FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                            
November 20, 2017                               

CONTACT: Stephanie Kotschevar, Experience Grand Rapids

Six hospitality employees recognized for outstanding service in Kent County

Grand Rapids, Mich. – Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) and the Kent County Hospitality Association (KCHA) announced the 2017 winners of the 10th Annual WAVE (Way Above Visitor Expectations) Awards at the Impacting Hospitality Celebration on Thursday, November 16th. The WAVE Awards is a program that recognizes outstanding service providers in the Grand Rapids and Kent County hospitality industry.

A judging panel evaluated the nominees on a set of criteria, including the individual’s attitude, attentiveness, performance, knowledge and consistency within the local hospitality industry. Winners were selected in the categories of Restaurants & Breweries, Attraction & Events, Lodging 150+ Rooms, Lodging Less than 150 Rooms, Retail & Service, and Volunteer in Hospitality.

Certified Tourism Ambassadors (CTA) were also recognized at the WAVE Award Celebration for their commitment to improving the customer experience. The CTA Program educates individuals on Grand Rapids and the importance of exceptional customer service to the area. 

2017 winners include:

  • Restaurants & Breweries: Carmen Gehring, Cygnus27
  • Lodging 150+ Rooms: Janet Johnson, JW Marriott Grand Rapids
  • Lodging Less than 150 Rooms: Jordan Strah, Country Inn & Suites East Beltline
  • Retail & Service: Adeshola Makinde, Madcap Coffee
  • Attractions & Events and CTA Star of the Year: Candice Flesza-Smith, Discovering Michigan
  • Volunteer in Hospitality: Melissa Greko, Showspan

The six winners will also be nominated in their respective categories for the Stars of the Industry Awards. The winners will be announced at the 2018 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference, which is the annual industry gathering of tourism and lodging leaders hosted by Michigan Lodging & Tourism Association and Travel Michigan.

More information about the 2017 WAVE Awards is available at