Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort celebrates its 40th anniversary

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort celebrated its anniversary Thursday, Feb. 1. In doing so, it honored 14 employees who have been there since Day One.

The inaugural employees celebrated 40 years at the resort with the help of Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.
The inaugural employees celebrated 40 years at the resort with the help of Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.
Courtesy photo
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In 1984, the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort opened as one of Orlando’s first major resort properties and helped pave the way for the area’s tourism boom.

Now, 40 years later, the resort — located at 1 Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando, in the Lake Buena Vista area — is continuing to help lead and impact the community and its residents. 

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort opened in 1984,
Courtesy photo

Through the decades, the resort has maintained its prominence as one of the area’s signature accommodations, earning recognition in 2023 as a top Orlando resort by readers of Conde Nast Traveler and earning the Orlando Sentinel’s Top Places to Work award.

On Thursday, Feb. 1, the resort celebrated its 40th anniversary with a slew of guest attendees, including 14 employees who have worked at the hotel since its opening. 

The inaugural employees are Annette Dennard, security; Binh Nguyen, culinary; Chau Nguyen, cafeteria; David Osborn, Four Flamingos; Jean Weliver, Four Flamingos; Kip Conway, event services; Linda Reed, security; Mike Wainwright, Four Flamingos; Million Ketema, event services; Robert Platz, culinary; Robert Torres, guest services; Sherman Smith, event set-up; Steve Click, guest services; and Thac Pham, stewarding.

The employees were honored during a ceremony in which General Manager Paul Joseph announced the dedication of an island at the resort to the group, naming it Ruby Island after the 40th “ruby” anniversary. He also announced plans for a special bench to be installed in the employees’ honor.

At the ceremony, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings also proclaimed the day as Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Day.

Robert Argusa, Central Florida Lodging Association president and CEO, also was in attendance for the special day.

“Forty years is a special achievement, and everything we’ve accomplished over that time is thanks to our incredible team,” Joseph said. “What better way to celebrate this milestone than by honoring these talented and dedicated staff? … We know that, especially in Orlando, there are resorts everywhere you turn. So, the fact that this group has chosen to give us their time and talent and make us their home for the last four decades means the world to us.”

The employees were honored during a ceremony in which General Manager Paul Joseph announced the dedication of an island at the resort to the group, naming it Ruby Island after the 40th “ruby” anniversary.
Courtesy photo


Osborn, 63, was born in Hialeah and moved to the Orlando area when he was in third grade.

He started at the resort when he was 22 years old as a server assistant at Four Flamingos.

He recalled his first day of orientation and the impression the resort left on him.

“I was so impressed with the hotel,” Osborn said. “We didn’t have anything at all like this where I was from. It was so beautiful and such an exciting day.”

Osborn has seen a lot of changes at the resort and in the Orlando area over the years.

“When we first opened, it was quite the eloquent resort, because Orlando didn’t have anything like this,” he said. “Anybody who was anybody would come into our hotel. It was the crème de la crème. Over the years, the market in the area has changed and expanded. The hotel has really maintained that high prestigious feeling over the years, and I think many others based their hotels off of what we have built here.”

Osborn said Four Flamingos has been consistently busy in the market and has had a big following over the years. This is one of the biggest driving factors that has kept him with the restaurant.

Osborn has a lot of guests and customers he has known for years that come and visit with their growing families. They have built relationships and share many stories.

“The restaurant is beautiful, and we are surrounded by clear glass,” he said. “Every time I work I get to experience seeing a sunset or a lightning storm. I get to see outside. … The camaraderie is also something that has kept me here.”

The travel benefits are yet another noteworthy aspect the job has offered.

“I’ve seen the world through Hyatt,” Osborn said. “I’ve been able to travel all over the world. I’ve seen Australia, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, England, Germany and Paris.”

Osborn believes he has a few more years left in him at the resort before he retires.

“Being honored was a wonderful recognition for myself and the other employees,” he said. “I’m very proud of my service here.”

The people are also what has kept 71-year-old Click at the resort for 40 years. 

Originally from Kentucky, Click was drawn to the warm Florida weather and lifestyle. 

Click was 32 years old when he started at the hotel as a bellman. 

Over the years, he has gotten to meet guests from all over the world, including dignitaries such as the Bush and Reagan families. 

“There have been a lot of changes since I first started working at this resort,” he said. “So, I really enjoy looking back and reminiscing. … The celebration was an unexpected surprise. We had lots of fun, and it was nice to be honored.”

Ketema, 60, came with a green card in 1984 to Orlando from Ethiopia in east Africa.

The resort was his first job when he was only 20 years old. 

Ketema has grown up with the resort. He refers to the hotel as his home.

Before working in his current position of event services, Ketema moved through a few other departments over the years, including stewarding, room service and banquet service.

He said time has flown by and he is astonished he has been at the resort for 40 years.

He still remembers his first day on the job where he started working on night shifts. 

Ketema said the resort is a beautiful place that cares for its employees and being recognized was a heartfelt and special moment.

“I love my job, and it is such a beautiful place to work,” he said. “I have worked at a few other places while I’ve been at this job, but I have never found a better place that cares for their employees the way Hyatt does. Hyatt has been great for me. I really appreciate all the people who have passed through and made my life beautiful and who have made me who I am today.”

The 14 inaugural employees of Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort credit their longevity to their co-workers and guests.
Courtesy photo


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