Category Archives: Property Spotlights

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!

Property Spotlight | Mount Rainier Guest Services

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!

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!