Annual Tourism Employee of the Year Awards Announced

Employee of the Year
September 28, 2015

St. Augustine, Fla. (Sept. 25, 2015) -- Employees in St. Johns County's hospitality and tourism industry were honored yesterday at the Visitors and Convention Bureau's annual meeting. Top awards were given in five categories: lodging, attractions, restaurant, retail and government with 38 individuals recognized for their service in the tourism industry. 
Taking home the top award in the attractions category was Kathi Ellison, Ripley's Entertainment. Winning the lodging category was Shane Smith with Fairfield Inn & Suites. Ryan Murphy of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall took home the top award in the government category. The top award in retail went to Elvira Heller, Black Raven Ship Store. And Nina Britten, Sunset Grille, received the top award in the restaurant category.

Other nominees included: Joseph Abel, The Corazon Cinema & Café; Thomas Allen, Vernon's at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa; Carolyn Ashbaugh, Hilton Historic Bayfront; Neil Baker, DoubleTree by Hilton; Mary Ann Belyew, Ponte Vedra Lodge & Club; Dennis Bennett, Ponte Vedra Inn & Club; Ann Marie Boyer, Cedar House Inn Bed & Breakfast; Kelly Brooks, St. Francis Inn; Brendan Chamberlain, Red Train Tours; Josh Chizik, Ponte Vedra Beach Resorts; Julee Cooke, City of St. Augustine; Geofrey Espedido, Ponte Vedra Lodge & Club; Roberto Feliciano, Hilton Historic Bayfront; Kelly Fitzsimonds, Taberna del Caballo, Colonial Quarter; Dylan Goetz, Marineland Dolphin Adventure; Maggie Goller-Cornelison, DoubleTree by Hilton; Lina Hammond, St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park; Bobby Hayes III, Ponte Vedra Lodge & Club; Anita Henslin, Pearl of the Sea Luxury Bed & Breakfast; Larry Hession, St. Augustine Distillery; Nicole Hogeland, DoubleTree by Hilton; Aaron Jockers, Tasting Tours; Laura Johnson, Colonial Quarter; James Kimbrough, Old Town Trolley Tours; Victoria Kitts, Oak Room and Lounge, DoubleTree by Hilton; Josh Knutson, Marineland Dolphin Adventure; Mary Jo Lendering, Flagler College Legacy Tours; Robin Lousteau, Colonial Quarter; Daren Merich, Hilton Historic Bayfront; Lucia Miller, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ponte Vedra Visitors Center; Christine Miller, The Cozy Inn; Pamela Mullen, Hilton Historic Bayfront; Alison Nile, Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa; Nequita Pates, Beachers Lodge Oceanfront Suites; Pam Reed, Old Town Trolley Tours; Lisa Rose, City of St. Augustine Parking Facility; Marielena Scibelli, Howard Johnson Historic; Rebecca Skelly, Beachers Oceanfront Suites; Grace St. Clare, Black Raven Pirate Adventure; Keith Toomer, DoubleTree by Hilton; Renee Unsworth, Limelight Theatre; Jill Ursini, Beachers Lodge Oceanfront Suites; and Joe Wilhelm, DoubleTree by Hilton. 
Tourism is the largest industry in St. Johns County and supports more than 18,000 jobs. In 2014, there were 5.3 million visitors to Florida's Historic Coast.
Located midway between Daytona Beach and Jacksonville, Florida's Historic Coast includes historic St. Augustine, the outstanding golf and seaside elegance of Ponte Vedra Beach and 42 miles of pristine, Atlantic beaches. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the Nation founded in 1565. For more information on events, activities, holiday getaways and vacation opportunities in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau website at Become a fan on Facebook or call 1.800.653.2489.