Simons Fiocca named Hotelier of the Year
The Bermuda Hotel Association has named hospitality veteran Corrine Simons Fiocca as the Island’s Hotelier of the Year for 2011.
At a reception last week, surrounded by colleagues, friends and nine members of her family, an unsuspecting Mrs Simons Fiocca was bestowed the award, much to her surprise.
“I was the MC for the event and I didn’t know,” she said. “I was completely surprised.”
The BHA also awarded their Corporate/Community Service Award 2012 to Goslings. This award is given to organisations or persons who have assisted and played an integral role in the continued development and success of the hotel industry in Bermuda
Mrs Simons Fiocca’s hospitality career spans 40 years, starting in 1973 at the then Southampton Princess as a cashier.
She then spent time at several Island hotels in various capacities — from Sonesta Beach Hotel and the St George’s Club to the Hamilton Princess and Cambridge Beaches, holding positions including front desk supervisor, guest activities coordinator, sales coordinator, all the way on up to hotel manager.
“It’s been wonderful to have that experience to work in as many hotels as I have because I have worked practically in every area,” she said. “It gave me a great idea of how things run in the hotel industry. That’s what’s helped me to develop my career.”
Most recently she was the manager of Clairfont Apartments in Warwick. She is also a past member of the Kiwanis Club, an executive member of the Visitor Industry Partnership (VIP) and the current president of the Skal Club of Bermuda.
“Corrine has dedicated her life to ensuring that Bermuda’s Tourism product and services are the best, particularly when servicing out hotel guests and is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure guest satisfaction,” said John Harvey, CEO of the Bermuda Hotel Association. “She is passionate and professional and is well deserving of this award.”
As the manager for the Clairfont Apartments for the past nine years, Mrs Simons Fiocca, helped to create a tourist-friendly environment resulting in a top ten ranking out of 29 Bermuda guest accommodations ranked on the global travel website TripAdvisor.
Some of her past guests commended her service on TripAdvisor, which has more than 32 million members and boasts 75 million reviews.
“We were greeted by Corrine, who immediately made us feel like family,” said one guest from September 2012. “She was so helpful, not only professionally, but also personally.”
Another guest who visited Bermuda July 2012 wrote: “She made us feel so welcome that by the time we were saying good bye, we felt like best friends. When we arrived in our apartment, she had already laid out our maps on the kitchen table with her highlights of great spots to see. She’s like your personal concierge.”
Being the fifth child of eight siblings, she credits having a love for people that has helped her successful career.
“When I started in the industry that’s when Bermuda was Bermuda,” she said. “The entertainment and the service were absolutely fantastic. If we can get back that service, Bermuda will be right back on the map. We’ve lost it.”
As the ultimate hostess, what means most to her, says Mrs Simons Fiocca, is making her guests happy.
“Money is not important to me. What is most important to me is looking at guest’s face when they leaves and he or she says to me ‘thank you for helping to make our vacation so nice’. It gives you a sense of fulfillment,” she said.
Some of her most memorable moments of her career aren’t of the celebrity variety though meeting Bob Hope in 1990 at Belmont Hotel was certainly memorable, Mrs Simons Fiocca said that what she remembers most is tracking down the wallet of a panic-stricken guest who had dropped it at a bus station and presumed it stolen.
“To me satisfaction is more important than money,” she said. “You can have all the money in the world but if you hate your job, you get sick and burned out. If you do a job that you like, to me, you stay healthier longer.”
Her advice to the younger generation possibly looking to get into the industry?
“The hospitality industry is one of the best industries to be in,” she said. “The satisfaction you get from speaking to a guest who just came back from spending a day in Bermuda and tells you about their wonderful day on your Island, it’s just very heartwarming. If you want to stay happy and healthy, be in an industry that makes you feel happy and others happy. Happy plus happy equals happy.”
Being named as the Hotelier of the Year was something that meant a great deal to Mrs Simons Fiocca.
“If I don’t get another award in this life, that will be fine, this award meant more to me than anything because it’s a culmination of 40 years in this industry,” she said. “I was just stunned.”
While she has left Clairfont Apartments, her next step will still be in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, she is helping out her husband, Bruno Fiocca, who owns and operates Tom Moore’s restaurant and is also an organiser for the VIP Excellence Awards which are given out in April.
“I’m leaving my options open because the next move I make will most likely be the last, so I want to be careful and make that right choice,” she said. “I still have a lot of energy and left to give not only to our guests on the Island but to Bermuda.”