At the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, employees enjoy some really cool ones.
They can spend 12 nights a year in Hyatt hotels and get 50 percent off dining bills, not including alcohol, on free stays and when they pay employee room rates.
Each workday, they can eat at the Grand Hyatt lunch buffet for $1.50 (it was free until a year ago). Once a month, steak and baked potatoes are on the menu as management recognizes workers celebrating birthdays.
Diane Culbreth-Reid, a worker in the restaurant kitchen, figures she has gotten $50,000 worth of free rooms in her 19-year career with Hyatt. In the past year, she and her husband vacationed in Hawaii, San Francisco and the Northern California wine country.
If her salary is less than other places pay, she says, the benefits more than make up for it. Culbreth-Reid also participates in the discount stock option program for Hyatt employees.
The free-room perk helped Jane Booker, an in-room dining server, swing a modest vacation in style. She drove a Ford van with her two sons to a soccer tournament in Toronto. They stayed in fancy hotels along the way, including three nights at a Hyatt Regency in Jersey City, N.J., with views of the Manhattan skyline across the Hudson River.
The Grand Hyatt also provides health, dental and vision plans, plus life insurance. None of that was offered to employees at the old Adam's Mark on Clearwater Beach when Joseph Bozzo left to join the staff that opened the Grand Hyatt in 1986.
A door attendant from Day 1, he likes that managers reward employees for performance. Raises are closely tied to annual reviews. Supervisors observe to make sure he remembers details like addressing customers by name. They hand out movie tickets and meal vouchers for good work.
Bosses are also generous with praise, said Sejla Dedic, a front office lead and reservation agent. "I've never left without someone saying, 'Thank you for everything you do,' " she said.
Her supervisor took Dedic to a Yankees spring training game last month, her first trip to a ballpark. Foul balls zipped past their seats in the 19th row behind home plate.
Grand Hyatt staffers routinely encounter celebrities. A five-minute ride from Tampa International Airport, the four-diamond hotel is popular with CEOs, performers, sports stars on tight schedules.
"I've met Tony Bennett, Naomi Judd, Gregory Hines," Bozzo said. "A taxi pulled up and Janet Reno got out. I've seen the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the dutchess of York. It's great."
Last year, Bozzo won a Bern Laxer Award of Excellence from Hillsborough County's tourism bureau at its National Tourism Week Lunch. When his ride dropped Bozzo off back at work, the Grand Hyatt management staff was assembled at the door applauding him.
"It was like coming up to (someplace in) Hollywood," he said.
Steve Huettel can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3384.