Who’s next?

I’ve always been amazed by the active lifestyle of people who live here. Skiing, snowboarding, biking, running, rock climbing… You name it. People of all ages are always doing something active and adventurous. It’s not weird to see a three-thousand-dollar car with a ten-thousand-dollar bike on its rack. Same true with skis, snowboards or whatever it is that people call their passion. I admire and respect that so much that I’ve secretly wanted to become this way.

You see, growing up, I was the “uncoordinated” one. The one that was too slow to run, too heavy to jump or too clumsy to do anything. I was just not that good at sports. And then I came here.

I ventured out to learn to ski and of course I tore my ACL on the bunny hill the first time I went out with friends, BUT I didn’t give up. After each season I became a little more confident. This year I had a crazy goal: To take guests out skiing with me. While my co-workers know exactly the name, the length and the little secrets of each run, I barely know the runs by their characteristics: “I love the one that has those tall trees on the left”. Furthermore, my sense of direction is nonexistent so I really had to prepare well to acheive my goal.

My first guests were my dear Aussie friends: Gavin, Paul, James, Lozza and Chris. I studied the grooming report as if it would be the final test for my MBA graduation. I did some warm ups at home just to make sure I was in the best possible physical shape. I tuned my skis to perfection, all to make sure my friends would have the best time ever.

Well… while skiing with them, I found out that I had it all wrong. It is not about being perfect, fast, or knowing it all. It is really about just having fun! I remember thinking back to when I just arrived to Vail 9 years ago: “Why do people call this a vacation, when they are sweating just trying to put their boots on?” It took me all this time to understand it. The fun of sharing and unfolding a ski adventure is priceless. For a moment you forget about the world, and you are just present, gliding towards paradise. While sitting on the chairlift on your way up, you laugh about almost crashing with each other, or confess that your legs were burning with each turn, and it is all good.

Thank you my Aussie friends for skiing with me. I am glad you had fun, just like I did!

Now, who’s next?

Magda-

With my favorite ski run in the back. The one with the tall trees on the left.

Featured Homeowner Series: 1 Bedroom Condominium

Antlers at Vail Featured Homeowner: 1-Bedroom Residence

Whether enjoying the view fron the balcony or relaxing in front of the fire Antlers at Vail Condo 608 is a fantastic place to stay while in Vail.

Whether enjoying the view from the balcony or relaxing in front of the fire this condo is a fantastic home base while for Vail adventures.

Retiring Air Force Colonel Hal Hagy and his wife Anne were early Antlers at Vail condominium owners. Hal & Anne became great friends with the first Antlers General Manager Bud Benedict and his wife Marcet and enjoyed getting together at every opportunity to share some laughs and soak in the atmosphere of the Vail valley of the 70’s and 80’s. In 1989, during the first push for condominium upgrades and before mandated ADA, they were the first homeowners to put in a handicapped accessible bathroom.

Anne and Hal Hagy circa 19xx

Anne & Hal Hagy during a visit to their home at the Antlers at Vail during the 1970s

Over the years they undertook a couple of additional remodels to their unit and eventually passed ownership of the condominium down to their daughter Susan. Our featured homeowner, Susan, has been a kind and supportive owner, recently joining the board of directors, and has continued to remodel the condo. A couple of years back she upgraded the kitchen and bathroom and recently made major improvements to the bedroom and living space by moving a wall, adding a larger bedroom closet, adding all new woodwork throughout, including gorgeous wood beams, doors and trim. She added new LED lighting throughout and removed the popcorn ceiling that remained. These improvements have resulted in one of highest rated condominiums in the building.

 

Anne and Susan Hagy enjoying some mother-daughter time in Vail Village.

Anne and Susan Hagy enjoying some mother-daughter time during Antlers owners weekend and Anne’s last visit to Vail, in 2008.

What is the best part of being an owner at the Antlers?

In my case, I feel incredibly humble and grateful to call the Antlers home away from home. I love the personal touches in my unit that represent my history and happy memories spent there with my parents. I appreciate the amenities available to host family and friends. Visiting with staff is like spending time with old friends and I’ve known Rob for most of my life. (So we really are getting to be OLD friends!)

Retired Air Force Colonel Hal Hagy

Col. Hal Hagy, March, 1987, in front of Garfinkels in Lionshead… the same visit the family celebrated Hal’s 70th Birthday with a party in the old Antlers “Lounge”. This photo was taken by his daughter Susan.

Participating in the rental program means sharing this very special place with new visitors and return guests. We look forward to spending part of each year in the outdoor playground that is Vail. The topography of the Rocky Mountains is quite a contrast to our primary home in coastal Florida.

View from 608 balcony looking southeast in 1979, before many of the homes on Forest Road had been built.

View from the Hagy’s condo looking southeast in 1979, before many of the homes on Forest Road had been built.

Buying a 2nd home in Vail was ALL Dad’s idea, but soon after the purchase, Mother spotted me from the balcony in my bright green jacket skiing home, she said it was the best decision. Location, location, location!

What is special about your newly remodeled Antlers condominium?

The outdoor view from the new King platform bed just makes me smile. I also love the addition of an extra door to the bedroom, adding both convenience and more natural light.

Vail Skiing Without the Schlep

Antlers at Vail hotel guests enjoy customized ski valet service with on-site Ski Butlers

A designated rack at the base of the Lionshead gondola allows Antlers at Vail guests to pick up and deposit their skis with ease (right). Vail has experienced some epic powder recently (right, photo © Ben Koelker).

A designated rack at the base of the Lionshead gondola allows Antlers at Vail guests to pick up and deposit their skis with ease (right). Vail has experienced some epic powder recently (right, photo © Ben Koelker).

“We want guests to save their energy for the powder,” says Antlers at Vail GM Rob LeVine about the Vail condominium hotel’s partnership with Ski Butlers, now in its second season. In addition to fitting Antlers’ guests with top-of-the-line ski and snowboard gear in the comfort of their guest suites, Ski Butlers serves the hotel as in-house ski valet, storing guest equipment and schlepping it to the slopes and back free of charge. And with Vail Mountain Resort reporting more than 14 feet of snow and counting this season with some glorious recent deep powder days, the service has quickly become a favorite at the Antlers.

“We’re lucky to be located just 150 yards from Vail’s Eagle Bahn Gondola,” says LeVine. “But there’s such luxury in not having to worry about your gear. We’re a skiing and snowboarding home-away-from-home to a lot of families, and especially for parents with children too small to carry their own equipment, this service can feel life-changing.”

Antlers at Vail, rated #1 by TripAdvisor in the Vail Specialty Lodging category, is known for its focus on customer service, including a long list of complimentary amenities from free yoga classes and loaner GoPro cameras to a loaning library of kitchen appliances and a green car charger. Ski Butlers puts a similar emphasis on customer service, including answering special requests like swapping out skis for snowboards mid-trip, or helping guests track down such basics as gloves and warmer jackets. And from the beginning, the company’s model of helping skiers avoid long rental lines by bringing fittings and gear directly to guest lodgings has been all about making the guest experience easy.

Ski Butlers rentals are also a hit with travelers who may discover at the last minute that steep airline fees can run up to $225 one way for checking heavy and bulky ski bags. “Plus Ski Butlers can recommend the best skis based on actual conditions when you arrive,” says LeVine. “Big run on powder skis lately,” he adds with a smile.

Founded in 2004 in Park City, Utah, Ski Butlers now serves over 30 North American resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia, Canada. Ski Butlers award winning service makes renting ski and snowboard equipment convenient and hassle-free all for the same price or less than most resort ski shops. Ski Butlers is the only ski shop in Vail/Beaver Creek Colorado to win the Vail Valley Platinum Service Award for exceptional customer service this past winter. For more information visit www.skibutlers.com.

Mmmm, Hot Soup on a Snowy Day

Chef Barry Robinson, Caterers of Vail and Antlers at Vail Chef

Chef Barry Robinson, Caterers of Vail and Antlers at Vail Chef

When I took this job at the Antlers at Vail hotel 3 years ago I was told that one of the organization’s greatest strengths is our fantastic chef. I have to admit that I had a hard time believing that really could be the case. But it sure is! Not only is internationally-trained Chef Barry a fabulous chef, creating delectable cuisine customized to a client’s tastes, but he goes above and beyond and unlike most chefs will make almost anything work, and puts the client first. Read more about that here.

This winter Chef Barry is offering freshly made soups available for purchase, including on a rotating basis Tomato Basil, Butternut Squash, Chili (beef & chicken) and Chicken Noodle

This winter Chef Barry is offering fresh soups available for purchase, including on a rotating basis Tomato Basil, Butternut Squash, Chili (beef & chicken) and Chicken Noodle

We are always brainstorming to come up with additional creative amenities for our guests. Last winter we offered breakfast burritos from Chef Barry. Then coming into this winter we decided that we’d ask Chef Barry what he might like to offer. He loves making fresh soups and his really are some of the best soups that I’ve ever had. He suggested soups. So, new this winter, we are offering a variety of fresh soups available for purchase at the front desk on a rotating basis (Tomato Basil, Butternut Squash, Beef Chili and as of this week by request Chicken Noodle). To showcase these freshly-made soups the Antlers at Vail hotel is now offering a soup tasting in the lobby once a week. After visiting a couple of condos and walking across the courtyard in the snow this afternoon I walked into the lobby to the wonderful aroma of hot Tomato Basil soup. Mmmm, it was as good as it smelled.

Our friend, Pete Huttlinger

The first time I saw Pete Huttlinger in person was at a concert in Breckenridge with Jim Salestrom.  It wasn’t a full-on John Denver tribute, but given Jim’s inclination and Pete’s history with JD, there was no shortage of Sunshine On My Shoulders and Thank God I’m A Country Boy.

Pete Huttlinger

Far more impressive than those covers, was Pete’s unbelievable solo talent on his acoustic guitar. I’ve always found that regardless of one’s sophistication in any artistic discipline (or in my case, lack thereof) … when exposed to a talent that is truly one of the world’s best, it makes an appropriate and unforgettable impression.

Not only had Pete played backup for John in the early 90’s, but he also did some of the arranging for the famous Wildlife Concert, as well as others.

Pete's banjo

Later, after John Denver’s death, Pete played with LeeAnn Rimes, Vince Gill and more than a few other “household names”.  His talent couldn’t be summed up any more completely or simply than LeeAnn’s reference to him as a “complete genius”.

Evelyn had met Pete once or twice in Aspen at a couple of the early “official” John Denver tribute concerts. In each case their meetings were brief and included a number of other people.  Nevertheless, when we saw him in Breckenridge that day he greeted Evelyn like a long lost friend, not someone he had barely met. I quickly came to treasure that humility and warmth, which was as much a part of Pete as his incredible skill on the guitar.

Wonderful testimony of that kindness came when I had the nerve to ask Pete if I could use his music as background for some marketing videos we were producing for Antlers 2000.  I expected him to tell me all about ASCAP and licensing issues and costs, etc.  Instead, despite the fact that he didn’t know me from Adam, he said, “Absolutely … use whatever you want. No problem.”  Just like that … that was it. When I asked him if I could pay him he said, “No, that’s okay … just send me a copy of whatever you do.  I’d love to see it.”   I’m still blown away by his generosity.

Not only did I use a couple cuts off his Catch & Release CD (arguably the best solo acoustic guitar CD ever recorded), but we stayed in contact over the next few years.  When we had the Grand Opening celebration for the Antlers redevelopment in 2002, Pete came and played a private concert for our friends and owners.  I sincerely doubt if the Antlers conference room will ever be host to more talent than it was on that day.Pete 1    Grand opening crowd 1

Over the years, Evelyn continued to stay in touch with Pete and his lovely wife, Erin.  We had the pleasure of fishing with Pete on the Roaring Fork (his favorite pastime other than playing music) and later had them over for dinner. Pete enjoyed playing Evelyn’s John Denver signature guitar that evening and it will never, ever sound better.

fishing with Pete

After many years of heart and health problems, Pete passed away last week at the ripe old age of 54. It’s a sad day.  A tragedy.  Thousands of people will miss him, but few more than us.  Here’s to you, Pete.

– Rob

Antlers Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

Antlers at Vail Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

Antlers at Vail Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

It was just about a year ago that we decided to execute a Reputation Management strategy. We made a decision to really put ourselves out there to be judged by our guests, actively soliciting guest feedback and TripAdvisor reviews from all of our valued guests. I, for one, was a little nervous executing the plan. The first step was to make sure all of the front line employees knew the plan and were on board with it. There was not a single objection and we moved forward.

In 2015 we received 253 reviews versus 133 in 2014, almost doubling our reviews pace. Our average TripAdvisor rating increased from 4.54 in 2014 to 4.70 in 2015 (thanks to owner support of a quality improvement plan). And then, just this week we moved from the #2 ranking in Vail’s Specialty Lodging category to #1 — WOO-HOO!

We expected to see a benefit to our business from the increased focus on Reputation Management but I think the most surprising impact has been showing us where we can improve business processes. Going into this, I thought that we had a great staff and culture and by just making sure to be on our game that we could see these types of results, especially with all of the condominium improvements to which the owners had committed. But the largest benefit has probably been having guests point out areas that we hadn’t thought about improving. We received a negative review a few months back from a guest who had left behind a hat that was important to her. She contacted us and we did our best to locate it, but to no avail. It was an eye opener as to the fact that our lost and found process needed improvement. Some items ended up in housekeeping and others at the front desk. Our newest member of the housekeeping department, who is now Executive Housekeeper, took initiative and created a process where every item found in a room (or anywhere else), goes to her with the date and location of where it was found. It’s working – our “completion rate” at returning items which are left at the Antlers and found by a staff member is approaching 100%!

Thanks so much to our Antlers guests for helping us achieve this ranking of #1 on TripAdvisor — we know we couldn’t have gotten there without you sharing your positive experiences and providing feedback on how we can improve. And, last but not least, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our owners who have made tremendous investments improving their condominiums over the past two years. In July we were designated as an overall platinum-rated property and owners continue to raise the bar. Keep your eyes out for upcoming photos of a renovation just completed last month that is really over the top!

Giving Back

Our Antlers team is very fortunate to be able to work for an organization with a culture that values staff empowerment and giving back. We very often receive thank you notes that make our day. They may be to individual team members for going above and beyond or even for having given back to the community in one way or another. The Antlers also encourages individual team members to give back to the community and while probably most of us do, some do so in ways that are even more impactful than what we get to do here as an Antlers team member — such as saving lives!

Our Chief Engineer, Tom Schlader aka "Sludge", who also goes by the title "Director of Preservation" volunteers and plays a pretty big role at Vail Mountain Rescue.

Our Chief Engineer, Tom Schlader aka “Sludge” volunteers and is someone who truly excels at giving back through his volunteer work at Vail Mountain Rescue.

Our Chief Engineer, Tom Schlader aka “Sludge”, who also goes by the title “Director of Preservation” volunteers and plays a pretty big role at Vail Mountain Rescue Group. Vail Mountain Rescue is a volunteer group providing back country search and rescue, as well as public education on back country safety, in Eagle County. The team is responsible for all search and rescue operations in the unincorporated areas of the County. Vail Mountain Rescue Group recently shared with us a thank you note that they received that gives a nice shout out to  Sludge who frequently goes on missions much more dangerous than this one.  We’re very proud of his commitment and service.

“In early December I went for a snowshoe to Fowler Hilliard Hut at 11,500 ft and got pretty bad altitude sickness. It was scary! Vail Mountain Rescue folks evacuated me and brought me down the mountain on snowmobiles at about midnight, and even brought my friend who had driven me to the trail head, too. Jared, Jeff, Justin, Tom(Sludge), and Megan were wonderful and took good care of me. They were so nice and caring, didn’t act at all irritated to be out in the 10 degree cold on a Friday night and actually told me they love what they do. I was SOOOO grateful for their services and I am safe and healthy now. Thank you so much!!!”  —  Jennifer Ayers

Antlers at Vail Holiday Parties

The Antlers at Vail conference space decorate for the 2014 staff holiday party.

The Antlers at Vail conference space decorated for the 2014 staff holiday party.

Antlers at Vail is well known for hosting community events. Many local government and non-profit boards hold regular meetings at the Antlers. Many of these tend to be breakfast meetings so not everyone thinks of us for Vail holiday parties, but they should! We think our conference space is so great for company holiday parties that we even hosted our own at the Antlers last year and it was fantastic! The lobby and conference space were decorates with charming holiday decor, holiday music was playing on the state-of-the-art AV system, fantastic food and beverages were served, Santa visited the kids and the snow outside the windows set the stage. Since the Antlers at Vail conference space also offers a beautiful piano perfect for holiday music, as well as interchangeable wall murals (aspen trees or mountain scene) for one wall.

Call Cherie at 970.790.5217 for more information on Antlers at Vail holiday parties.

Call Cherie at 970.790.5217 for more information on Antlers at Vail holiday parties.

Chef Barry Robinson of Caterers of Vail has been providing a delectable culinary experience to a variety of clients ranging from discriminating wedding couples to sophisticated meeting planners since 2007. Chef Barry’s commitment to detail is unmatched and you can rest assured that you will receive the very best in quality, presentation and service. And he is always happy to customize menus to your preferences.

Call Cherie at 970.790.5217 to learn more about Antlers at Vail holiday parties and how we can help make yours a success!

Pre-Holiday Snow Sale — Book by November 23!

Photo courtesy Jack Affleck and Vail Resorts.

Hurry, you can stay at the Antlers now through December 18 and save up to 50% off when you book by November 23, 2015! Photo courtesy Jack Affleck and Vail Resorts.

As we gear up for the opening of Vail Mountain exactly one week from today, we realize that we have much to be thankful for… our amazing guests who truly become members of our family and more recently to Mother Nature for bringing us two huge snowstorms  in the last week and a half with another on its way Monday. As a thank you we are bringing you our first ever Pre-Holiday Snow Sale. From now through Monday, November 23 you can receive up to 50% off of your lodging on stays through December 18, 2015!

Simply enter your desired dates of stay into the booking calendar or call 1.800.843.8245. Stays November 20 through December 9, 2015 start at $200 per night (30% off) and stays December 10 through December 18, 2015 start at $242 (50% off!) when booked by November 23. Minimum night stays may be required and restrictions may apply. Take advantage of these fantastic savings to ski Vail and kick the ski and holiday season off in style.

As always, we never charge a resort fee and we offer a fantastic selection of complimentary amenities including ski valet, Go Pro camera rentals, parking in our heated garage (1 car), sled and snowshoe rentals and much, much more.

Hurry, book by Monday, November 23, 2015 11:59 p.m. MST to take advantage of these spectacular savings and enjoy all that Vail and the Antlers at Vail has to offer!

Antlers Book Club

Under the heading of “People” in the “People, Planet, Profit” scenario, we couldn’t possibly be more proud of our Assistant GM, Magdalena King, and our Executive Housekeeper, Cristina Roberts (who happen to be Ecuadorian sisters).  However, they’re not the people we’re talking about.  Rather, Magda and Cristina are the ones caring for and investing in, the people … our people.  Among the bountiful evidence of that, is their initiative to implement English classes for our Spanish speaking housekeepers and housemen.  Thanks to the help of Colleen Gray from the Literacy Project, with Magda and Cristina filling in as substitute teachers from time to time, all of our housekeeping crew are able to attend ESL classes right here, every week … on the clock.

As if that wasn’t enough, Magdalena has a stated goal of having every Antlers housekeeper obtain their GED.  As a highly educated individual, Magda believes strongly in the value of learning for an enhanced quality of life, as well as for improved job performance.  That’s true even when the specific instruction isn’t directly related to the job.  She rightly claims that anyone who has a GED will simply be more thoughtful and make better decisions than someone without.  Who could argue?  Happily, Myrna, Gabriela, Elsa, Olaya, Ramona and Cristina are now enrolling in a local GED program.  They have our full moral and financial support.

little prince

As an adjunct to the ESL classes, Magda and Cristina started a book club for our housekeepers (and anyone else).  Their most recent book was The Little Prince, which of course was read as El Principito (the ESL program is still young).  I had the good fortune to accompany all of them for a book discussion at the Vail Library, where Lori Barnes has been a fabulous friend to the Antlers.  Lori’s Spanish is comparable to mine, so she and I muddled through as the rest of them enthusiastically explored the world of little planets, sunsets, baobabs and the frequent lack of adult understanding, all in a Latino context.  It was totally inspiring.

Antlers Book Club

The Antlers housekeeping book club at the Vail Public Library

Gabriella and Elsa

Gabriella and Elsa

Lorena, Myrna, Isela and Ramona

Lorena, Myrna, Isela and Ramona

Angel and Cristina

Angel and Cristina

Lori Barnes and Magdalena

Lori Barnes and Magdalena, who had just come from a school event with Derrick and Matius. Nice cape, Matty