Special to the Gazette
Niagara Gazette — Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management held its 13th annual convocation Oct. 22 in the university’s Alumni Chapel. Sponsored by the Maid of the Mist Corporation, the convocation is the college’s showcase event, during which it annually honors national and international leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry.
This year’s honorees were Buffalo-born Jeremy M. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Delaware North Companies and owner of the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins; Carsten K. Rath, founder and CEO of Lifestyle Hospitality and Entertainment Management, AG, also an accomplished motivational speaker; and Danilo Zucchetti, managing director of the Villa d’Este, S.p.A. and Virtuoso Travel Week’s 2012 Hotelier of the Year.
“If you listened closely to their life stories, you heard some common themes: humble beginnings, overcoming significant life challenges, and a pledge to excellence. They are each lifelong learners with an abiding commitment to service to their local and global communities," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., Niagara University president.
Jacobs, who received an honorary doctor of commercial science, assumed ownership of Delaware North at age 28, helping transform company from a modest popcorn and peanuts vending business in Buffalo into one of the world’s leading hospitality and food service companies. The seven operating divisions that make up the Delaware North family of companies are responsible for more than $2.6 billion in annual revenue and employ 55,000-plus associates. Locally, Delaware North operates businesses in Niagara Falls State Park, First Niagara Center and at Ralph Wilson Stadium, among others. Philanthropically, the Jacobs family has supported numerous causes, ranging from educational scholarships to environmental preserves and youth sports. Last year, the Jacobs family was named “Philanthropists of the Year” by two separate organizations.
At age 47, Rath, recipient of NU’s International Hotel Developer Award, is already among the most accomplished entrepreneurs that the hospitality industry has ever seen. In November 2003, he was named managing director of Robinson Club GmbH, Germany’s leader in premium resort vacations. Two years later, Rath became board chairman of the Arabella Hotel Holding International and Arabella Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He is also a board member of Design Hotels. As founder and C.E.O. of Lifestyle Hospitality and Entertainment Management, AG, he oversaw construction of the futuristic Kameha Grand Bonn, a German resort that has received countless awards for design and innovation. Rath also maintains a lucrative career as a motivational speaker and lectures at the International University of Applied Sciences in Bad Honnef, Germany.
The International Hotelier of the Year Award went to Zucchetti, a graduate of the Hosta Hotel & Tourism School and the highly regarded Hotel Institute in Montreux. Zucchetti was named general manager of Villa d’Este in 2005. By January 2012, he took over as managing director of the Villa d’Este Group, succeeding the legendary Jean-Marc Droulers. Zucchetti has been instrumental in placing dozens of NU students in summer internships in Lake Como over the past 10 years. In 2012, Virtuoso Travel Week named Zucchetti its Hotelier of the Year, an honor given to those who exemplify .a commitment to delivering exceptional experiences for clients.