Spirit of Hospitality and Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame
The luncheon was sponsored by Royal Basket Trucks, and WHLA Chair Elect Jay Schumerth served as the MC. Retired CEO and WHLA Hall of Fame member Trisha Pugal, CAE was also in attendance at the event.
Spirit of Hospitality Awards
The Spirit of Hospitality award celebrates employees who have gone above and beyond to help their properties operate efficiently and exceed guest expectations. These individuals demonstrate the true spirit of hospitality in their work and stand out as extraordinary examples of industry excellence.
Executive Chef, Holiday Inn Stevens Point Conference Center.
Director of Sales, Lake Lawn Resort
Front Desk Supervisor, Hotel Monona
Front Desk Lead, Hotel Marshfield
Cafe Supervisor, Lodge Kohler
Front Office Manager, Kimpton Journeyman Hotel
Home2 Suites Madison Central at Alliant Energy Center
Corporate Executive Housekeeping Manager, Cornerstone Hotel Management
Senior Event Manager, Geronimo Hospitality Group
Assistant General Manager - Guest Relations, Ambassador Hotel
Banquet Captain, The Pfister Hotel
Area Director of Sales, Aimbridge Hospitality
Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame
Established in 2021, the Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame recognizes industry leaders and Wisconsin hospitality pioneers who have contributed significantly to the lodging industry and the Wisconsin Hotel & Lodging Association. On October 2, three individuals were inducted into the Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame.
Retired hotelier and WHLA leader Bob Dove was inducted into the 2023 Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame. Throughout his 35 years of experience managing full-service hotels, Bob developed a passion for exceeding guests' expectations and mentoring team members.
A true gentleman, Bob is respected and contributed to hospitality and tourism statewide and in the Fox Cities region. Several individuals who have worked with Bob over the years have moved on to top management roles in a variety of careers.
Bob credits his participation in leadership positions in organizations linked to the hospitality field for allowing him to gain true appreciation for the lodging profession. Throughout his career, Bob volunteered in leadership roles that enabled him to make a positive impact in his community, state, and region. He served on the WHLA Board of Directors from 1998 - 2017 and served as Chair in 2011.
For his steady leadership, heart for hospitality and lasting legacy, Cory Latourell presented the Hall of Fame Award for Bob Dove to Ryan Batley, General Manager of the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center.
Life-long hospitality professional and hotel general manager Kirk Drusch joined the 2023 Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame. Throughout his storied career and after his retirement Kirk, was a mentor to many and a well respected leader in the state and local lodging associations.
During the induction remarks, Jon Jossart shared “Drusch’s Laws” - which he learned while working with him at the Brookfield Suites and which greatly impacted his own career success, and the success of others. Kirk’s journey in hospitality began at the age of 13 at his family’s property, the Holiday Inn Aberdeen, SD. Kirk and his family moved to Waukesha in the mid-80s, and he quickly began to make his mark on the area hospitality community.
Throughout Kirk’s career in Brookfield, he dedicated his efforts and talents to several professional and community organizations, including as an original founder of the Brookfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, or as it is called today, VISIT Brookfield. He was active with WHLA (or WIA) during his tenure, serving numerous terms on the state and local chapter boards. He was the President of the Greater Milwaukee Hotel and Lodging Association in 2002 and Board Chair of WHLA in 2010. He was awarded for his efforts in 1994 and 2006 when he received the Innkeeper of the Year Award.
Kirk also instilled and passed on the love of hospitality to 50% of his sons, Matt, as a Director of Sales & Marketing for Omni Hotels & Resorts in Tempe Arizona and Brandon, General Manager of Marcus Hotels & Resorts crowne jewel, the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Brandon also currently serves as Vice Chair of the Greater Milwaukee Hotel & Lodging Association.
Kirk is remembered fondly by all those who were lucky enough to know him through the years. For his lasting legacy and dedication to the hospitality profession, the 2023 Wisconsin Lodging Hall of Fame award in honor of Kirk Drusch was presented to his son, Brandon Drusch.
Herbert V. Kohler, Jr.
Herbert V. Kohler Jr. instilled innovation, creativity, and drive in the companies, projects, and the people he led for more than 83 years. Mr. Kohler’s personal mission was to create delight. When he took the reins of his private family-owned company, it had 5,000 associates who made plumbing products, engines, and generators primarily for North American customers. Over 43 years as CEO, he expanded the company’s offerings far beyond plumbing to include decorative products and a host of world-class resorts, championship golf, and recreational opportunities.
The Kohler hospitality portfolio evolved into something far more splendid over time, driven by a series of innovations, rather than a grand vision. It started with refurbishing The American Club into a luxurious resort-hotel, an idea that was met with a few eyerolls from his Board members. Soon after, he set aside hundreds of untouched acres to create River Wildlife – a preserve for hunting, fishing, hiking, and canoeing. Applying the company’s expertise in the relaxing and rejuvenating qualities of showering and bathing, Mr. Kohler developed the Kohler Waters Spa to complement his resort offerings. In 2017, Lodge Kohler was opened in Green Bay.
Mr. Kohler passed away on September 3, 2022, in Kohler, Wisconsin. Since his passing, the Kohler Company continues to honor his legacy of innovation, creativity, and drive.
In remembrance and appreciation for his lasting legacy to the Wisconsin hotel industry, Rory Madsen, presented the Hall of Fame award in honor of Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. to Shawn Dortman, General Manager of Destination Kohler.
WHLA Stars of the Industry Awards
Awards for the 2023 Associate of the Year, Corporate Champion and Innkeeper of the Year will be presented on Monday, November 6 at the 2023 Wisconsin Lodging Conference & Trade Show, along with the new Educator of the Year and Development Excellence Awards. Learn more and register for the 2023 Wisconsin Lodging Conference & Trade Show.
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