Wendel Richards, a butler employed at Sandals Grande Antigua Resort and Spa, was among the big winners of the recently held Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourist Association Tourism Awards 2022.
Richards won the award for Employee of the Year, beating several other industry professionals in the same category.
“I am humbled and thankful for the recognition of this award, as it shows that hard work and determination pay off. I hope this continues to encourage not only team members at Sandals but every person employed in the tourism and hospitality industries to work hard and stay focused. Thank you to the ABHTA for this recognition,” he said.
The butler, who is trained by the English Guild of Butlers out of the United Kingdom, began his journey as a restaurant server at Sandals Grande Antigua in 2004. He quickly became a favorite among guests for the attention to detail and service he provided to their dining needs – service excellence that paid off, as Richards was always the recipient of team member awards. With over 40 Sandals awards under his belt, he said, “I use it as inspiration to keep me grounded and focused on motivating my peers that anything is possible once they are committed and consistent.”
A year and a half after he began his career with Sandals, Richards transitioned to the position of butler with encouragement from his work colleagues, guests, and the resort’s general manager at the time. He then traveled to Saint Lucia’s Sandals Regency La Toc, where he trained for a month before returning home to Antigua.
Over the years, Richards has motivated his team members to follow in his footsteps by creating avenues for mentorship and training to help elevate their careers within the hospitality industry. In 2019, Richards captured the resort chain’s most prestigious “Diamond Team Member of the Year” award; another leg-up for his professional career and addition to a long list of notable awards.
Sandals Grande Antigua’s General Manager Matthew Cornall said, “Wendel is an exemplary team member who is professional and possesses outstanding work ethic. He is dedicated to his role, and our guests love him. Watching his growth over the years is truly inspiring, and we here at Sandals Grande Antigua are very proud of him and all his career accomplishments.”
Richards is also actively engaged as a team volunteer with the resort’s philanthropic arm, the Sandals Foundation. Additionally, he has his eye on launching a hospitality mentorship for young males and is exploring having this as an ongoing development programme at his alma mater, Clarehall Secondary School, eventually expanding into more secondary schools. His personal motto in life is “Think big and go for your dreams! Don’t just sit in one spot. Elevate yourself and just always be positive.”
Sharing in the celebration of the win for the resort at this year’s annual tourism awards are Richard’s team members, also nominees in their respective categories including Club Sandals Supervisor Nerissa Gordon (Supervisor of the Year), Executive Housekeeper Scotty Nelson (Young Hotelier of the year), Restaurant Server Dawana Richards (Rising Star), Kitchen Supervisor Kerry Wright (Junior Chef of the Year), and Executive Sous Chef Andrew Soley (Chef of the Year).