Russell Tanakaya Receives Embassy Suites’ Highest Honor

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Pictured at the Embassy Suites award ceremony are (from left) Charles Gremillion, director of brand culture and internal communications; Shawn McAteer, vice president of global brand performance support; John Lee, vice president of global brand marketing; Hervey Feldman Award recipient Russell Tanakaya; and Jim Holthouser, global head of full service brands. Embassy Suites is part of the Hilton hotel organization.

BREA — Russell Tanakaya, general manager of the Embassy Suites Brea-North Orange County, was recently recognized with the brand’s highest honor — the 2010 Hervey Feldman Award.

The award, named in honor of the first Embassy Suites president, is given during the brand’s annual conference. It recognizes a general manager of one of the 210 Embassy Suites hotels who demonstrates outstanding leadership and superb management.

This is the second consecutive year that a general manager from a property managed by Windsor Management Services has earned this prestigious award. Tim Billing, general manager of the Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo, was the 2009 recipient.

Windsor Management Services is the hotel management company of Santa Monica-based WCG Hotels. The firm manages nearly 30 upscale hotels throughout the U.S.

“We are extremely proud of Russ,” said Bill Upshaw, president and chief operating officer of Windsor Management Services. “He embodies the service culture we foster at the properties we manage.”

Upshaw added, “Back-to-back years of our general managers winning this award is a testament to our entire Windsor Management Services team and their ongoing commitment to the Embassy Suites ‘make a difference’ values.”

The Hervey Feldman Award winner was announced during the Embassy Suites Annual Conference, held this year in New Orleans. At the same conference, Regina Samy, regional vice president for Windsor Management Services, was honored with an inaugural Embassy Suites Make a Difference Medallion by Melissa Smith, West Coast regional brand performance manager.

Samy oversees management of Windsor Management’s Central and Southern California properties, including the hotels managed by Tanakaya and Billing.

For more information about Windsor Management Services, a hospitality management and development organization that manages full-service, upscale hotel properties throughout the U.S., visit windsormanagementservices.com.

35 Years of Experience

Tanakaya has over 35 years of hospitality industry experience, and has been managing hotel businesses for over 29 years. He has varied industry background, starting with the Hyatt Corporation in Phoenix. He has worked with an independent hotelier in San Antonio, Texas, the La Mansion hotel group, and presently continues a 22-plus-year tenure with the Hilton Corporation and Hilton franchises.

His assignments with this group include hotels in Baltimore, Santa Monica, Glendale, San Diego, Ontario, and Brea. Tanakaya has managed several brands under the Hilton umbrella – Hilton, Doubletree Guest Suites, Doubletree Golf Resort, Red Lion, and Embassy Suites.

He has several recognitions with this group, including the Spirit of Pride, Food and Beverage Director of the Year, the Doubletree Crystal Cookie for outstanding community work, and two national Embassy Suites awards for customer service and total quality management. Tanakaya was recently awarded a position on the Embassy Suites Circle of Leadership, a select group of only five general managers in the entire country for 2011.

In addition to his industry work, Tanakaya is involved in many aspects of the community. He is an adjunct instructor at Glendale Community College, where he first started teaching “Introduction to Hospitality” in 2001. In this position, he mentors students in the Glendale College Hospitality Internship program, and hosts tours several times a year at his property in Brea.

Tanakaya coaches his hotel team by partnering with them as instructors of Junior Achievement at Brea Junior High School. He has been involved for many years in the “Every 15 Minutes” program, partnering with schools in Glendale, Chino Hills, Yorba Linda and Brea.

He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. His award-winning Rotary project teaching thousands of Glendale high school students about racial tolerance earned him this position, where he has served for the past eight years.

Tanakaya is also a board member of the Brea Rotary, serving as director of community service, including the Head Start, Brea Senior Center and BreAl projects, and has been known to spend time ringing the Salvation Army bell during the holidays.

He is a leader in area business as a board member of the Brea Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps his most important community activism, however, is his role as cashier at the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes minor league baseball snack bar, where he fundraises for his son Christopher’s band and drumline. His personal time passion is for outstanding achievement in high school music. He and his wife of 27 years, Beth, spend most weekends following their daughter and son in musical competitions.

Tanakaya holds a bachelor’s degree, cum laude, from the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management of the University of Houston.

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