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Awards of Distinction Finalist Spotlight: Hospitality Service

Date Published: September 15, 2021

Congratulations to the Hospitality Service Award of Distinction Finalists!

Valerie Barone, Manager, Social Media Manager & Bartender at Hyde Park Brewing Company
Margaret Elliott, Assistant Farm Store Manager and Pick Your Own Supervisor at Fishkill Farms
Janett Pabon, General Manager of Hotel Tivoli

The Hospitality Service Award of Distinction honors an individual front-line customer service staff member who consistently provides exceptional service to visitors to Dutchess County to help them have an outstanding experience. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 8th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie. Read more about the event here.

We chatted with Valerie Barone, Margaret Elliott and Janett Pabon to learn more about each finalist.

What about your business/organization inspires you?

Valerie Barone, Hyde Park Brewing Company: Being family-run and seeing how much time and effort go into making people happy inspires me to do that and more.

Margaret Elliott, Fishkill Farms: I love that this job changes with the seasons. No one person has a single job description. We all wear multiple hats. I’m not stuck behind a desk. My view is of a gorgeous landscape.  I get to work with an amazing group of people who all share the same philosophy. We want to provide nutritious food, educate the community, and preserve the land using sustainable methods. There’s nothing like informing the customers about when, where and how their food is grown. Since moving up here from the Bronx, I’ve learned so much about farming that the customers often ask if I’m one of the owners. I may not be an owner, but I do feel like I’m a part of the family.

Janett Pabon, Hotel Tivoli: I love our women-led business! We are situated in a charming historic village, surrounded by an amazing community of farmers and artisans. The hotel is filled with light, color, and the scent of Holland tulips - what better way to start the day!

What has this past year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic taught you about the resiliency of your business/organization and staff?

Valerie Barone, Hyde Park Brewing Company: We did not close! We (a staff of 4) came up with a plan and ran with it. Whatever worked to keep the bar open, we did it.

Margaret Elliott, Fishkill Farms: The quick adoption of online sales and a reservation system helped us provide a safe place for the community to shop.  This also provided jobs for our staff during a time when many jobs were lost.  The farm remained open and busy during a time which we would normally be closed. The online ordering system and a strong interest in the Pick-Your-Own crops taught us that Fishkill Farms is a vital and reliable resource for the employees and the local community. The farm provides more than just produce, but also a safe and enjoyable place to work and visit.

Janett Pabon, Hotel Tivoli: I am so grateful for our staff. Under such challenging conditions, they consistently stepped up and met the expectations and needs of our guests. AND…we have been running with a smaller team since COVID-19 hit, so they have to work even harder! They have been so committed to our hotel - and I can’t stress enough the importance of hospitality right now. We all need a little TLC.

What are your hopes for the future of travel in Dutchess County?

Valerie Barone, Hyde Park Brewing Company: We look forward to welcoming visitors to Hyde Park. We hope all federal and state buildings open stay open, so people have a place to go. They are a big part of our business on the weekends.

Margaret Elliott, Fishkill Farms: I believe since the pandemic the need for food from an identifiable source has increased. People are traveling further to come to the farm and they appreciate being out in the open air. Our PYO reservation system ensures a safe and enjoyable visit. Also, with the help of social media, we are reaching more visitors each season.  As a business, we’ve seen our foot traffic increase not only with our regular customers, but we’ve also seen an abundant amount of new visitors over the past year.  This is something we are confident will continue for our farm and other businesses in the Hudson Valley region. 

Janett Pabon, Hotel Tivoli: More and more people are discovering the riches of this area - from our farms to our little towns and communities. I love it when people realize how much there is to do out in nature - get that sunshine and explore! However, it becomes all of our responsibilities to “leave it better than you found it.” We are stewards of our future generations.


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