E Awards

2017 Winner Stories

2017 E Awards Winners

Summaries of 2017 E Awards category winners’ stories: 


Honor of Distinction Winner:  Dilya Gabdrkhmanova, Beachview Cottages

There are many good nominations today that exemplify the best in customer service, featuring those hospitality professionals who love their jobs, love the destination, but more importantly love people. And it shows in their service. We’re very proud of all our nominees. But the Honor of Distinction winners – they have something unique that drives them to perfection on the job while working with guests.  They are a step ahead, always anticipate a guest’s needs, and then act.              

Here’s why the 2017 Honor of Distinction winner’s consistent professionalism, focused dedication to the guest experience, and tireless work ethic is extraordinary: 

From a nominator from Missouri: “I’m a retired doctor and have been vacationing there for years. Your professional team, and especially Dilya, are wonderful. Last year I had major heart surgery, which left me in a wheelchair, but I came down for a vacation anyway. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did that and stayed at Dilya’s resort. She checked on me daily and made sure I had a good breakfast and didn’t forget my medications. She has a very unique talent in the way she understands and deals with the needs of each guest.” 

And from another in New York: “Dilya’s attention to detail and super-friendly can-do attitude makes our stay that much more special. I enjoyed talking with her each morning and her smile just lit up my day! She made us feel as though we are a part of her family and we won’t ever forget that. For us, she is a big part of our experience and we could not imagine coming to Sanibel and staying anywhere else.” 

From Wisconsin: “She’s a star who shines the brightest of any ever known. Her radiant smile, kind ways, and everlasting commitment to hard work show in everything she does.” 

From Indiana: “For us, coming back to Sanibel year after year to the same resort also holds equal joy because we see our nominee. Her kindness, genuine work ethic, and true connection to guests is exceptional.” 

And, finally, from New Hampshire: “Our nominee is a major part of our resort experience, which keeps us wanting to return again and again to Sanibel Island.”             


Accommodations Category Winner: Christopher Accinno, Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa 

This story sums up the essence of truly great service. Let me read this eloquent

nomination: “Elliot is a very bright eyed and energetic 7-year old boy who lives in Mason City, Idaho, with his parents and siblings. After a few weeks of illness, trips to the ER and treatments from local doctors, Elliot’s parents decided to get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic. They found a cancerous brain tumor in Elliot and it was discovered that it had also spread to his spine. Post-surgery, he began chemotherapy with a high risk of motor/behavioral impairments. After receiving treatment, the Make a Wish Foundation approached the family and wanted to make his biggest wish come true – to swim in sunny Florida. 

But Christopher is the sole reason that Elliot’s dreams came true at his resort. He and his colleagues welcomed Elliot with a big banner, gave him a VIP tour, and showed him the suite set up just for him. Christopher provided an incredible day in the water park, with a personal cabana poolside. He arranged special pastry treats and a personalized cake, plus also, based on Elliot’s favorite animal, worked with a local stable to provide a miniature horse so Elliot could ride around the courtyard. Seeing the enjoyment on his face was incredible. Christopher touched the hearts and souls of everyone involved with this adventure and he deserves to be recognized for dropping everything for a child that is truly deserving of such a wonderful day to honor him!”


Attractions Category Winner: Pete Cangialosi with Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve 

What a terrific ambassador to Lee County we have with this Pete. As the nominator said, “On two separate occasions Pete has helped visitors who have had a family member leave our attraction in an ambulance due to dehydration. 

The first time, Pete went to the hospital with the spouse and granddaughter to help keep them calm, as they had no family here. The second time, he helped the wife and three small children of a man also admitted, as they were from Germany and spoke little English. He took them back to their rental car, called the hospital and was able to find out where the husband was admitted, got them on the phone with each other, then provided more information to the family to help them. Great service!”


Restaurant Category Winner: Bess Charles, Lady Cakes Bakery 

This is a great story about a person who truly cares about others. 

“Bess often receives orders from out of state loved ones wanting to share her items with family members. On a recent day, like so many others, she received an order and created a beautiful birthday cake by request from an out of state customer. The cake was to be delivered to a local elderly recipient. Bess tried to contact her all day to confirm a delivery time but couldn’t reach her. She drove to the lady’s home to do a wellness check on the this elderly woman to make sure she was ok, which she was. 

But a friendship was born. Since that day, the lady now comes into the store every couple of weeks and, if a month goes by without seeing her, Bess calls her to make sure she’s feeling well. She even sometimes brings her goodies to keep her spirits high. This makes this sweet lady’s day. These situations happen frequently with Bess, who is a woman who is in love with life and helping others.” 



Transportation Category Winner: Mark Melnikoff, MBA Airport Transportation

Sometimes it’s the simple things that stand out, like in this story: “I want to thank Mark for his kindness, professionalism, and compassion. 

I flew into Fort Myers for a vacation but, upon arrival, noticed I was having major complications from a recent surgery. I didn’t know what to do. I asked Mark, who was at Ground Transportation about to drive me to my hotel, where the nearest medical facility was, then got in his car. As we drove off, he asked if I was ok, so I preceded to tell him what was happening. He took it upon himself to ask if he could take us to an Emergency Room instead and, since I had no idea what to do, said yes. Little did I know that I would be having surgery two hours later and would be admitted. 

Mark showed concern for me, without knowing the severity, and helped. He was patient and even offered to take my friend to the hotel to pick up our rental car. Most people would have let us out and rushed back to the next customer, but he showed genuine concern and for that I’m thankful. He is a true example of great character!”


Other Services/Businesses Category Winner: Veronica Martorelli, Bailey’s General Store

So many good stories from nominators from Virginia, Maine, and Florida camhe in about Veronica, such as: 

“When we walked in we were welcomed with the friendliest smile, and she was so very kind to our little dog, giving her so much love and attention, that we always come back to this business now to shop. An example—I had to create a restraint to keep my dog in the bike carrier, which was designed for children, not dachshunds, and her excellent suggestions for hardware to use, plus how she helped me, made the difference. She also helped put air in my bike tire and, on more than one occasion, has been a lifesaver. She’s always upbeat and brightens up the rainiest days. She is professional and knowledgeable about everything the store carries and knows exactly where items are. She deserves this award because she has demonstrated, in countless ways, her dedication to helping all her customers.” 

From another nominator: “She always has a smile for us when we shop and makes us feel like part of the family. She’s always helpful and caring and we always look for her when shopping.” 

And one more nominator: “I needed a handyman recommendation, as I’m from Wisconsin, and called on a whim. Well, she came through with a recommendation that’s perfect!” 

One final nominator said, “She is an angel. SHE makes our island the special place it is.” 


Good Samaritan Category Winner: Matthew MacDonald, Holiday Inn Express & Suites at the Forum

It’s always wonderful to hear about the many good things that tourism professionals do to help others, like this poignant story: 

“There was an unfortunate domestic incident at the entrance to our property that Matthew overheard, involving an altercation between two individuals. Through quick thinking, as well as deep regard for the lady’s personal well-being, he selflessly stepped into the middle of it and prevented any further abuse from the offender to the woman. Although he received minor injuries and had to have medical treatment due to trying to stop what was happening, he returned to work without missing any time. He continued to express nothing but concern for the lady, as well as what had happened during her unfortunate incident. He is truly a hero in our eyes and although what happened is never an experience anyone wants to witness or be involved in, he deserved to be commended for doing the right thing for the greater good of our community.”


Best Tourism Boss: Kari Cordisco, Sanibel Moorings Resort

It’s hard to pick one nominee out of so many that represents the Best of the Best when it comes to bosses. Great leadership, sound judgment, unquestionable support of their team—these are just a few of the traits that kept rising to the top with this winner. 

Nominations came in about many, many good bosses -- from housekeeping supervisors to front desk managers to general managers and more -- that we were reminded once again that these leaders are exemplary role models and mentors to our front line. They model good service and ‘walk the walk’ with their teams. They back them up, teach, cover for them, lead by example, listen well, guide and protect, share the praise and take the heat if something goes wrong. They help all of you become leaders in your fields so that you keep growing within your organization, so that one day you find YOU are helping those coming up behind YOU. 

That’s what good leaders do. Nurture, encourage, lead by example, guide, and practice the true meaning of servant leadership. At the discretion of the VCB based on these attributes, nominations, and more, the Best Tourism Boss winner is chosen and personifies these essential qualities. 

Here’s a few good reasons about why this year’s winner was chosen—

Running a property is no easy job. Not only do you have to provide exceptional customer service to guests but to owners as well. Often their wants and desires are mutually exclusive…yet this nominee seems to consistently make everyone happy.

Wears many hats and wears each well.

Never fails to remember staff member birthdays and special events in their lives.

Knows when to give an ‘atta boy’ at the right time.

Our biggest cheerleader.

Honestly cares for the team and will help however needed.

Because of this person, the property is beautiful, the condos exceptional, our reputation stellar...the owners are delighted and our occupancy speaks to all of it. These are the fruits of a well run entity with an exceptional boss at the helm!