Hospitality Heroes

The Hospitality Hero Recognition Program is the Explore St. Louis frontline employee recognition program designed to stimulate and reward exceptional service by hospitality industry employees. Frontliners who best exemplify our community’s ongoing commitment to great service are designated Hospitality Heroes.

Nominations are solicited from management of hospitality industry companies each June and judged by a panel of customer service experts. Of these nominations, the frontline employees who, in addition to giving high quality guest service, go a step farther to WOW a guest by rising to an unexpected occasion and pulling out all the stops to come to a positive and memorable resolution are named Super Heroes. Nominees are recognized annually during the Explore St. Louis Annual Meeting.

2020 Hospitality Superheroes

View the video below to see the 2020 Superheroes and their “WOW” moment.


Jose Renteral – Drury Inn and Suites Creve Coeur

During COVID-19, Jose was the only employee to volunteer to stay and work. As a result, Jose has done maintenance, housekeeping, pool service, and even food and beverage service. He has carried groceries, jumped car batteries, and cleaned up without being asked and without hesitation. When he sees a person (guest or coworker) that needs assistance, Jose is ready to jump in and do anything it takes!


Michael Bergerdine – Doubletree by Hilton – Forest Park (formerly the Parkway Hotel)

When Michael was making his rounds, he came across an inebriated guest who had passed out in the hotel’s garage and was unresponsive. Michael immediately called EMS who were able to get him back on his feet. Upon hearing he was a hotel guest, the man also shared the devastating news that his son had just passed away at the nearby hospital. The guest refused medical attention and felt his life no longer mattered without his son. Michael stayed with him – even standing outside of his hotel room waiting for the man’s friend to arrive. In this dire situation, Michael was the hero this man needed.

Georgina Burns – Drury Plaza St. Louis at the Arch

During the Thanksgiving holiday, a family came and stayed at the hotel to visit nearby relatives. While they were eating at a local restaurant, their daughter lost her tooth and was upset that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t visit her since they weren’t at home. The guests went to the front desk to see what could be done and Georgina was able to “get in touch with” the Tooth Fairy! Not only did she arrange a call to the guests’ room with a special message for the daughter but she even had a little gift with $2 waiting at the front desk. The girl was so thrilled!


Karen Tallon – Doubletree by Hilton – Forest Park (formerly the Parkway Hotel)

A guest was experiencing a heart attack and Karen, seeing the guest’s friend becoming exhausted from performing CPR, stepped in and began giving the guest CPR herself while the friend stayed on the phone with the authorities. Karen did what was necessary and is considered a true hero by her colleagues.



Teah Sloan – Saint Louis Zoo

An autistic woman in a wheelchair visited the Stingray Exhibit and informed Teah that she felt uncomfortable removing her gloves which allowed her to control her wheelchair. However, she really wanted to experience what it felt like to touch a stingray. Teah accommodated her to the fullest extent, making sure she was comfortable – giving the guest an unforgettable experience.



Johneiqua Harris – Bi-State Development – Gateway Arch

In order to visit the Arch, guests are required to book their tickets in advance. As some guests are unable to do so, the Arch has placed employees outside of the entrance to assist them with the booking process on their cell phones. A couple who only communicated using sign language approached the entrance and Johneiqua, using her knowledge of sign language, was able to assist them so they could have an incredible visit to the Gateway Arch.


Julie Bozich – Sheraton Westport Hotels

Southwest Airlines employees stay at the Sheraton when they need overnight accommodations…Julie makes them feel like family. During COVID-19, she created theme nights, ensured the crew had hot meals and something to look forward to when they arrived in St. Louis. As a result, 75% of the positive comments left by Southwest Airline employees are for the Sheraton in St. Louis – thanks in large part to Julie’s incredible hospitality.


LaTonia Potts – Residence Inn/Fairfield – St. Louis Westport

An elderly woman in a wheelchair who had recently suffered from a stroke came to stay at the hotel. Unfortunately, no one from her family was consistently checking on her so LaTonia took it upon herself to visit multiple times, provide her with dinner, and even created a makeshift bed on the sofa as the woman was too fragile to make it into bed. LaTonia stayed with her and was a friend when the guest needed one the most.


Andrew Radtke – Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis

Andrew, upon realizing that a car driving down the parking garage had a flat tire, ran all of the way from the second floor down to the car until he was able to stop it at the gate. He then assisted the older woman with changing her tire. Not only did he prevent this older woman from potentially having an accident but he even had her call him when she arrived home so he could be sure she was safe.



Johnny Gordon – Doubletree Hotel & Conference Center – Chesterfield

During the time Johnny was laid off due to COVID-19, he took it upon himself to drive a few of his co-workers to work. He took them to work and would return to take them home at the end of the day. He would also help clean up trash and storm debris from the hotel parking lot while waiting to pick up staff.  Johnny is the definition of a team player!



Jesus Mendoza – The Fabulous Fox Theatre

On a cold day in December, two elderly guests were leaving the theatre when they noticed they had a flat tire. Jesus sprung into action, wasting no time escorting them inside where it was warm, while he personally changed their tire.