What Is A Legacy… Millie Barela

Quietly Going About Her Business

Quietly Going About Her Business

Grandson Brian is a Third Generation Employee

Grandson Brian is a Third Generation Employee

She came to Eagle County with her husband Willie in 1959. Think about that. What in the world was here in 1959? For those of us that say we have been here for 20+ years and think it deserves an award for longevity, take a seat.

Millie Barela was not even married a year when Willie was lucky enough to land a job with the Gillman Mine operation. Their plan was to settle right here in Minturn and start their forever adventure together. They rented a house “on the other side of the tracks” for $22/month. They saved what money was coming in and bought their first and last house for (and this is not an over or under exaggeration) $650.00. Life was good and Willie was making such a good wage ($1.20/hour) that Millie did not need to work. Her job was to get ready for the camping and fishing trips they would do in their free time.

Being the progressive young woman that she is, Millie decided she wanted a car. It was 1964 and Vail was a place that still wasn’t on the map, but things were starting to happen. The Christiania Lodge was hiring and Ted Kindal gave Millie one of the first housekeeping jobs ever in Vail. She car pooled with her friend Lucille until she could buy her Jeep. She learned to ski with the originals on Vail Mountain, but really preferred skiing Meadow Mountain in Minturn. Yes there was a ski area where sled hill is now and as Millie describes it, “they had a chair lift and a place to drink coffee at the bottom”.

The years past at the Christiania and Millie commanded the respect she was due. Her pay escalated to $1.90/hr. In 1972, when the Antlers was still operated by Gore Range Properties, she applied and was hired as Head Housekeeper “by a guy named Richard, I think”. I asked her why she changed jobs and she simply said “more money, they paid me $2.50/hour”.

That is the rest of the story and it ends this year. After 37 years with the Antlers, Millie Barela is going to retire and this time she means it. We could speak all the stereotype phrases, “she will be missed”, “how can we replace her”, “the place won’t be the same”, but Millie deserves more than that. It’s not very often that an employee and a beautiful person can walk away from your daily life and truly have an impact on how you carry on.

Her gift to all of us, our owners, and guests is the gift of example. We all need to pattern ourselves as she has lived and worked. That is the legacy of Millie Barela.

Greg Z

(Of course she will be missed, but we can understand she wants to spend more time with Willie and all those beautiful grand-kids). We love ya” Millie.

Have a story or a fond memory?  Feel free to leave a comment for her.

19 Responses to “What Is A Legacy… Millie Barela”

  1. Randi says:

    What a great article for a wonderful person! Millie, I really cannot imagine the Antlers without you. I can’t believe that I have known you for 21 years now and you look exactly the same! Has that much time really passed? I remember when I first started here and my office was far, far away from anyone. You were one of the only people that came to visit me and talk. I appreciated you so much for that. You were my first link to the Antlers. I love you and will really, really miss you. Maybe you want to take up skiing again? We’ll hit the slopes together!

  2. Carl Barela says:

    Thanks for all the memories mom, your the best and can’t thank you enough for giving me my first job, the tools to succeed in my life, and the heart to raise my family exactly as you raised me. You will be missed and the Antlers was lucky to have you for 38 years.

    NOW LET’S GO PLAY SOME SLOTS!!! YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  3. Veronica Sicking says:

    Nana, Thank you for my first job. I learned a lot and learned the meaning of “pride in your job” from working at the Antlers. I know you will be missed, but I am glad that you will now get your much deserved rest and joy of spending time with the family.
    By the way – I think it’s time for you to get a laptop computer so we can still email each other…or at least forward funnies!!!!

    Love you,
    Veronica
    Best Niece in the WORLD!

  4. New Mexico FRED says:

    Hi Mille,
    Thank you for giving a kid like me a chance to work for you. Thanks for the great momories. It was nice working with you, Wille,Ray, Carl, Lucy, Laura and Jessie. Carl and I had so much fun. It was truly a great experience. Again thank you. You are all like family to me.

  5. Bert Farin says:

    I love Millie Barela! I worked at the Antlers from 1978 – 1997 and loved working with Millie and her whole family. It’s a funny thing…on one hand, Millie is a sweetheart. On the other hand…man, she’s tough. You better bring your “A” game, be organized, and most importantly, be responsible. Of course, that’s fair, and I’d venture that there are dozens of former Antlers’ employees who were shaped into better people by having worked side-by-side with Millie.

    Over the years, I loved watching the personal and professional relationships Millie developed with the only two managers the Antlers has known; Bud Benedict and Rob LeVine. In an era when employee retention and loyalty has gone out the window, it’s astounding that Millie has endured for so long. Doing the same job, cleaning the same condos, year-in and year-out. And that is hard, physical work with a lot of pressure.

    For all the current condo owners, and for those that have sold and moved-on, you were blessed to have Millie protecting your investment. Never could you have asked for a more passionate, responsible person watching over your belongings as if they were her own.

    Did you know that Millie was the first person in the Colorado mountain resort towns to be designated a Certified Hotel Hospitality Executive by the American Hotel and Lodging Association? And that is a rare and highly commendable accomplishment.

    I love that the Antlers chose to honor Millie by naming their beautiful new boardroom after Millie. Is there another hotel in the world that would name their most impressive meeting room after their executive housekeeper? I doubt it. But that says so much about how good Millie is, and how much the Antlers appreciates her efforts.

    It’s the end of an era, but I was honored to have been part of it. I love you Millie and I hope you enjoy many happy years together with Willie and your family.

  6. Rob says:

    I remember for many years that whenever we hired someone to work at the front desk, within the first month or so they would come to me (usually in tears) asking me why Milie was so mean? I would sit them down and say, “She’s not mean. In fact she’s quite the opposite, but she cares more about the Antlers and how we operate than you can possibly imagine. Because of that, she expects you to work as hard, and more importantly to take as much pride in your work as she does. Unfortunately, that’s probably not possible, but you damn well better do the absolute best you can, or this won’t be the last time she makes you cry.” Inevitably, a year or six later, when that front desk clerk decided it was time to move on, it was Millie that they loved and respected more than anyone else here (including me). As Bert said, she was tough as nails, but always fair. “One of a kind” doesn’t BEGIN to cover it.
    Stay tuned, I’ve got some more stories to come later,
    Rob

  7. Yvonne Santos says:

    WOW…38 years! Congratulations, Aunt Nana. The Antlers will not be the same without you. Thank you for the opportunity to work for you at one of my first jobs. It got me through college and helped me understand the value of hard work, dedication, team and loyalty. I enjoyed my exeperience and have many memories. It’s not often you get to work with family. I hope you enjoy retirement…you deserve it!

    Love you and we can’t wait to celebrate!

    Yvonne

  8. Lora says:

    Dear Millie,I can’t find the words to express how much I’m going to miss you. The Antlers will never be the same without you.We made so many memories together here. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fill your shoes;but hope that if Iever get stressed I can call you. I am afraid I’ll never be as good as you; but I’ll try my best to make you proud.You have been ny strength and I have learned so much from you. I couldn’t ask for a more giving and caring sister.After 35 years I’m alittle scared;we had some good times and some bad times but always got throught it all. I hope you enjoy your retirment you deserve it.I’ll miss you. I love you. I made a few mistakes writing but remember I’m learning. re

  9. Bryan G says:

    I love you grandma and thank you for giving me my first job it has been best there is nothing better than having a job with you. It was the best to have a grandma at home and to have a grandma at work when i went to work and went it to housekeeping it felt like i wasn’t even at work it felt exactly like i was at your house but as soon as i left housekeeping to go stock the closets i finally relized that i was at work not at grandmas house and every day i my grandma would make me something fresh to eat for lunch either some bean burritos or some viana sauages with tortilla she would do this for me every day. work will not be the same with out you i will miss you very much. Love Bryan G

  10. Stephen B. says:

    I love you grandma I hope to follow you at the Antlers next year in housekeeping for my first job. I hope nothing will change when you leave, it will always feel different but will never feel the same. There is always one thing for sure though…… you’ll always be missed and nobody can replace you. Thanks for all the memories and love.

    -“You have to know one big thing and stick with it. The leaders who had one very big idea and one very big commitment. This permitted them to create something. Those are the ones who leave a LEGACY.”

  11. Catherine Michela says:

    Millie – you were the hard work and inspiration for many firsts at the Antlers during your 38 years here – you will never know, first, how much we have appreciated your loyalty and skills in helping build the Antlers and its staff to where we are today……..and, second, how much of a role model you have been to many starting, growing and working here. From all of us, we love you and wish you some fine relaxed years with your family – come back and see us!
    Best regards – Catherine

  12. Elvira says:

    Mom! Remember, you telling us to shinar, mopar, doostar ( I dont even know if the spelling is correct) these were the words we lived by. Actually you were telling us to shine, mop, and dust. Not Funny, until we took spanish!! Every time I come across one of your former employes, they ALWAYS ask for you!! You have left a mark in everybodys heart that ever worked for you!! I cant list them all. The owners that loved you we heard about, because they were also your friends. Mom, I think you deserve the biggest party Vail has ever seen! Who has a room named after them if they were not important! I LOVE YOU MOM HAPPY RETIREMENT!!

  13. Tom Riedel says:

    I have been a HOA board member for the last 10 years in various capacities. When I really wanted to know how the housekeeping situation was, there was only one person to ask and that was Millie. During the Antlers 2000 building stage, I would ask Millie if we, the board, had thought of everything we could of for the future housekeeping requirements with the new units. Man did I get an education on housekeeping, from additional suplies of bedding, towels, wash cloths etc. In addition she talked about the space needed to store them and the expected turnover ratio of supplies. Millie highly recommended that we provide additional employee space for the housekeepers to rest during their breaks and a have room to relax. As you can see, Millie always had the best in mind for her employees, owners, ande guests. Millie, we wish you the best, but will miss you greatly. Happy retirement!!!!

  14. Igor says:

    Well, Millie, maybe I know you only couple of months but I am 100% sure that you are the best supervisor I have ever had. I remember the last summer(2008), when nobody wanted to give me a part time job, you and Rob have gave it to me the opportunity to be part of the big Antlers family. That was a wonderful experience which brought me here this summer too.

    If somebody ask me to describe you, I would say that you are wonderful person. I look at you as one of the most loyal person I’ve ever known. Loyalty is not measured by someones’ louder applause when you are loved by everyone but by his quiet presence as you walk all alone when everybody had turned their backs on you. You are a type of person which you can trust, takes care of you, is concerned about you, defends you, helps you, and more importantly loves you. I will never forget this days spent with you.

    Your present at Antlers is irreplaceable, and you are going to miss me anyway because I am going to leave soon and I am not planning to come back again, but you are going to leave a big hole in the hearts of all those lovely people who spent every day in your presence in this hotel.

    I already told you, and I am going to say again: there is still a lot of time before your retirement. Everybody would love to see your face at Antlers for a at least a couple years more. But it’s up to you.

    Thank you for everything Millie, I will miss you a lot.

    Igor Janevski
    Macedonia

  15. Jared.G says:

    I love you grandma very much and i hope to follow up in ur foot steps by working at the antlers in housekeeping for my first job. You will always be remembered at the antlers forever. Thanks for your love and support. Next year when i work at the antlers it well be weird not working for the best grandma ever in history. 37 years is along time to work somewere and 37 year makes a legacy for you and ur family thank you. Have a happy retirement and go spend all that money in black hawk. Hope you get a jackpot. Love you forever and ever ur grandson Jared. :-*

  16. Greg says:

    I was hired when the Antlers 2000 construction began. Jerry Parsons was in charge of maintenance back then and one of our first jobs was to clear out the shop and move all the tools and supplies to unit 111. It is there where we operated the temporary maintenance shop for more than a year. We cut wood on the table saw, painted whatever, cleaned brushes in the bath tub and sink, and countless other projects. Six guys also cooked lunch and used the toilet.

    After construction was completed, it took us two days to move out and into our new shop and that unit looked worse than the last college apartment I shared with 7 other guys. Jerry called Millie and said it was ready to clean. Being the rookie I was, I laughed to myself and thought there is no way we could ever rent this unit again. I was sure it would be condemned and used for storage. In one afternoon, Millie and the girls had transformed it back to what it was. I could not believe my eyes when I walked in the next day and saw what they had done. It was spotless and that was the day I realized what an amazing housekeeping crew we had (and still do).

    Millie, thanks for teaching an old guy like me to look under the cushions to see if there are smashed potato chips or under the bed to see if there’s dust. Greg

  17. Kirk French says:

    As one of the original owners at the Antlers, I remember Millie very well. The one thing that guests always said about their stay at the Antlers was the cleanliness. Thanks to Millie and her staff for that.
    Millie mentioned that Richard hired her. I remember Richard as being the person in charge of maintenance. Clearly, Millie could walk circles around Richard.
    I also remember the first manager, Dave Ross. I think Millie worked for Dave until Bub took over as Manager. Lionshead was not the same then.
    Thanks to Millie for making our time at The Antlers so special for our family.

  18. Elvira says:

    My family recently drove my parents to Denver and my mother pointed out the new clean up sign to us on Vail Pass. Very proud of something else she has taken pride in doing!! I don’t think she even knew she made a comment! ELVIRA

  19. Mille Barela says:

    Hello to everyone.

    First of all, I want to thank you guys for all those beautiful comments you have left on the Antlers blog. Now, I think is time for me to write something as a reply or let’s say a farewell. I would like to express my gratitude for the professional as well as personal development I have gained working here.

    I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to share my life over the past 37 years with so many people. I am thankful for the success of my work. To my beloved staff, I can’t say enough about them, they have been my backbone through this entire process and it’s because of them that I have been able to succeed at my job. It would be very foolish and naive of me to believe even for a second, that I alone am the reason for the success of my career. It would also be very prideful and silly to say the Antlers’ success is because I have surrounded myself with all the right people!! But, the truth of the matter is, God has put all of these wonderful people in my path and for that I am very grateful. The list would be too long to print if I were to name all of them. They know who they are and I will never forget their contributions! I will mention some of those wonderful people.

    Hmm…Let’s start in 1972, the very beginning of the great Antlers story. I remember the time when I came in this hotel, and Bud Benedict was the manager of Antlers. I will always be thankful to this special person who gave me the chance to prove everyone and most important – to myself, that I can handle all pressure and the expectation from the staff and the guests. Luckily, I was able to control that and deliver the best of me for my second home (Antlers).

    Everybody knows that Antlers at Vail became such a beautiful place thanks to the great managing skills of Rob LeVine. Since I know our manager, I have a great relationship with him on business and social level as well. We have always been cooperating with such a high level of understanding each other. Rob, there is so much to say about you, but I will be short and say thank you for giving me a chance to prove myself, thank you for all these years spent with you, for your kindness, for having confidence in me, and I want you to know that I will miss you, as a manager and as a friend as well. I am and I will be forever grateful for your leadership and friendship we established over my 37 years run at the Antlers. Rob thank you for all the things you have done for me, all the lovely parties and naming the Millie Barela Boardroom after me. I hope that we are going to stay in touch.

    Thank you Randi for being there for me when I needed you the most and making my job easier. You have always been here for me on business and social level as well. It’s been a pleasure and adventure working with you and I will miss you so much.

    I also want to thank Magda and Randi for the flowers, and Magda, you are doing a great job at the meeting rooms.

    I also want to express my gratefulness to Tom and the engineering staff.

    Everyone knows how wonderful person Greg is, on social and professional level as well. Greg, I want to thank you for all those wonderful stories you have written for me, for the great article on the Antlers’ blog which left me without words, for your hard-working time you are dedicating for this hotel, and for all those lovely years spent with you.

    Well, everybody knows that someone must continue with my job at Antlers, and I think there isn’t better person for this position than my sister Lora. We spent together a wonderful 35 years, and I am so proud of that. Lora, you know everything about this job, and what is most important everyone trusts you, so I don’t see a reason why you should be afraid of doing this job on your own. I know that we are going to see each other in future, but I am already convinced that it will be hard to get used to it on the life where I will not be able to see you every day like until now. I want you to know that I love you so much, and I am sure that you will do the job like no one before. You have the best housekeeping team in front with Gladys, and there is no reason to be afraid. I wish you luck and a lot of success.

    The guests and owners of Antlers have always used to be satisfied of the cleanness in this hotel. As a executive housekeeper, I will always be thankful to my housekeeping team, especially to my sister Lora, Gladys, and all the rest of the housekeeping staff so and the people who have gone and come including my friends and family which helped me to reach this successful level I have today, at the ending of my career.

    I also want to thank to Chris Ratz and the front desk staff. Thank you for your outstanding cooperation.

    Well, I think it is time to end up my farewell here. I want to thank you for your time reading this article and thank to all employees in Antlers from which I have learned tremendously. If it wasn’t your constant support and encouragement I would not have been able to perform my duties so well. Professionally, I have gained a lot of knowledge and I shall always cherish this as one of the most satisfying phases in my career. Personally too I have shared a special bonding with all of you and I shall take away with me cherished memories of our times together.

    Thank you so much for making my time at Antlers a truly enjoyable one. I invite any of you who would like to keep in touch, to speak to me before I leave on Monday and I will be happy to give you my phone number.

    Now, it is time to dedicate all my time to my lovely husband Willie and my wonderful kids and grandkids.

    I wish you all the best and I’m sure I will see you around somewhere.

    Best Regards,
    Millie Barela