BANDON – Longtime resident Darla Hamblin has been honored as the KemperSports Hospitality Professional of the Year for her work as Bandon Dunes Golf Resort's director of reservations.

“We are pleased to no end,” said Hank Hickox, Bandon Dunes general manager. “KemperSports manages over 100 properties with 6,000 eligible employees, so it goes without saying that it's an honor to have Darla as a key member of our team. Being presented this prestigious award within our management company is no easy feat!”

Numerous co-workers nominated Hamblin internally and those recommendations were compiled by James Turner, director of hotel operations, who wrote the nomination. The nomination was sent to the KemperSports selection committee for review and in February, Hamblin was invited to the annual KemperSports Leadership Conference in Chicago last month, where she accepted the award.

The awards banquet was held at Royal Melbourne Country Club where every general manager of the properties was present along with numerous other KemperSports leadership executives.

Hamblin and her reservations team exemplify what hospitality and true service is all about, Turner said.

“Countless hours are spent each week on the planning and preparation of Bandon's future guest and group arrivals and Darla always manages to make each and every one feel special,” Turner said.

Turner added that Hamblin always makes herself available to both guests and staff by attending to the myriad changes that go on for each trip being planned.

“Her professional, courteous and friendly communication is a real asset in this regard.”

Hired in the 2000 by then-General Manager Josh Lesnik, Hamblin started her first assignment as bartender/server at the resort. As Bandon Dunes grew, management realized there was an increasing amount of interest/activity in their groups market segment, so in 2002, Hamblin was tasked with heading that department.

In the 12-plus years since, PBX switchboard and FIT reservation responsibilities were added to Hamblin's plate, as the position grew to director of reservations.

Along with her staff of 18, Hamblin and team now process all the resort's room and golf bookings, as well as assist with banquets and special events.

Hamblin has helped cover large and prestigious events at Bandon Dunes, such as the USGA Curtis Cup, the USGA Mid-Am, the USBA Men's Public Links and the USGA Women's Public Links, among many others.

“Perhaps the best example of Darla's great work is the unsolicited praise she garners from our guests,” Turner said. “And with nearly 15 years of hard work for Bandon Dunes and Kemper Sports, she is one of the resort's longest-tenured staffers.”

Hamblin has lived in Bandon since 2001 and has raised three children here, Rose, Johann and Quinn.

Hamblin said the award was a pleasant surprise. Hamblin received a plaque and recognition in the company's newsletter.

“It's very nice to be recognized for doing what you love to do,” Hamblin said. “I've always loved this job and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”