More than 73 people representing 36 Iron Range businesses and organizations were nominated in eight categories; 58 chose to interview for the award. In Bartending, the winner is Sean Splawn, The Whistling Bird; in Behind-the-Scenes the winner is Mollie Stanford, Arrowhead Library System. The winner of the Food Production category is Phyllis Rayton, Range Mental Health; and Guest Relations winner is Dan Darbo with the Hoyt Lakes Municipal Golf Course. Hotel Guest Services winner is Bonnie Avikainen, Fortune Bay Resort Casino. The winner in the Retail category is Bonnie Washington, Auto Zone; and this year’s winner in the Server category is Ailie Marsyla, Perkins. The Volunteer of the Year is Greg Gilness, for his work with the Olcott Park Fountain Restoration Committee. A new category, Champion of Tourism, recognized Fortune Bay Resort Casino for their ongoing support of and contribution to tourism and the visitor economy across the region.
“It is always a great honor to meet the people in our region who make our businesses shine,” said Jane Serrano, event committee chair and General Manager of Holiday Inn Express and Suites. “When we interview the SOHA candidates we are always blown away by the quality of our workforce.”
The event, which just celebrated its seventh anniversary, strives to recognize excellence in customer service through a nomination, interview and awards process. Nominations for the 2019 Spirit of Hospitality Awards are being accepted at www.ironrange.org.