A fast-paced gate, encouraging smile, people-centered focus and a “GO FOR IT” attitude. . . it must be Denise Maiatico, Vice President Meyer Jabara Hotels of the Lehigh Valley.
It would not be accurate to say one works “for” Denise. It is more appropriate to say each works “with” Denise. She is a hands-on leader who is skilled at setting the vision and empowering the team, but is also willing to roll up her sleeves and wash dishes, turn rooms, set an event and greet guests with the best of them.
Denise graduated from the Indiana University of PA in 1991 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. She began over twenty years ago with Meyer Jabara Hotels starting as Regional Sales Director for five properties. She was then promoted to the General Manager of the Courtyard Marriott Lehigh Valley/I-78. Her team opened the 138 room hotel and became a trusted hospitality provider with intense loyalty. Then she took on the challenge of opening the state-of-the-art 124 room Hyatt Place Bethlehem and successfully positioned the property as the new hotel in historic Bethlehem. The guests continue to rave about the experience.
Her Lehigh Valley roots serve her well now as the Vice President the region and yet another property – The Center at Holiday Inn in Allentown.
She loves learning and teaching, enjoying her additional role as Adjunct Professor of Hospitality at Northampton Community College.
She has received numerous sales and leadership awards from various community organizations, Meyer Jabara Hotels and the brands of Marriott, Hyatt and Holiday Inn. She loves to serve, sitting on several boards throughout the Valley and volunteering for and hosting the Spirit of Lehigh Valley Christmas Eve Charity Event.
Two of Denise’s favorite titles are “wife” and “mother.” She loves exploring the beautiful nature of the Lehigh Valley, riding bikes, singing in a band with her husband, and supporting her daughter’s passion for competitive dance.
Some leaders find comfort in the office behind the desk. Keith O’Brien is not one of those leaders. He has been known to rally in the lobby with his crew at the beginning of the day, don a super hero cape complete with tights to launch an associate service program and even show up in a kilt to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. He is a General Manager who lives among his team and lifts them up in the moments of the day.
Keith was born and raised on Long Island. In 1996 he moved to Orlando to begin his career in hospitality. Swimming like a salmon upstream he always yearned to return closer to home. His quest brought him back to New York in 2001 with the Garden City Hotel and into the family of Meyer Jabara Hotels at the Marriott Courtyard LaGuardia in 2004. Keith and his wife, Linda welcomed their son James into their family and Pennsylvania seemed an awesome place to grow roots.
Today Keith is the General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott in Bethlehem embracing all the opportunities this award-winning hotel presents. Life is good for the O’Brien family – – – both his personal family and those that call the Courtyard ‘home’.
A great leader has strong shoulders on which others can climb to improve their view and their success. Christine Strouss invites her entire team to climb – – – reach – – – succeed! As General Manager of the Hyatt Place in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, “Chris” sees her position as one of “coach”. Each team member is skilled and capable of creating memorable guest experiences. She keeps the goal line in focus and helps to remove obstacles along the way.
Christine most recently served as the General Manager of the Hyatt Place in Dewey Beach, Delaware. She has been serving guests and associates alike for nearly twenty-five years beginning with Front Office and Operations duties at two Marriott properties in Delaware and then settling in for seven years at the famed Hotel DuPont in Wilmington.
She joined the Meyer Jabara family in 2003 at the Hilton Wilmington and helped that hotel receive a top 15% Overall Guest Satisfaction ranking among Hilton hotels in North America for five consecutive years. Christine is recognized in the Meyer Jabara culture as a “Mirror”…a revered award denoting the reflection of the best attributes of the company culture.
Chris is an avid explorer…a love embedded as a young girl spending her summers traveling through Europe. When not finding new paths to physically travel, she can be found buried in a book, learning about wine and food or chatting about life with her educator son who lives in Arizona.
A true leader with a heart to serve. In January of 2003 Samantha joined the Meyer Jabara Hotels family as a Catering Sales Coordinator at the renowned Sheraton Four Points – “Jetport” in Allentown. It was a launching pad for a career that would steadily climb. Later that same year, she brought her creativity and enthusiasm to The Center Team at the Holiday Inn in Allentown and today she has earned the title of “Director of Sales.” Samantha has a gift – – she truly cares about the people she serves. Her relationships span the decades and reach around the globe. She has an eye for catering excellence, an attention to detail and truly serves as a trusted consultant to those planning significant moments at The Center. To know Samantha Chitswara is to know a friend.
She graduated cum laude from Bloomsburg University. She was awarded “Top 20 Under 40” young professionals in the Lehigh Valley in 2011. She serves on the American Lung Association and the Spirit of Lehigh Valley. “Sam” also received the prestigious Meyer Jabara “Mirror” award for reflecting the best and brightest aspects of the culture.
A Group Sales Manager with a personal quest to always deliver more than expected. Sarah Trimmer joined The Center at Holiday Inn team in 2014 to further enrich the wonderful relationships built by this iconic gathering place. But she also brings a fresh set of eyes and a passion for perfection to the arena of event planning and special occasions.
Sales and customer satisfaction has been her passion since she began her career in establishing service standards within the Home Depot organization fifteen years ago. She is a skilled leader, exceptional trainer and trusted business partner. When she is not working you will find her exploring once-loved treasures at thrift stores, creating beautiful gardens or designing and crafting.
She ran all over the world for 20+ years – – -in high heels as a Corporate Travel Manager. Today she has slipped on the sneakers and is preparing for her first organized run as a marathoner. Running is what Karen Amato does – whether it is running a 5K or 10K or running to meet a bride on her special day, the host of a military reunion or that frazzled admin assistant on holiday office party day. She is the social sales and catering specialist at The Center that everyone knows will make the event perfect.
For twenty years Karen worked with American Express in the corporate travel and meeting planning realms. She began as a Team Leader and worked her way up to Meeting Manager. Each year 80 – 120 meetings for Merck Pharmaceuticals were her responsibility. Exceptional client service ran in her veins.
After American Express Karen found success in selling events and training others to deliver those highly anticipated events. The desire to actually create memorable moments and excellent service called her back to the service side and she entered the retail sales and service arena in 2013.
Today she merges all those skills at The Center at Holiday Inn. Clients are in good hands with this seasoned professional who not only looks at the big vision for successful meetings and gatherings – but also pays close attention to the little things.
“It all matters,” admits Karen. “It is often the little things that matter most to someone on their special day.” She smiles. “It is a great feeling to get a thank you note back from a bride or a meeting planner that say, ‘You made it perfect.’ Perfect is our goal at The Center.” She takes a deep sigh and smiles again. “That lofty of a goal keeps it interesting!”
Who says you can’t go home again? Amanda Shafer did and The Center at Holiday Inn placed out the Welcome Mat. This energetic, innovative and entrepreneurial service professional started her career in her home town of Allentown, Pennsylvania in 2003 at a window company. Always looking out for opportunity and growth she found her niche in the hospitality business in 2006 at the Comfort Suites in Allentown.
“Change Is Good” donned a plaque in her office and she carried it with her as she embraced sales and leadership opportunities throughout the northeast….Brooklyn, NY; Fairfax, VA; Arlington, VA; and lastly at a DoubleTree on Boston’s North Shore.
But the Valley kept calling her home. Spring 2015 brought her home to Allentown as The Center’s Catering Sales Manager.
“It feels like home. . . on steroids!” She smiles as she shares her excitement.
“So much is happening at The Center. The Team is alive with gratitude for the opportunities that are presented each day. We work together to find a way to greatly exceed the expectations of our guests.”
Amanda loves to serve. . . both humans and dogs. She has three dogs of her own and loves that The Center is pet friendly. In her free time she enjoys cooking and curling up for a great movie.
Amanda understands the power of great food, awesome people and beautiful places to create moments that are forever memorable. Catering gives her an avenue to bring that power to life daily.
“If I can add value to someone’s life, I have fulfilled my purpose.” Christine Prantow has never looked at herself as a “Sales Person”. She is a “Service Person”. Sitting down with a bride-to-be she talks about vision and emotional moments. They create a “perfect day” and then Christine strives to make that happen. When the bumps in the road arise, she finds a way to turn them into joyful memorable moments.
Life is about moments and Christine is in the moment making business.
She serves the wedding, social, corporate and group customers that choose The Center at Holiday Inn in Allentown. Since 2008 Christine has called this beautiful property “home.”
She actually entered the hotel team as the Human Resources and Payroll Manager. This gave her a wonderful opportunity to look through the eyes of the associates and identify what they needed to be successful. When the associates were served, so too, were the guests. She has never forgotten this lesson. Each time a special event is booked through Christine, she opens the lines of communication and shares the vision with the team.
“It’s all about relationships,” Christine admits. “Relationships built on trust and respect with the clients and relationships built on trust and respect for the associates.” Her walls are dotted with photographs of the special people in her life. Her passion is scrapbooking and preservation of the memories that reflect from moments.
Life is about the people business after all.
And Christine Prantow is good at the people business.
It is often said, “Where there is a will there is a way.” The Courtyard by Marriott in Bethlehem doesn’t need a “will” – – they have a “Peggy.” If there is any possible way to make it happen and turn the usual into the extraordinary, Peggy Godfrey will do it! As the Director of Sales for this amazing property, Peggy brings energy and creativity to the moments. She inspires the entire hotel team to act as a sales team – – earning every guest positive comment and always striving for the repeat visit or referral. She has served guests in the hospitality sales arena for more than fifteen years.
She is a proud resident of the Lehigh Valley serving many worthy organizations such as IAAP of Lehigh Valley, Executive Women’s Council, Professional Women’s Council, the Marketing Council of Bethlehem and Discover Lehigh Valley. She carries the heart of a servant. If there is a charity walk, run, skip or jump Peggy is enrolled. Kids, animals, health and hunger keep her volunteer schedule full.
Jessica Knopp values longevity, perseverance and traditions. Her favorite thing to do is to cook…preserving vegetables and fruits – – fruits from trees her grandfather planted way before she was born. She is a relationship-centered person who loves to nurture all that is good in the world and protect it for future generations.
That intent in life makes Jessica an awesome Sales Manager. She realizes hotels are not about the buildings and the décor – – they are about the experiences with people that happen inside the walls. She joined the Courtyard team in December of 2008 working the Front Desk and performing Night Audit. She developed a strong empathy for and understanding of the guests’ needs. She also grew to love and respect her teammates – – relying on each to create memorable experiences for the guests.
Today she thrives as a Sales Manager, helping people design and deliver amazing catered events, meeting and special moments.
Jessica is a lifelong learner gaining many certifications that keep her abreast on changing trends and guest desires. She is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa, the Hecktown Volunteer Fire Department and Students Against Destructive Decisions.
The Bethlehem/Nazareth area has always been home to Jessica. She and her husband love dirt races, ice hockey, cheering for Penn State Football, gardening and spending time with family.
For five years she cared for the residents at Sunrise Senior Living in Allentown. Then, for two years, she cared for visitors at the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, assessing how well they enjoyed their adventures. And in 2010 she began caring for the guests of the Hyatt Place in Bethlehem. She “took care” so well she moved from Intern to Gallery Host to Supervisor of others who “took care.” She traveled on to become the Human Resource Manager “taking care” of everyone else.
Today she serves as the Catering Sales Manager ensuring that care is taken for those very special moments of gathering, meeting and celebrating. Krista is an avid traveler enjoying memorable milestones in life that
It didn’t take Ally Weinhofer long to know that she had landed in the right business. She graduated from Penn State’s Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program in 2009 and quickly secured a front desk position at the Hyatt Summerfield Suites in Bridgewater, New Jersey. She loved it. Welcoming people and getting to know about their journeys was right up Ally’s alley.
Soon she was promoted into Sales and rapidly climbed to the Senior Sales Coordinator position at the Hyatt House in Branchburg, New Jersey. When she heard about the award-winning Hyatt Place Bethlehem and the unique culture of Meyer Jabara Hotels she knew she was coming home.
As Director of Sales she thrives on developing relationships with the people who choose downtown Bethlehem as a destination. She cares about people and making heart connections with clients and associates as well. She has an eye for detail and makes it a personal treasure hunt to discover what is most important to the people she serves.
When she is not wearing the hospitality hat she can be found instructing a Zumba class, working out at the gym, hanging out with friends or spending quiet time at home with her husband and two cats.