Author Archives: Quinn Pochekailo

Sustainability Updates August 2023

Highlighting Our Sustainability Commitment & Achievements

Recently, the Sustainability Council gathered for their quarterly meeting and underscored Guest Services’ commitment to green and sustainable initiatives. Here is a list of highlights from their discussion.


The Lodge at Wakulla Springs Community Presentation

Jesse Askew, General Manager at The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, was given the opportunity to present on the Lodge’s sustainability efforts for the Women’s Group of Tallahassee. Her presentation (which can be found here) details information on their environmental footprint, natural resource usage, waste production, energy usage, and many of the Guest Services strategies for maintaining green operations. The slides she created are an excellent template for other General Managers to build their own sustainability decks out. Awesome job, Jesse!


Sustainability Signage – Intranet Resources

Units can readily access and print materials that champion initiatives such as “cage-free eggs” and “skip the straw.” There is signage on the intranet as it relates to many of our sustainability initiatives. Go to Purchasing and scroll down to ‘Support Materials.’ Here, managers can print items for their unit!


Mt. Rainier Guest Services Team Eliminates Plastic Bag Usage

We’d like to extend our congratulations to the team at Mt. Rainier for successfully eliminating all plastic bags and instead offering a sustainable and branded bag option. The bags below are sold for $3.99 and are given to customers free of charge upon purchase of an item. They also have unit-specific facts about Mt. Rainier on the back! This is a great opportunity to be sustainable while also providing guests with fun memorabilia.


Culinary Innovations – Toward a Greener Menu

In collaboration with Guest Services executives, the culinary team is working on a review of all menus to ensure our commitment to plant base menu items. A representative from Mercy for Animals will be joining the Sustainability Council’s meeting next quarter to speak more about what our competitors are doing and how GSI can set ourselves apart.

Celebrating One Year of Employee Resource Groups

Celebrating One Year of Employee Resource Groups

This month marks a very significant milestone for Guest Services. All of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have now celebrated their one-year anniversary. We are incredibly proud of this program and ecstatic to see participation numbers continue to grow. Thank you to everyone who attends and to those who work to maintain them! Learn more about each ERG and find the link where all group meetings are hosted.


Meet the team:

Women’s ERG – WIN

Co-chairs: Angie Thurston and Joana Vasilescu, 

Executive Sponsor: Barry Trice


LGBTQ+ ERG – Kaleidoscope

Co-chairs: Joe Pereira and Lisa Duncan 

Executive Sponsor: Jeff Ritter


Hispanic ERG – Hola

Co-chairs: Ody Hernandez and Ken Lopez

Executive Sponsor: Laura Sherman


African American/Black ERG – BELIEVE 

Co-chairs:  Paulette Lassiter and Mona Aleem 

Executive Sponsor: Dan Stoltzfus


Juneteenth, 2023

Last June, our organization celebrated the second annual Juneteenth with an event at Columbia Island Marina. Team members from all over the DMV met to enjoy cultural cuisine, participate in activities, and honor the day’s significance. Attendees played Culture Tag and Trivia, and winners were given ‘banned’ books from a local Black-owned book store. We’re happy to announce we doubled participation this year compared to last!


Pride Month Celebrations

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the Kaleidoscope ERG and the presentation by Amy Waninger. For those who were unable to join, use the password below to view a recording of the meeting.

Passcode: XX.W1P8#

Next DEI Event: Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month 

September 15 – October 15

Stay tuned to learn more about how we will be celebrating!

Property Spotlight | Rainbow Springs Adventures

Property Spotlight | Rainbow Springs Adventures

Rainbow Springs State Park is a sprawling 1,472-acre park in Florida, encompassing one of the state’s largest springs, the headsprings of the Rainbow River, and offering a diverse range of outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, tubing, canoeing, and camping. “We’re on the head springs and the river itself, which both consist of micro springs that enable the water to be crystal clear and 72 degrees year-round. You can also see the bottom everywhere. People love it,” says Rich Lucy, General Manager.

Here, Rich and his team operate the newly upgraded cafe, camp store, tubing station, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing. In 2023, the team opened earlier in the season than normal with record-breaking numbers, introduced a newly upgraded cafe with an overhauled menu, and continue to explore innovative new service offerings.

“The numbers speak for themselves. This year, we had 41% higher revenue year-over-year. We’re also 26% over our budgeted revenue. Rich and his team have brought a number of incredible upgrades that have shown the true potential of the park. Beyond these impressive numbers, the park has really evolved into an extraordinary space where families are making lifelong memories,” says Laura Sherman, Vice President, Hospitality.

Matt Smith, District Manager, says, “Rich’s F&B sales are up double digits most days, and the food is great. He’s also brought in a new line of retail merch this year, increased rental revenues, and turned the Tube Rental area into a one-stop concession store catering to all of our guest’s needs. Rich has been a great addition to our team.”

“I think the best way to describe Rich is that he is a ‘get-it-done’ kind of guy. He adds immeasurable value to the operation. His food & beverage experience has elevated the food concession offerings to a whole new level.”

These achievements aren’t going unnoticed either. The park has recently been featured in several local news articles:

What’s Next?

“Right now, we’re really excited about bringing the original glass bottom boats. You actually walk down into these boats, so you’re literally in the water. We’re currently working on getting these approved so we can renovate them.”

“We also have been given some land on the campsite to open up Eco-tents to capitalize on the growing glamping trends. So, we’re pretty excited. We’re still adding new things and a lot of things people really enjoy, and we’re giving them more reasons than ever to come and visit us,” says Rich.

Thank you to the entire Rainbow Springs Adventures team for your hard work!