The Antlers Has Done It Again

The Antlers has just done what nobody else has done … again.  For someone who likes to think outside the circle (see?) it is insanely gratifying to work for a company that’s consistently willing to try new things, break ground and be on the cutting edge. Do leaders get some arrows in the back? Sure, but I’d much rather have a few darts in the derrière than just slog along in the middle of the pack.

Among all the lodging properties in Vail (and later the Vail Valley), here are just a few of the things on which the Antlers has led the way:
Not charging for local phone calls (that’s right … 1983-ish)
Accepting non-Saturday to Saturday bookings during the height of the ski season (even harder to remember that)
Building employee housing (1982)
Converting all wood-burning fireplaces to gas (1991)
Putting VCR’s in every condo (1987)
Getting a fax machine (1992-ish … people asked, “What will you do with it?” and we said, “We really don’t know.”)
Computerizing our operations (1980 … with an Apple II+)
Adopting a stretch of highway (1985)
Offering free snowshoe rentals to all of our winter guests (2012)
Starting the redevelopment of Lionshead (2001 … at $18M, that was the biggest of all)

Now comes another biggie … more subtle than some of the others, but with potentially huge impact.  For many years the Antlers owners have enjoyed a 64/36 rental spilt. Owners get 64% of the rental income from their condominium. For full service properties (daily maid service, etc.) that’s the best in Vail, by a pretty wide margin. The rental split at most of our competition ranges from 60/40 to 50/50.

Last month the Antlers owners agreed to change that split, but here’s the fun part … Consistent with our efforts to encourage the owners to upgrade their condos to Platinum status, the split will be a sliding scale. Those units rated 90 and above (Platinum) will maintain the old 64/36 split, but for every rating point below 90, the split changes by 1%. In other words, a unit rated 88 (high gold) will receive 62% of the rental revenue rather than 64%. Our lowest rated units with an LQA score of 83 (thankfully not many of those) will have a 57/43 rental split … right up until the time they make some improvements (many of which are now being hastily scheduled).

This is a pretty radical departure from our historical approach of only using carrots to motivate condo improvements. This has a decidedly greater “stick” element to it. Does that part bother me? Yep, a little. But there’s such justification for it and ultimately it really is fair (in my mind, at least).

Best of all, it’s totally cutting edge. Nobody else is doing it … YET. I’m willing to bet that others will follow. I can’t wait to see.

Rob

Revenue Management?

Twenty years ago, most of us in the hospitality business had never heard of a Revenue Manager.  Back in those days people made their reservations either by calling us, or having their travel agent call us.  It was pretty simple.  Establishing our pricing was a fairly straightforward exercise, taking into account supply and demand, which was relatively homogenous.

Fast forward to 2014 and you have the internet and a plethora of new ways to book a hotel room.  Our puzzle includes guests who:

  • Call direct
  • Book on-line direct
  • Have their travel agent use one of those two channels
  • Use a wholesaler (a travel agent for travel agents) who does the same, or maybe books through the Global Distribution System (GDS) run by the airlines (Apollo, Sabre, Worldspan, etc.)
  • Use one of two Central Reservation Systems in Vail (with or without a travel agent involved)
  • Use one of the online travel agencies (OTA’s) such as Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com or more than a dozen others

There is also the question of how all those people who are booking on-line, whether direct or through a third-party, arrived at that particular website.  The possibilities are literally endless.  Attempting to track the demand from hundreds of such different channels is a full time job, to say the least.  Each of those sources of business lends itself to complex analysis of pricing, discounting, restrictions, behavior, etc.

Ryan Kelsey c

With this ever-growing complicated puzzle of “inbound traffic” the Antlers has taken the plunge of hiring a full time Revenue Manager.  Ryan Kelsey comes to us with a good analytical background, as well as local hospitality experience at the Charter in Beaver Creek and Destination Resorts in Vail.  We’re excited to welcome Ryan to the team, and love the fact that he can focus on this crazy puzzle of selling hotel rooms and providing the best possible return to our owners, while still maintaining great customer loyalty.

These days, when people ask me, “So how’s business?”  My pat answer is, “Well, it’s pretty good, but it sure ain’t easy!”  I realize that doesn’t make us special.  Business everywhere is tougher than it used to be.  Heck, it isn’t always easy being a consumer, either.  Think of the travelers who have to deal with the same plethora of choices about where and how to book their rooms. We’d love to hear from any of you who have a favorite way to book hotel reservations.  Naturally, we love it when you call us directly. That gives us the best chance of understanding all your preferences and satisfying all of your needs. But if you’ve found a preferable way to get a great Antlers suite with just a few online clicks, we’d love to know how and why.  And we promise to share the info with Ryan.

We Lost A Great One

Col. Don circa 1990We lost another one.  A great one.  One of the original Antlers owners.  He liked to tell the story about walking through the building (the original building) when it was a concrete shell.  Must’ve been 1971.  Colonel Don Wiethuechter (pronounced Wee-Tuke-Ter) was known to us as just Col. Don.  He was as supportive an owner as there ever was.  He came to every annual owners meeting as well as one or two other times a year, and always offered encouragement and appreciation.  Sure, on occasion he may have tied me up on the phone for a few minutes too long (hours, maybe?), but what I wouldn’t give right now to hear that voice say, “Hello Mr. Manager … How are you doing today?”

Col. Don and Bud Benedict were great chums and I remember when Bud retired, me being a little worried about that element of the transition.  My worries were unfounded … Col. Don had my back just as much as he ever had Bud’s … and as much as any other owner ever has.

I always claim that the Antlers Heart and Soul is what sets us apart from our competition.  It’s unquestionably what has kept me here (and happy) for 36 years.  Well, if ever there was a symbol of our heart and soul, it was Col. Don.  We’ve had some great owner/cheerleaders over the years, but Col. Don was Col. Don circa 1995there with the best of them.  I think we only took second place to his beloved Huskies at the University of Washington, and maybe his employer of 30+ years, the U.S. Army.

He would frequently travel with the Washington football team to away games and I think even received some sort of super-booster honor at mid-field one time.  I remember when Rick Neuheisel got the coaching job at UW, after getting canned from CU.  Things didn’t go so well for Rick at Udub either and we had a great time ribbing Col. Don for years afterward about our hand-me-down.  Despite his propensity to bleed purple (as they say), he always took it well.

I think we only have five or six of the original owners left now, although there are happily another six or eight that have been handed down in their families.  It’s such a bummer to see the number dwindle, but Col. Don will always be a permanent part of Antlers lore.

NEW: Antlers Offers On-site Ski Rental

The Antlers at Vail hotel and Ski Butlers have joined forces to add on-site ski rentals with ski valet to the long list of amenities the hotel already offers. This ski season guests will be able to not only rent ski equipment from Ski Butlers who will have an on-site location but also enjoy complimentary ski valet with Ski Butlers bringing their skis back and forth to the ski lifts for them.

Ski Butler

As part of Ski butlers’ ski rental service, guests don’t have to leave the comfort of their condominium to be fitted for their equipment. Ski Butlers will come to their condominium at the guest’s convenience to fit them and when the guest is finished skiing Ski Butlers will pick the equipment back up. No waiting in lines or carrying equipment around. Any questions or additional ski equipment needs, Ski Butlers will be the touch of the button away and on-site. Now, guests will be able to get on the hill more quickly and with minimal effort and be able to save all that energy for ripping down the slopes or skiing fresh powder.

“With the philosophy of ‘The answer is yes, now what’s the question?’ we are excited to have been able to fulfill another guest request at no additional cost to them,” says Rob LeVine, general manager of Antlers at Vail. “This partnership with Ski Butlers is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Ski Butlers fits customers with ski equipment in the comfort of their condo.

Ski Butlers fits customers with ski equipment in the comfort of their condo.

The Antlers at Vail hotel offers a relaxed Vail lodging experience in a fabulous mountain setting and was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and GreenLeader status. With condominiums ranging from studio suites up to four-bedroom penthouses, every unit at the Antlers enjoys a fully-equipped kitchen, fireplace, private balcony, daily housekeeping service, and complimentary wi-fi and parking. The Antlers has an A+ location on the banks of Gore Creek, just steps from restaurants, galleries, shops, free Vail town shuttle and the Lionshead Gondola. For more information, call 1-800-843-8245 or visit www.antlersvail.com.

Founded in 2004 in Park City, Utah, Ski Butlers now serves 35 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 7 years in a row! Questions? Call 1-877-754-7754 or visit http://www.skibutlers.com/portal/antlers.aspx.

Stay & Play Vail Golf Package

The Antlers is now offering a Stay & Play Golf Package starting at only $109.50 per person

The Antlers is now offering a Stay & Play Golf Package starting at only $109.50 per person

With spectacular views, courses designed by golfing greats like Arnold Palmer, and those extra-long high-altitude drives, Vail, Colorado, knows how to make every golfer feel like Tiger Woods. Now Antlers at Vail makes a good thing even better with its 2014 Stay & Play Package. Starting at $219* (only $109.50 per person!), two people can spend a relaxing night in a spacious Antlers at Vail condo located on Gore Creek and also play a round of golf at Eagle Ranch.

Situated in Brush Creek Valley, Eagle Ranch Golf Club sits at an elevation of 6,600 feet above sea level. Eagle Ranch is an Arnold Palmer Signature Design set in the center of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Mr. Arnold Palmer designed the layout, which includes an interesting variety of mountain and links-style holes. The open, rolling fairways lead to large, undulating greens which play fast. There’s water on most holes and strategically-placed bunkers throughout. Eagle Ranch demands accuracy. But with five sets of tees there’s fairness for golfers of all abilities.

Call 800.843.8245 to book your stay & play golf package today!

*One night lodging Sunday through Thursday in a 1-bedroom condo and a round of golf at Eagle Ranch for two people is only $219. One night lodging Friday or Saturday in a 1-bedroom condo and a round of golf at Eagle Ranch for two people is only $249. Upgraded condos available. Subject to availability.

The Ultimate Vail Hotel Sleep Machine

Vail Hotel Sleep

The rushing waters of the Gore Creek running alongside the Antlers at Vail hotel.

My first night in Vail was much too quiet.

I was all checked into Condo #308 at the Antlers and I was all tuckered out after a long day of meetings and introductions.

I turned off all the lights and climbed into bed when I was struck with the most deafening kind of silence. The room grew so quiet I was actually frightened.

Back in Brooklyn, where I live, I have become used to a lot of noise. A “quiet” night for me involves ambulances, honking horns, and drunk teenagers. Most nights I have to sleep to the manufactured sound of falling rain or ocean waves just to drown it all out.

So to lie in bed, in pitch black nothingness, with only my thoughts was a bit scary. I searched Diane and Jeff’s unit for something, anything, that could relieve me of the horrifying soundlessness. An A/C unit? A fan? But there was nothing.

That’s when it came to me: the perfect noise machine was just outside my window. I rushed back to the bedroom and cranked open the glass. The raging Gore Creek flooded the unit.

I crawled back into bed, finally at peace. Falling asleep to the sounds of the river became one of the greatest moments of relaxation during my week at the Antlers at Vail hotel. I don’t think I’ll sleep that well again for a long time.

Vail America's Best Summer Job BenBenjamin Solomon is the winner of America’s Best Summer Job, a 10-week, all-expenses paid summer job exploring what summer in the Vail Valley has to offer. A freelance writer based in New York, Benjamin has contributed to publications such as Vanity Fair, New York, Travel + Leisure and is the former editor of Next Magazine. Follow his journey on Blog.Vail.com as well as on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #VailBen.

Soon To Be Platinum Rated

Dr. Brooks Newbill, owner of unit 109 at the Antlers, committed to a major renovation this past spring and the results are in….. Stunning!

The 680 square foot condominium was completely “gutted” in order to launch the project.  All existing walls and popcorn ceiling texture were removed.  The original kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and all flooring were taken to a final resting place.  The majority of furniture was donated and all older appliances were properly recycled.

These few photos are only a glimpse of the final result.

With no walls left, new walls needed to be raised.

With no walls left, new walls needed to be raised.

This is eventually the kitchen with a new window.

This is eventually the kitchen with a new window.

After a little more than four months, the condominium is back in the rental pool and ready to be enjoyed.

The sliding glass door from the living/dinning area, overlooks the pool and Gore Creek.

The sliding glass door from the living/dinning area, overlook the pool and Gore Creek.

A new fireplace, entertainment center with additional storage space.

A new fireplace and entertainment center with additional storage space.

The kitchen includes granite counter tops with stainless steel appliance and heated tile floors.

The kitchen includes granite counter tops with stainless steel appliances and heated tile floors.

A king bed in the master.

A king bed in the master

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A wardrobe with plenty of space.

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A double vanity, walk-in shower and heated tile floors complement the master suite.

It also needs to be mentioned that the furniture and all the amenities to complement are of the highest standard.  The electronics and appliances are the most current available and Dr. Newbill elected to install LED lighting throughout the unit.

Congratulations Brooks Newbill, your home away from home is truly outstanding.

Another Moose Takes Refuge

Anyone that walked into our Lobby last Sunday did a double take at the sight of a very large Blue Moose standing near the fireplace.

This one did not wander unwittingly into our lobby, but rather, was intentionally dropped off under the cover of darkness. Our neighbors in Lionshead made quite the effort to wheel the 250 pound sculpture over on Saturday night from the Blue Moose Pizzeria.

The sign around its neck read “I hear you accept pets and this is a great place to stay”.

This visit didn’t get as much coverage from the press as the last one.

Dan Cullen, Front Desk Agent extraordinaire, catches up on the Sunday local news

Dan Curtin, Front Desk Agent extraordinaire, catches up on the Sunday local news

Antlers Lobby Serves as Brief Refuge for Baby Moose

There is never a dull moment at the Antlers at Vail hotel! A baby moose sought a brief refuge in our lobby yesterday morning. We are hoping it safely finds its way back to mamma.

The Colorado Parks & Wildlife website has resources for how to act when encountering wildlife and specific information on Moose in Colorado.

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A sweet little baby moose sought a brief refuge in the Antlers at Vail hotel lobby yesterday morning.

Cliffs, Creeks and Cameras at the Antlers

Emmy-award winning filmmaker, aspiring cinematographers to showcase work at Antlers at Vail hotel

adventure, films, vail hotel

Emmy award-winning filmmaker Michael Brown will showcase a spectacle of outdoor adventure films made by the Outdoor Adventure Film School Students.

The Antlers at Vail main conference room will feature kayakers cascading over waterfalls, climbers with spider-like fingertip strength, runners grinding in effort and even dogs diving for thrown buoys. On June 10, 2014 at 6 p.m. the Antlers at Vail hotel will host a presentation by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Michael Brown who will showcase a festival of outdoor adventure films made by the Outdoor Adventure Film School students over the course of the Mountain Games.

Renowned outdoor cinematographer Michael Brown is a pioneer of telling the story of adventure, and has earned more than 30 international film festival awards and three Emmys.

The Vail Symposium has partnered with the Outside Adventure Film School bringing Brown as a guest speaker to the annual debuting of short adventure films made by aspiring filmmaker students over the course of the Mountain Games.

“This event has always been a huge hit in the past with just the students showing their short work,” says Tracey Flower, the Symposium’s Executive Director. “This year we are coming on board and bringing Michael Brown – a veteran of the industry – who can speak to the audience and the students about his illustrious career.”

Brown will share clips from his videos and speak about the struggle, character, commitment and dangers of creating these mystifying videos. As a part of the Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure series, the Town of Vail Public Library has sponsored the program.

Students from the Outside Adventure Film School, over the course of the Mountain Games, are tasked with creating a video that tells the story of the games. They only have days to find the story, film it and then edit it into a three to six-minute segment. The students will showcase their films, telling the trials and tribulations they faced in the short time they had to put the films together following Brown’s lecture. If you are interested in participating in the film school there are still spots left for locals at a discounted rate.

“This event is unique for the outdoor enthusiast or the film fanatic,” said Flower. “In a few years, these students will be the ones trekking into the backcountry and bringing home awe-inspiring stories.”

If you go…

Who: Michael Brown and the Outdoor Adventure Film School
What: Screening Adrenaline I Lecture and Short Film Presentation
When: June 10, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: The Antlers at Vail
How Much: Free | $10 Suggested Donation