North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) recognized General Manager Robert Foster of DoubleTree Asheville Biltmore (a Biltmore Farms Hotels property) as the 2019 Lodging Manager of the Year. This recognition is based on "exemplary service, leadership, innovation and dedication to the restaurant, lodging and hospitality industries." (from NCRLA Press Release). Foster, along with 15 other industry professionals received their awards at the 2019 Stars of the Industry Awards ceremony February 18
th at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, NC.
Robert Foster entered Biltmore Farms Hotels in 2007 as General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton with 20 years of experience at properties across the nation. Foster quickly adapted to the unique culture and mountain lifestyle of the Asheville community. He rapidly built authentic relationships in both his internal hotel community and the community beyond, finding strong connections that made him a true leader in business and hospitality in Western North Carolina.
Foster possesses an ability to identify and cultivate the raw talent in those around him. Over the years, Foster prioritized DoubleTree's growth through internal training and promotion, moving people successfully into management roles at properties in the portfolio. To date, he has promoted two general managers, one assistant general manager and many others into various leadership positions.
The Biltmore Farms Board promoted Foster to Director of Operations for three portfolio properties in 2015. After his promotion, Foster led the company in the demolition of an existing property, building a Hampton Inn & Suites in its place. This new property saw immediate success in its first year of business. Additionally, Foster provided the oversight for major renovations at DoubleTree.
Foster takes an innovative approach to employment and recruitment in the hotel industry. He collaborates with many WNC workforce development agencies to provide job opportunity and training to those in our own neighborhoods who need assistance so they can succeed at work. He works with an extensive list of nonprofits and governmental agencies including Helpmate (women and children who are survivors of domestic abuse), Western North Carolina Workforce Development Board, Goodwill, Veterans' Affairs, and Green Opportunities. Additionally, he volunteers his own time with community organizations such as the Buncombe County Literacy Council and the Historic Biltmore Village Association. Foster also chairs the Tourism Product Development Fund Committee of Buncombe County. This committee funds organizations creating tourism opportunities for our community: from ballfields that will bring visiting teams to the region, to the redevelopment of a riverfront park, popular with both residents and visitors.
Foster's crowning contribution to the hospitality industry and our immediate community to date is the creation and implementation of "Sweet Dreams Full Plates." This program encourages hotel guests to forgo room service in exchange for a contribution from the hotel to a local foodbank. Originally designed for the holidays to offer overburdened housekeepers shortened hours to allow time with their own families, this program has grown to a month-long event implemented at 35 hotels in our city and contributing over $42,000 in 2018. Watching guests collaborate with hotels to provide for the communities they are visiting is inspiring to all involved. Foster is currently working toward implementation of the program on a national scale.
Foster shares, "Doing my job well, and building great properties is a joy when lucky enough to work for a company that believes in quality, loyalty to employees, and providing the tools and resources necessary to get the job done. Biltmore Farms Hotels is just a bunch of people from bottom to top who come to work to help people. Being a part of this group has been one of the most tremendous experiences of my lifetime."
Images Credited to Eamon Queeney. Robert Foster is pictured with Lynn Minges, President and CEO, NCRLA and Vinay Patel of SREE Hotels, 2019 NCRLA Executive Committee Chair.