Each year, the Colorado tourism industry nominates tourism employees to be recognized as Outstanding Frontline Tourism Workers in celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week. These nominees are people who do an outstanding job of welcoming visitors to our state and providing them with the best experiences possible. This year, we received more nominees than ever before from a variety of industries who have created unforgettable experiences for our visitors. The Colorado Tourism Office and tourism industry would like to thank and recognize these 2015 Outstanding Frontline Tourism Workers for their dedication and hard work in attracting visitors to Colorado.
Events Coordinator and Artistic Director, Historic Paradise Theatre, Paonia
Amy DeLuca is the Artistic Director and General Manager of the Paradise Theatre in Paonia. For more than a year she has worked with the Friends of the Paradise Theatre nonprofit to lead the renovations, creative programming and general operations of the historic theater. Amy has built relationships with other local nonprofits and sought out first-rate entertainment to fill the seats. Many nights she can be found greeting patrons and working the busy concession area. Her wonderful smile and authentic enthusiasm for theatre, arts and entertainment welcomes locals and visitors and makes them want to return for the exciting and diverse programming.
Lead Ambassador at the Downtown Boulder Visitor Center, Downtown Boulder Inc., Boulder
Arlene Heinz was an elementary school teacher in Boulder for years before she took on a role as an Ambassador for the Downtown Boulder Visitor Center. Now, in her role at the visitor center, she is doing a new kind of teaching; she imparts Boulder knowledge on locals and tourists alike. An operation of Downtown Boulder Inc., the Downtown Boulder Visitor Center serves to inform passersby of all they can see and do in Boulder. Arlene’s passion is infections, her knowledge staggering, and her warmth all-encompassing. This frontline employee is the perfect ambassador for Boulder and Colorado tourism.
Owner, Animas Chocolate Company, Durango
With a background steeped in tourism and hospitality, Carley Snider greets guests with decadent handcrafted chocolates. Carley founded the Animas Chocolate Company in Durango to bring the beauty, nature and history of the San Juan Mountains and the Animas River into simple but elegant delights. Carley has been generous with her time and talents to support tourism media outreach and captivate journalists with luxurious custom chocolates and chocolate tastings and pairings for the Durango Tourism Office and the Colorado Tourism Office.
Owner and Photographer, Discover Northeast Colorado, Sage Strategies, Mobile event guide for Northeast Colorado
Cathy is a big supporter of rural Colorado and in particular Northeast Colorado. She believes that the area has a lot to offer and is constantly promoting the region through her business and through social media. She believes that Northeast Colorado has a lot to offer in terms of scenery, history, people and activities. She has worked hard the last four years to bring the magic of the area to others outside the region and to re-inspire those who call Northeast Colorado home. Cathy never misses an opportunity to promote a festival, fundraiser, sports event or historical site as she collaborates with others throughout the state.
Program Director, Adaptive Sports Center, Crested Butte
Chris is the program director at the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte. Chris is a Colorado native and long-time Crested Butte resident with a passion for sharing outdoor adventures with people with disabilities. Chris grew up skiing and adventuring around Crested Butte and got his foot in the door at the Center as an Instructor and Equipment Manager in 1998. The Adaptive Sports Center strives to enhance the lives of those with disabilities through memorable outdoor activities, and Chris helps make these experiences happen. The center began its mission in 1987 with a ski program. In that inaugural year, they offered 37 lessons. This year saw nearly 3,000 ski lessons.
Owner/Head Mechanic, Double Shot Cyclery, Gunnison
Dan Crean owns Double Shot Cyclery, a bicycle and coffee shop in downtown Gunnison. The business recently moved to its new location, a historic building built in the 1880s with a long history as a bike shop. The shop features a full-service bike and service shop and a modern coffee bar with locally roasted coffee and fresh baked goods. Dan and his staff strive to create a community-oriented shop that hosts and supports local events and is welcoming to all. Dan and the Double Shot staff love living in the Gunnison Valley and enjoy sharing their passion for the community, cycling and coffee with their customers.
Dave & Dan James
James Ranch, Durango
James Ranch is a family farm and ranch that shares a philosophy of land stewardship, enterprise and community on a destination agritourism location in Southwestern Colorado. David and Kay James and their family maintain 400 acres of high altitude irrigated pastures home to 100 percent grass-fed beef, Jersey milk cows, a spruce tree nursery, Harvest Grill and Greens, a farmers market, cheese making, pork, eggs, and an organic vegetable and flower garden. With a passion for ethical ranching and sustainable farming, the community-minded ranch offers farm tours to learn about sustainability, agriculture, and ranching. Their son Dan James is the cheesemaker, creating three styles of farmstead, handcrafted, raw cows milk cheese from 100 percent grass-fed Jersey cows raised on the ranch. Dan’s cheese has been featured at numerous Colorado tasting events and as part of media gifts.
Delbert "Doc" Jones
Founder, Doc’s Chuckwagon Cook-off, Lamar
Dedicated for over 30 years to his heritage ranch days, Doc Jones is a pillar of the community in Southeastern Colorado. He is known for his craftsmanship creating custom leatherwork and silversmithing; and notorious for his chuckwagon cooking skills and creating events that bring together neighbors, community members and tourists. He has perfected Dutch oven cooking with meals like chicken fried steak, cowboy beans, country potatoes, biscuits and peach cobbler. Off the chuckwagon trail, Doc entertains visitors with a collection of bits, spurs, wagons, and vintage horse-drawn farm equipment. Doc is a tourism pioneer with a deep love for the plains and their heritage making him an ambassador extraordinaire.
Fred & Norma Dorenkamp
Owners, Arena Dust Tours, Holly
What do the rodeo and conservation have in common? Fred Dorenkamp is a former pro-rodeo rider who also raised animals for the rodeo circuit, and together with his wife, Norma, they welcome guests in search of a rural getaway and birding with a stay in their home in Southeast Colorado. Aside from bird watching, wildlife viewing and chuckwagon dinners, guests are offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to see rare Lesser Prairie Chickens through a conservancy partnership with their neighbors. Fred and Norma provide western hospitality with home cooked meals sharing the art of award-winning Dutch oven cooking, cozy lodging and personal tours. Their longtime history and experiences in Colorado add to the uniqueness and authenticity of each individual stay.
Banquet Captain, Two Rivers Convention Center, Grand Junction
Many local, regional, state and national events and conventions are held at Two Rivers Convention Center, and Kate is front and center of their event ready to make sure it is the most important event happening. She takes "Western Slope Hospitality" to a whole new level in how she greets the attendees, offers assistance and continues to present a controlled, calm presence for the organizer that instills confidence that everything is going to be taken care of. Kate goes above and beyond volunteering at events and projects outside her normal "call to duty" including dressing as a piece of bacon for a display at an event benefitting the local United Way. Kate works in many different aspects of tourism in her warm welcomes to visitors, her problem solving for out-of-town guests and her insight and knowledge of the area that she shares. Kate reaches beyond the front line to offer visitors that experience that makes them want to come back.
Owner, The Leland House and Rochester Hotel, Durango
A gregarious innkeeper with a flair for creating a unique personal experience for each guest, Kirk has been welcoming visitors to his family-owned historic hotel for over 20 years. Off the beaten path, the western-themed hotel attracts guests who search out unique lodging. Kirk empowers a passionate staff that offers exceptional customer service and ideas of things to do and ways to make each visit an incredible memory. Kirk generously supports local and state tourism efforts by hosting media and representing the tourism industry at events.
Founder & VP of Marketing, Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, Vail Valley
Marisa is engaged in the community in numerous ways, including as a board member of the Vail Valley Partnership. More importantly, she is an advocate for destination tourism and the Vail Valley brand. Crazy Mountain Brewing Company hosts an annual destination music event, Edfest every summer, which has progressively grown into a signature event in the valley. Crazy Mountain Brewing Company also gives back to the nonprofit community in the Vail Valley with each beer having a portion of proceeds donated to a nonprofit organization. Marisa supports tourism and recognizes the impact of tourism on all business segments within her community.
Mary Tinkom & Bet Allen Tally
Farm Owners, Frederica Mesa Farm, Fall Festival, Avondale
Mary and Bet started with a centennial-slated farm in Avondale and made it into an agritourism experience that brings together veterans, creates jobs and brought a three-generation farm back to life. Filled with contagious “Pueblo Pride,” Mary and Bet left their corporate jobs to run the family farm and created a harvest festival to offset the costs of running the 75-acre farm. Their Fall Festival includes a 10-acre Colorado-inspired corn maze, pumpkin patches, a pumpkin trebuchet and more--all in celebration of the harvest season. These women have created a unique family-friendly atmosphere that entertains, informs people about farming and connects people to their roots.
Owner, Magic Bus Tours, Fort Collins
Two years ago, Michael took a leap of faith and began the Magic Bus Tours to fill a void of regularly scheduled tours in Fort Collins. The Magic Bus itself is a work of innovation, painted with representations of Fort Collins history and local icons. The tours align with the culture of the city: a brewery tour, local history tour and walking tours. Michael has researched the city in a great deal of depth, including the history and stories of Old Town and Colorado State University. His passion for the community and sharing stories with visitors makes him a standout tourism ambassador (and frontline employee) in Fort Collins.
Executive Director, Colorado Model Railroad Museum, Greeley
Michelle oversees the number one model railroad museum in the United States and the volunteers who make it the number one model railroad museum. When guests leave the museum, in addition to the visual and sensory experience they leave with a great “how she made them feel” experience while learning about model trains and everything else Greeley has to offer. In addition to the CMRRM, Michelle serves on the Board for Tour Colorado, Visit Greeley and acts in the capacity of a step-on guide for group tour guide operators. Her easy-going style, humor and great smile make every visitor feel they are her new best friend.
Herbalist and Tour Guide, Three Leaf Farm, Boulder
Sara’s fascination with plants began in her childhood garden where she learned about the magic of the common violet. This humble little blossom inspired a lifetime of learning about plants and their medicinal, energetic and magical properties. Three Leaf Farm was named a Botanical Sanctuary by the United Plant Savers due to efforts to cultivate at-risk and endangered species of medicinal plants as well as offering education opportunities through workshops, internships and events. Sara has taught numerous workshops on both medicinal and spiritual uses of herbs, and has written articles for a variety of publications.
Senior whitewater rafting guide and owner of Best of Glenwood, Marketing & Business Development, Glenwood Springs
Solomon is a native of Glenwood Springs, who lives and breathes tourism. He has been a whitewater guide with Whitewater Rafting for over 15 years. As a guide and often trip leader, Solomon is a constant promoter of the great things to do, see and eat in Glenwood Springs. He uses his upbeat and quirky sense of humor to help guests enjoy their trip to the fullest. Besides his summer rafting gig, he runs his own tourism consulting business focused on helping hospitality businesses succeed in a technological world. He is an innovator too. This year, he developed a scavenger hunt as part of a community map geared toward visitors. Solomon is always positive and a natural tourism advocate.
Paleontology Interpreter, Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center, Snowmass Village
Tom Temme is the Paleontology Interpreter at the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center in Snowmass Village. He does an amazing job interacting with visitors every day with a great deal of enthusiasm and passion about the science of the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery where in 2010 and 2011, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science conducted its largest-ever fossil excavation, uncovering more than 5,000 bones of ten large ice age mammals and over 26,000 small bones from 50 small vertebrate animals. 24,700 guests visited the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center in 2014. Tom is one of the best front-line employees in Snowmass Village.
Events Specialist and Tour Guide, Avery Brewing Company, Boulder
Walt has been delighting beer nerds and beer novices, with his witty, jovial, informative tours. He teaches his tour groups about the ingredients of beer and how important Colorado's water is to making good beer. He’s also known as Avery's resident "Costume Manager" because he often dresses up like the characters from Avery's beer labels. His favorite beer is The Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest, in part because he loves to drink steins of it, in part because he speaks German, and in part because it's such a great costume!
Owner, Media Logic Radio Stations, Fort Morgan
Wayne Johnson is a Colorado native from the Eastern Plains. Look in his high school yearbook and discover that he aspired to be a radio DJ long before he became one. Wayne began his ownership career in 1996 when he moved his wife and girls to Fort Morgan. He now owns seven radio stations that he operates with both of his daughters. His big ideas have served him well in his business, and in the community. Some thought he was crazy when eight years ago he had the idea of throwing a music festival in Fort Morgan, his only stipulation was that it be free to the community. Now in its eighth year, “Bobstock” will welcome 15 bands, two of which are nationally recognized acts to the stage...all for free. His efforts and his ideas are helping to drive tourism throughout Northeast Colorado.