Veteran hotelier Heinz Simonitsch diesMonday, July 20, 2020
Legendary hotelier Heinz Simonitsch, known for his development of Half Moon resort in Montego Bay, St James, and the founding of SOS Children's Village, died suddenly yesterday, six days after marking his 93rd birthday.
Simonitsch, who was born in Austria, had made Jamaica his home in 1963 and was responsible for expanding Half Moon from a small property to the expansive 400-acre luxury resort it is today. He is credited with pioneering the pairing of luxury resorts with ecological sustainability and community benefit approaches.
In 2017 he received the first Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Icon of Hospitality Award on his 90th birthday, for his tireless and innovative contributions to the region's hospitality industry.
“Your countless contributions and achievements of your outstanding career have inspired CHTA's leadership to create the CHTA Icon of Hospitality Award. We believe it entirely appropriate to bestow the inaugural award upon you,” CHTA's Director General Frank Comito stated in a communiqué to Simonitsch.
“The depth and expanse of your work has forever shaped Caribbean hospitality. As a pioneer in luxury tourism, you set a new standard for others to emulate. Your commitment to the professional development of your employees and the health and welfare of your surrounding community has elevated local lives and the position of tourism in the region. CHTA and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association are forever indebted to you for selflessly giving your time, talent and treasure to the greater good,” Comito added.
Prior to his iconic innovations in the region, Simonitsch enjoyed a distinguished career in the Caribbean tourism industry, earning many distinctions since he began in 1953 as dining room captain at the Elbow Beach Surf Club in Bermuda, before he became the managing director of Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club in 1965 until his retirement in 2002.
After retirement he spent time between Jamaica and Austria, where he owned the Grandhotel Lienz, which opened in April 2009.
A former recipient of the CHTA Caribbean Hotelier of the Year Award, Simonitsch received many accolades, including the Honorary Order of Distinction, Commander Class conferred by the Jamaican Government for outstanding contribution to tourism in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
His communication acumen and commitment to transparency was recognised by Caribbean Media Exchange for Sustainable Tourism, which gave him its top award.
He is also the founder of Heinz Simonitsch School in Montego Bay.