SWEETWATER COUNTY – The Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board awarded the 10th and Final R.E.A.C.H. (Rare and Exceptional Achievement for Customer service in Hospitality) awards on May 4th, 2017.
These awards recognize employees and businesses throughout the county that excels at customer service in the tourism industry.
General Managers of hotels, Directors of the Chambers of Commerce and the Sweetwater Events Complex as well as other individuals in the industry nominated employees/businesses in the following categories: Reservations & Guest Services, Housekeeping, Maintenance, SWC Tourism “Cheerleader”, R.E.A.C.H. Award for Employee of the Year, R.E.A.C.H. Award for Business of the Year and Tourism Industry Partner of the Year.
The R.E.A.C.H. awards started in 2008 as a way to recognize National Tourism Week. At that time Jenissa Meredith, the Executive Director of Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism, in her first year in the position, was charged with the task of drawing attention to the importance of tourism in Sweetwater County. The first thing that came to her mind, when she was deciding what to do, were the incredible employees in the local hospitality industry.
She came to understand just how important these individuals were when she had her first job at the age of 14 making beds at the Best Western Outlaw Inn in Rock Springs.
She learned a lot during those summers, but what stood out the most was the fact that it takes a group of hard working, friendly, caring people at each property, working behind the scenes, or face to face with the guests, during the day or all night long, to ensure that each visitor has a wonderful experience in Sweetwater County.
She also realized that without these hard working individuals, hospitality and tourism would not exist. There would be no tourism statistics to promote. She knew from there forward that these individuals truly were the backbone of the industry.
So with that in mind, Jenissa began brainstorming ways to recognize this important group. She ran ideas by her then Board Chair, Mrs. Cindy Bailey, and decided to host an awards banquet event that recognizes Rare and Exceptional Achievements for Customer Service in Hospitality, R.E.A.C.H.
Throughout the event on May 4th, the accomplishments of the local tourism industry were celebrated at the Rock Springs Holiday Inn. The master of ceremonies, Jim Wilkinson, of Miles Media and a Sweetwater County native, acknowledged previous Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board members, introduced current board members, and thanked them all for their service to the industry. Mr. Wilkinson also introduced keynote speaker, Diane Shober, Executive Director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism.
Ms. Shober commended the hard work of all those that serve as the backbone of the tourism industry as well and Jenissa Meredith for creating the event. During her key-note speech she also presented a message from Governor Matt Mead, congratulating the Sweetwater County hospitality industry for 10 years of R.E.A.C.H.
Current Sweetwater County Travel & Tourism Board Members recognized included:
1. Alan Wilson
2. Bridget Renteria
3. Janet Hartford
4. Greg Bailey
5. Erika Koshar
6. Mark Lyon
7. Linda McGovern
8. Devon Brubaker
9. Stacy Colvin
10. Kelcie Hammond
11. Robert Olguin
Previous Sweetwater County Travel & Tourism Board Members recognized included:
The R.E.A.C.H. awards take place during National Tourism Week and salutes outstanding customer service provided by employees in tourism and hospitality industries who celebrate and enhance Sweetwater County’s reputation as a first-class visitor destination. Tourism is Wyoming’s second largest industry supporting almost 1,600 jobs in Sweetwater County alone.
Over the past decade 343 individuals have been nominated for the R.E.A.C.H. awards for their outstanding customer service and 56 individuals have received R.E.A.C.H. awards.
Previous R.E.A.C.H. Award Winners include:
1. Pat Hutchinson
2. Joyce Keister -Vase
3. Jessica Gibbons
4. Carol Poulos
5. Deanna Poignee
6. Betty McVae
7. Audbrey Bostick
8. Cindy Moore
9. Ann Rouse
10. Mary Morin
11. Kim Strid
12. Pat Groshelle
13. Celia Carrasco
14. Lorena Perez – Segura
15. Margarita Chavez
16. Martin Chavez
17. John Sanchez
18. Maria Valdez
19. Justin Mushbach
20. Trica Green
21. Mircea Turcan
22. Olivia Corral
23. Barry Green
24. Treeva Wood
25. Don Hartley
26. Roberto Hernandez
27. Shirley Long
28. Dave Mead
29. Dave Hanks
30. Janet Hartford
31. Gary Perkins
32. Dave Freeman
33. Amy Romero-Griffin
34. Mark Wilson
35. Sweetwater Mountain Biking Association – Brent Skorz
36. Catherine Duncombe
37. Ruth Lauritzen
38. Lisa Herrera
39. Lucerne Marina
41. Western Wyoming Beverage
42. Bike & Trike
43. Sweetwater Events Complex
44. Cowboy Donuts
45. The Wild Calls
47. Holiday Inn
48. Cristy Disano
49. Rosie Hill
50. Sandra Kirkwood
51. Aubrey Bostick
52. Tina Donahue
53. Eva Dallman
54. Eileen Cummings
55. Samantha Hughes
56. Gail Blasi
The 2017 R.E.A.C.H. Award winners included:
BEST RESERVATION/GUEST SERVICES PERSONNEL and NOMINATORS
WINNER – Michele Moritz – Hampton Inn & Suites, Green River
The winner of this award has been with this property for 8.5 years. She is very dependable. When the hotel has been short-handed she has worked the Night Audit shifts for two months straight without a day off. This person is very friendly and helpful to guests and Team Members. Such as, in February when the area received two feet of snow she personally went out of her way to shovel out guests who had become stuck in the parking lot and to make sure that the sidewalk was shoveled off.
BEST HOTEL HOUSEKEEPING PERSONNEL and NOMINATORS
WINNER – Marty Prelle – Quality Inn
The winner of this award started out in laundry and moved to head housekeeper. Since that time, this employee has brought the property’s inspection scores from mid 80’s to 95% on their last inspection by a thrid party company. For a 43-year-old property – that is an outstanding task. This employee does all the scheduling both daily and weekly for the housekeeping team and keeps them going during the day. The property management is very proud of the job this employee has done.
BEST HOTEL MAINTANENCE PERSONNEL and NOMINATORS
WINNER –Larry Byrd – Holiday Inn
The winner of this award has been this position for 26 years. He has seen a few remodels and countless daunting projects all of which he has led the charge on and got it figured out, and most recently the big remodel and renovation to bring in a new restaurant. This employee definitely knows the in’s and out’s of the hotel and how to fix various things that come up and to make sure the hotel is ready for guests. He threatens retirement…he’s not allowed to.
BEST HOTEL COMMENT CARD RECIPIENTS AND NOMINATORS
WINNERS –Emily Denman – Baymont Inn & Suites, Rosie Hill- Holiday Inn Express & Suites and Mary Vigil – Hampton Inn, Rock Springs
CHEERLEADER AWARD and NOMINATORS
WINNER – Rebecca Eusek – Green River Chamber of Commerce (nominated by the Oak Tree Inn)
The winner of this award has been in her position over 5 years. She has taken her passion and knowledge of this beautiful county and state and has become a driving force to provide a positive and memorable experience for our many visitors.
This employee has taken part in many video productions to promote Green River and Sweetwater County Tourism.
Not only does she play a leadership role in the River Festival, which brings in visitors from around the country and world, but she also has provided huge contribution to the success of the Sweetwater Mountain Biking Association‘s annual Trails Day Event and expansion of the Wilkens Peak Trails System, which was voted #1 Singletrack Trails in Wyoming for 2016.
This individual also has a way with business owners and has advised them in ways to attract tourism business.
For example, this individual successfully encouraged a local business to provide Kayak rentals and they are now available for visitors to the area! This individual has a knack for seeing when a need can be filled and she has the ambition and drive to take action and make the change. This individual assists with events by organizing volunteers, selling tickets, advertising in as many ways as she can, and even just attending to show her support. She puts in long hours to make sure she’s done all she can to make each event special or complete.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AND NOMINATORS
WINNER – Jessica Florencio – Hampton Inn Rock Springs
The winner of this award has been in this position for 8 years. This employee started out in breakfast and she moved her way into the head housekeeping position. She has taken it upon herself to not only make sure our hotel is looking great in all areas, but does everything to make sure that each guest has an outstanding experience. She helps out in all areas whenever she can. Refilling breakfast items, washing down tables, grabbing the phone to make a reservation when things get chaotic. Whether she is inquiring as to why a guest is in town, making a dining recommendation, or encouraging someone to stay and play at any one of the awesome attractions that we have in the area, Jessica is amazing at connecting with all of the guests on a personal level and making them feel like we really want them here and that each of them is special.
BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AND NOMINATORS
WINNER – Best Western Outlaw Inn
The winner of this award has been in business for 50 years. Known throughout Wyoming as a Rock Springs Landmark – the mid-century designed full-service hotel was completed in 1966 following design and construction overseen by a Lubbock, TX Architectural Firm. Thought by some to be a rather risky venture, the property has proved to be a welcome stop for both hotel and Open Range Restaurant guests along the I-80 corridor – most notably among tourists headed north on WY-191 to Pinedale, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone Park.
With top Trip Advisor ratings, this property is Southwest Wyoming’s only full-service property with both hotel and restaurant awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Achievement. And, in 2016, the property received both the Best Western Director’s Award (top 20% Quality Assurance) and Chairman’s Award (top 5% Quality Assurance).
Clearly, Mark Anselmi a.k.a. The Outlaw – stands tall in both the local business community as well as the tourism industry. A past President of the Colorado-Wyoming Hotel Association, former member of the Wyoming Recreation Commission and current Vice-Chariman of the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission – he has always been at the forefront of looking out for the best interests of Sweetwater County. His philanthropic endeavors include: Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, Hospice of Sweetwater County, Rock Springs Soup Kitchen, Rock Springs Food Bank, St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, various local youth sports teams, Climb Wyoming, University of Utah Hospital Foundation (helicopter), and Chairman and contributor – Rock Springs Catholic School Foundation. These are some of the groups he enthusiastically “shares” with because he cares about Sweetwater County and the people of Wyoming
INDUSTRY PARTNER OF THE YEAR
WINNER – Farson Mercantile
The winner of the industry partner of the year award is under the direction of Jill Eaton and has become a well-recognized destination in Sweetwater County. First and foremost, the Farson Mercantile is known far and near as the “Home of the Big Cone”. The Merc also acts as visitor center for many travelers along Highway 191 and Highway 28. The staff distributes maps, visitor guides, and gives suggestions on what there is to see in the area. Jill has built restrooms and remolded the entire first floor to accommodate the number of visitors they see every summer. She has added an extensive line of gifts and Wyoming souvenirs. The additional seating inside and on the patio, is always full of happy customers eating ice cream. Being at the crossroads of our Historic Trails and the primary route to Yellowstone, the Farson Merc is the first and last chance we have to make a lasting memory for our travelers.
The Sweetwater County Joint Travel and Tourism Board also honored area hotels that were featured in the “Top 5 on TRIPADVISOR” from April, 2016-April, 2017: (in no particular order)
TRIPADVISOR TOP FIVE FOR 2016/17
Best Western Outlaw Inn
Hampton Inn & Suites GR
Hampton Inn RS
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
Homewood Suites by Hilton
My Place Hotel
This was the final R.E.A.C.H. awards banquet, but the Sweetwater County Travel and Tourism Board will continue to recognize R.E.A.C.H. nominees, each quarter, through the Sweetwater County Lodging Association luncheon hosted by the Travel and Tourism Board.