HOT SPRINGS, Ark. & SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – May 12, 2017 – John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) today announced that the company’s Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs Hotel & Spa in Arkansas is the recipient of the Employer of the Year Award by First Step, Inc. At First Step’s annual Supported Employment Banquet at the organization’s Hot Springs location, the 246-suite hotel was recognized for the property’s commitment to providing employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. The upscale Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs is operated by Springfield, Missouri-based JQH, which is a leading private, independent owner and manager of hotels in the United States, including operating more than 1 million square feet of superb meeting space.

On behalf of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs, Nathan Gard, assistant general manager, and Marina Mueller, human resources director, accepted the award. Nearly 200 attendees were present, including individuals and their employers served through the Supported Employment Program, as well as family members, friends and honored guests from the Hot Springs and surrounding areas.

Dedicated to Reaching Full Potential

“JQH’s Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs serves as a model place of employment,” said Joanne Mitchell, First Step, Inc., Supported Employment. “The hotel provides the right balance of mentoring and support to complement an employee’s initiative, helping to ensure a positive experience. The collaborative efforts of the employment service provider and a business is a vital part of a successful Supported Employment experience, the aim of which is a win-win situation for all parties involved.”

Established in 1958 by a group of parents, civic leaders and health professionals, First Step, Inc. today offers multiple programs, services and therapies for children and adults with developmental disabilities. First Step promotes integration and independence of all individuals served by helping each one to reach his or her full potential. The organization is licensed through the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services as a provider of Developmental Day Treatment Clinic Services, is an approved vendor of Supported Employment services, and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

According to Gard, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs currently employs individuals through First Step’s Supported Employment Program in laundry services and banquet/conferences.

“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with First Step, Inc. in helping those with developmental delays and disabilities to be productive citizens,” Gard said. “At the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs, we have found that although an individual may be a slow learner, he or she may be able to do a good job in the right supportive work environment.”

Environment for Cultivating Successful Outcomes

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs strives to create a collaborative environment conducive for helping associates learn and grow. Kurt Schatzl, the hotel’s general manager, previously served for two years as industry captain for First Step, Inc. In his volunteer role, he was responsible for encouraging hotels in the area to collaborate with First Step to consider employment opportunities for individuals with developmental delays or disabilities in their recruitment strategy. Marina Mueller, the hotel’s human resources director, was recently named Manager of the Year at the 17th Annual Arkansas Hospitality Association Stars of the Industry Gala, where the successes of leaders in hospitality were recognized. Prior to joining the hotel, Nathan Gard, assistant general manager, was involved in Project SEARCH, a training program that helps to develop high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to transition them to long-term competitive employment. Both Mueller and Gard serve as board members on the Business Advisory Council for the local chapter of Project SEARCH. Mueller recently attended a reverse job fair held by Project SEARCH, where seven students participated. Two of the seven students applied for gainful employment at the hotel. The students are scheduled to complete the Project SEARCH program this month. As a part of the property’s talent management strategy, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs joins several JQH properties nationwide in actively recruiting and employing Project SEARCH interns that have completed the unique hands-on, jobs skills program.

About Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs Hotel & Spa

Located within the Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs Hotel & Spa is a recipient of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame status for consistently earning outstanding traveler reviews for five consecutive years. Each spacious two-room suite features a separate living room with a sofa bed and two TVs. Guests can enjoy internet access, a large desk with ergonomic chair, a mini-refrigerator, and a microwave. A fitness center, indoor pool and sundeck are available. Guests can start their day with a free made-to-order breakfast. A nightly two-hour reception with complimentary drinks and snacks is offered in the hotel’s open-air atrium piano bar. Guests can also dine in a relaxing environment at the Bistro 400. The 246-suite hotel is connected via covered walkway to the Summit Arena and the Hot Springs Convention Center, providing access to 345,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. In addition, guests can indulge in a massage or facial at the luxurious on-site Spa Botanica. Located at 400 Convention Boulevard, the contemporary-style Embassy Suites by Hilton Hot Springs can be reached at (501) 624-9200. Visit for more information or connect with the hotel at

About John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts
Springfield, Missouri-based John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) is a leading private, independent owner and manager of hotels in the United States, representing brands such as: Marriott, Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Sheraton, IHG, Chateau on the Lake Resort / Spa & Convention Center, and Plaza Hotels Collection. With a portfolio of 35 hotels representing approximately 8,500 guest rooms/suites in 16 states, JQH’s properties are dominant in their markets. Founded on the extraordinary vision of John Q. Hammons and built on his continued legacy of excellence spanning more than 50 years, JQH has become one of the most recognized and award-winning companies in the hospitality industry. Built to be the best, JQH continues to set the standard in hospitality management and hotel development. Go to for more information, or connect with JQH on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.