Category Archives: People Spotlights

Musical Instrument Museum Wins 2023 Q Award

Congratulations to Thomas Painter and the Guest Services team members at the Musical Instrument Museum (“MIM”) in Phoenix, Arizona! The Q Award is presented to the unit that receives the highest Quality Assurance score in the Company. The MIM operations received an outstanding total score of 96.3%.

MIM is only 14 years old, but rates as one of the most unique and most visited attractions in Arizona. At over 200,000 square feet and a collection of more than 13,400 instruments and associated objects, MIM is the largest museum devoted to the art of the musical instrument.

To highlight the success achieved this past year at MIM, our Insider team met with Joe Van Hooser, Managing Director of Food & Beverage to discuss how the MIM team does such an excellent job keeping their quality assurance scores high.

Joe also discussed his confidence in Thomas Painter, the General Manager of F&B at MIM. “Thomas has been a breath of fresh air since his hire in early 2022. He is a true professional, extremely knowledgeable, and has a vast amount of experience. A golden shoo-in for MIM,” says Joe.

We also met with Thomas, who added, “Achieving the score was a goal from the outset of my tenure here. As a matter of fact, in early 2022, when Joe Van Hooser shared the Q Award parameters with me, I boasted that we would win that award in 2024. Typically, I am not so boastful, but I am constantly trying to set high standards for our team and felt that we were onto something with a very strong core.”

When asked if there is anything he is looking forward to in 2024, Thomas said, “Yes! More growth in all outlets and more creative GSI-initiated events like our Wine Dinner. This year we will explore Dinner Shows on the Main Courtyard at MIM and Seasonal Jazz Brunches.”

We’d also like to list the Honorable mentions of units below which scored 95% and above in 2023. In addition, there were a total of 48 units that scored 93% or above.

Callville Bay Food and Beverage, NV
Cottonwood Cove Retail, AZ
Willow Beach Recreation, AZ
Echo Bay RV Village, NV
Fletchers Cove Boathouse, D.C.
Cottonwood Cove Recreation, AZ
Cottonwood Cove Dining, AZ
Lincoln Memorial Retail South, D.C.
Callville Bay Retail, NV
Weeki Wachee State Park Rentals, FL
Lincoln Memorial Retail North, D.C.
Willow Beach Retail, AZ
Temple Bar Retail, AZ
Rainbow Springs State Park Boat Rentals, FL
Watkins Glen State Park Lower Café, NY
Rainbow Springs State Park Tube Rentals, FL

Congratulations to all properties on a great year!

Welcoming Rod Taylor as Vice President of Hospitality

Congratulations to Rod Taylor, the new Guest Services Vice President of Hospitality! Rod’s career in hospitality began in 1980 as a mechanic in marinas, setting the stage for his growth in the industry. During his tenure with Forever Resorts, the previous concessionaire at our Lake Mead units, his role involved managing operations where they rented houseboats, dining operations, and much more, showcasing his ability to handle large-scale hospitality services.


Recently, Nico Foris, CEO, congratulated him by saying, “I am very excited to announce the promotion of Rod Taylor to Vice President of Hospitality, effective January 1, 2024. His dedication, commitment, and expertise have truly set Rod apart to join our executive leadership team at Guest Services. Rod’s four decades of operational experience, large-scale problem-solving of complicated matters with the National Park Service, and effective team management and leadership align so well with Guest Services’ core values, and he will continue to build upon the success of the division. In his new role, Rod will be responsible for overseeing the five properties at Lake Mead, Lake Roosevelt, Stehekin, Mount Rainier, and Big Sur. Please join me in congratulating Rod on this well-deserved promotion!”


Honoring Barry Trice: Celebrating 27 Years of Excellence as He Transitions into Retirement

We would also like to celebrate Barry Trice, our esteemed Senior Vice President of Hospitality, who is transitioning toward retirement. Barry’s 27 years of dedicated service have been a cornerstone of our success, setting a high standard of excellence and fostering key partnerships that have greatly benefitted Guest Services.

Nico said, “Barry Trice, our Senior Vice President of Hospitality, is now embarking on a separate transition toward retirement. Barry’s twenty-seven years of service to the Company has been invaluable.  He has established a standard of excellence and cultivated so many key partnerships and relationships, which we still maintain today. Barry will remain part of Guest Services to support Rod during the transition efforts over the next year and continue to be involved with our existing units on a lesser scale, notably at Florida Southern, Musical Instrument Museum, The Doubletree, and the Condominium & Property Management division. We are all extremely grateful for Barry’s contributions past, present, and into the future during this exciting time.”

Blue Spring State Park & Hontoon Island

Tranquil Kayaking Adventures

Blue Spring State Park’s exceptional Florida views and crystal clear waters offer swimmers, kayakers, fishermen, and guests an outstanding experience. Guest Services is honored to have now offered our services for over a year at this amazing destination in Orange City. Recently, we sat down with the new GM to discuss his background, the property’s exciting new developments, what it’s like on-site, and what the team is looking forward to.

Welcome to Blue Spring State Park & Hontoon Island
Discover these awesome parks, their concessions, kayak tours, boat tours, and all our offerings.

Two Hidden Florida Gems

Our operations management at Blue Spring State Park also expands to the neighboring Hontoon Island State Park. Located in the center of St. Johns River in Volusia County, the island is only accessible by private boat or park ferry that we also maintain and operate. It has a small museum, playground, retail shop, fishing spots, and 10 slips for boats to park.

Both of these outstanding properties feature great experiences that align with many of our other Florida properties. From the refreshing and awe-inspiring waters to the recreation classics like boating, canoeing, and fishing, our guests enjoy a wide variety of Guest Services premiere offerings.

Meet Ron Nance
General Manager at Blue Spring State Park and Hontoon Island
Ron tells us more about his background, his family, and his experience we Guest Services so far.

Manatee Festival

An annual festival in celebration of the adorable sea cows is held annually at Blue Spring State Park. The return of this exciting event last month saw a massive turnout due in part to its absence during the pandemic. “It went very well,” says Ron. “Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t really agreeing with us but the turnout was still fantastic. We had food, a beer garden, and ten or so vendors set up. It was terrific seeing so many come out to enjoy themselves.”

What’s Next?

The team looks forward to completing the construction of a pavilion and a deck as well as the addition of bike tours and various other upgrades. April 1st is the first day back for the season where they will be welcoming guests for tubing and swimming. The upcoming Firefly Festival is also a local favorite during which visitors enjoy the unique cascades of fireflies that light up the park.

The Horizon and Beyond
Learn what the team at Blue Spring is looking forward to, including finishing construction and a local partnership.

Meet the Team  

Stacey Tyson – AGM  

Nathanial Cook – Retail/Dock  

Grace Dickinson – Retail/Dock 

Angela Hatfield – Supervisor 

Kennedy Dixon – Retail/Dock 

Soren Anderson – Retail/Dock 

Tonya Scott – Retail/Dock 

Jonathon Perez – Dock 

Jacob Seago – Retail 

Zachary Sisk –  Dock 

Kimberli Kulik – Retail                         

Verania Sosa – Dock 

Evan McElhaney – Supervisor 

Debra Wood – Retail/Boat Tours 

Susan Toner – Retail 

Shane Fox – Supervisor Dock 

Rebecca Keith – Boat Captain 

Albert Thibodeaux – Ferry Hontoon 

Ronald Woxberg – Boat Captain 

Drake Neese – Supervisor Hontoon 

Casey Meyer – Retail/Dock 

Mariah Newcomb – Retail/Dock Hontoon 

Thank you Blue Spring State Park and Hontoon Island team members for all you do!