WASHINGTON, DC —The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) has awarded Steven J. Belmonte with the designation of CHA Emeritus. He received the award during the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Legislative Action Summit here at the AH&LA Stars of the Industry Awards Brunch on April 14.
According to AHLEI, a CHA Emeritus has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry through leadership, education, and professional involvement. The career of a CHA Emeritus is marked by distinguished accomplishments in all facets of the industry, signifying a commitment to the past, present and future of the hospitality community.
“I was honored to be the recipient of the AHLEI CHA Emeritus Award. It was very kind of the current leadership to recognize the efforts we put forth over the years. I have been very fortunate in my life as my work is my play and look forward to future projects whatever they may be,” said Belmonte.
He began his hospitality career at age 16 and, by 18, became the youngest general manager in the history of Holiday Inn. From 1984 to 1991, he was president and CEO of Equity Hotel Corporation. In 1991, he served as president and CEO of the Ramada hotel chain and also as EVP of the Cendant Hotel Division—now Wyndham Worldwide—until 2002. While with Ramada, he launched Personal Best Hospitality, which offered tuition reimbursement and other incentives to foster a career path in the hotel industry. Ramada grew from approximately 410 properties to over 1,100 in the U.S. during his term.
In 2002, Belmonte launched Hospitality Solutions, which specializes in assisting hotel owners with franchise issues such as liquidated damage negotiations. In 2011, he cofounded Vimana Franchise Systems, which is home of Centerstone Inns, Hotels & Plaza Hotels, as well as Key West Inns, Hotels & Resorts, where he serves as CEO.
Belmonte’s industry involvement includes terms as chairman of the American Hotel Foundation, vice chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, and chairman of the New Century Fund for the AH&LA. Belmonte donated separate funds to the AH&LEF, which was used to establish the Steven J. Belmonte Scholarship Fund for Roosevelt University in Chicago.