Recognizing the Best in the Business
2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards finalists


(Spokane, WA, April 15, 2011) - The standouts, stars and exceptional employees working in our regional tourism industry will be recognized at the 2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards. Beyond individual employees, tourism based businesses as well as organizations which exemplify innovation and create an impact in our region will also be honored May 12, 2011.

But before the awards can be handed out, the finalists have to be unveiled. In addition, the CVB Board of Directors is proud to announce the 2011 Extraordinary Leadership in Tourism Excellence (ELITE) Award winner, Rick Steltenpohl, Executive Director for Spokane Hoopfest Association.

His roots are in accounting but his heart is in Hoopfest! Rick Steltenpohl has built Hoopfest into the world's largest three on three basketball tournament.  As a founding board member and officer of Hoopfest, Rick was heavily involved in the birth of the tournament in 1990. Rick, his staff, Hoopfest board members and his 3,000 volunteers are responsible for Hoopfest's most successful year in 2010 with close to 7,000 teams and more than 200,000 players and fans.

Hoopfest also gives back to the community with $110,000 donated to various local charities in 2010.  Since the inception of Hoopfest, $1.3 million dollars has been generously donated by the organization. A particular emphasis has been given to Special Olympics of Washington and local programs that support basketball for children. To date, Hoopfest has built and renovated close to 30 neighborhood basketball courts across the Spokane region.

Rick is a CPA-Inactive and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Michigan State University. Rick was also a member of the Leadership Spokane class of 1997 and in 1998 received the Certificate of Excellence award from the Spokane Regional Sports Commission.

Rick is proud to be one of the 67 people who have played in the Spokane Hoopfest tournament each of its 21 years. The community is proud to call Hoopfest one of Spokane's crown jewel events and Hoopfest's success is due to Rick and his steadfast leadership!

The 2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards Finalists

BUSINESS AWARDS: These awards recognize businesses and events that differentiate themselves by providing exceptional service, anticipating their customer's needs and consistently exceeding expectations.

Festivals & Events - recognizes a hallmark festival or event that creates substantial economic impact within the local community, attracts visitors from outside our county, generates regional and national media attention and positively promotes the Inland Northwest.

  • First Night Spokane 
  • 2010 Inland Northwest Skyfest Air Show
  • Spokane Lilac Festival

Attraction - recognizes a year round attraction including nontraditional outdoor recreational opportunities in our area. These locations should primarily market to visitors and contribute to an outstanding tourism experience within the region.

  • Friends of the Centennial Trail
  • Mobius Kids Children's Museum
  • Silver Mountain Resort

Spirit of the Inland Northwest - recognizes an outstanding business or organization that exemplifies innovation, creates an impact and causes our region to shine.

  • Dress for Success Inland Northwest
  • The Pacific Northwest Inlander
  • Rockin' B Ranch Dinner Shows

In the Bag - recognizes a retailer that provides an outstanding shopping experience for our visitors.

  • Boo Radley's
  • Vino! A Wine Shop
  • Walters Fruit Ranch

Exceptional Diners, Drive-ins & Dives - recognizes a restaurant offering a casual dining atmosphere that provides an outstanding experience for visitors.

  • David's Pizza
  • Kalico Kitchen
  • Tomato Street

Top Table - recognizes an upscale, full service restaurant that provides an outstanding dining experience for visitors.

  • Clinkerdagger
  • Italian Kitchen
  • Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS: These awards recognize frontline individuals who consistently deliver warm, friendly and helpful service, exceed expectations, anticipate the customer's needs and have received written or verbal feedback about their exceptional service from their colleagues, supervisors or their customers.

White Glove - recognizes exceptional service from an individual hotel housekeeping staff member.

  • Glenda Bremer, Northern Quest Resort & Casino
  • Claudia Hernandez, Red Lion Hotel at the Park
  • Polly Shanks, Doubletree Hotel Spokane City Center

Silver Spoon - recognizes consistent superior service by a restaurant or food service employee.

  • Rachel Coski, Brews Bros Espresso Lounge
  • Carri Davidson, Spencer's for Steaks & Chops
  • Lynn Hawthorne, Northern Quest Resort & Casino  

Superior Service - recognizes excellent customer service by an individual who has first contact with the public. Front desk personnel, concierges and all other guest service employees qualify.

  • Robert Holcomb, The Davenport Hotel and Tower
  • JoAnn Jenkins, City of Liberty Lake
  • Brandon Peterson, Holiday Inn Express Spokane Valley

Righteous Retail - recognizes excellent customer service from a retail sales person who has first contact with the public.

  • Amber Butler, Precision Pilates of Spokane
  • Victoria Ferro, Audrey's Boutique
  • Bill Wolf, Northwest Pony Express

Best Impression Meeting Sales - recognizes excellent customer service from an individual working in a hotel, meeting venue or business that serves the meeting & convention industry.

  • Rita Bucknell, Mirabeau Park Hotel & Convention Center
  • Scott Shellman, Framework Meetings & Destinations
  • Cheryl Sieveke, Quality Inn Valley Suites

On the Move - recognizes excellent customer service by an individual who is responsible for the transportation of the public including shuttle, cab, limo and other drivers. 

  • Gary Gooler, Northern Quest Resort & Casino
  • John Hall, Northern Quest Resort & Casino
  • William Weisgerber, The Davenport Hotel and Tower

Heart of the House - honors an outstanding individual who works behind the scenes to keep their institution, organization or business operating smoothly, creating a superior experience for the public. 

  • James Johnson, The Onion Bar & Grill Downtown
  • Paula Nelson, Holiday Inn Express Coeur d'Alene
  • Dave Randolph, Riverfront Park

Rising Star - recognizes an up and coming leader for their exceptional efforts to serve and enhance the experience of the public. Those individuals who have been in the tourism industry for 5 years or less qualify.

  • Rachel McNett, The Davenport Hotel and Tower
  • Elizabeth Mills, River Park Square
  • Heidi Stuhlmiller, Holiday Inn Express Downtown

Tourism Professional of the Year - recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to the tourism industry through more than a decade of innovation, inspiration and industry leadership.

  • Julie Cohen, Holiday Inn Express Spokane Valley
  • Chris Martin, First Night Spokane
  • Mike O'Brien, Holiday Inn Express Coeur d'Alene

Bring yourself and your co-workers and attend this inspiring event where you'll be energized by the outstanding tourism talent in the room as well as the businesses that cause our region to shine!  Follow this link and be a part of the 2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards Thursday, May 12, 2011, at the Doubletree Hotel Spokane City Center with the reception beginning at 3:30pm and the program beginning at 4:15pm. Call Brooklyn Branson for more details about the ceremony, 509.742.9382.

The Judges

The finalists, and ultimately the winners, were selected by a panel of judges who volunteered their time to pour over the nominations and select the best.

Business Award Judges

  •  Matt Gibson, Spokane Arena
  • Linda Hagen-Miller, Freelance Writer
  • Greg Lipsker, Barrister Winery
  • Elizabeth Mills, River Park Square
  • Rebecca Selby, Vandervert Development & Hotels 

Individual Award Judges

  • Ken Belisle, Landmark Restaurants
  • Wendi Haught, Framework Meetings & Destinations
  • Sonya Hutnik, Mirabeau Park Hotel & Convention Center
  • John Pederson, Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Dave Vahala, Travel Leaders


Venue and Reception Sponsor:



Premiere Sponsors:

Northern Quest E-News


Major Sponsors:

Red Lion Hotels Corporation
Spokane Masonic Center
The Onion and Frank's Diner


Libation Sponsors:
Arbor Crest Wine Cellars
Coeur d'Alene Brewing Co.