Thursday, October 28, 2021

10th Annual Paradise Coast Tourism Star Awards

Hilton Marco Island Staff. PHOTOS BY BOB RAYMOND

Hilton Marco Island Staff. PHOTOS BY BOB RAYMOND


Collier County’s top tourism stars were honored with Paradise Coast Tourism Star Awards at the tenth annual Collier County Tourism Week celebration and luncheon today at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa, with close to 200 people in attendance from the area’s tourism industry. The event takes place every year to coincide with National Travel & Tourism Week.

This year’s theme is Forecast 2012 – Sunny Skies for the Paradise Coast. Jack Wert, executive director for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) delivered a State of the Tourism Industry Briefing prior to the start of the awards program, reporting on positive numbers for the year 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 in tourism visitation and spending.

Each year the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsors the awards event in recognition of the vital economic benefit and jobs that tourism brings to Collier County and the priceless contribution of the area’s hardworking hospitality employees. Short-term visitors staying in hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds created an annual economic impact of over $1.28 billion in Collier County in 2011, and the 30,600 outstanding employees in tourism and hospitality made the Paradise Coast the destination of choice for a record-setting 1.48 million visitors last year.

In addition, several special awards are given by CVB staff, including the REEL Star Award for work in support of the film industry, the Sales Star for superlative support of our destination sales efforts, the Sports Star for achievement in support of the Sports Council of Collier County, the PR Star for work in support of the CVB’s destination public relations efforts, and the Director’s Award for Excellence in Tourism, presented by executive director Jack Wert.

Following is a list of the 2012 Paradise Coast Tourism Star Award winners along with a few highlights from their nomination forms.


Ilsa Acevedo, Housekeeper,

Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa

The Rising Star Awards recognizes a new member of a visitor service team that has been with the organization for less than one year. This year’s Rising Star is Ilsa Acevedo, a housekeeper at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa who has been with the resort’s team for seven months. Her caring attitude, driving initiative

Debi DeBenedetto, llsa Acevedo, Jack Wert.

Debi DeBenedetto, llsa Acevedo, Jack Wert.

and attention to detail were noticed almost immediately. She was soon trusted with one of the most difficult areas in the housekeeping division, taking care of the many VIPs and distinguished customers in the resort’s Lanai Suites. This past Valentine’s Day she surprised a couple staying in a suite by creating a heart of rose petals on the bed. This gesture and others like it have compelled guests to write glowing letters about Ilsa to the hotel. Her specialty is helping to create memories for the guests. Ilsa won the Marco Island Marriott Associate of the Month for February this year, and now she is recognized as the Paradise Coast Rising Star for 2012.


Cliff Dworkin, National Sales Manager, Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa

Cliff is a highly creative sales professional and a force to be reckoned with in his pursuit of business in the competitive event market. This year, he booked an international group, luring them away from the heavyweight Orlando market. This group was huge for the medium-sized resort, with a need to accommodate 450 attendees at lunch and dinner functions, more than its interior banquet space could handle. Not to be deterred, Cliff worked tirelessly to go through the lengthy process of tent permitting with the City of Marco Island, sourced the event tent, helped get staff members certified for emergency crowd procedures with the fire department and made arrangements with neighbors for crew access to erect the tent with a beachfront view. Due to his extraordinary efforts the resort booked this Canadian group with 1,100 room nights and over $233,000 in food and beverage revenues. The group was so satisfied they are already planning to return for a future event, and many of the attendees said they are already planning to return on their own for family vacations.


Steve Lawrence, Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa

The reel star award acknowledges a tourism partner that has gone above and beyond to foster development of film industry business in Collier County. Steve Lawrence is someone that Paradise Coast Film Commissioner Maggie McCarty can always count on when she takes clients on a location scout. He is personally the one who greets us, shows us around, takes care of

Cliff Dworkin.

Cliff Dworkin.

our parking and treats us like VIPs. No request ever ruffles his feathers. He’s always got a great attitude and speaks to the client as an ambassador for the entire community. Steve obviously enjoys his job. He knows his property, he really likes his property. By the time you’re finished with your site tour, Steve has made sure you like it as much as he does, too.


Bob Pfeffer, Director Sales & Marketing, Marco Island

Marriott Beach Resort, Golf

Club & Spa

The Director’s Award each year is selected by tourism executive director Jack Wert. He recognizes an individual or team that has made a significant contribution to or impact on the destination. Bob Pfeffer is this year’s winner of the Director’s Award for Tourism Excellence. Bob has been an avid supporter of the CVB’s marketing efforts since the day he hit the beach on Marco Island. Bob’s years with Marriott and his professional baseball career all taught him the importance of teamwork. Whenever the CVB sends out a query for help with a tour operator or journalist, he is the first to respond. Bob’s support for the International market has helped the CVB make a big statement in that highly competitive marketplace, and we have been successful in growth visitation from both Europe and the UK with his assistance. Most importantly, Bob is highly supportive of all our CVB staff and can be counted as a friend to all. For all those reasons, Bob Pfeffer is the perfect choice for the Director’s Award this year.

For a full list of award winners go to

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is the official tourism marketing and management agency for Collier County, Florida. The CVB produces the area’s ongoing destination marketing campaigns, website, visitor guides, as well as information and assistance for travel media, and provides assistance to group meeting planners, tour operators and travel agents. The CVB is funded entirely by the Collier County tourist development tax collected by hotels, short term vacation rentals and campgrounds. No local property taxes are used to fund the CVB or its marketing campaigns and tourism industry support activities. For more information visit or call 1-800-688-3600 for visitor information, or 239-252-2384 to reach the local CVB office.

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