Antlers Honored: Community Impact Award

The Antlers at Vail is honored to have received the 2015 Community Impact Award from Vail Valley Partnership. The Antlers was one of 13 Vail area organizations honored May 13, 2016, in the Vail Valley Partnership’s 13th Annual Success Awards. Even as the Friday awards ceremony was taking place, representatives from more than 20 Colorado Front Range nonprofit organizations were checking into the Antlers to participate in the hotel’s annual Pay It Backward weekend – one of Antlers at Vail’s many community-oriented initiatives.

The just-completed spring Pay It Backward weekend was the second annual invitation by Antlers at Vail to a long list of Front Range nonprofits, offering two nights’ free lodging and a Saturday thank-you reception in gratitude for all they do for the communities they serve. “It’s so much fun seeing these hard-working nonprofit staff members and volunteers have a chance to relax and recharge in our beautiful Vail Valley,” says Antlers at Vail General Manager Rob LeVine. “Saturday was actually a beautiful day so most of the families enjoyed the pool before the reception,” adds LeVine, who notes that most of the guests brought family members and/or their dogs to share in this rare change for some downtime.

The Vail Valley Partnership Success Award for Community Impact is given annually to a person or organization who has contributed to the public good through programs, funding, volunteerism and generally giving back to the community. In addition to its annual Pay It Backward event, the Antlers at Vail is deeply involved in the local Vail community, participating as a supporting member or sponsor of numerous area organizations and initiatives, hosting community events, providing financial contributions and staff volunteering.

“It is a particular honor to receive the Community Impact Award in such a tight-knit area as the Vail Valley where community involvement is, honestly, the norm,” says LeVine. “I’m proud that the Antlers is viewed as making a difference in this very special community.”

Community-Impact_Winner[1]

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!

People, Planet, Profit.

The triple bottom line … a new age kind of thinking, but becoming less radical all the time … at least I hope so.

I’m proud of the fact that this approach has always been at the foundation of the Antlers culture.  Even before it was part of our lexicon, it influenced our actions. Our accomplishments over the years in the area of environmental sensitivity, combined with our position near the top of Vail’s good corporate citizens, speak to this.   Granted, the Antlers has the luxury of being a completely independent entity.  No corporate bureaucracy to worry about.  Even our “shareholder” demands, rest entirely among those condominium owners who have priorities far beyond the simple ROI.  Knowing that Vail is their second home, and recognizing the role we play in making that home, that entire community, a better place … that’s why we are who we are.  Sure, profit is hugely important.  But in our case it doesn’t necessarily outweigh the other two legs of that stool. It’s a business model of sustainability, and not just in the environmental context … in every way.

I was asked to give a talk about this recently to students at the Vail Mountain School.  The occasion was the Global Solutions Forum of the Students Shoulder To Shoulder enterprise (now that’s a mouthful). In short, SSTS is one more organization that we are enormously proud to be associated with.  One whose mission includes “Creating and supporting good global citizens”.  Really now, what higher purpose is there?  In that context, I tried to speak about the similarity of good citizenship and good corporate citizenship.  In short, behaving in a manner that is meant to benefit those around you, and not just yourself. … sometimes even at your expense. The students intuitively understood the environmental part of that picture … recognizing that we’re on this earth together, and it’s the only one we’ve got.  They even approved of mandating such behavior if necessary.  Laws against polluting our streams and rivers being one example of such justified mandate.

SSTS 2

Less instinctive was the “People” part of the equation. They didn’t all immediately recognize an obligation for business to help those in need (and even those not in need).  Whether that’s done through the direct support of charities, corporate sponsorship of worthy causes or just a culture that encourages such behavior among others … the students seemed to view this as much more optional.  I tried to impress on them the inherent value (and joy) of working for an organization that has that soul.  I also tried to make the point that working with and for others who held those same beliefs was both more pleasant and ultimately more profitable.

I don’t know if I got through, but I hope so.

Rob

Sustainability … One Step at a Time

When it comes to “going green”, the job is never done.  Or perhaps with a bit more positive spin … the opportunities are endless.  The fact is, you can never do too much, but every little bit helps.

At the Antlers we’re proud of our previous accomplishments, but still try to employ one or two additional initiatives each year. Sometimes those are expansions of existing programs and others are completely new efforts. This year we had some of each.  For starters, we bought another eight solar panels to go with the fourteen we already had. Then Greg Ziccardi spearheaded the effort to install over 1,300 LED lights in the condominiums (how many Sustainability Coordinators does it take to screw in a light bulb?).  This, in addition to the hundreds that Greg had already placed in our conference rooms and other common areas.

Under the heading of “brand new accomplishments”, last month we installed a SEMA electric car charger.

car charger

It cost roughly $3,000 for the charger itself, but we also had to run 220V service to the pedestal, which made the installation another $1,500 or so. We figured it would be quite awhile before we saw an economic return on that investment, but that’s okay … we’ve already picked most of the low hanging fruit when it comes to sustainability initiatives that actually save money.  However, to our surprise (and delight), in the first couple weeks after it was in place, we had two different Tesla owners call to make room reservations because they saw our location on their car charging phone app.  How cool is that?

Tesla charging c

Then, in order to take full advantage, we bought an electric hybrid Ford C-Max to use for running around town, as well as shuttling Antlers guests when we can. The cool thing about the C-Max is, like many new-technology hybrids, it runs on sheer electric power for the first 20 miles or so.  So if you just run to the supermarket or the post office like we usually do, it never uses any gas!  If we have to go to Denver or somewhere else, the self-charging battery/gas operation kicks in and it has a range of 500 miles or so at 40+ mpg.

Here’s the scoop on the car charger … It costs us about 80 cents an hour when it’s charging a car.  Most cars (it varies widely, of course) will get about fifteen to twenty miles per hour of charging.  That works out to be well less than half the cost of gas, again depending on the car’s fuel efficiency. Guests of the Antlers will not have to pay to charge their car.  In addition to just encouraging sustainable behavior, it’s our way of saying, “Thanks for staying with us!”

car charger sign

For someone who’s just passing through, stops for lunch and wants to “juice up” before they get on the road again, the charge will be $1.95 an hour.  That will help us recoup a little of the installation costs, and is still similar to, or even less than the cost of gas.

Given that some of the electricity we purchase from Holy Cross Energy is generated from those solar panels, and we’ve also been buying their wind power for years, it’s fun to think that our electric car and those of our guests  are truly running on renewable energy.

Now … what’s next?

Thanksgiving in Vail Filled with Comfort, Convenience

Chef Barry delivers Thanksgiving meal to suites; Ski Butlers offers ultimate slopes amenity

Thanksgiving in Vail

Chef Barry Robinson’s Thanksgiving spread allows guests to celebrate around a groaning table of holiday favorites.

This Thanksgiving join us for a veritable cornucopia of comfort and convenience, including a complete traditional dinner with all the trimmings delivered directly to guest suites and complimentary ski valet from on-site rental company Ski Butlers. The Antlers has always been a popular Vail hotel for family gatherings due to the variety of condominium sizes, bedding options and authentic and friendly “home away from home” culture, as well as our many fantastic complimentary amenities. Book your Thanksgiving at the Antlers by calling 1-888-268-5377.

VailHotelSkiValet

Ski Butlers adds another level of convenience to the amenities-packed Antlers at Vail experience.

After the success of last year’s Thanksgiving dinner offering we are taking this year’s Thanksgiving in Vail to a new level. In addition to Antlers at Vail’s customary abundance of family-friendly amenities geared toward snow season – complimentary hot chocolate and cider in the lobby by the fireplace, complimentary snowshoe rentals and loaner sleds, complimentary GoPro cameras to check out for capturing getaway memories, and complimentary movie rentals for that all-important down time – Ski Butlers is now on-site to offer ski rentals and fittings, as well as complimentary ski valet. Ski Butlers will shuttle all ski equipment back and forth for guests to the slopes, saving time and energy.

The home-style Thanksgiving feast that Chef Barry will cook for Antlers at Vail guests includes tender, just-roasted turkey breast and homemade giblet gravy, garlic-spiked mashed potatoes, oven-caramelized butternut squash, fresh green beans with toasted almonds, seasoned stuffing, sweet-tart cranberry sauce, and mixed young salad greens with herb dressing, and for dessert – freshly-baked pumpkin pie and vanilla bean ice cream. The full meal will be delivered right to Antlers’ guest suites – all condominium suites include full kitchen and dining spaces – in ovenproof, recyclable containers, ready to heat at guests’ convenience. Cost is $35 per person, including service fee and excluding tax.

UPDATE 10/29/15: You could say Antlers at Vail hotel has gone to the dogs for Thanksgiving: In our ongoing efforts to provide the most amenity-oriented lodging experience available, the Antlers  has added homemade dog biscuits to its Thanksgiving bounty. Chef-baked dog biscuits can be included by request at no additional charge. Please call 1-800-843-8245 in advance to confirm that a pet-friendly room is available.

UPDATE 11/16/15: The deadline to order your Thanksgiving Dinner is November 18, 2015. Hurry, call 1.800.843.8245 today.

About Chef Barry Robinson

Internationally trained Chef Barry Robinson was a pastry chef and professional chef throughout Europe, Asia and Australia before moving to Vail in 1998 to take the helm at Game Creek Club. He owns Caterers of Vail, which collaborates with Antlers at Vail to provide exceptional on-site event dining experiences.

About Ski Butlers

Founded in 2004 in Park City, Utah, Ski Butlers serves 35 North American resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia, Canada, and is the only ski shop in Vail/Beaver Creek to win the Vail Valley Platinum Service Award for exceptional customer service 7 years in a row.

Make the Antlers at Vail your “home away from home” for your very own Thanksgiving in Vail by calling 1-888-268-5377!

Antlers Achieves Platinum Lodging Status for Vail Hotels

Last week we received some very exciting news from Kathy Lichtenheld at the Vail Valley Partnership, “Great news…….After lots of hard work & effort the Antlers has achieved a Platinum rating! Congratulations to the entire staff!” Our assistant manager Magda King and project manager Dave Collins worked closely with Kathy over the last eighteen months to manage and implement our Unit Quality Improvement Plan, a property-wide project created to achieve a challenging goal of reaching Vail’s highest-level Platinum lodging status, having an average condominium rating of 90 or above.

“Our enthusiasm and intention for this meaningful and thorough upgrade throughout the property has always been guest comfort and satisfaction,” says Antlers GM Rob LeVine. “We are honored and excited to carry this designation forward, and are committed not only to continuously meeting its high-quality standards, but exceeding them.”

Unique to vacation destinations, Vail Valley Partnership manages a Lodging Quality Assurance program (LQA) that provides a standardized rating system for all units rented through the Vail Valley’s central reservation systems, with Platinum representing the highest level of room appointments throughout a property.

“Congratulations to the Antlers at Vail for reaching a Platinum level rating in the Lodging Quality Assurance program,” says Chris Romer, president of the Vail Valley Partnership. “It takes a concerted effort, plus dedication, time and resources, for any condominium property to reach our highest rating. Reaching this level of rating shows a commitment to providing the highest level of guest service by the Antlers ownership as well as the staff.”

Because the Antlers guest suites are independently owned condominiums, rather than taking a ‘cookie cutter’ approach, all of the renovations were custom designed – personalized to owners’ taste, with the numerous interior upgrades over the past year including granite countertops, stainless appliances, new flooring, new lighting and entertainment systems, new fireplaces, furnishings and much more.

“While all of the upgrades meet the same stringent quality requirements, it’s fun to see the different details that personalize each of the condos – and resonate with guests, who often request the same suite on subsequent visits,” says LeVine. “This achievement was accomplished thanks to the hard work of Antlers team members Magdalena King and Dave Collins, as well as the many owners who bought into the plan and made significant investments to their condominiums. We are now looking forward to accomplishing our ultimate goal of having every condominium in the building rated Platinum.”

Many of the renovations that went into this effort have been features on our blog, and we will continue to feature future projects as we move to the next step of the plan and work towards every individual Antlers at Vail condominium being Platinum rated. You can browse a few of these projects below.

Featured Four-Bedroom Condominium4BR_living-kitchen_1600x800

 

 

 

AntlersVailLodging_2Brd_kitchenFeatured Two-Bedroom Condominium

 

 

 

New living room with beautiful flooring accented by faux wood beams, and a flat screen TV with stunning sounds system.

 

Featured Two-Bedroom Condominium

 

 

Featured 1-Bedroom with Bunks Condominium402_1bb_kitchen-dining

 

 

 

402_living-dining_2014Featured 1-Bedroom with Bunks Condominium

 

 

 

109_bedroom_2014Featured Studio Condominium

 

 

 

 

Pay It Backward Gratitude

The response to our Pay It Backward Weekend (see previous post) has been overwhelming.  Out of the 36 organizations we invited, we now expect 33 to attend.  Even better, their gratitude has made us happier than ever, that we decided to quit talking about doing this and just pull the trigger! Two of the people I spoke with even told me that when they awarded the stay to a member of their organization, that person started to cry.  Of course that prompted some commentary among ourselves that if the reaction to a stay at the Antlers was tears … what exactly does that mean?

No, no, no … these were tears of joy … honest.

This letter we received today is a great example of why we’re so pleased to be able to do this.  We think we’re the lucky ones!

Thank You Letter: Pay It Backward Gratitude

letter from the Center for Mental Health

Stay tuned for pictures and follow-up from the reception on Saturday.

Rob

Pay It Backward Weekend

The term “Pay It Forward” has come to mean doing something nice for someone in hopes that they’ll do something nice for someone else … a wonderful act of blind faith.

Logically then, “Pay It Backward” must refer to that circumstance when someone has already been so nice that they simply deserve a little reward.

With that in mind, we at the Antlers decided it was time to host a Pay It Backward weekend. In line with our constant desire to be a good corporate citizen, we identified three dozen wonderful non-profits and invited each of them to designate a person of their choice to spend two free nights in Vail, May 15 – 17 … no strings attached. It might be their Executive Director or a hard working board member. It might be their Volunteer of the Year. It could even be a recipient of their services, who they just think deserves a break today. Whoever they want … it’s totally their choice. Naturally, significant others and family members are welcome also. We simply want to take the opportunity to thank them for doing what they do, helping to make this world a little better place.

 

Pay It Backward s

The following organizations were picked somewhat randomly. We tried to find a good mix of social, environmental, humanitarian, health, military, children and animal related causes. The Antlers has a previous relationship with some of them and others we’ve just always admired. Naturally, there are a million others who would be equally deserving, but hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. Who knows, maybe we can grow this event in the future to include others as well.

Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
American Heart Association
American Red Cross Mile High Chapter
Audubon Rockies
Bicycle Colorado
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado
Boys & Girls Clubs
Canine Companions for Independence
CAR Housing Opportunity Fund
Catholic Charities
The Center For Mental Health
Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Colorado Public Radio
Colorado Fourteener Initiative
Colorado Water Trust
Crossroads Safehouse
Denver Children’s Advocacy Center
Denver Dumb Friends League
Denver Indian Family Resource Center
Easter Seals
Food Bank of the Rockies
Habitat for Humanity of Colorado
The Home Front Cares
Hospice of Northern Colorado
IDE – International Development Enterprises
Joshua Station
Mile High United Way
Mi Casa Resource Center
MaxFund
Rocky Mountain Rescue Group
Ronald McDonald House
Salvation Army of Colorado Springs
Sense of Security
Wounded Warrior Project
Women’s Foundation of Colorado
9 Health Fair

In addition to the free nights, the Antlers will host a reception on Saturday evening the 16th at 5:30. Similar to our weekly guest receptions in the winter, Chef Barry Robinson is guaranteed to wow everyone with his gourmet appetizers and the Antlers will provide the wine and refreshments. Again, no strings attached … people can come to mingle and network with all the other humanitarians, or they will be totally excused if they’re just too busy enjoying Vail and our surrounding mountains.

As of today, thirty organizations have RSVP’d and their appreciation has already made the endeavor enormously gratifying. We can’t wait until the actual event!

As always, the Antlers takes pride in remembering that life is short and there’s a lot more to business than just making money.

Not Just Another Site Tour

Under the heading of “Life’s Little Pleasantries”, Magdalena gave a site tour to Aimee Heckel on Sunday. By the way, Aimee is a very entertaining writer (aimeeheckel.com).  In this case, she was reviewing some Vail properties for Fodor’s.  Magda reported that it was a great site tour and also relayed an interesting comment from Aimee.  When she asked about our neighboring properties, Magda naturally responded 100% positively, even noting some of the strengths of each.  Aimee said that when she asked the folks at Sonnenalp about the Sebastian (where she was headed next, before us) they too had nothing but good things to say.  On her way from the Sebastian to the Antlers, she got the same feedback from them, about us.

Her observation was that she had never experienced quite so much respect and camaraderie between different properties, when on a travel writing assignment like this one. Hearing that made me quite proud of our community. No surprise … just a reaffirmation really, but I guess it’s evidence that when we sometimes call this place Happy Valley, we’re not always being facetious.

We neglected to get a picture of Aimee and Magdalena, but here’s Magda showing unit #518 on a recent (but different) site tour. Notice Asst. Executive Housekeeper Gladys Villeda on the right … who else sends their housekeepers on site tours? We do because we’re proud of that department! And yes … that’s an international travel agent proudly wearing his new antlers.

Rob

Pink Hat Auction for Pink Vail

In support of Pink Vail, the Antlers commissioned two Pink Vail Hats to be handmade and auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the fight against cancer.  On a personal note, the hats were made by my wife Evelyn, who got into felting last year!  I’ll have to do another blog post dedicated to some of her other wonderful creations.  For now though, let’s auction these hats and raise some money for a good cause.

You need to buy one of these hats.  With only these two items, we’re not up for a complex auction system.  No eBay for us.  We’ll do this the old fashioned way (if you can call email “old fashioned”).  Just send me an email (rob@antlersvail.com) with your bid and I’ll take it from there.  You can also call me at 970-790-5200.  Leave me a message with your bid and I’ll get it posted.  The auction closes on Tuesday,  the 24th at 5:00 PM.

                          Current high bids are:

$35 $50 for the True Pink             $50 $75 for the Dusty Rose

Pink Vail hat 2015 b                   Pink Vail hat 2015 a

 

Pink Vail hat 2015 f

Thanks,

Rob