Pipiana Whiston with AHS Hospitality executive Director Tochner.

Mentoring has been a career strength for Pipiana Whiston, winner of the New Zealand Hotel General Manager of the Year. Well, one of them.

The general manager of Millennium Hotels Rotorua has worked her way up through the hotel system since starting in reception some 25 (or so) years ago. Along the way and, in particular since her GM appointment in 2005, she has mentored and developed multi-generations of hotel staff, including five young employees who have since, also, gone on to become Millennium hotel managers and GMs.

Financial management has also been a strength. According to the award entry, prepared for Whiston by Millennium Hotels, she is an astute and decisive business person and to ensure the hotel’s ongoing success she changed the business mix significantly. As a result, Millennium Rotorua now reaches out across several sectors; FIT travellers, group tours, in particular out of China, and increasingly to conference and incentives clientele.

Whiston is recognised for exhibiting the core strengths of a traditional hotelier, through her personal involvement in hosting international dignitaries, along with taking any opportunity to promote the region of Rotorua, often to the point of preparing bespoke and personalised itineraries.

In turn, Whiston was recognised by the entire region when she was named the Spark Business Icon of Hospitality at the 2016 Rotorua Hospitality Awards. These are not awards she actively seeks. The self-effacing GM was reported as being stunned when the Hotel Award finalists were first announced.

Nevertheless she’s travelled a long way, albeit a short physical distance, since growing up at Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Village, where her grandfather was the founding director of the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

The Hotel Industry General Manager of the Year Award was sponsored by AHS Hospitality.

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