John Davies, entrepreneur, was the recipient of the 2003 Professional Achievement Award.  Davies, owner of Woodlands Communications Group, was instrumental in the creation and dedication of the Celebrate Northwest Indiana/Quality of Life wall, which now has a permanent home at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.  While presenting the award, James Tsismanakis, president/ceo of the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau said, “When you meet John, you will know what we know – his passion, his heart and his soul are reflected in all he contributes to make tourism better in Lake County.”

The Hospitality Manager of the Year was awarded to Kevin Spudic of the Gary SouthShore RailCats.  Roger Wexelberg, vice president/general manager of the RailCats nominated Spudic by saying, “Kevin is my right hand and second in command of the organization and represents the RailCats in a first class, professional manner.  It takes a special individual to be able to develop positive partnerships with fans and sponsors.”

Awards for Hospitality Employee of the Year were presented to Paige Sullivan of County Line Orchard and Michael Cavvouras of Ramada Inn & Conference Center.  David and Bonnie

McAfee, owners of County Line Orchard said, “Paige is the kind of employee every employer would love to have.  She works hard to assure the guest’s first impression of our business is a positive one.”  John Loxas, owner of Ramada Inn & Conference Center said, “With our hotel and our sister hotel going through renovations, Mike has gone above and beyond his normal maintenance duties by building a 27-foot gazebo and making wrought iron railings around the pool area and stairways, in addition to doing his normal duties of removing snow in the winter or fixing the usual leaky faucets.”       

Other nominees who received an honorable mention were: Nick Ilickovich and Amal Darwish of Horseshoe Casino, Ann Peters of Avalon Manor Banquet Center, Rosa Pizano of Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, Dave Hoffner of Cedar Lake Bible Conference Center, Paul Piazza of Harrah’s East Chicago Casino & Hotel, Trudy Reyna of Super 8 North Hammond, Camille Matthias of Crestview Inn & Suites and Michelle King, Cynthia Broaders, Elinora London, Bonnie Boyd and Joyce Reese, all of Majestic Star Casino.   

The Hotelier of the Year was awarded to Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville.  Radisson completed a three-year, $9 million renovation project and, for the third straight year, was named winner of the Radisson Hotels International Presidents Award for outstanding customer service.  Joe Frasca, general manager of Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, accepted the award.

The award for Restaurant of the Year was presented to Johnel’s Restaurant in Hammond.  Brian Susoreny accepted the award on behalf of the restaurant.  Johnel’s features an Americana atmosphere, has outstanding customer service, a wide variety of menu choices and makes all of its homemade breads, croissants, cakes and pies in-house.

Attraction of the Year for 2003 was Community Veterans Memorial in Munster.  Don Johnson, project director of the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana, accepted the award on behalf of the $3.2 million, nine acre memorial.  The Community Veterans Memorial has become a popular attraction since it opened in June of 2003.  It is the only memorial in the country that commemorates every U.S. conflict of the 20th century: World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.  

The Downtown Ducks was awarded the Festival/Event of the Year.  This event had individuals flocking to downtown Highland to see more than 50 brightly painted four-foot tall fiberglass ducks which had been scattered throughout the town.  Pat Popa of the Highland Downtown Merchants Association accepted the award. 

The 2003 Facility of the Year was The Barn at County Line Orchard.  David and Bonnie McAfee, who accepted the award, took an old barn located a mile away from the orchard, moved it and began extensive renovations.  Now, when the apple picking season ends and the orchard closes, the barn magically transforms into one of the finest and most unique reception halls in Lake County.    

The Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau presents their hospitality awards during National Tourism Week at the annual Tourism Week Luncheon.  This year’s luncheon was held May 12 at the Blue Chip Casino in cooperation with the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission and the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information, contact Luke Weinman at (219) 989-7770.