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J. Willard Marriott Award of Excellence

Named for our founder and created in 1987, this award recognizes the company's finest associates who, through their extraordinary service, exemplify the timeless core values of our culture.

John Hofer

Engineer III

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

John Hofer, Engineer at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, has become known not just for his technical and exacting work, but also for his generous spirit — he loves to connect with guests in a meaningful way so they walk away with experiences they never forget.

John is a distinguished 23-year veteran of the U.S. military. After retiring, he joined The Ritz-Carlton as a breakfast cook. He found that his favorite part of the role was engaging with guests alongside his wife, Carole, who was hired as a server.

After ten years in the restaurant, he wanted the opportunity to learn new skills and expand his training. In 2022 he moved into the Engineer III role. John is responsible for the maintenance and repair of all seven pools at the hotel. He never has the same day twice, saying, “I stay busy busy busy checking my pools and responding to guestroom concerns. I never have a bad or boring day!”

A couple was vacationing at the hotel during a snowstorm and called for assistance with their television. Upon arriving in their room, John discovered the wife had Stage 4 cancer and that this trip was the couple’s last vacation together. John wanted the guest to be able to enjoy movies while she rested so he climbed to the roof of the hotel to clear snow from the satellite dish. He then stayed connected with the guests during their stay and met their entire family who had gathered at the hotel.

John and his wife are avid hikers — together they’ve completed the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. He says he finds his serenity in nature and loves to help guests find the same thing. John won’t simply tell guests about beautiful hikes in the area, he’ll invite guests to join him.

When he’s not exceeding guest expectations at the hotel, John and Carole are giving back to their community by leading volunteer efforts with the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe. Every year they help organize a Harvest Festival for the kids at Halloween and volunteer to serve meals at Thanksgiving. And, for eight years in a row, John and Carole dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the club’s Christmas events.