Originally published Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at 11:09a.m.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — An appetite for fun competition and yummy food was quenched at Xanterra’s Annual Property Olympics July 13.

This was the 24th year for the Olympics and was attended by over 200 employees and their families.


Xanterra Pastry Chef Patty Park (center) shares some culinary desserts for the event while Veronica Bragg (left), food and beverage manager serves treats to John Berry, livery manager. (Veronica Tierney/WGCN)

“This is a tradition here at the South Rim,” said Mia Bell, general manager, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges. “Each department engages in some healthy competition and prides themselves on the medals and trophy’s they win. You’ll find the trophy’s displayed throughout the offices…. some, dating back years.”

The Olympics were held at the Grand Canyon Recreation Center and featured an all-you-can-eat outdoor buffet which included fresh salads, barbequed ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, sides, specialty desserts and a freezer packed full of single-serve ice cream. Xanterra directors and managers were on hand to set up, serve food and clean up for the event.

Contenders from every department competed against each other in Memory Match, Four Stooges, Corn Hole, Word Scrabble, Ladder Ball, Ring the Bell Puzzle Game and Running Gauntlet. The Xanterra Engineering Department won first place, with Human Resources placing second and Rooms Department placing third.

“It’s always fun to see how excited the medal winners are to have this memento of the event. The collective spirit of the teams is just outstanding to see,” said Kathleen Akan, Xanterra Director of Human Resources.


Human Resource employees Doug Drakesmith, Lara Willis, Erik Esping and Sara Schumacher pose with their awards during the 24th annual Xanterra Property Olympics July 13. (Veronica Tierney/WGCN)

“Our employees work hard every day. This is great opportunity to turn a workday into play, visiting with co-workers,” Bell added. “In addition we even award the Turkey Trophy to the department with the fewest medals. We even have a department that proudly displays a big flock of turkeys.”

Another contest was the tee-shirt competition in which each Xanterra department designed a tee-shirt indicative of their vocation. This year’s winner was the Xanterra Rooms Department.

“This was my first Property Olympics,” said Amy Green, Human Resources Manager. “It was definitely a blast and it was fun to see everyone come together as whole property and the food was great.”

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