Category Archives: Holidays & Observances

Thanksgiving 2023 Event Highlights

As we approach the December holidays and end-of-year celebrations, we want to look back and appreciate the success of four properties’ Thanksgiving events – The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, Giants Ridge, Bear Mountain Inn, and the National Park Inn at Mount Rainier. We interviewed the general managers of each property to hear what the highlights were, as well as what they think other managers can learn from their experiences.

Bear Mountain Inn

“This year was wonderful. We increased sales over the previous two years and the event ran without any major issues. We had a few extra tables ready for walk-ins, about 20 walk-ins, that were filled each of the meal periods. We successfully served just over 500 guests,” says Levon, General Manager at Bear Mountain Inn.

The only issues Levon reported a slight understaffing and running out of plates. “It seems everyone averaged about 5 plates, so we will adjust appropriately next year,” says Levon Bedrosian. He also mentioned a few other improvements:

  • Adjusting all three seatings to start 1 hour later than this year.
  • Expanding the number of available reservations to cover the entire ballroom, aiming for 1050 reservations (350 per seating).
  • Accommodating up to 100 walk-ins per seating, leading to a total availability of 1350 for the day.
  • Increasing the number of front house employees to handle the expanded seating capacity.
  • Adding an extra carving station manned by three staff (two for carving, one for running).
  • Employing two additional bartenders and one more utility staff member to cater to increased guest numbers.

Lastly, Levon mentioned a warning for those who use OpenTable. “We encountered challenges with Open Table’s reservation system, which issues a “paid” confirmation to guests even when no payment has been made, just for keeping a credit card on file. This has led to some confusion and instances of guests attempting to leave without paying, believing they had already paid based on the Open Table confirmation.”

See Restaurant 1915’s menu.


Giants Ridge

“We had a fantastic turnout this year with 593 total seats, we were very happy with the results,” says Steve Rahkola, Marketing Director at Giants Ridge. “Next year, our goal is to improve the ticketing process. We are considering having it be a pre-pay event to make the transition between tables more efficient and to get more guests.”

See the Burnt Onion’s menu.


The Lodge at Wakulla Springs

“Last year was had 501 guests, this year we welcomed 886. They absolutely love spending the holiday with us at the Lodge. We have guests come year after year to attend the event. The generational roots and memories this building holds are so special to the community and we are honored to be the destination for holidays in the community,” says Jesse Askew, General Manager at The Lodge at Wakulla Springs.

The Lodge offers the usual Thanksgiving staples, but fried shrimp and oyster stuffing were the fan favorites. “This year we partnered with a local small business in Wakulla County who provides some of the desserts for the buffet. This was another great way to outreach with the locals and show our support,” says Jesse. She also added that they plan to keep their reservations open through the day of the event next year to account for potential cancelations.

See Edward Ball Dining Room’s menu.


National Park Inn at Mount Rainier

“This year was the best turnout we have had in over 10 years with over 250 covers,” says Desiree Sharpe, Marketing Director at Mount Rainier. While the traditional Thanksgiving feast was appreciated, especially the vegan/vegetarian options, she noted higher wait times due to unexpected business volume- a good problem to have. When asked about improvements for next year, Desiree said, “Everything as we always strive to be better and learn from the past. Our biggest challenge was the wait time for guest seating, though.”

See National Park Inn’s menu.


Thank you to all team members involved in making these Thanksgiving day events a success and bringing families who attended an exceptional holiday experience. Your outstanding commitment to service is what makes Guest Services exceptional!

National Plan for Vacation Day | December 2023 Insider

A Celebration of Paid Time Off

National Plan for Vacation Day, observed on the last Tuesday of January, is a call to action for professionals, particularly in high-demand sectors like ours, to prioritize planning their Paid Time Off for the year. This observance aligns with Guest Services’ commitment to employee well-being and holistic development. In this fast-paced environment, where dedication to providing exceptional experiences is paramount, it is equally important for our team members to take time for personal rejuvenation. Utilizing PTO is critical for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and contributes to overall job satisfaction and productivity.

PTO is highly valued by employees, with national surveys indicating that a significant majority of people believe having paid time off is essential. Despite its importance, many employees do not fully utilize their PTO, with around 46% of the country’s workers not using up all of their available time off.

Planning vacations has demonstrable benefits, including improved mental health, increased creativity, and enhanced workplace morale. It offers an opportunity for employees to disconnect, explore new places, engage in leisure activities, or simply relax, leading to a refreshed and revitalized return to work. This proactive approach to vacation planning, encouraged by National Plan for Vacation Day, ensures that employees can schedule their time off in a manner that benefits both their personal needs and the operational requirements of the company. So let’s start planning!


Employee Discounts

As you prepare for National Plan for Vacation Day, remember to leverage our Employee Discount program for your getaways. The program is our way of saying thank you for your hard work and dedication. You’re entitled to 50% off on a variety of services, such as lodging, dining, and recreational activities. This includes cheaper rates at some of the most iconic destinations in the country.

To take advantage of our Employee Discount program, you will need to present proof of employment with Guest Services. Proof of your employment can easily be accessed through The Core at

Once you are on the homepage of The Core, click My Profile, Actions, and Launch Employee ID. You will be asked to sign your ID, which requires entering your username and password. To access the signed Employee ID, click My Profile, Documents, and then click on the Documents icon.

This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy what our company has to offer at great value!