0The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) awarded Steven J. Belmonte, CHA, with the designation of CHA Emeritus. He received the award during the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) Legislative Action Summit in Washington, D.C., at the AH&LA Stars of the Industry Awards Brunch on Tuesday, April 14.
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 our industry, signifying a commitment to the past, present and future of the hospitality community. The Emeritus honor is presented only to select individuals after such a career of distinguished contributions.
Belmonte began his hospitality career at age 16, and by 18, became the youngest GM in the history of Holiday Inn. From 1984 to 1991, he was president and CEO of Equity Hotel Corporation which grew to be one of the top ten management companies of its time. Then 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 US during his term.
In 2002, Belmonte launched Hospitality Solutions which specializes in assisting hotel owners with franchise issues such as liquidated damage negotiations. The company quickly grew over the years and in 2013, Belmonte transferred the company to his son Michael who is now the company’s president. And in 2011, he co-founded 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. Vimana created a unique franchise friendly model within the hotel industry that owners find advantageous. Vimana continues to add franchises across the nation.
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 raising a record $9.2 million. Belmonte donated separate funds to the AH&LEF, which was used to establish the “Steven J. Belmonte Scholarship Fund for Roosevelt University in Chicago”.
He served as chairman of the honorary board for Plan International (Foster Parents Plan) and received the prestigious Humanitas Award for his passion in helping others and has left a well-traveled path dotted with monuments of goodwill.
Belmonte has been recognized for his global philanthropic efforts through ChildReach and Plan International as well as a multitude of other organizations. He served as the television spokesman for ChildReach from 1995-2002 raising millions of dollars and sponsoring thousands of children in third-world developing countries.
In Africa, Belmonte made three trips to spearhead the construction of two medical facilities, a food science laboratory, and the New Belmonte Library for the Hotel and Tourism Institute in the Zambia University. In recognition for his unwavering dedication, the Hotel and Catering International Management Association named Belmonte an Honorary Fellow for his support of the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute Trust in Lusaka, Zambia. Belmonte was also at the forefront of a $100,000 donation to rebuild a school in the Dominican Republic destroyed by a hurricane. While there, Belmonte personally funded the construction of a massive playground. Further underscoring Belmonte’s propensity to give, the American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat-al-Salam, a community of Jews and Arabs coexisting in peace in Israel, presented Belmonte with its first ever Ambassador of Peace Humanitarian award for his charitable endeavors.
For a combination of historic charitable and business accomplishments, Belmonte was also the recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by Roosevelt University in Chicago.
“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.”