Dutchess Tourism, Inc. (DTI) will celebrate the 10th annual Awards of Distinction event on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at The Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, N.Y. The official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Dutchess County will announce the winners in several categories and recognize tourism-related businesses—hotels, restaurants, attractions and experiences—that are making significant contributions to Dutchess County as a vibrant destination in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The Mary Kay Vrba Spirit Award honoree, Judy Hannon, is being recognized as a tourism professional who has demonstrated selflessness, service, inclusiveness and leadership — qualities embodied by Mary Kay Vrba, former president and CEO of DTI. Hannon is the general manager of Revel 32°, a Poughkeepsie-based event space. Hannon, a longtime champion for Dutchess Tourism, is being praised by the community for her unwavering hard work, dedication, and commitment to providing exceptional customer service.

Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil congratulated the honorees:

“Dutchess County is truly honored to celebrate the dedication and excellence of this year’s Awards of Distinction finalists. Their unwavering commitment to enhancing tourism in our county not only elevates our region but also showcases the remarkable experiences and attractions we have to offer.”

In celebration of the 10th anniversary, new categories have been introduced—Newcomer, Events, Storytelling, and Collaboration and winners will be announced by current and former Dutchess Tourism Board Chairs. Each finalist is highlighted in featured articles on DTI’s website.

Dutchess County Executive’s Award for Overall Distinction

The Dutchess County Executive’s Award for Overall Distinction recognizes businesses and organizations that have continued to grow, innovate or make other significant investments that make our county a destination that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. The finalists are:

  • Brinckerhoff Inn, Fishkill
  • Four Brothers Drive-In, Amenia
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park

Newcomer Award of Distinction

Each nominee for the Newcomer Award of Distinction must be a tourism-related business or attraction that opened between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2022 and is located in Dutchess County. While newly opened, these nominees are already making quite an impression on our visitors and community. The finalists are:

  • Foxtrot Farm & Flowers, Stanfordville
  • The Reclaimed Motel, Red Hook
  • Tenmile Distillery, Wassaic

Event Award of Distinction

Nominees for the Event Award of Distinction hosted events that occurred in Dutchess County that brought in visitors through creative, engaging and entertaining experiences and made a positive impact on the tourism economy. These events hosted by these organizations exemplified the very best of what Dutchess County has to offer to its visitors. The finalists are:

  • The Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc., Beacon
  • Boutique Wines, Spirits and Ciders LLC, Fishkill
  • Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Tivoli

Collaboration Award of Distinction

Nominees for the Collaboration Award of Distinction are businesses in Dutchess County that have worked together with other local businesses and/or community partners through unique partnerships, integrating products and ingredients or bringing to life an interesting theme to significantly drive tourism to the area and strengthen their businesses. These collaborative endeavors highlight Dutchess County's continuing efforts to present new and exciting events, attractions and locally made products that keep visitors coming back again and again. The finalists are:

  • Denning's Point Distillery, Beacon
  • Innisfree Garden, Millbrook
  • King's Court Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie

Storytelling Award of Distinction

Nominees for the Storytelling Award of Distinction have demonstrated a unique perspective and ability to connect with visitors when sharing the site’s history, heritage and culture.

  • The Art Effect at the Trolley Barn Gallery, Poughkeepsie
  • Clermont State Historic Site, Tivoli/Germantown
  • Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Red Hook

Accessible Hospitality Award of Distinction

The Accessible Hospitality Award of Distinction is awarded to a lodging property, restaurant, attraction or event that goes above and beyond standard Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance to create accessible, supportive and inclusive environments for travelers of all abilities. The finalists are:

  • Bardavon 1869 Opera House, Poughkeepsie
  • Hudson Valley Renegades @ Heritage Financial Park, Wappingers Falls
  • Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum, Poughkeepsie

Hospitality Service Award of Distinction

The Hospitality Service Award of Distinction honors an individual front-line customer service staff member who consistently provides exceptional service to visitors. The finalists are:

  • Valerie Barone, Bartender & Social Host, Joseph’s Italian Steakhouse, Hyde Park
  • Julio Rojas-Sacasa, Reception/Concierge at Troutbeck, Amenia
  • Sandy Tompkins, Front Desk Agent at Hampton Inn, Fishkill

Dutchess Tourism President and CEO Melaine Rottkamp said,

Congratulations and thanks to the 22 outstanding tourism-related businesses, organizations and individuals for their exceptional contributions to making Dutchess County a premier destination for visitors from around the world. We look forward to celebrating our tourism and hospitality industry on November 1st and honoring Judy and all the finalists. We continue to see tremendous growth in Dutchess County’s tourism economy where a record $706 million was spent by visitors here in 2022 putting an exclamation point on our collective successful efforts.”

The community is invited to attend and can purchase tickets for the Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction breakfast event at www.DutchessTourism.com/awards. Reservations are required. Attendees will enjoy a breakfast catered by Simply Gourmet featuring donated and locally sourced ingredients, including maple syrup from Soukup Farms, coffee from North River Roasters, and dairy products donated by Hudson Valley Fresh.

Drawing tickets are also being sold online for a chance to win one of several prize packages, including one food enthusiast class at The Culinary Institute of America, a pair of tickets to Mount Gulian Historic Site’s Annual Historic Dinner Event, and four tickets for Season 66 at County Players Falls Theatre. In-person attendance is not required to win.

The Awards of Distinction event is supported by diamond sponsors Changing Our World and Inn at Bellefield and platinum sponsors Central Hudson, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Millbrook Vineyards & Winery, and Nuvance Health. Sponsorship opportunities at various levels of support are still available for this event. Please contact Colleen Dorney at colleen@dutchesstourism.com for details.

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Read More: Dutchess Tourism Inc Recognized by 2023 Tourism Excellence Awards

Not only is Dutchess Tourism Inc handing out awards, they received some major award recognition themselves! Melaine Rottkamp, President and CEO of Dutchess Tourism returned to In Touch back in late August to fill us in on their latest award recognition for the 2023 Tourism Excellence Awards from New York State Tourism Industry Association. We also got into all the great festivals and activities happening this fall in Dutchess County! 

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