Kyle Holst grew up working in his family’s party rental business. He discovered he enjoyed interacting with customers and hearing their stories as they planned weddings, open houses, graduation parties, and the like. When he got to college, he selected hospitality tourism and management for his major at Grand Valley State University thinking it would provide the same sort of satisfaction.
He wasn’t mistaken. Now his enthusiasm for what he does has been recognized by Experience Grand Rapids, which recently awarded him the 2023 Joe Tomaselli Hotelier of the Year award. Criteria to be chosen include hotel best practices, passion for hospitality, exemplary citizenship, and community involvement.
“Kyle epitomizes hospitality and is known throughout the industry in west Michigan as a manager who leads with ‘yes’ and an ethical, people-focused leader,” Experience Grand Rapids President & CEO Doug Small says in a press release. “These qualities, along with his passion for the property he manages and for the west Michigan region made him a clear choice for this year’s award.”
Holst has been with Lodgco Hospitality for nearly five years. The company operates multiple properties around the U.S. and in Michigan, including the Canopy by Hilton in Grand Rapids, where Holst is general manager. He previously managed the Holiday Inn in Walker and then the Hampton Inn in downtown Grand Rapids. The three properties are in the Experience Grand Rapids service area.
Holst has enjoyed moving to the 155-room Canopy with its two restaurants, rooftop bar, and about 1,000-square feet of meeting space, where he went from overseeing about 20 employees to around 90 now. “I know every one of them by name, about their history, their background. To be able to create an environment where people want to come to work is very fun and fulfilling for me as well,” Holst notes.
He also loves his job because he feels he and his staff make a difference in the lives of travelers who stay at his hotel. For example, when Holst started at the Hampton, which is near a regional hospital system, COVID had just set in. Many customers during the pandemic were traveling into town for medical procedures and cancer treatment, and one particular guest stands out in Holst’s memory.
“Being able to sit down with him over the six months he kept coming back for radiation, to see his progress [meant a lot],” Holst says. “We were fortunate to have him come back a year and a half after his treatment, so we got to celebrate with him when he got his clean bill of health. He came back to the hotel and wanted to share that with us. It was an emotional time. All the dreariness we had going in the middle of [the] COVID-19 [pandemic], to have this bright spot where someone was actually having good news on their health, it really picked everyone up.”
Find more details at the Experience Grand Rapids website.