Grand Rapids, Mich. – Experience Grand Rapids (EXGR) and the Kent County Hospitality Association (KCHA) announced the 2018 winners of the 11th Annual WAVE (Way Above Visitor Expectations) Awards on Thursday, November 15th. 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.

2018 winners include:

  • Restaurants & Breweries: Monica Moore, Sundance Grill & Bar Downtown
  • Lodging 150+ Rooms: Jacob Cohen, Country Inn & Suites East Beltline
  • Lodging Less than 150 Rooms: Prentis Hearn, Homewood Suites Grand Rapids Downtown
  • Retail & Service: Gordon Rivera, Delta Airlines
  • Attractions & Events: Mandy Sikkema, 20 Monroe Live
  • Volunteer in Hospitality and CTA Star of the Year: Joni VanderTill, Experience Grand Rapids

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 2019 Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference, which is the annual industry gathering of tourism and lodging leaders hosted by Check In Michigan and Travel Michigan.

More information about the 2018 WAVE Awards is available at


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