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Women’s History Month Spotlight: Evan Sewell & Marvella Castaneda Champion Hospitality and Inclusion at Signia by Hilton Atlanta

Evan Sewell and Marvella Castaneda - Signia by Hilton Atlanta

At Hilton, celebrating and empowering our women team members is something we’re focused on year-round, and we believe these efforts help make us the award-winning company we are today. With so many amazing women-led teams, Hilton is proud to commemorate Women’s History Month by showcasing two outstanding leaders at the newly opened Signia by Hilton Atlanta: Director of Beverage Evan Sewell and Sommelier Marvella Castaneda.

For Sewell, success is not just about her own achievements, she also strives to lift and support the women around her. This passion for inclusion drives her work at Hilton. At this property, focusing solely on hiring the best qualified team members, Sewell has ended up with a mainly femme staff at all the bars. "This is something I always love to encourage, as well as encouraging inclusion among my team members,” Sewell said.

Sewell and Castaneda are dedicated to the continuing education of their beverage team and look for fun and engaging ways to increase overall knowledge within the team. They believe these efforts not only foster a better work environment but also help the team to better serve guests at Signia by Hilton Atlanta. 

“We taste wine together often and benefit from each other’s learning styles. We lift each other up by celebrating our individual successes and we make everyone feel included,” Castaneda said.

As part of these educational efforts, Sewell frequently invites outside experts on a variety of spirits to host informative sessions for her team. “The more [my team] knows, the more comfortable they and the guest are with each other,” Sewell said.

Sewell and Castaneda believe it’s also important to help the beverage team stay up to date on current trends in the industry, and to better understand what women diners are craving from a beverage perspective. 

Castaneda shared that contrary to popular belief, today’s women enjoy drinking increasingly fuller-bodied styles of wine, and Sewell added that women are also becoming more comfortable sampling whiskies and other spirits that were previously considered to be traditionally “masculine” in nature. They love helping guests discover new drinks to enjoy.

“Women are becoming more knowledgeable about what goes into certain spirits, such as additives,” Sewell said. “And, on the flip side, I see a lot of women going for non-alcoholic or low-ABV drinks."

Watching these sorts of trends emerge helps influence the beverage offerings included on the menus at Signia by Hilton Atlanta. When crafting wine lists, Castaneda likes to craft inclusive wine lists that reflect the wide range of guests served by the hotel, incorporating options from women-led wineries.

“If the style suits the guests, I make it a point to mention the winemaker’s background and successes, not just focus on the fact that she is a woman,” Castaneda said. “I’ve learned from many women winemakers that they feel like they’ve made it when they are just referred to as ‘winemaker’ not ‘woman winemaker,’ especially since men winemakers are referred to as just ‘winemaker.’ It symbolizes an even level of respect for the craft, and I think that is what women are striving for in their careers.”