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Addison headwaiter named advanced sommelier

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Will Costello, headwaiter at the acclaimed Addison at the Grand Del Mar, has attained the level of advanced sommelier, a coveted certification from the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers, the premier international examining body for the wine industry.

According to Jesse Rodriguez, wine director at the Grand Del Mar, Costello is one of a handful of advanced sommeliers in San Diego -- and one of several hundred nationwide -- to attain this prestigious status.

"Only 25 percent of those who take this advanced test pass," he said. "This is a huge accomplishment for both Will and for the Grand Del Mar."

A rigorous five-day experience, the advanced accreditation process includes lectures, tastings and interviews, followed by three days of written testing on theory, service and tasting.

Costello and Rodriguez are both now poised to take the exam to become master sommeliers -- the Court's highest and sought-after level, and a certificate held by only 171 people.

Liquor importer wins coveted French award

Local liquor importer Preiss Imports' president and CEO, Henry Preiss, was awarded the French government's prestigious Ordre National du Mérite Agricole honor for his consistent effort to import and promote some of the finest French spirits in the U.S. market.

The honor was presented to Preiss last month in Bordeaux, France by Jean Pierre Cointreau, president of the Renaud-Cointreau Group, at the international wine and spirit exhibition called Vinexpo.

Created in 1883, the Mérite Agricole is France's oldest civil award, and Preiss is one of few Americans to have ever received it.

Founded in 1987 by Henry and Suzie Preiss, Preiss Imports currently represents 35 domestic and international suppliers who, in turn, provide the United States with some 500 brands.

The company is the only specialty liquor importer in San Diego.

ACCESS unites community for Ronald McDonald House

In response to increased scrutiny of the meetings industry, ACCESS Destination Services recently brought together local hospitality members for a day of charitable giving at the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego, preparing the new facility and demonstrating the value of CSR (corporate social responsibility) events as conference and meeting inclusions.

This facility provides a home-away-from-home for families whose children are being treated for potentially life-threatening illnesses at area hospitals.

Volunteers from the Convention Center, Convention and Visitors' Bureau and over 20 area hotels participated in a CSR activity with ACCESS to prepare the 47-room facility for move-in.

Approximately 100 volunteers from the local hospitality community accomplished team assignments including kitchen and storage set-up, sleeping room sanitation and preparation, welcome packet production and art projects resulting in the readiness of all rooms for occupation by families in need.

"You are like angels to us. In a matter of hours you accomplished so much that will leave a lasting impression on the families who rely on the Ronald McDonald House," stated Bill Lennartz, president & CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego Inc.

Fernane promoted at Grand Pacific Resorts

Grand Pacific Resorts, a privately-owned vacation ownership management company located in Carlsbad, has promoted Patrick Fernane to the newly created position of director of inventory management and owner services.

Fernane has been with Grand Pacific for 18 years. Over the years, he has managed positions and moved up the ranks at many of its properties and has held the position of resort manager at Coronado Beach Resort, Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge in Tahoe and Carlsbad Seapointe Resort.

In 2004, Fernane won the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) award for outstanding achievement as top Resort Manager of the Year.

Grand Pacific Resorts Inc. manages 14 properties and employs roughly 1000 professionals who service over 45,000 owner-families each year.

Shelter Island hotels merge as mainland alternative

Driving to Hawaii?

The four hotels on Shelter Island -- Kona Kai Resort, Best Western Island Palms, The Bay Club Hotel and Humphrey's Half Moon Inn -- are standing together as the Shelter Island Hotel Group, an umbrella entity to promote Shelter Island as a travel destination.

The group's leaders include officials with Atlas Hotels Inc., owners of the Kona Kai Resort and the Town and Country Resort Hotel in Mission Valley.

Organizers are branding Shelter Island as "San Diego's Hawaiian Isle," which is reminiscent of the early 1950s, when dredging created the Shelter Island peninsula and promoters of that era positioned Shelter Island as a mainland alternative to flying to Hawaii.

In that spirit, the Kona Kai Resort will host a series of authentic Hawaiian luaus -- including traditions like a Hawaiian buffet featuring Polynesian entrees and much more -- on its private beach every Friday night through Aug. 14.

Send your comments to Jada.Thomas@sddt.com

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