For twenty years the Orvis Company has been recognizing excellence in sporting experiences through its Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guides program. Each endorsed operation has its own character, but all share the same high standards: great service, great fishing or wingshooting, and an experienced, professional staff. These standards of excellence are continually reviewed by the Orvis staff and evaluated by visiting guests in post-visit critiques sent directly to The Orvis Company. Orvis-Endorsed operations cater to every ability from beginners to experts.
At their annual Endorsed Operations Rendezvous in Key Largo, Florida and Endorsed Guide Rendezvous in Casper, Wyoming the Orvis Company announced the winners of their 2011 Endorsed Lodges, Outfitters, and Guide Awards. There are seven categories, three for lodge operations and four for guiding operations. The awards are chosen based on customer survey feedback that Orvis solicits from their customers who patronize these operations.
“We feel the best criteria for these awards is customer response,” says David Perkins, Executive Vice Chairman of Orvis. “What we at Orvis think is not nearly as important as the quality of the experience the customer receives. Each year we go through these surveys and find those operations that have given our customers an extraordinary experience and service. It is a difficult task because all of our endorsed operations are excellent or they wouldn’t be in the program, but each year there are those that really stand out.”
I’ve attended the awards ceremony a couple of times, and trust me, these lodges and guides take this honor very seriously. I remember one acceptance speech in which the owner of an outfitting business got choked up describing the adversity he’d overcome to achieve such success.
The 2011 winners are:
Wingshooting Lodge of the Year
Greystone Castle in Mingus, TX, a 5,000 acre hunting preserve for upland birds and waterfowl, specializing in providing large numbers of hard-flying birds and high volumes of shooting.
Fly-Fishing Lodge of the Year
Crystal Creek Lodge on the Naknek River in the Bristol Bay Region of southwest Alaska. Crystal Creek has been endorsed by the Orvis Company for nearly two decades and is considered one of the finest fishing lodges in the world.
International Lodge of the Year
Estancia Tecka, in Patagonia, is one of the biggest ranches in South America. The fly-fishing lodge is set up with some of the best English-speaking guides in Argentina, and they are well outfitted with drift boats to get to the best pools on the Corcovado River.
Outfitter of the Year
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in Sarasota, Florida. Their Fishing Charter Service serves Siesta Key, as well as, Longboat Key, Lido Key, Sarasota, and Venice, and offers inshore/backcountry & offshore fishing charters for both fly-fishing and spin anglers.
Expedition of the Year
Fortress Lake Retreat of Alberta, Canada provides a full-service lodge accommodation and guided fishing experience, as well as providing hikers, canoeists, and kayakers a back-country oasis near Jasper and Banff National Parks and Lake Louise.
Guide Service of the Year
Sunrise Anglers of Boulder, Colorado offers a tremendous diversity of fishing on the Front Range of the Rockies, fishing the Colorado, Blue, South Platte, and Roaring Fork Rivers, as well as a number of small rivers, creeks, and still waters.
Guide of the Year
Derek Young of Snoqualmie, Washington specializes in fishing the Yakima River, famous for its wild cutthroat and rainbow trout.