Five of Central Florida’s top hospitality and tourism executives will be honored for their career accomplishments and achievements in the local community, as Al Weiss, Thomas L. Williams, Albert Covelli, Alan C. Villaverde, and the late Gary C. Sain are inducted into the Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 20, 2012. The induction ceremony will be held from 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.in the Bonnet Creek Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2007 by the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida to honor outstanding community leaders for their service and commitment to the local hospitality industry.
“Each inductee was carefully chosen after consultations with industry researchers and executives,” said Dr. Abraham Pizam, Dean of UCF’s Rosen College. “I am honored to welcome these five distinguished executives into the Hall of Fame, as each of them has shown outstanding professionalism, leadership, and service throughout their respective careers, and are truly deserving of this honor.”
Retired Walt Disney Parks and Resorts executive Al Weiss and current Universal Parks & Resorts CEO Thomas L. Williams will both be inducted as members of the 2011 Hall of Fame class. Both individuals have served as leaders in the global success and expansion of their respective theme parks, attractions and resorts. Additionally, both Weiss and Williams have served in award-winning roles with numerous local community organizations and councils.
Albert Covelli, founder of Covelli Enterprises, the largest franchisee of Panera Bread, and Alan C. Villaverde, president of Peabody Hotels Division and managing director for The Peabody Orlando, have both been selected as the Hall of Fame’s 2012 inductees. Covelli owns more than 200 Panera Bread bakery-cafés, with 59 located in the Central Florida area, and continues to donate millions in cash and product to charitable organizations. Villaverde has won virtually every major hotelier award and has positioned The Peabody Orlando to be the current top-ranked convention hotel in the U.S. In addition to his key role with the Peabody Hotel Group, Villaverde serves as a tireless fundraiser for several charitable organizations.
The Hall of Fame will also induct the late Gary C. Sain posthumously, as a member of its 2012 class. Sain, who tragically passed away earlier this year, served as the president and CEO of Visit Orlando from 2007-2012. As the leader of Visit Orlando, Sain was credited for making Orlando the top tourist destination in the U.S. last year, with a record-breaking 55 million + visitors. In addition to overseeing Orlando’s tourism initiatives, Sain also served in several Board of Directors positions for numerous industry and charitable organizations.
Each inductee will be presented with a limited-edition Steuben crystal pineapple award, the symbol of the hospitality industry. Additionally, all honorees will be pictured with plaques on the Hall of Fame wall, located at the UCF Rosen College campus.
The Central Florida Hospitality Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place during the 2012 Grand Tour Gala, an annual fundraising event that supports industry programs, as well as educational opportunities at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Tickets to attend the Gala, as well as the induction ceremony must be purchased in advance at grandtourfoundation.org.
Previous Hall of Fame inductees include Carolyn Fennell, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, and Mark McHugh, Gatorland, (2010); Jim D. Atchison, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and Harris Rosen, Rosen Hotels & Resorts (2009); Patricia J. Engfer, Hyatt Orlando, and Richard A. Nunis, Walt Disney Attractions (2008); and Richard J. Walsh, Darden Restaurants, and William C. Peeper, Orlando/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau (2007).