The standout at Westward Look - The Explorer: Business

The standout at Westward Look

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Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 3:53 pm, Tue May 1, 2012.

In 1912, while Arizona was becoming a state, a couple began building their dream home nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. Today, that home is known at Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa.

From a small home where the family entertained guests, to a growing dude ranch, then to the now known resort, the place has become an exquisite location to stay, dine, and relax with award-winning service.

There is a line in 19th Century English poet Arthur Hugh Clough’s poem, “Say Not the Struggle Naught Availeth” that reads: In front, the sun climbs slowly, how slowly But westward, look…the land is bright.

From that poem, owners thought that portion resonated with what they believed the resort represented, and the name stuck.

But simply naming a resort doesn’t make it stand out – it’s location and service does.

Judy Gutierrez has been with the resort for more that 30 years. She started working the grounds and now works as a server in Gold, one of the resorts restaurants. A few months ago, she was named Employee of the Year by the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association for hourly, non-management personnel. Now she is being considered on the national level, which will be in June.

For Gutierrez, she is a little overwhelmed and honored by the appreciation.

“I’m just a server,” Gutierrez said frankly. “But I’m thrilled to be recognized for doing my job that I love to do.”

Gutierrez gave numerous examples of people from all over the country who come and stay at the resort and specifically ask for her to be their server. They send her photos of their kids and seem to treat her as family. The have even sent her birthday gifts.

Jerry Jensen, director of sales and marketing, was part of the group of managers who looked at her tenure at the resort and nominated her for the award.  

“She stands out as a representative of the ideal that we try to propagate, which keeps us in business,” Jensen said. “It gets looked over sometimes, especially with big corporations.

“At the end of the day, somebody still has to be made to feel warm and welcome and appreciated. Judy embodies that.”  

Gutierrez remembered an experience she had with a couple who regularly visited the resort.  They were trying to eat their breakfast, but their baby was fussing and crying. So, as their server, she held and comforted the baby so the couple could enjoy their meals. A simple gesture for her, but is an act that keeps the family returning to the resort.

“Now she’s 12, and she is coming in still, and here is this little baby who I used to hold,” she said.

At any given time, the 80-acre resort has 150 to 200 employees, and during their peak season, the resort attempts to have a one on one guest to employee ratio.

The 244-room vacation venue, which has two restaurants, a spa, tennis courts and horse stables, is located at 245 E. Ina Road, Tucson, AZ 85704.

For reservations, call 297-1151 or 1-800-481-0636.

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