For five years, Suzanne Goyetche has been going above and beyond in helping those wanting to know more about the Cochrane area at the Visitor Information Centre.

Last week, Suzanne saw the last of the 10s of thousands of people, bringing to an end a lifelong career in the hospitality industry.

Very much a people person, she was the perfect fit for converting the information centre from a part-time operation with a few brochures and public washrooms, to what it is today.

Suzanne left her imprint upon the centre and proudly established a high standard of service that was her trademark in the hospitality industry.

"When I was asked to be full-time, I got in and got comfortable with it. I knew what was needed because I had been in tourism for 30 years."

She quickly built up the volume of brochures to assist visitors and residents alike, then created a relaxing environment. There's comfortable seating and the room provides a bird's eye view of Cochrane, thanks to multiple displays tastefully arranged.

"I wanted it to be a destination, not just a place to come in and get information," says Suzanne. "I wanted them to stay, I wanted them to feel homey. Over the five years, people have come in and regularly said how nice and comfortable it is."

She made sure to encompass the town's Western theme, believing it important to have that rustic feel in the little touches.

Since it became a full-time operation, the number of people walking through the door grew annually and had hit 12,000 before COVID.

They weren't only visitors. There were residents seeking information on ways to entertain family and friends when they arrived.

Others utilized the centre to help decide if they wanted to make Cochrane their home. This year alone, Suzanne said they had about 120 people, mainly from Ontario and B.C., doing just that.

"I'd spend an hour, hour and a half with them, talking about Cochrane, why they should consider it, and why it's such a good place to live. I would say a good percentage of them have landed here because they've come back to give thanks and say they love it."

One of her favourite memories is assisting a young woman from Germany who came to see the West Coast and the Rockies. She had bought an older RV that broke down, and she landed in Cochrane in need of help.

Suzanne took her under her wing and helped her in any way possible to get her back on the road. She took her home so she could do a load of wash, have a shower, and freshen up while getting her vehicle fixed.

During her six weeks in Alberta, the young lady popped by the centre regularly to say hi.

"Things like that stick out to me. It's the people, and being able to help people like that."

Suzanne is an artist, and that's her retirement career. She does pet portraits, among other works, and is affiliated with the Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery. Chances are, you may see her there on occasion.

"So I have an outlet for the art, plus it will give me an outlet to meet people."

She says she wouldn't hesitate to provide directions and information there.

"I don't think it will ever end. That's just who I am. If I'm around, I'll help somebody, With years of experience in this, I can almost sense when I meet somebody on the street who is looking for something and will offer them help."

The quality of the service she provided wasn't just known locally. In 2017, she was awarded an AMMY at the Alberta Visitor Information Providers (AVIP) conference by her peers for providing above and beyond service.