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Island recipients honored among hospitality industry awards

By Staff | Aug 30, 2018

The Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau held the 18th annual Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards to acknowledge excellence through extraordinary customer service and dedication.

The “E Awards” ceremony held on Aug. 30 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs celebrated local customer service professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. More than 670 nominations were received from residents and visitors from all over the world recognizing the superheroes on the front lines.

New this year and only this year is the Hurricane Hero award. The category recognized a tourism employee who exhibited selfless acts during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The “E Awards” is a collaboration with local businesses to encourage customer service that makes a difference. Nomination criteria included service satisfaction, leadership, work ethic, job knowledge, performance skills, familiarity with the destination and assistance during an emergency.

Selected for their distinctive service and dedication:

– Honor of Distinction Winner: Domingo Nieves, Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominium

– Hurricane Hero: Mario Ramirez, Holiday Inn Express & Suites at the Forum

– Accommodations: Rodney Sasher, Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina

– Attractions: Anne Falcone & Rhett Stanberry, Everglades Day Safari

– Restaurants: Michelle Wyatt, Hampton Inn & Suites Fort Myers-Estero

– Transportation: Mike Burnley, MBA Airport Transportation

– Other Services/Businesses: Marie Dreessen & Sheila Simpson, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce

– Good Samaritan: Desiree Atkinson, Bubba’s Roadhouse Restaurant

– Best Tourism Boss: Aaron Alger, Drury Inn & Suites Fort Myers

Frosch Geraci Travel sponsored the award given to Nieves, with the Sandalfoot Beachfront Condominiums, for his leadership in hospitality. Nieves has been the facilities manager for almost two decades. A nominator described him as “one in a million.”

One of the nominations mentioned Nieves sent six generators, at his personal expense, to Puerto Rico to help people in his uncle’s neighborhood. Another person said he visited a guest in a local hospital every other day for a month and he cuts fresh flowers and arranges them into a bouquet for visitors’ special occasions. In addition, Nieves assists elderly guests with mobility issues, loans out his own fishing gear and gives guests rides to the grocery store if they do not have a car. Nieves also helped island residents prepare for Irma, checked on properties and helped with clean up after the storm.

Another nominator described him as “tireless, self-sacrificing, humble, compassionate and all around an exceptional human being.”

For more information, visit www.EAwards.org.