Bob Spizzo of Breezy Point Resort and Tom Kavanaugh of Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort recently received Minnesota Resort and Campground Association (MRCA) honors, the Brainerd Dispatch reported.

The MRCA inducted Spizzo into its Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame and selected Kavanaugh as its 2014 Operator of the Year. Both were honored during the MRCA’s Fall Conference Oct. 21-23 at Timberlake Lodge in Grand Rapids.

The Hospitality Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Minnesota’s resort and campground industry and are deemed “legends” by their peers. The award honors lifetime achievement and exemplary leadership in the industry.

Spizzo purchased Breezy Point Resort in 1981 and soon brought the timeshare concept to Minnesota, converting some of the older cabins into timeshare properties. Today, Spizzo’s Whitebirch Inc. has developed more than 240 new timeshare units with more than 12,000 owners.

Spizzo made many updates to the resort, including a convention facility, four restaurants, a recreation center, Breezy Belle cruises, 18-hole championship golf course, a 120-unit hotel and recently acquired Deacon’s Lodge, a nationally recognized golf course. Between the timeshares and regular resort business, Breezy Point Resort is the largest operation in Minnesota, MRCA reported.

Whitebirch also operates Whitebirch at Breezy Point with 750 privately owned campsites, as well as Mille Lacs Island Resort with 450 seasonal campsites in Wahkon and Forest Hills Golf & RV Resort with Izzo’s Restaurant and an 18-hole championship golf course as well as a 228-site seasonal campground in Detroit Lakes.

The MRCA’s Operator of the Year award recognizes leadership and excellence in areas such as management ability, active participation in tourism-related local/state organizations, community leadership and other criteria.

Kavanaugh’s parents purchased Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort in 1969 when Tom was 3 years old. Kavanaugh began helping out at the resort by pouring water for guests in the resort’s restaurant. Soon, he joined his mother, Mae, in the kitchen, learning the ins and outs of running a successful restaurant. His love for the culinary world only grew as he continued his training at world-renowned schools. By the early 1990s, he took over as head chef of Kavanaugh’s. In 1994, Tom Kavanugh and three brothers purchased the resort from his parents and in 2004, closed the restaurant to develop the resort into a common-interest resort community. Today, he manages the housekeeping staff and employee schedules, assists in marketing, and takes care of all the planting and maintenance of the resort’s extensive flower gardens.

He has worked with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, chairing the tourism committee and serving on the board of directors. Kavanaugh serves on the MRCA board of directors and works with the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation.

The MRCA provides marketing, legislative advocacy, education and networking for resorts and campgrounds throughout Minnesota. For more information, go to MRCA’s consumer website, www.mnresortsandcampgrounds.com.

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