2018 Top Hat Finalists – Premier

Supplier-Vendor of the Year

Joe’s Pasta House

Rio Rancho

Joe and KC Guzzardi , the owners of Joe’s Pasta House, and their entire staff are charming and welcoming host to visitors and local community members alike. They market their state, community, and product genuinely. Serving the Rio Rancho & Albuquerque area for over 12 years; Joe’s Pasta House proudly shares traditional Italian American cuisine created with immigration recipes; taught to Joe while growing up in his grandmother’s kitchen. Once a month, Joe’s Pasta House hosts a fundraiser dinner for a local non-profit and 100% of the proceeds go to that entity. This has been a long standing tradition of the Guzzardi Family. In addition, they are generous with donations and active with community engagement activities. Joe and KC care about New Mexico overall. Joe’s is acutely focused on customer service and quality food. They spearhead the local effort for their fellow restaurateurs to do the same. They pay attention to their customers and their reviews, they respond to every single one as well! This speaks volumes of their commitment to offer a resident or tourist, exceptional service.

Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals, Inc.


As a small, locally-owned business headquartered in Old Town Albuquerque Routes is dedicated to creating and promoting active tourism opportunities that showcase our state’s natural beauty, culture, and heritage in a unique way. Routes is positioned to help the state’s tourism economy / marketing as a whole; when the tourism sector succeeds & grows, everyone benefits. To further this effort, Routes is also closely involved with Visit Albuquerque and the New Mexico Tourism Department, and the owners have been involved in multiple community forums, “travel tanks”, and events to help benefit the economy as a whole. Routes believes cycling is a healthy and amazing way for locals and visitors to experience New Mexico, and that their products (and bicycles) ultimately make people happy on a basic level. As such, their corporate philanthropy and volunteerism is focused on three main areas: (1) improving cycling infrastructure & cleaning/help improve local trails; (2) helping people get on bikes / ride who would not otherwise be able to, either financially or physically; and (3) leveraging their unique products and vendor relationships to raise money for local non-profits and tourism-related organizations via silent auctions, unique hospitality packages

Simply Social Media

Santa Fe

Simply Social Media helps promote the diversity, beauty, and one-of-a-kind businesses, organizations, and locations throughout New Mexico through their macro-influencer platforms @SimplySantaFeNM and @TravelNewMexico by daily posting as well as producing unique influencer marketing events such as InstaMeets and Photo Contests. Through these exclusive opportunities, locals are encouraged to experience an unknown place while helping promote it through their social media platforms. The peer-to-peer endorsements of regional experiences has inspired travel throughout the state by tourists and locals alike. They encourage and inspire the social media community to connect in real life through their various events while also producing visual assets that can be used to further exemplify the unique people and places of New Mexico. They also frequently provide training and workshop opportunities, both private and public, in order to help the local and regional business and tourism communities more effectively market through social media. In addition, they provide social media marketing support pro bono to at least one campaign per year.

Hospitality Professional of the Year

Damen Kompanowski

Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown Hotel
Position: General Manager

Damen is a very involved general manager. He has served on the following Boards as member and Chairman, such as: VisitABQ, Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association, and City of Albuquerque Lodgers Tax Advisory Board as well as a member of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Academy for Cancer Wellness in Tucson, AZ. He heads up our Hotel’s involvement with our neighborhood community in annual neighborhood clean ups as well as our Halloween partnership; a public event with a charity of choice selected each year. Damen has been a mover and a shaker on any of the committees he works on. He also participates on the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association Golf Tournament that raises money for Hospitality Scholarships in New Mexico. His involvement on the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board has provided meaningful direction in how our Lodger’s Tax money is distributed to better our tourism/convention community.

David Kohler

Sandia Resort and Casino
Position: Director of Food and Beverage

David Kohler joined Sandia Resort and Casino in 2011 with 28 years of prior international food and beverage/hospitality experience. He brought to Sandia a global experience and international food and wine menus. His seasoned knowledge has found a long term home in Albuquerque at the Pueblo of Sandia. With six restaurants and four bars, David manages a team of 482 hospitality professionals who serve an average of 80,000 guests monthly. David likes to say that “Everything Communicates”. He has created a culture for his team that focuses on solutions through research and communication. His phrase, “Everything Communicates”, not only emphasizes the importance of working effectively through verbal communication, but reminds employees to challenge themselves by also being aware of how they represent the facility through non-verbal specifics. From maintaining public and back-of-house areas, to monitoring employee dress code, to menu creativity, to food presentation.

Joani Jones

Crowne Plaza Albuquerque
Position: Director of Sales

Joani has been the instrumental force behind the accelerated growth for both the Crowne Plaza and Fairfield Inn. Large growth in occupancy and consistent growth in customer base has been the driving force in our 2018 success. Her constant dedication to the Hotels, its clients, the community and the industry have proven second to none. Joani has a kind and caring nature that draws people to her for both work and companionship. Her professional demeanor is a great example for anyone in the Hospitality industry to follow. She is always meeting and greeting guests and willing to assist them no matter what with anything that should arise. Joani attends all of the new hire orientations and emphasizes to the new staff the importance of great guest service. Along with being the member of several industry related boards, she is also the founder and driving force behind the Hospitality Games. The Hospitality Games provide a great sense of community between hotels in the area, develop a great team working experience between managers and line level employees from multiple hotels. The drive to put on the Games is a example of dedication to the industry as a whole instead of a property individually. In its 9th year, all proceeds go to benefit the Greater Albuquerque Innkeepers Association Scholarship fund.

Jourdan Elterman

Lodge at Santa Fe
Position: Revenue Manager – Lodge Collection

As the Revenue Manager for the Lodge Collection, Jourdan always ensures that every leader is clear about all measures of revenue and customer satisfaction –– while being prepared with new ideas and strategies about how best to exceed goals with particular relevance to levels of service. Through seven months in 2018, Jourdan has been instrumental in realizing a

room revenue increase of 10% year-over-year for the Lodge Collection, an increase of 15% for the Lodge at Santa Fe in particular..On a weekly basis, Jourdan collaborates with each leader of the properties included in the Lodge Collection to discuss opportunities to increase revenue and elevate the guest experience.

Mark Mares

Eldorado Hotel & Spa
Position: Senior Sales Manager

Since joining Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Mark has enthusiastically promoted New Mexico, Santa Fe, and the hotel in over 26 national tradeshows and numerous sales calls. He has been a MPI Chicago Chapter Marketing & Communications Member since 2011, and is responsible handling all the social media postings for the chapter. In addition to being a member Mark manages the chapter’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms as required and produces the bi- weekly eNewsletter, Conversations+Connections. Mark enthusiastically promotes hotel with welcoming presence, goes above and beyond to ensure catering/servicing and hosting is taken care of.

Robin Henry

Hotel Chaco
Position: Associate Director of Sales

Robin is a top sales associate for Heritage Hotels and Resorts. She continually achieves her weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual productivity goals. She has also helped to provide financial stability to a brand new property. Not only is Robin a leader withing the hotel, she has become the go to sales associate in the film industry.

Robin always goes above and beyond for every guest. Robin will go as far as taking guests to Chaco Canyon to enhance the guest experience and connection to the hotel that was inspired by the historic site. Robin travels nationally representing New Mexico and Hotel Chaco. She travels to Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Denver telling the story of Heritage Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Chaco, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Chaco Canyon.

Tourism Professional of the Year

Anthony Magdalena

Pueblo of Jemez Walatowa Welcome Center
Position: Staff Lead

Anthony organizes and carries out hiking tours of the Red Rocks in the Jemez Valley, Eduventure tours for large groups that offer arts experiences and a local lunch, and classes on arts at the Welcome Center. He also provides building maintenance support, successful grant-writing, and photography skills to the organization. He is a charming and welcoming host to visitors and local community members alike! The Center has brought in approximately 600 visitors for Eduventure tours. Because of a new successful grant, 4 courses in several arts have been offered at the Center in 2018 with 6-10 classes each. Each class supports local artisans as well as enriching the local community. Anthony ensures that the Walatowa Welcome Center tells the story of the Jemez Pueblo community in their own voice. They have well-traveled Pueblo community members that work at the Center, books and art for sale created by community members, and information about the Pueblo past, present, and future, the Jemez Mountains, and the Jemez land.

Bill Lee

Gallup McKinley County Chamber of Commerce
Position: Executive Director

Bill Lee is the Executive Director of the Gallup McKinley County Chamber of Commerce, he’s a county commissioner in McKinley County. He also is a member of the Gallup Rotary Club, the Gallup Masons. Bill’s history and knowledge of Gallup have been instrumental as the tourism products of Gallup have increased in development over the past few years. Bill has been one of only a handful of people to lead the charge with regards to tourism as an economic driver within the Gallup community. He has leveraged his role as the chamber director with his time as a county commissioner in McKinley County to ensure that there is a focus on business promotion not just within Gallup but on a larger scale that benefits the community as a whole. In his role as the Chamber director he assists in execution of marketing for the City of Gallup and has used his considerable skill to negotiate a contract with Horizon publishing that got Gallup coverage on digital billboards in Toronto and Times Square, as well as in an advertising insert nationwide in Horizon Magazine in the Wall Street Journal.

John Feins

Meow Wolf
Position: Director of Marketing

John is on the Santa Fe Economic Development Committee and Santa Fe Economic Development Review Committee, where among other things, he has begun encouraging the city to work more closely with visiting conference groups to provide a more 360 degree experience of New Mexico by partnering with cultural, humanities and economic groups for added value to their experiences. As a part of the new Emerging Medial Alliance, working primarily in communications and marketing but also to position Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico as a global nexus of Arts, Sciences, Technology and Humanities. John has directed a lot of carefully targeted and tracked marketing dollars into the drive market, but also into select markets in the west, playing an even larger role in attracting visitors to Santa Fe. While avidly adopting a concierge role, John and Meow Wolf routinely publish information about the region and the state as part of their own awareness efforts.

Limited Service Hotel of the Year

Comfort Suites Gallup


The Comfort Suites in Gallup has been the leader in their community for almost 10 years. They have received more awards and have had more stories written about their hotel than any other hotel in Gallup. The Comfort Suites has dedicated themselves 100% to not only providing the best customer service, but honoring all those who have worn the uniform of our country or are still wearing the uniform of our country and their families. The Gallup community knows that the Comfort Suites is always there to support local events and they know that Comfort Suites is the hotel to use when they have either business associates or family members here. A few years ago when business started taking off for the Comfort Suites Gallup many of the local restaurants and shopping industries wanted to be a part of this boom that was created. They have worked directly with many of the local restaurants and shopping in the downtown area to direct guests to them. Their goal is to ensure all guests have the most unforgettable lodging experience and will always want to return.

Hampton Inn Deming


The Hampton Inn – Deming actively supporting local events and sponsoring organizations that have a mission to increase visitors to the area and Deming. The general manager, John Richmond, pursues as many opportunities as possible for the hotel to support and assist with the events. The concept of getting people to the area, and to the state, is foremost. The hotel strives to contribute and bring interested, and interesting, people to celebrate southern New Mexico with everything there is to offer in this part of the state. John is active with the local Chamber of Commerce and is on the lodger’s tax committee (Tourism Development Committee), as well as other local civic organizations. The hotel was a sponsor for the Great American Duck Race in Deming for years. At our recent Fall General Managers’ Conference held in Deming, John spearheaded a project to create 600 hygiene kits to donate to local shelters and community service organizations. Being in a central location along Interstate 10, Hampton Inn – Deming has a great amount of guests stopping for a one night stay on their way through the southern part of our state. By providing the highest level of service, as noted by being #1 on TripAdvisor and rewarded as the top Hampton Inn in New Mexico by Hilton, the Hampton Inn – Deming has given visitors to our state a top experience and impression of New Mexico.

Full Service Hotel of the Year

Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado

Santa Fe

The Four Seasons Rancho Encantado has been an active part of the Santa Fe community for many years, bringing tens of thousands of first time and seasoned repeat visitors to the destination every year. As the lead sponsor of the Santa Fe Opera Opening Night the resort plays host to so many of the Opera’s most distinguished guests, further solidifying Santa Fe as a destination for luxury, arts and world class culture. The resort is a haven of peace and tranquility that showcases the wonders that Santa Fe, and New Mexico as a whole has to offer. The resort draws tens of thousands of visitors a year, many return visitors that have developed a deep relationship with the property and the destination as a whole. The Four Seasons brand has its own gravitas and authority that embraces luxury and unparalleled service, and has translated its brand culture into the resort, this in turn has allowed countless fans of the brand to discover the destination as one that they may never have considered before.

Hotel Andaluz


Hotel Andaluz is an historic hotel of America and is part of the history of Albuquerque. The hotel opened in 1939 and was the 4th hotel ever built by Conrad Hilton. Hotel Andaluz is through and through Albuquerque’s hotel with a deep rich history and has set the bar for hospitality. The hotel is also a destination for entertainment with multiple options for musical entertainment every Thursday-Saturday year round. Hotel Andaluz consistently is advertising in ABQ feeder markets to bring business not only to the hotel but to ABQ. Hotel Andaluz is very involved in the community. The hotel gives to donations to over 100 local charities/non profits per year. Hotel Andaluz provides a product that is NM True. We have tremendous pride in NM heritage and the hotel is woven into the history of ABQ and the state. The hotel provides a culinary experience that is one of a kind and the hotel has itself become a destination for travelers to experience its rich history.

Sandia Resort & Casino


The Sandia Resort and Casino has undergone extensive developments to its property to provide a truly all-inclusive and luxurious experience for visitors. Owned and operated by the Pueblo of Sandia, it was the very first Indian casino in New Mexico at its opening. Now there are approximately 25 tribal casinos in the state, including Sandia. The Vegas-style casino floor measuring at 140,000sq.ft. is only the tip of the iceberg in regards to all that Sandia Casino has to offer. With the addition of the hotel in 2005, and another expansion in 2014 to add the golf pavilion and parking garage, Sandia Resort & Casino slowly became much more than just a place to game. Now visitors from all over the nation and New Mexicans looking for a place to get away. Sandia Resort & Casino’s Sponsorship/Donation Program through Sandia Pueblo gives back to the community through various donations. The Sandia Golf Club sponsors approximately 70 tournaments each year, giving back to education, youth programs and other charities. Sandia also supports the Albuquerque Area by employing over 2000 people.

Sunrise Springs Spa Resort

Santa Fe

Sunrise Springs is the only destination wellness and experiential spa resort in the state, representing a booming trend in our industry nationwide and giving New Mexico a gateway to this niche market. Sunrise Springs proudly represent the diversity of culture in our state with our Experiential Programming. Sunrise Springs supports the local community in several different ways. They support the Assistance Dogs of the West by giving a sponsorship of $25,000 and providing space for training puppies at the resort. Assistance Dogs of the West (ADW) builds successful working partnerships between clients and dogs that empower people and open doors to new opportunities. Since July 2018 Sunrise Springs has donated a value of $25,000 in kind donations to New Mexico Charities and $10,000 in in kind donations to Educational Institutes. In addition, Sunrise Springs sponsors our neighborhood community, the La Cienega Valley Association. They have also adopted Los Pinos Road and do bi-annual clean ups.

The Blake at Taos Ski Valley

Taos Ski Valley

This was The Blake’s first full year in business and they brought over 4000 new visitors to the area. The Blake has opened Taos Ski Valley and the rest of Northern New Mexico to a specific market looking for a LEED Certified luxury hotel. They have helped increase the average spent by guests thanks to our higher-end services and hotel rooms. They have also seen guests returning to the area for the first time in a decade thanks to the upgraded amenities and offers. The Blake is the first step to move Taos Ski Valley toward being a four-season resort. This in turn helps local businesses flourish outside of the winter months. In February 2017, Taos Ski Valley became the world’s first (and currently only) ski resort to become a certified B Corp. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Their main focus this year has been to put together a list of local experiences that guests can enjoy in the spring, summer and fall that will ensure they not only experience the hotel but also the rest of the Taos area.