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Since its founding in 1985, Innisfree Hotels has grown to include more than 2,400 hotel rooms and 1,200 employees at properties in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Michigan, and Vermont.

On Wednesday, Innisfree founder and CEO Julian MacQueen was recognized with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association’s highest honor, the Hotelier Hall of Fame Award, during the FLRA’s annual Installation & Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla.

The Hall of Fame Award recognizes an industry professional with a personal record of achievement over at least 20 years, attainment of career distinctions and distinguished service to the industry, community, charitable organizations and family.

“To be recognized at this level celebrates Innisfree as a whole,” MacQueen said. “This is a collective award that I accept on behalf of my wife and my family and the amazing people at Innisfree.”

Innisfree's properties include the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front and the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach. (Drew Buchanan/The Pulse)

Innisfree’s properties include the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front and the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach. (Drew Buchanan/The Pulse)

MacQueen got his start in the hospitality industry at the age of 15 as a busboy at a beachside hotel. Over the years, the company he founded has built a strong portfolio of beachfront hotels, restaurants and spas along the Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast. More recently, Innisfree has expanded to add new properties in the Sarasota, Fla. area as well as in Michigan and Vermont, and the company expects to grow by 50 percent over the next three years.

The company is also active in the Northwest Florida community, having establishing a corporate social responsibility program called The Hive in 2015. The Hive program has ‘adopted’ the Pensacola-based Dixon School of the Arts, helped build up and fund the Independence for the Blind of Northwest Florida Training Center, and created the ‘From the Ground Up’ Community Garden as well as the MacQueen School of Hospitality at the University of West Florida. 

MacQueen says he’s worked to create a unique culture at Innisfree, both for employees and guests, focusing on a mission of making ‘fun, memorable experiences’ and providing the highest level of customer service. “I think that’s resonated with the people at Innisfree – holding each other up, giving back to the community, serving our guests,” said MacQueen. “I often say people are going to come into our hotels and have an experience – our job is to make that a positive one.”

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