In a ballroom filled with industry peers, colleagues, staff, and, Vicki, his wife of 25 years, Lino Maldonado, vice president, Wyndham Vacation Rentals of North America, was recently honored as the 15th recient of the Van Ness Butler Jr. Hospitality Award.

Each year, the Walton County Tourist Development Council recognizes a pioneer in the tourism industry with the Van Ness Butler Jr. Award. This award is bestowed upon a community member for their visionary leadership in helping to shape South Walton into a premier tourist destination.

“I am not big on individual accolades," Maldonado said. "I do what I do because I truly love this industry and am fortunate to have a great team, so I accept this with gratitude to all of them.”

ResortQuest is the only company to have two Van Ness Butler Jr. Award recipients. Joann Saucier, who was Maldonado’s first supervisor, served the company as director of operations from 1997 to 2005 and received the honor in 2004.

Maldonado is vice president of operations growth and innovation for Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America. In his current role he leads business development and ownership strategy across North America. He has worked for the company for 22 years, beginning his hospitality career in 1996 at Mainsail in Miramar Beach in the management training program offered by ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, formerly known as Abbott Resorts.

Deeply committed to the local community, Maldonado has grown ResortQuest’s presence as a sponsor and supporter of numerous causes, charities and local events all along the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.

Actively engaged in the tourism industry, Maldonado has held numerous leadership board roles serving the United Way, the American Heart Association, the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Bureau and others. He also sits on several state-level executive boards including the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, where he was the 2016 chairman, Visit Florida, and also was appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Gulf Consortium, tasked with structuring the state’s expenditure plan for the settlement funds from the 2010 BP Oil Spill.

Maldonado has used his voice to rally support in the state capital to advocate for appropriations essential to the future of the tourism industry. With an eye to the future, he has been integral in new developments such as the opening of The Pointe, South Walton’s newest luxury property located on the east end of 30A.

“Lino embodies what the Van Ness Butler Jr. Awards are about," said Visit South Walton Executive Director Jay Tusa. "This is a well-deserved honor.”

This prestigious annual hospitality award was established in 2003 by Walton County Tourist Development Council to encourage and recognize excellence in hospitality service, travel/tourism marketing, advertising, promotion and contributions to the local community.

The award honors the legacy of service embodied by the Van Ness Butler family, who acquired the land now known as Grayton Beach in 1922. The Butler family built the Grayton Beach Hotel and through their family’s passion and determination helped create a sense of place for Grayton Beach, which helped set the stage for the area’s tourism industry. Following his grandfather’s legacy, Van Ness Butler Jr. served as the first chairman of the Walton County TDC and served the council for more than a decade.