Travel Alberta

Tourism Calgary Honours Exceptional Hospitality and Tourism Industry Professionals and Businesses

This evening, Tourism Calgary celebrated tourism and hospitality excellence at the 54th annual Calgary White Hat Awards. These awards recognize the people who welcome over 8 million visitors a year to Calgary with world-renowned western hospitality, supporting a $1.7 billion visitor economy.

“The Calgary White Hat Awards are about celebrating the tremendous people and businesses which make our tourism industry as successful as it is,” says Cindy Ady, CEO Tourism Calgary. “The stories of the nominees and winners really exemplify the warmth, spirit and western hospitality of our city and they deserve to be celebrated as the remarkable professionals they are.”

A complete list of all Calgary White Hat Award winners follows.

For more information about Tourism Calgary:

twitter: @TourismCalgary
facebook: TourismCalgary
event hashtag: #whitehatyyc

Media Contact:

Cassandra McAuley
Director, Communications
Tourism Calgary
C: 403.835.0711
O: 403.750.2376

54th annual Calgary White Hat Award winners:

White Hat of the Year – Accommodation
Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel

Whether we travel on business or as a get-away with friends or family, we are always eager to see the hotel. How’s the lobby? Are we in the heart of the action? Are the beds comfy?

When you’re an established, quality hotel ready to transform from fantastic to fabulous but also stay open and serve guests with a high level of service, what do you do? You power through. You make changes that will delight past visitors while attracting a whole new clientele.

You add 4,000 square feet of meeting space. You create a stylish interior that caters to the way people live, work and travel today. And, you integrate the latest in technology, such as a mobile app that lets guests bypass the front desk to get their electronic key straight to their smart phone.

This wasn’t merely a renovation. For a hotel at the centre of Calgary’s tourism industry for 20 years, and on the site where a former hotel allegedly played a role in the Wild West, it was a rebirth.

The crown jewel of this hotel’s renovation is a new restaurant and bar, which pays homage to Calgary’s past, while offering drinks and bites in keeping with today’s sophisticated tastes.

White Hat of the Year – Attraction
Calgary Zoo

When you’re an attraction that continually reinvents itself to keep things fresh, you’re always at the top of everyone’s must-see list. Both residents and visitors alike flock to the Calgary Zoo, eager to see the familiar and the new in equal measure.

Innovation in programming keeps visitors coming back for more, contributing to economic growth for the city. One new 2015 event drew 11,000 visitors from outside Calgary; 20 per cent of those stayed in a hotel. Then add in meals, and visits to other sites, and you’ve got a Calgary destination gold star.

IlluminAsia, the multi-day September event lengthened summer and welcomed autumn. It combined the exoticism and history of Chinese, Japanese and Indian cultures and illuminated the night sky with 366 Chinese lanterns. It offered lion dancers, drummers and music, alongside the lush plantings this destination is known for.

Even in winter, this famed Calgary site draws visitors from home and away, coaxing us outside to embrace the season with our families and friends, to appreciate a night awash in twinkling lights.

White Hat of the Year – Festival / Event
Honens Festival and Piano Competition

One of Calgary’s greatest features is that while we celebrate our western heritage and cowboy spirit, we’re equally as enthralled with the complexity and beauty of classical music. We cheer for chucks and we also embrace the arts.

Our arts events add colour and softness to our image, draw visitors from around the globe and help us offer a full range of experiences to residents and visitors. You might expect an event of this calibre and notoriety to be in London, Paris or New York. But 20 years ago, a visionary Calgarian decided to bring the world here, spotlighting the city, the arts, and the artistry of performers competing at the highest level.

With media coverage from eight North American and European journalists, and an online broadcast audience from 95 countries, the event is known world-wide. It elevates the art itself, contributing to excellence and widening appreciation for music sometimes considered out of reach to the average person.

We applaud Honens Festival and Piano Competition for continuing to position Calgary as an international cultural destination.

White Hat of the Year – Restaurant
Yellow Door Bistro

Each day, we eat. With so many delicious, original, fresh dining options in Calgary, how do we choose where to enjoy a meal? And how do we choose just one restaurant to receive the coveted White Hat award?

We start with what people are saying. From décor to desserts to brunch, this year’s winner has achieved a heaping serving of praise – online, in the media and through prestigious awards.

Then there’s giving back. This restaurant’s participation in Mealshare has already provided some 3,500 meals to people in need. Being part of the community also includes support for the Make A Wish Foundation of Southern Alberta, Meals on Wheels Calgary and the Mustard Seed.

Atmosphere is essential to our fine dining experience. With a witty approach to the space that evokes European bistros and yet has a whimsy sometimes characterized as “Alice in Wonderland,” the distinctive décor is part of this restaurant’s DNA.

The menu is bistro-inspired. It is classic French cuisine meets contemporary influences and modern techniques. The Executive Chef sources local ingredients and forges relationships with farmers to deliver a regionally-influenced dining experience. Add in attention to dietary needs, and one of the largest wine-by-the-glass selections in Calgary, and you have a restaurant worthy of recognition.

Additional honourary awards:
Mayor’s White Hat Award:
Suelin Richards, Calgary Stampede
Doug Johnson Service Award: Gail Ouellette, Fairmont Palliser Hotel

All Calgary White Hat Award winners:

Best Server: Fine Dining Kristen Sargent - Anju

Best Server: Café/Diner Sam Huigeri - Delta Calgary South

Best Server: Banquets/Catering Shane Berdahl - Calgary Sports & Entertainment Corporation

Best Customer Service: Retail Edna Webb - Heritage Park Historical Village

Best Host(ess)/Maitre d' Bruno Medeiros - Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel

Best Guest Service: Reservations/Travel Agent: Angela Turner - The Fairmont Palliser

Best Restaurant Support: Non-Server:  Nelson Prenda - The Fairmont Palliser

Best Customer Service: Airline/In-flight Service: Jody McLellan - WestJet

Best Back of House Nitin Parswani - Best Western PLUS Port O’Call Hotel

Best Cleaning Services Bayani Dionisio - The Westin Calgary

Best Server: Brasserie/Bistro Vivien Huang - Double Zero, Chinook

Best Ground Transportation Driver Michael Trigiani - Calgary Transit

Best Concierge/Bell Service Ron Blanco - Delta Calgary Airport In-Terminal Hotel

Best Customer Service: Transportation/Counter Check-in Agent: Itala Saraiva - Budget Calgary

Best Guest Service: Accommodation/Front Desk Agent: Akshay Diwe - The Westin Calgary

Best Spa, Esthetics & Wellness Provider Mia Ostojic - Stillwater Spa at Hyatt Regency Calgary

Best Bartender/Wine Steward Jenny Slanisky - Calgary Stampede

Best Customer Service: Attraction Carly Johansson - Calgary Zoo

Best Volunteer: Tourism and/or Hospitality Keith Rutherford - Calgary Stampede

Best Culinary Services Jodie Weber - Azuridge Estate Hotel

Doug Johnson Service Award Gail Ouellette - The Fairmont Palliser

Mayor's White Hat Award Suelin Richards - Calgary Stampede

White Hat of the Year: Accommodation Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel

White Hat of the Year: Attraction Calgary Zoo

White Hat of the Year: Festival/Event Honens Festival & Piano Competition

White Hat of the Year: Restaurant Yellow Door Bistro

Tourism Calgary