Providing friendly customer service for more than 59 years now comes with an award. Lutes Casino owner Bob Lutes was recognized at the Governor's Conference on Tourism, held July 22-24, in Tucson. Lutes was awarded the Tourism Spirit of Service, given by the Arizona Office of Tourism, at the conference's awards banquet on July 23rd. The Tourism Spirit of Service award is a highly coveted statewide award.
"We nominated Bob because he is a wonderful ambassador for Yuma," said Visit Yuma Executive Director, Linda Morgan. "For all these decades, he is the face of tourism to thousands and thousands, even generations, of visitors coming to Yuma," she added. "He is well-deserving of this honor and we're all glad to see his family share this moment with him."
Lutes, who is now 83 years old, has run Lutes Casino with his brother, Bill, since 1959, when he took over managing it from his father. Lutes Casino traces its history to horse and buggy days, getting its start as The New York Store in 1901. In about 1946 the building was acquired by R. H. Lutes, Bob Lutes' father, in payment of a gambling debt from the previous owner who could pay up with nothing else.
What has evolved into an iconic Southwest Arizona attraction owes a lot to exceptional customer service and treating visitors just like locals and family members. The Lutes family and Casino staff are known for treating customers like long-lost friends. When Bob, who has retired but still comes in daily to chat with patrons, he makes sure they are being helped, gives history lessons to those interested, and shares vintage jokes. He cannot pass a discarded piece of paper on the floor without picking it up to dispose of it properly. The one-of-a-kind interior decorating, which Bob has called "interesting junk" hanging from the walls and ceiling has earned this landmark national attention in publications such as Sunset Magazine and Arizona Highways.
Having survived many eras, from Yuma's earliest days, up to the present when Yelp reviews and DoorDash orders mean you can get the "Especial" delivered to your home or office, Lutes Casino continues to innovate and thrive because of consistently excellent customer service.
Lutes Casino is located at 221 S. Main Street, in Yuma. Open for both lunch and dinner, Lutes Casino also hosts special events like its summer jazz series, every other Friday night throughout the summer.
This past year, Visit Yuma had a special focus on Yuma agriculture that has enlightened many visitors about the importance of Yuma's role in providing food for our country. One of the programs that had the biggest impact was the Field to Feast Tours, which hosted 831 tour-goers on 19 tours throughout the winter season. Local farmers shared their time during their busiest time of the year to welcome participants to their farm and told them about the crops, food safety and technology, among other topics.
In lieu of presenting each farmer with an award plaque, Visit Yuma made a $1000 donation to the Arizona Western College Agriculture Sciences Department, to invest in the future of agriculture in the Yuma area.
Louis Scott with Del Outdoor Advertising is currently serving as Chair. Other officers will be chosen when the Board of Directors convenes in July.
Four board seats come up for election by Visit Yuma members each year, with directors elected to three-year terms in June. Incumbents David Carvell who is Branch/Sales Manager at Ahern Rentals, and Deidre Meerchaum, who is the Facilities Manager at Gowan Company, won re-election.
Two new board members join the board this year. Reetika Dhawan is the Dean of Career and Technology at Arizona Western College. Reetika is the recipient of many teaching awards over the years including most recently the AWC Teacher of the Year award, as well as Endowed Faculty Award, NISOD teaching award, AWC Excellency Medal, AWC Star Faculty Award, and Instructor of the Year. Reetika cares about Yuma and wishes to bring her knowledge, energy, and expertise to the Visit Yuma board. Nate Schug is President of Westmoor Electric. He’s been a member of the Caballeros de Yuma for 15 years. He served as El Presidente in 2010-2011. He’s served on many boards, foundations and committees, including Hospice of Yuma, Children and Family Services and El Toro Bowl Committee through AWC.
Yuma, Arizona - Visit Yuma has announced the selection of Marlene Castillo as its new Membership Manager.
“Marlene brings a wealth of experience and talent to Visit Yuma, and we think our members will gain from her expertise," says Linda Morgan, the Executive Director of Visit Yuma. “Helping members use the numerous member benefits we offer, and finding the best advertising solutions for target markets in our drive market, national and international reach is all part of a day's work for Marlene. She is savvy at understanding digital advertising placement, which is critically important as we direct more of our efforts to targeted online campaigns. Also, she can advise members about how our print pieces, such as the annual Visitor Guide and maps, and our event sponsorships, will put our members' businesses at the forefront of what visitors see as they plan their trips or are in-market for a stay in Yuma.
Yuma, Arizona - Visit Yuma has announced the selection of Karen Harris and Jennifer McDonald as its new Marketing Specialists.
“Jennifer and Karen both bring a wealth of experience and talent to Visit Yuma”, says Linda Morgan, the Executive Director of Visit Yuma. “Both have strong prior connections to Yuma but have recently returned. We are excited about the places we will go with Karen and Jennifer on our team.”
Harris will head up strategy and content creation, while McDonald will be in charge of creative content and communications. They join Gillian Wilkins, who has been with Visit Yuma's marketing team for more than a year. Wilkins will continue to focus on social and electronic media. Both Harris and McDonald recently moved to Yuma, but both have past roots in the city. McDonald's husband is a Marine who was stationed at MCAS Yuma in 2018 after seven years away. Harris and her partner became year-round residents after being winter visitors to Yuma for five years.
Harris previously served 12 years as a board member of the Mat-Su (Alaska) Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as owning Alaska Garden Gate B&B in Palmer, Alaska, for 16 years. Her background in communications and publishing reaches back to former jobs at Minneapolis magazines and newspapers. Her strong points include web analytics and strategic communications. McDonald is a longtime television journalist with experience in both large and small markets in the Western US. Her first on-air job as at KSWT-TV, in Yuma.
Both new additions started in the last week at Visit Yuma. "We hope to take our communications with our members, with our community and with other stakeholders and partners to a new level," said Morgan. "The fresh voices bring synergy and collaboration on this focused and creative team."
The Yuma Visitors Bureau is always happy to assist members of print, digital and broadcast media, either on assignment or pitching an idea with a Yuma angle.
Visit Yuma team can suggest itineraries and facilitate visits, or provide you with the inspired details to help nail down an assignment. We pride ourselves on always going "above and beyond."
You can download background and "anytime" materials below; dated press releases appear "most recent first" at left. Call or email us for photos and B-roll video.
YVB periodically hosts group and individual press trips, and is glad to partner with other Arizona or California DMOs to coordinate a visit to several regions.
For more information, contact Linda Morgan at 928-376-0100 (office), email email@example.com. Thanks for your interest in the Yuma area.