Yuma, Ariz. —USA Today is holding its 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards, with 20 options to vote on for Best Haunted Destinations. The Yuma Territorial Prison jumped up from a lower rank to the first position within the last few days. "With six days left to vote, we're asking for Arizonans to make it number one," said Linda Morgan, Executive Director of Visit Yuma. Voting is open until 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 26th.
The Yuma Territorial Prison is the only location in Arizona on the list. Others on the list come from all sorts of other spooky locations like a former sanatorium, a lunatic asylum, a lighthouse, a penitentiary, and even The Queen Mary, a historic ocean liner docked in Long Beach, Calif.
“We are very fortunate to have her expertise, not only in leading a team of staff and seasonal volunteers, but also because she's going to do great things with our gift shop, the Yuman Interest shop, within the Visitor Information Center," says Linda Morgan, the Executive Director of Visit Yuma. Located at the Colorado River State Historic Park, the VIC is the official visitor center for Yuma, and was awarded a 2019 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your interest in the Yuma area.