Back in person after a three-year hiatus, Tourism Calgary’s 60th annual White Hat Awards put on an evening with all of the glitz and glamour of the Oscars, befitting of Calgary’s hospitality industry.
The awards recognized some of Calgary’s top tourism and hospitality industry professionals, along with Calgarians in adjacent non-profit and City of Calgary departments that make the city live up to the moniker of the “ultimate host city.”
“We’re just so happy to finally be able to gather as an industry again, and celebrate,” said Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary.
“The one thing about Calgary is that it is a tremendous host. We call ourselves the ultimate hosts, and everyone that’s ever come says ‘you know you’re actually a friendly city. Lots of people say they’re friendly. You really are.'”
The evening awarded white hats to 22 members of the tourism community, representing organizations from the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo, Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation, and Telus SPARK Science Centre among others.
Ady said the importance of the White Hat Awards was recognizing that it’s people that make the tourism industry in the city work.
“The reality is if you look at a hotel or you look at a venue, they’re just a building. It’s the people inside that bring them to life, and it’s how they treat guests what they do with them when they’re here,” she said.
Emotional night that celebrated new winners, and the winners who didn’t get to walk the stage
The 60th annual awards began with a video that highlighted the in-person awards given to winners during the pandemic. At the close, all of the winners from the 58th annual awards who were unable to have their own gala night due to the pandemic, took to the stage.
“We were ready in 2019. We already had the winners ready and the pandemic hit. So we had to go out individually and give them their white hats,” said Ady.
“That was kind of sad, and people cried because they were being laid off at that moment. So to know that we’re back and that we can come together and celebrate again, and we don’t have to worry about restrictions, it’s a phenomenal feeling for an industry that really had a struggle.”
Councillor Terry Wong presented the Mayor’s White Hat Award on behalf of Mayor Jyoti Gondek while she represented the city in Toronto at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Annual Conference.
“It’s an honour to present the award on behalf of the Mayor. I have a lot of friends and associates who are in this industry, and they’re all sitting there going, can we catch up? Can you take a picture with us?” Coun. Wong said.
“It’s about the people that we all know who are in this industry, and we want to be there to celebrate with them.”
He said that the awards were a way, a needed way, to recognize the contributions of the tourism industry during Covid.
“Our hospitality, our restaurant, hotel industry have been a great godsend during those quiet times, we need to acknowledge that workers as well as the management that held us up,” Wong said.
An amazing way to put smiles on faces
Rick Tulsie, who, among other duties for the Calgary Sport and Entertainment Corporation, serves as an enthusiastic tour guide for the Calgary Saddledome.
Tulsie, who was a previous winner of the Mayor’s White Hat Award, took home the award for exceptional service: Tour escort or guide.
“What a great way for the industry to meet all of us, everybody that provides amazing smiles and puts those great traditions out there,” he said.
“This is the Oscars of tourism in Calgary, and for me just to be here, honestly, tremendous, tremendous appreciation just to play with the future here of our tourism industry.”
More than 600 people were nominated by their industry peers, and more than 450 of those nominated attended the gala night at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.
Winners of the 60th annual White Hat Awards
|Joanne ter Harmsel||Exceptional Leader||Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo|
|Marvin Dollentas||Exceptional Server: Centre City||The Dorian, Autograph Collection|
|Joseph Lewin||Exceptional Service: Shopping||Modern Rentals|
|Anna Bassi||Exceptional Server: North||Hotel Clique Calgary Airport|
|Danielle Symington||Exceptional Service: Airport/ Airline||WestJet|
|Constantin Koster||Exceptional Service: Heart of House||Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation|
|Steve Clement||Exceptional Service: Volunteer Tourism/ Hospitality||Calgary Philharmonic|
|Jun Wang||Exceptional Service: Housekeeping||The Westin Calgary|
|Bjorn Heckenstaller||Exceptional Server: South||The Nash|
|Jim Wou||Exceptional Service: Driver||Concorde Airport Services|
|Susan Arthurs||Mayor’s White Hat Award (Honorary Award)||Calgary Stampede|
|Mark Doucet||Exceptional Service: Guest Relations||Hotel Arts|
|Eirin Bernie||Exceptional Service: Administration||TELUS Spark Science Centre|
|Judilyn Lucero||Exceptional Service: Reservations||Hyatt Regency Calgary|
|Henry Mai||Exceptional Service: Accommodation Reception||Alt Calgary East Village|
|Chris Toth||Exceptional Server: Banquets/Events||The Fairmont Palliser|
|Andy Sevilla||Exceptional Service: Beverage Specialist||Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel|
|Chloe Hahn||Exceptional Service: Attractions||Bow Habitat Station|
|Stan Lee||Exceptional Service: Non-Server||Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation|
|Rick Tulsie||Exceptional Service: Tour Escort/Guide||Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation|
|Linda Craig||Doug Johnson Service Award (Honorary Award)||The Westley Hotel Calgary Downtown|
|Yra Yerro||Exceptional Service: Culinary||Century Downs Racetrack and Casino|