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NM hospitality industry honors its best during “Top HAT” gala

The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized for its "Fly to Sunshine" digital advertising during the inaugural Top HAT Awards Gala. (Courtesy of ACVB)

The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau was recognized for its “Fly to Sunshine” digital advertising during the inaugural Top HAT Awards Gala. (Courtesy of ACVB)

SANTA FE, N.M. — La Fonda on the Plaza and TOURISM Santa Fe were among the big winners at the inaugural Top HAT Awards Gala put on by the New Mexico Hospitality Association.

Each of them won multiple awards during the event — subtitled “Rising Stars of New Mexico TRUE — held Tuesday night at the Sheraton Uptown in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque organizations also picked up some awards, including the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau for its digital advertising efforts and Hotel Andaluz for its chef de cuisine, Ryan Numair.

The Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association selected the winners in each category from a list of nominees.

“Our people have heart and are treasured,” Jen Schroer, president and CEO of the hospitality association, said in a news release. “Every person that works in hospitality has such an important role in enhancing the visitor experience and making new Mexico a premiere tourism destination.”

The full list of winners is:

  • Front-of-the-House hospitality: Ruben Marquez, assistant bell captain at La Fonda on the Plaza
  • Front-of-the-house food and beverage: Andrew Garcia, assistant dining room manager for La Fonda on the Plaza
  • Back-of-the-house hospitality: Mat Bolinger, director of operations for Spectra/Santa Ana Star Center
  • Back-of-the-house food and beverage: Ryan Numair, chef de cuisine at Hotel Andaluz
  • Outstanding event: TOURISM Santa Fe for the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta
  • Outstanding attraction: La Fonda on the Plaza for La Fonda Detours, its docent art and history tours
  • Best print advertising: Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau for the Las Cruces Country Music Festival
  • Best digital advertising: Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau for “Fly to Sunshine”
  • Best broadcast advertising: TOURISM Santa Fe for The Bachelor in Santa Fe & Northern New Mexico
  • Most innovative advertising: Eldorado Hotel & Spa for the new lobby lounge naming contest
  • Tourism professional of the year: Georgia Strickfaden, owner/operator of Buffalo Tours
  • Hospitality professional of the year: Rafael Avalos, director of housekeeping for Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder

The New Mexico Hospitality Association was created earlier this year following a merger of the Tourism Association of New Mexico and the New Mexico Lodgers Association.

Proceeds from the inaugural gala will go to the newly established Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Fund powered by the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

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