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
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.
Next DEI Event: Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15 – October 15
Stay tuned to learn more about how we will be celebrating!
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:
“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!
If you’ve been a Guest Services team member at any point in the last half a century, you’ve almost certainly heard of our operations at Mount Rainier National Park. It is one of our most cherished parks and has been since we began operating it in 1973. Here, we offer services at four different locations that we wanted to shed more light on and bring a better understanding of what our team does at Mount Rainier.
Nestled on the southern slopes of Mount Rainier, Paradise Inn sits at an elevation of 5,400 feet, treating visitors to breathtaking vistas of vibrant wildflower meadows. Construction commenced in 1916, and on July 1st, 1917, it unveiled its doors, offering 37 guest rooms to the beautiful park’s visitors. Today, Paradise Inn stands with 121 rooms, a 50-table dining room, a charming gift shop, a delightful cafe, and a lobby of renowned architecture.
The Jackson Visitor Center food service and retail operation is just across the parking lot from Paradise Inn and, just like Paradise Inn, operates seasonally.
The Sunrise Lodge is located in the northeast corner of the park at the 6400-foot level, where it sits as Mount Rainier’s highest visitor center. Yet to open for the season because of the snow, it will open on July 1st, 2023. It is seasonally accessible from early July through late September. Visitors are astounded by spectacular views of the massive Emmons Glacier and meadows of colorful wildflowers.
The National Park Inn is a little gem that is nestled in the Longmire Area at the 2800-foot level. It features 25 guest rooms where visitors can stay and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding area. The inn also includes a 90-seat dining room, a guest lounge, and a country store on-site for any necessary supplies or souvenirs. The National Park Inn is open year-round, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of Mount Rainier in all seasons.
We also have employee housing and our main office complex about 5 miles outside of the park, where administrative tasks are maintained.
“All of our buildings are located in historic areas in the park. Each building is a treasure for us to take care of,” says Melinda Simpson, Director of Operations for Mount Rainier Guest Services. She started with Guest Services in 1973 and has worked with the company on and off since then. Hear her share more about her story below.
A Momentous Year for Paradise Inn
Believe it or not, we are still seeing the ramifications of COVID-19. Over the past few years, we have been working through restrictions and doing everything we can to serve both our team members and park visitors safely while meeting guidelines and operating with a limited staff.
This year, we are ecstatic to return to the level of pre-COVID operations.
In addition to the reintroduction of a fully staffed team and services we had previously been restricted from offering, we look forward to bringing many sustainable practices back. Composting, bulk amenities, reusable dishware, and many other day-to-day operating functions will be once again made Earth-friendly.
“We look at new sustainability opportunities every day. Being in a National Park means something special; sustainability is always top of mind. It also means that all efforts must be within the National Park Service guidelines,” says Melinda.
Revitalizing Mount Rainier Dining
In 2021, most of our food was to-go because of the pandemic, and since then, things have been challenging for food services at our properties here. Chef Nick Ryan started around this same time and, since then, has been preparing for our return to full-service dining. Not only is he leading the charge to turn our dining back to the upscale dining and exceptional service it once was, but he is also working to revitalize employee dining.
In our interview, Chef Nick said, “We are working with local vendors and farms to bring a farm-to-table, local experience in our restaurants. We work with Fray Farms, Caffe D Arte, Northwest Fish, and Northern Wild to bring our guests closer to the environment they are visiting. We are excited about how we can bring fresh, modern, and delicious cuisine to our guests and employees while staying true to our historic roots.”
Both Melinda and Brandy Frederich, Senior Director of West Coast Operations, expressed their optimism about what the future holds for Mount Rainier dining. Brandy said, “Chef Ryan’s creativity, calm presence, and adaptability in the face of an ever-changing environment these past couple of years have set him apart. From unpredictable weather conditions to power outages and unexpected closures, he fluidly adapts and ensures that our guests are well taken care of,” says Brandy Frederich, Senior Director of Operations, Hospitality.
Guest Services is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the fantastic visitors and guests of Mount Rainier National Park. Melinda said, “This is a wonderful place. We are so fortunate and blessed to work in a place like Mount Rainier National Park and to represent our company with the National Park Service and visitors. I’m thrilled to be in this job and to work with the people I work with!”
Thank you to the entire Mount Rainier Guest Services team for your hard work, and we look forward to an excellent year!