by SC Reporter Crystal Tisme
Sanibel is known as a choice destination to live and visit in Southwest Florida – partly thanks to employees of island businesses who go out of their way to give their customers a memorable experience or just stop to help. They are recognized for their outstanding hospitality every year by the “E Award.”
The Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau recently held its 22nd Annual Elaine McLaughlin Outstanding Hospitality Service Awards, also known as the “E Awards,” to recognize tourism professionals throughout the county who are nominated by a colleague, visitor or resident.
This year, three employees of Sanibel businesses were honored with an E Award in their category: Clare Harris of Billy’s Bike Rentals, Kaitlyn D’Alessandro of Casa Ybel Resort, and Kyle Kuhn of Island Cow. They were among a total of 533 nominees in seven categories.
Kuhn was nominated for making a family’s dining experience at Island Cow a very special one. Kuhn overheard the family was celebrating their son’s departure to the military and, as an Air Force veteran himself, knew he had to make the moment special for them.
He rang the bell and announced the boy’s goals and plans for his life. Everyone in the restaurant stood up and applauded Kuhn for this emotional moment, the nomination said.
“I was actually completely blown away,” Kuhn said of his win in the restaurant category. “I had no idea that anyone ever would nominate me for anything like that,” he said.
Harris was nominated for her act of kindness to a bicyclist walking their bike, which had flat tires, along the Sanibel Causeway. Harris stopped, loaded the bicycle and its rider into her truck, and took them to Billy’s Bike Rental shop. To her, this was something she would’ve done for anybody.
Harris said “at the time it was the right thing to do. Right place and right time.” She won in the “other services and businesses” category.
D’Allesandro was nominated for her excellent customer service at Casa Ybel Resort. The nomination said she is friendly and will go out of her way to solve any problems customers may have. She was the winner in the attractions category.
There were more than 700 guests in attendance at the E Awards ceremony to help celebrate the seven winners and honorable mentions out of the 751 nominations for 533 individual nominees.