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Mike Woitas, Country Inn & Suites Albert Lea, Named
Minnesota Lodging Association Hotelier of Year

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - February 22, 2008 - Mike Woitas, the general manager of Country Inn & Suites in Albert Lea, is the 2007 Minnesota Hotelier of the Year as selected by the Minnesota Lodging Association. 

Woitas was recognized by his industry peers at the Crème de la Crème fundraising event February 18 at Hilton Minneapolis, held in conjunction with the Upper Midwest Foodservice & Lodging Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. More than 160 people attended the event. 

Woitas brings a unique background to the hospitality industry. For about 10 years, he was a news director/operations manager for radio stations in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. In 2000, known in Albert Lea for his determination and can-do attitude, he became the general manager of the Country Inn & Suites. 

During his tenure as a hotelier, Woitas and the Country Inn & Suites have accumulated an impressive repertoire of awards, including Regional General Manager of the year by Carlson, the Heart of Hospice Award for volunteer work with terminally ill patients, Minnesota Innkeepers Association Property of the Year and the Minnesota Lodging Association Property of the Year. 

Upon accepting his award, Woitas gave heartfelt thanks to his peers for selecting him Hotelier of the Year. "It's all about people and all about customer service," he said. Woitas also thanked his staff for making this award possible. 

The Minnesota Lodging Association also selected its 2007 Vendor of the Year at the Crème de la Crème event. This year's recipient is DesignWise, a design and furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) company located in White Bear Lake. Beginning as an office furniture company in 1992, DesignWise has grown to being one of the largest design/FF&E companies in the Midwest with a staff of 11 and a client base of more than 135 properties. 

David Janssen, president of DesignWise, accepted the award on behalf of the company. He introduced his staff and talked about the importance of the relationship between members of the MLA and its Allied vendors. "I think the theme for this year should be relationships and partnerships," he said. "I want to put a challenge out to each of the partners I work with to get more involved with the Association." 
Crème de la Crème is a fundraiser for the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation and the Toby Landgraf Foundations, two organizations devoted to developing the future leaders of the hospitality industry and to promote hospitality as an industry of great opportunity. 

Previous hoteliers and Allied vendors of the year include Julie Fuller of the Hampton Inn and USA Today in 2006 and Jim Waldvogel of the Crowne Plaza Northstar Hotel and Superior/McGarvey in 2005. 

About the Minnesota Lodging Association 
The Minnesota Lodging Association is a leading provider of lobbying, education and marketing services to the lodging industry. Members include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, chambers of commerce, CVBs and suppliers. The MLA is based in St. Paul and served by a staff of 14. It is managed by and part owner of Hospitality Minnesota, which also manages the Minnesota Restaurant Association and the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association. The MLA can be found on the Web at


Kevin Moe
Communications Manager

Also See: Jim Waldvogel, GM Crowne Plaza Northstar Hotel, Named Hotelier of the Year by the Minnesota Hotel & Lodging Association / February 2006
Tom Chase, John Holland, Kirby Payne, Candice Sweeney Inducted Into Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame; AmericInn of Mt. Iron/Virginia, Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior Named 2007 MLA Properties of the Year / December 2007


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