Amelia Nickle of Hotel Grinnell and The Highlander Hotel Named IHLA Employee of the Year and One of IRA’s 40 Women to Watch


Nickle was honored at an awards luncheon on October 2, 2023, at The Rewind Hotel in West Des Moines

Iowa City, Iowa (October 7, 2023)—In a remarkable journey spanning seven years, Amelia Nickle has proven her dedication and perseverance, having risen through the ranks at Hotel Grinnell and The Highlander. Named the Iowa Hotel and Lodging Association Employee of the Year and recognized as one of Iowa Restaurant Association’s 40 Women to Watch,

Nickle is being honored for her achievements in the hospitality industry.

Looking to make a change in her life in 2016, Nickle took a leap of faith and accepted a job as a bartender at Hotel Grinnell. “I started with a basic job and through that met Angela Harrington, a wonderful entrepreneur who saw potential in me to help her grow her budding company,” says Nickle. “Catalyst Hospitality now has two hotels with a third on the way.”

Throughout her tenure, Nickle has taken on various roles and titles within the company, including housekeeping coordinator, accounts payable, supervisor, front desk manager, kitchen manager, general manager, food and beverage director, chief of staff, revenue manager, human resources director, compliance officer, and now IT director.

“Amelia is an extraordinary human being,” says Harrington, owner of Catalyst Hospitality. “Since hiring her as a bartender seven years ago, she has become invaluable to the company. She just steps into whatever needs doing, digs in, figures things out, no matter her experience or comfort level.”

Nickle’s inspiring journey underscores the power of hard work and determination. “She’s incredibly smart, has critical thinking and problem-solving skills in spades, and possesses a work ethic second to none,” says Harrington.

As Nickle continues in her new role as IT Director, she will continue to be an indispensable asset at Hotel Grinnell, The Highlander, and new hotels on the horizon. Her story serves as an example of how one’s dedication and commitment can lead to remarkable career achievements and personal growth. We celebrate her success and look forward to witnessing her future accomplishments.

For more information about The Highlander Hotel and Hotel Grinnell, please visit and Follow us @highlanderhoteliowacity and @hotelgrinnell and subscribe to our email newsletter.


About The Highlander Hotel

The Highlander Hotel reimagines Iowa City’s 1967 original Highlander Inn and Supper Club, an iconic destination once frequented by Joan Baez, Mickey Mantle, and Arnold Palmer, with a modern twist. Following a multimillion-dollar renovation, the hotel was transformed into a hip urban resort that captures the nostalgic vibe of its namesake. A fun boutique hotel appealing to an independent spirit, The Highlander transports guests to another era with its boho-chic-inspired guest rooms and suites, easy dining options, enticing indoor pool, and captivating outdoor courtyard. The swanky lobby bar complete with a fire pit is sure to delight as is the Supper Club with an array of classic and new interactive arcade games and the original 1967 sunken bar restored.  The hotel was recently inducted into Historic Hotels of America.

About Hotel Grinnell

Hotel Grinnell is more than just a place to stay; it embraces and celebrates the contrast and contradictions of old and new. Erected in 1921, the building served as the city’s junior high school until the late ’70s. Nearly 40 years later, it has been repurposed into an independently owned hotel, eatery, bar, and event center. When you stay at Hotel Grinnell, you’ll sleep in an old classroom. The former locker rooms have been transformed into a bar, and the old scoreboard now decorates the lounge. The old gymnasium has a new life as a modern ballroom, and the auditorium is now a lively venue for performances, conferences, and weddings. Hotel Grinnell believes there’s something special about soaking in the history of this old building, and we have taken care to add thoughtful touches of the original school throughout. Hotel Grinnell was also recently inducted into the Historic Hotels of America.