Black Diamond Awards honor hospitality workers
Jo-Anne Chavez went to the Black Diamond Awards prepared to cheer on one of her employees, who she had nominated for an honor. She was not ready to receive an award herself.
“My world stopped,” she said. “I was in total shock. I cried a lot.”
Chavez was one of seven individuals in the hospitality industry that received an award last week at the ceremony. The event, which is put on by the Park City Area Lodging Association, recognizes those who work in all parts of the industry, from chefs to bell staff to managers.
Chavez, the assistant front desk manager for the Grand Summit Hotel, won the Lodging Front of House Award.
The other winners were Scott Albert, vice president of sales and marketing at Nicholas & Company, who won Vendor of the Year; Lance Rentrios, a server and bartender at The Chateaux Deer Valley, who won Food and Beverage Front of House; Lourdes Rodriguez, from Montage Deer Valley, who won Lodging Back of House; Angela Jepperson, director of housekeeping at the Lodges at Deer Valley, who won Manager of the Year and Arturo Flores, a chef at Chimayo, who won Food and Beverage Back of House.
Ron Neville, president of the association and vice president of hospitality for Vail Resorts, said that it feels good to honor those who help the industry run during the ski season.
“We have a beautiful place we live in, we have world-class ski resorts, but it’s really the people, especially the front line people, that provide that level of service that keeps our guests coming back every year,” he said. “Without them, there would be no guests here.”
He said that many of those workers seldom receive credit for the work they do, but this event, which was created four years ago, aims to change that.
Chavez agreed that it can be difficult when they work hard during the season and guests do not seem to notice.
The fact that her boss, Joel Turner, recognized that she goes above and beyond what is asked of her keeps her motivated to work hard, she said. Turner nominated her for the award.
She said she also now feels like she has played a significant and recognizable role in making Park City the popular destination that it is.
“I am proud and excited about what more I can bring to the table,” she said.
Flores also said that he felt special being recognized, particularly because it was not an award to acknowledge the company he works for, but to recognize him personally.
He has worked at Chimayo for 18 years, and worked at Grappa for several years before that. He said that he is passionate about the work he does, but gratitude is still appreciated.
“Even if you just get nominated, it means a lot,” he said. “We all work hard. It’s nice to think that at least people notice that I am doing something.”
The Double Black Diamond Award, which recognizes an individual that has inspired the lodging community, went to Russ Olsen, the chief executive officer of Stein Eriksen Lodge.
He said it was a “tremendous honor and complete surprise.”
Olsen has worked for Stein Eriksen for 32 years. He points to his tenure and accomplishments that the lodge has had in that time as the reason for him being selected. But he said that the award really represents his whole team.
“They are the ones that make it happen day in and day out,” he said. “If it wasn’t for all the hundreds and thousands of people out there serving the guests face-to-face on a day-to-day basis, the lodging association and hospitality industry here in Park City wouldn’t receive the recognition.”
Rentrios is one of the individuals that has a lot of face-to-face interaction with guests.
He said that he tries to make guests’ visits memorable by getting to know the people he is serving and maintaining a positive attitude.
“There is an insane amount of energy that it takes to satisfy the guests,” he said. “You have to learn to accept every opportunity as a chance to wow them, and that is what I try to do every day.”
He said that continuing the reputation of the lodge is important to him, which is why he bought a new suit for the event. Walking home with an award made him feel like he has done a good job at that.
About 300 people attended the event and 83 people were nominated for the awards, Neville said. It was the highest number of nominations to date.
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