LEXINGTON, Ky. –  VisitLEX today announced the 17 Lexington Hospitality Award winners for 2019 during an awards luncheon at the Keene Barn at Keeneland Race Course. The Kentucky tourism and travel industry contributed more than 15 billion to the state’s economy in 2018 and more than 3.3 billion in wages to Kentucky workers.  

The Lexington Hospitality Awards honor front-line, non-managerial staff and volunteers in the tourism industry who have demonstrated exceptional service.  The awards honor front-line workers throughout the Bluegrass Region, where tourism employs more than 27,500 people.

Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLEX stated: “Our tourism industry would not be the same without the people we have honored today! Their positive interactions with visitors help ensure all of our guests feel welcome, help create memorable experiences and encourage repeat visitation. We are fortunate to have these unsung heroes as part of our hospitality community!”

The 2019 winners are:

  • Jerod Smith, tour guide at Wilderness Trail Distillery, who has an ability to take all of his knowledge and present it in a way that can be used by a novice or the most hardened expert;
  • Kim Standifur with TownePlaceSuites by Marriott, who comes to work each day with a bright smile on her face and is a trusted advisor for our guests;
  • Brianne Sharp, with Godolphin, LLC, who wears many hats but also serves as an excellent tour guide that is never done until the last visitor leaves and is determined to provide the best tour possible;
  • Patricia Payne, volunteer usher and ticket-taker at Lexington Opera House - Broadway Live, who creates special memories for guests at their selfie booth;
  • Marian Spencer, a 38-year employee at Griffin Gate Marriott Resort & Spa who has dedicated her career to taking care of the wonderful travelers who visit Lexington and the hotel;
  • Pam Randolph, volunteer with Carlisle-Nicholas County Tourism, who goes above and beyond what is expected by doing everything from preparing meals to construction and maintenance on the Jailer’s Home;
  • Lee Cowherd, tour guide at Buffalo Trace Distillery, who goes out of his way to provide each distillery visitor with an enjoyable and memorable experience with his passion for sharing all things Buffalo Trace;
  • Carly Moulden, part of the hospitality team at Taylor Made Farms, who makes sure no detail is forgotten for their events and makes guests feel right at home;
  • Stanley Sobotka, a more than 31-year employee at The Campbell House Curio Collection by Hilton, who lives and breathes the hotel and frequently has guests ask specifically for his assistance;
  • Jeanna Epping, with Carson's Food and Drink, who has made a tremendous impact on their happy hour and bar crowd dynamic;
  • Jennifer Mason, with DV8 Kitchen, who lights up the room, is fast on her feet, sweet and is willing to clean up after any messy kid, all while experiencing a few personal trials;
  • Mack Hurt, who was first a cook at the Red Mile and was so loved they nicknamed their kitchen “Mack’s Snack Shack in his honor. In a later role in the security department, he greets guests with a contagious smile and makes everyone’s day a bit brighter;
  • Richard Thacker, night audit clerk at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington Downtown Area / Keeneland, who works an especially difficult position and is graceful in the toughest situations and has a natural teaching ability;
  • Maria Mejia, housekeeper at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington Downtown Area / Keeneland, who never fails to provide thorough and efficient service for guests;
  • Carrie Ellis, with Residence Inn Lexington South Hamburg Place, who is always willing to fill-in where needed and takes on additional tasks that other departments give her with a happy and eager attitude;
  • Nellie He, server at Bella Notte, who leads by example and has developed long standing friendships with many of her guests who often request her each time they visit;
  • Zhanna Khoury with DoubleTree Suites, who actively listens to the concerns of guests and is instrumental in driving guest satisfaction scores.

VisitLEX is honored to present Mrs. Deirdre Lyons and Dr. Mark Lyons the #SharetheLEX award for their love and passion of Lexington and for their unwavering dedication to tourism throughout the Bluegrass Region. From the Alltech World Equestrian Games to the annual Alltech ONE conference, the Lyons family has played an integral role in bringing tens of thousands of visitors to Lexington.  Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLEX, stated: “The #SharetheLEX Award is not given every year but rather when there is a deserving winner.  We are thrilled to present this award to Mrs. Lyons and Dr. Mark Lyons for all of their efforts to showcase Lexington!”