Dutchess Tourism, Inc. (DTI) announced the recipients of the 2023 Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction, on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, N.Y. Twenty-one finalists in each of seven categories and the Mary Kay Vrba Spirit Award were highlighted for demonstrating industry excellence. In honor of the 10th Anniversary, current and former board chairs Kevin Allan, David Bova, Judy D'Alessandro, Denise VanBuren, Andrea Reynolds, DTI President & CEO Melaine Rottkamp, retired DTI President & CEO Mary Kay Vrba, and Dutchess County Executive Bill O’Neil announced the winners.
The Dutchess County Executive’s Award for Overall: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park
Finalists included: Brinckerhoff Inn, Fishkill and Four Brothers Drive-In, Amenia
Newcomer Award of Distinction: Tenmile Distillery, Wassaic
Finalists included: Foxtrot Farm & Flowers, Stanfordville and The Reclaimed Motel, Red Hook
Event Award of Distinction: The Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc., Beacon
Finalists included: Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders LLC, Fishkill and Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Tivoli
Collaboration Award of Distinction: Innisfree Garden, Millbrook
Finalists included: Denning's Point Distillery, Beacon and King's Court Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie
Storytelling Award of Distinction: The Art Effect at the Trolley Barn Gallery, Poughkeepsie
Finalists included: Clermont State Historic Site, Tivoli/Germantown and Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Red Hook
Accessible Hospitality Award of Distinction: Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Poughkeepsie
Finalists included: Hudson Valley Renegades @ Heritage Financial Park, Wappingers Falls and Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum, Poughkeepsie
Hospitality Service Award of Distinction: Valerie Barone, Bartender & Social Host, Joseph’s Italian Steakhouse, Hyde Park
Finalists included: Julio Rojas-Sacasa, Reception/Concierge at Troutbeck, Amenia and Sandy Tompkins, Front Desk Agent at Hampton Inn, Fishkill
Mary Kay Vrba Spirit Award Honoree: Judy Hannon, general manager of Revel 32°, Poughkeepsie
Vrba presented the award bearing her name to Hannon for demonstrating selflessness, service, inclusiveness and leadership. Hannon, a veteran in the hospitality industry, is known for her tremendous work ethic, unwavering dedication, and providing exceptional customer service. Vrba praised her for her commitment to collaboration and relationship building between her partners, colleagues and the community through her work at Revel 32°.
In her remarks, Rottkamp highlighted the growth and success of DTI’s role as Dutchess County’s designated destination marketing organization (DMO) over the past ten years. Visitor spending increased 46.6% from $481 million to $706 million with the average breaking down to $1.9 million spent by visitors per day on food and beverages, recreation, accommodations, retail and transportation. Occupancy tax collected by the county has more than doubled to $4.2 million. State and local taxes collected from visitors increased 45% to $88 million in net new money now coming into our county and state governments. Without that spending by visitors, Dutchess County residents would need to pay almost $800 more per household in taxes to make up the difference that funds things like improvements to roads and bridges, public safety, parks, youth programming and other services.
"Dutchess County needs to compete with every other destination for its fair share of visitor spending, investment and talent and the excellent work done by our team to leverage the power of destination development and promotion has become a catalyst for our community’s vitality,” said Rottkamp. “Investment in Dutchess Tourism by County government and the Dutchess County IDA continues to fuel the work we do and our vision to make Dutchess County the destination of choice for travelers from all over the world. With that investment, we have seen the powerhouse for economic development that tourism has become.”
Rottkamp also noted that the collective income of Dutchess employees working in the hospitality and tourism sector has grown 55%. Those wages also contribute to the local economy when those workers spend money on housing, groceries, clothing, transportation and services.
“We have highlighted twenty-one attractions and individuals across eight different categories who all deserve our appreciation for their dedication, spirit and commitment to making Dutchess the world-class destination it has become,” said Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil. "Dutchess County's tourism industry collectively is a community collaboration of more than 1,200 businesses and organizations, and more than 9,000 of our friends and neighbors working in the hospitality field. It's a vital driver of our economy, and the County's investment in Dutchess Tourism is an investment in our community's economic growth and success, ultimately enriching the quality of life for those who call this place home.
Attendees enjoyed a gourmet breakfast catered by Simply Gourmet featuring donated and locally sourced ingredients, including maple syrup from Soukup Farms, coffee from North River Roasters, tea from Harney & Sons Fine Teas and dairy products from Hudson Valley Fresh. The Awards of Distinction event was supported by diamond sponsors Changing Our World, iHeart Media of the Hudson Valley and Inn at Bellefield and platinum sponsors Central Hudson, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, and Nuvance Health