The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s “Icon of Hospitality” title celebrates the careers and lives of extraordinary leaders whose work in Caribbean hospitality has stood the test of time and left its mark on CHTA and the region. The association’s new ultimate recognition honors legendary professionals who have not only achieved phenomenal business success but have also mentored and molded those aiming for excellence in this industry.

Heinz Simonitsch, C.D.

CHTA's First Icon of Hospitality Inductee

Heinz Simonitsch, C.D. has had a long 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. Mr. Simonitsch held several positions at Elbow Beach before moving to Jamaica in 1963 to manage The Half Moon Club, which he would ultimately expand into a world-renowned 400-acre luxury resort.

Mr. Simonitsch became the managing director of Half Moon Golf, Tennis and Beach Club in 1965 and held this position until his retirement in 2002. Today, he splits his time between Jamaica and his home country of Austria, where he owns the Grandhotel Lienz, which opened in April 2009.

While at Half Moon, he served as chairman of Elegant Resorts of Jamaica, a co-operative association of some of Jamaica’s luxury independent properties. Mr. Simonitsch was actively involved in the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA), becoming president and vice president. In 1990, JHTA honored him with the Hotelier of the Year award and presented him a Lifetime Achievement award in 2008. Mr. Simonitsch has also played an active role in the promotion of the Caribbean through CHTA. In 1981, the association named him Caribbean Hotelier of the Year, and later, from 1984 to 1986, he was CHTA president. American Express honored Mr. Simonitsch in 1995 in appreciation of his outstanding commitment to the Caribbean Hospitality Training Institute (CHTI) and the hospitality industry in Jamaica. American Express and CHTA bestowed on him the Green Hotelier of the Year award for three consecutive years (1995-97) for his success in operating an environmentally friendly resort.

Mr. Simonitsch’s many accolades include: the Honorary Order of Distinction, Commander Class (C.D.) conferred by His Excellency the Governor General of Jamaica for outstanding contribution to tourism in Jamaica and the Caribbean; the Golden Cross from the Austrian Government for his long service as Honorary Consul General in Jamaica; the International Humanitarian Award from the American Friends of Jamaica for his commitment to helping the Jamaican population; the title of Professor conferred by the Austrian President for services and outstanding contribution to Austria; and the Blue Mountain award conferred for exceptional contributions to the continued growth and development of Jamaica’s tourist industry.

In addition to his work in tourism, Mr. Simonitsch has played an active role in developing programs to assist the people of Jamaica. He is the founder of SOS Children’s Village in Montego Bay and Kingston and the founder of the Heinz Simonitsch School in Montego Bay. Mr. Simonitsch and his wife, Elisabeth, have three children — Christina, Madeleine and Alexander.