2019 Historic Hotels Annual Awards of Excellence Ceremony will be held on November 7, 2019 at Pinehurst Resort (1895) in Pinehurst, North Carolina
Lifetime Achievement Award
This award is presented to an individual who has contributed significantly to Historic Hotels of America and dedicated time and resources to the preservation and promotion of historic hotels.
2018 Award Winner: Ken Price, Historian and Director of Public Relations, Palmer House®, A Hilton Hotel (1891) Chicago, Illinois
A lifelong Chicagoan and part of the Palmer House team for over 36 years, Ken Price is an integral voice in ensuring the hotel's rich history and story of its famed founder Potter Palmer and his wife Bertha Honoré Palmer lives on for generations to come. He created and runs the hotel's museum, which is filled with priceless historical artifacts. In 2009, Ken created and has led the wildly popular, award-winning ‘History is Hott!’ tour. He has taken more than 32,000 guests and tour goers through The Palmer House's rich history as it relates to Chicago and the nation, and shows them iconic spaces such as the breathtaking lobby and legendary Empire Room, where the likes of Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Liberace performed. “If you remove the ‘H’ and ‘I’ from History, what do you have,” Ken Price asks frequently. “You have Story!” His passion is sharing the Stories of the Palmer House, especially those from his favorite historians - the hotel guests. Ken’s route to historian and publicist started at the Chicago History Museum nearly 40 years ago where for every weekend for eight months he immersed himself in the stories about Potter and Bertha Palmer and the other Founders of Chicago. Prior to his Palmer House career, Ken attended Chicago Law School and served six years as a writer in the U.S. Army Psychological Operations division at Fort Bragg. Ken’s philosophy for sharing history is “what the eye doesn’t see, the mind doesn’t comprehend; what the fingers don’t touch, the heart doesn’t feel.” At the Palmer House, guests learn about the stories by seeing and touching actual historic artifacts and memorabilia in the museum and of course, tasting one of the more than 50,000 Palmer House chocolate brownies baked and served each year using the same 1893 recipe when the brownie was first created at The Palmer House.
2017 Award Winners: Duane and Kelly Roberts at The Mission Inn & Spa (1876) Riverside, California
Since 1992, Duane and Kelly Roberts have contributed significantly to the preservation, restoration, recognition and celebration of The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California. Their dedication of time and resources continues to enhance this historic hotel which was previously designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Since their purchase of this legendary historic hotel in 1992, they have re-invested all operational profits back into the hotel to continue its legacy. Twenty-five years ago, the Roberts created and funded the acclaimed Riverside Festival of Lights annual holiday event where visitors can enjoy more than five million dazzling holiday lights and animated characters.
2016 Award Winner: Takamasa Osano and Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP
Mr. Osano and Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts, LP are committed to the stewardship of these iconic landmarks, evident in their complete restoration of the Moana Surfrider in 1988, and major renovations of The Royal Hawaiian in 2009 and 2015. The Sheraton Maui Resort maintained its respect for the heritage of the land it sits upon during its major redevelopment in 1996. In 2015, The Palace Hotel, an iconic treasure in San Francisco for more than a century, completed an extensive renovation including a restoration of the landmark Garden Court. In doing so, Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP has invested more than half a billion dollars including more than $300 million in extensive renovations and restorations to their Waikiki hotels and more than $200 million on Maui and in San Francisco. Kyo-ya Hotels & Resorts, LP is very committed to protecting the environment through sustainable business practices, proactive community initiatives and investments in cutting-edge technology to provide guests with luxurious accommodations and signature service while conserving precious natural resources.
2015 Award Winner: Gayle Cook
The Cook Group is a medical device company Mrs. Cook co-founded with her late husband William ("Bill") Cook in a spare room in their Bloomington, Indiana apartment back in 1963. When Bill died in 2011, she inherited his stake and sits on the company's board. Their son Carl Cook is also involved in the business, which has offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia. Cook Group specializes in stents and catheters that contain pre-injected antibiotics. From 1996 to 2007, Bill and Gayle Cook spent $500 million to restore the luxury French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana, adding a casino and a Pete Dye-designed PGA golf course. The resort hosted 2015 PGA Senior Championship.