Cleaners, cooks and divemasters get moment in spotlight
Sunset House owner Adrien Briggs was honoured for a lifetime contribution to the tourism industry at the 10th annual Stingray Awards last week.
Mr. Briggs, who has been at the helm of the hotel and dive shop since the early 1970s, was the big winner on a night where the unsung heroes of the Cayman Islands’ tourism industry had their moment in the spotlight.
Room cleaners, divemasters and wedding planners were among those recognised in a glitzy event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Tuesday.
More than 250 people from all sections of the industry attended the gala dinner, hosted by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, with 48 people nominated for awards.
Among the winners were Marilyn Ebanks, who has spent 19 years in the housekeeping department at the Anchorage condominiums, Jo-Anne Brown, the founder and creative director of Celebrations wedding and event planners, and Derick Duffield, a dive instructor with East End operator Ocean Frontiers.
The final and most prestigious award of the night, the Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Mr. Briggs for more than 40 years dedication to the industry.
Jay Ehrhart, who compered the event, hailed the Sunset House owner as a true master of all trades who had always been prepared to do any job – from unclogging toilets and cleaning rooms to helping build the bar and fix boat engines.
“Adrien was also Sunset Diver’s dive master in the early days. He would cook the guests breakfast and then take them diving, come back after the dive and tend bar,” he added.
Mr. Briggs is still deeply involved with the management of several business including Sunset House, Harbour House Marina, CMS cruise tenders and Red Sail Sports.
In his keynote speech at the event tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell told the nominees: “It is because of the commitment of all of you here and the input of many other unsung heroes that the tourism industry continues to go from strength to strength.
“As a result of your efforts we are seeing strong performance from key markets…
“Stay-over visitor arrivals are breaking records and new benchmarks are being established.
“Beyond our first world infrastructure it is our people’s warmth, our personal touch, our extra effort that connects with visitors and provides the unique and holistic experience that makes their stay memorable.
“It is this distinctive service that is giving the Cayman Islands the edge over our competitors.”
Jane van der Bol, executive director of CITA, said she was pleased with the “phenomenal show of support” for the industry at the event.
“I think this year the nominations were so well received and the individual stories were really true tales of their endearing characters.
“It was a difficult task for the selection committee. However, in every category, that one individual clearly showed they were well deserving of the prestigious Cayman Stingray Tourism Award,” she added.
The event also saw the introduction of the new biennial CEPTS Environmental Stewardship Award, awarded by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. The award recognises tourism businesses for their ongoing commitment for implementing environmental initiatives for the conservation and preservation of the natural environment.
The dive properties named for outstanding practices for 2013 were Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, Compass Point Dive Resort and Southern Cross Club.
2013 Cayman Stingray Tourism Award winners:
Jo-Anne Brown, Celebrations, Long Service Award
Adrien Briggs, Sunset House, Lifetime Achievement Award
Alexandra Bush, Ritz Carlton, Rising Star Award
Gary Chernowski, Red Sail, Watersports Manager of the Year
Dora Valdez, Cobalt Coast, Accommodations Manager of the Year
Steven Hayes,Tropical Trader restaurant group, Restaurant Manager of the Year
Kate Pellow, CCMI, Allied Manager of the Year
Seggrett Quizeo, Rum Point, Restaurant Employee of the Year
Martin Whyte, Majestic Tours, Allied Employee of the Year
Marilyn Ebanks, The Anchorage, Accommodations Employee of the Year
Derick Duffield, Ocean Frontiers, Watersports Employee of the Year