented in recognition for Visitor Experience in the categories of arts & culture, outdoor experiences, health & wellness, culinary, and diversity, equity & inclusion. Two additional special awards recognize individuals making a significant impact on in the areas of Sustainability and Diversity. Visit Greater Palm Springs Board Treasurer Aftab Dada presented the Spirit of Tourism Award to Tom Scaramellino, General Manager, Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa. The Spirit of Tourism Award is presented to an exemplary organization or individual who embodies the spirit of tourism in the valley and has worked diligently to move the overall industry forward in both actions and spirit.
The evening included a posthumous tribute to Robert Del Mas. Robert served as General Manager and Director of Sales at the Empire Polo Club and was a member of the Visit Greater Palm Springs Board of Directors for 14 years. Robert was highly respected for not only his dedication and commitment to the industry, but also his kind, selfless, and genuinely caring nature.
All proceeds from the event supported the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation, established in 2018 to promote diverse programming related to the hospitality, convention, and tourism industries. At the event, the Greater Palm Springs Tourism Foundation awarded $40,000 in scholarships, including to 17 college students from across the Coachella Valley and five senior students from Coachella Valley High School’s Hospitality Academy. Greater Palm Springs has worked with the academy to award annual scholarships since 2013.
For the academic year of 2021- 2022, Coachella Valley High School’s Hospitality Academy was recognized with the California Distinguished Academy Award. Selected out of 465 academies in the State of California. CVHS's Hospitality Academy was also awarded the Lighthouse Academy Designation, given to academies that have a proven track record of success of engaging with new or struggling academies state-wide to mentor them to better support students.
NBC Palm Springs reporter and weekend anchor Kamari Esquerra and NBC Palm Springs Emmy Award-Winning Film Critic/Host Manny the Movie Guy emceed the event.
Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.
She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.