A master multitasker, Cindy Lew is not only Director of Sales and Marketing at Loews Don Cesar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, but she’s also the busy mother of three beautiful sons ages 5, 17 and 19. Beyond her family and career responsibilities, she also manages to find time for her favorite charities: One Voice Foundation, All Children’s Hospital and the Pier Aquarium. Her dynamic lifestyle and giving spirit are just a couple reasons Cindy was voted one of blu’s Top 10 Leading Ladies of 2011.
How did you become involved in One Voice Foundation, All Children’s Hospital and the Pier Aquarium?
Philanthropy by association. Each and every charity I support was introduced to me by a friend or colleague. Once I learn about a great cause, it is hard not to lend support.
What is one of your favorite memories helping others?
A few years ago, we did “Adopt A Family” as a whole hotel. The family didn’t have beds or heat for their small children. We sent engineers, painters, housekeepers and staff to clean and repair their home. Everyone pitched in and bought bunk beds, bikes and a tree for the family. It was our version of Extreme Home Makeover and the most rewarding experience that none of us will ever forget.
What is one of your favorite local charity events and why?
Fish Head Ball for the Pier Aquarium. This is a long-running tradition for the aquarium. We are in our 10th costume! This year was “Fish-a-Palooza,” I paid tribute to Amy Winehouse.
As a leading lady, what is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Our Charity of Choice program. As a part of each of my 19 managers’ goals, they’re asked to join a board or committee of a charity of their choice to support on behalf of the hotel. There are only 2 requirements: select something they’re passionate about and no two managers can pick the same charity. It allows them to develop leadership, compassion and give them life balance.
Who do you most admire in Tampa Bay?
Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is a tremendously successful businessman, family man and leader. He invests in people. By building the right team and putting the fans first he has created a formula for success. The Vinik’s make time for family and make significant contributions back to the community. I want to be them when I grow up!
Outside of charity work, what inspires you?
My family. Each and every day I set out to be the best example I can for my boys. Not only as a business person but as a human being.
Now that we’re entering the holiday season, what is one of your favorite memories with your family?
One of our favorite memories is renting a cabin for Christmas. Everyone got to try snowboarding, we cooked and played board games and watched movies for a whole week.
What are a couple of your cherished holiday traditions?
The giving tree. Each year, we choose a charity and sponsor a family in need as a family. Each one of my boys is responsible for selecting the gifts for someone of a similar age. It gives them the opportunity to think about what someone like them, less fortunate might want or need.
What part of the holidays do you most look forward to?
Baking. Every year, we bake dozens of different kinds of cookies and make baskets for all of our neighbors. Needless to say we are popular around the holidays!
Which Bay area spots do you take your out-of-town guests to really show off our city?
St Pete Beach. It is one of the most beautiful beaches and best-kept secrets. We love to show it off whenever we can!
What are your favorite kinds of gifts to give and receive?
My favorite kind of gift to receive is the kind someone makes for me. When my son was 7, he made a clay figure of a penguin for me. He told me that he wanted me to find my penguin because penguins are partners for life and I deserved someone nice. I still have that penguin today.
What advice would you pass on to younger generations?
My sons and I have a family tradition of working every Thanksgiving and Christmas in a local shelter. I wanted to instill in them the importance of giving back to the community in which they live. We have a great time and meet wonderful people every year. My hope is that it’s a tradition they will carry on with their children someday.
What is your favorite hero of fiction?
Mulan. She ignored gender boundaries to honor her family and became a hero – all while having great hair!
If you had one wish this holiday season, what would it be?
My holiday wish is that everyone can be with their loved ones during the holiday season.
What is your motto or words you live by?
Try new things – because you never know.
White Chocolate Almond Martini
Yields: 1 killer martini
1 oz. Amaretto
1/2 oz Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz White Creme de Cacao
1 1/2 oz Cream
Crushed almonds and white chocolate Hershey Kiss for garnish
Add ingredients to martini shaker over ice.
Rim martini glass with crushed almonds.
Pour. Sip. Smile.