HVAB Awards Recognize Hospitality Industry Excellence



The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (HVAB) recently honored several local hospitality community standouts at the second annual Happy Valley Hospitality Awards. Nearly 200 tourism and hospi­tality employees and leaders attended the celebration at Titan Hollow in Belle­fonte, which recognized industry excel­lence in the local food and beverage, and lodging industries.

“All hospitality positions – from back- of-house support to customer facing and supervisory roles – are valuable to ensur­ing that visitors and residents have posi­tive dining, entertainment and lodging experiences,” said HVAB President and CEO Fritz Smith. “The Adventure Bureau launched the hospitality awards because we want those working in the industry to know that whatever their role, they are valued and appreciated.”

Six awards were presented: Excellence in Lodging Service; Excellence in Lodging Leadership; Excellence in Food & Bever­age Service; Excellence in Food & Bever­age Leadership; Community Favorite; and the Peter J. Walker Spirit of Hospital­ity Award.

An independent selection committee chose this year’s honorees from among the nominees in five of the categories. This included the new “Community Fa­vorite” award sponsored by Barash Me­dia, which invited the public to nominate their favorite bartender/server, or other food & beverage worker.

The HVAB selected the Peter J. Walker Spirit of Hospitality honoree. The award was named after the longtime, late man­ager of Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park, and exemplifies the traits that Pete brought to his role: leading by example with an incomparable work ethic; a commitment to serving others; and leaving a positive impact on those around him.

“We congratulate this year’s honorees, and we thank our nominees and all the hardworking individuals who work in hospitality and tourism – our restau­rants, lodging properties, event facilities and tourism attractions,” Smith said, not­ing that the awards will expand beyond lodging, and food & beverage next year to recognize those working in the entire tourism space.

“Visitation is growing,” he concluded. “People are interested in Happy Valley. We can’t invite leisure, sports, and busi­ness travelers to enjoy our beautiful communities and valleys without dedi­cated people to provide a positive expe­rience. To everyone who fills these roles, we say thank you. You are all stand outs.”

Additional event sponsors are Blink, 3Twenty9 Design and Hello Social Co.

2023 Happy Valley Hospitality award honorees:

Lodging Excellence in Leadership
Alissa Kujawski

General Manager
Country Inn & Suites
Lodging Excellence in Service
William “Billy” Hague
Breakfast Attendant/Houseman/Grounds Crew
Holiday Inn Express State College
Food & Beverage Excellence
in Leadership
Anne Bliss
Titan Hollow
Food & Beverage Excellence
in Service
Scott Shive
Kitchen Manager
The Corner Room
Community Favorite
Matt LeClair
814 Cider Works
Peter J. Walker Spirit of Hospitality
State College Downtown Improve­ment District Clean Team
Damian Cabrera
Joe Bellehumeur
Denny Barnhart

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