Spokane's Tourism Industry Stars Shine
2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards recipients


(Spokane, WA, May 13, 2011) - The standouts, stars and exceptional employees working in our regional tourism industry were recognized at the 2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards which were held Thursday, May 12 at the Doubletree Hotel Spokane City Center. While we celebrate outstanding individual employees in tourism based businesses, we also recognize organizations which exemplify innovation and create an impact in our region.

The 2011 Inland Northwest Tourism Awards Recipients:

Extraordinary Leadership in Tourism Excellence Award (ELITE):

The recipient of this distinguished award is honored for their outstanding contributions to tourism in Spokane through a career-long commitment to our industry. The criteria for this award includes an individual who has continually exemplified excellence for at least 10 years, is regarded as someone who has made an outstanding impact on tourism and has been involved in pioneering or ground-breaking efforts to advance tourism. The 2011 ELITE recipient is:

  • Rick Steltenpohl, Executive Director for Spokane Hoopfest Association

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Pacific Northwest Inlander

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

  • Walters Fruit Ranch

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

  • Kalico Kitchen

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

  • 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.

  • Polly Shanks, Doubletree Hotel Spokane City Center

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

  • Carri Davidson, Spencer's for Steaks & Chops  

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.

  • 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.

  • Victoria Ferro, Audrey's Boutique

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.

  • 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. 

  • John Hall, Northern Quest Resort & Casino

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. 

  • Paula Nelson, Holiday Inn Express Coeur d'Alene

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.

  • Elizabeth Mills, River Park Square

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

The Judges

The finalists and recipients 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
Gibby Media Group
The Onion
and Frank's Diner

Destination Travel Network and Travel Leaders

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