Trash Pickin’ & Picnickin’ Returns May 6th, 2017

This Vail ski season has been one for the record books. The snow and skiing has been amazing all season. Just when we think it is melting off, another snow storm drops a few more inches of snow. But it will truly be over in just a few days. And, as the season winds down we execute our plans to get our property, and also the Vail community ready for summer. 

Join the Antlers for Trasch Pickin’ & Picnicin’ May 6th, 2017 and get a free night on us!

We’d like to once again invite our guests to be a part of our family and green team May 6th, 2017 with our annual Trash Pickin’ & Picnickin’. You come help us pick up trash on the highway for a few hours Saturday morning (May 6th), join us for a free picnic afterward at Broken Arrow in Arrowhead (that’s optional) and we’ll give you a free night* on either Friday or Saturday night.  That’s it … no other catch.  If you want to stay an additional night, we have special rates available. And of course if you visited this winter you can take advantage of your $139 spring nights.  But if you just stay one night … it’s a freebie! It’s our way of thanking you for staying with us, and for helping us keep our world a little cleaner place.

While we’ve been cleaning up our two-mile stretch of Vail Pass since 1988; we’ve also started joining the Community Pride Highway Cleanup arranged through the Eagle River Watershed Council. The past few years we’ve had a handful of guests join us and had a ton of fun, so we’re bringing it back again this year and letting you know in plenty of time to make plans. Join the Antlers green team again this spring, following the end of ski season and as the spring melt gets underway, to help clear the trash and debris that emerges after a long winter of being buried in layers of snow. This is our community’s way of sprucing up the valley for residents and visitors alike!

The Antlers – which has incorporated numerous eco-friendly business practices long before the term ‘green’ was coined – recently was awarded the TripAdvisor GreenLeader and Actively Green statuses, in addition to the Vail Valley Success Awards 2009 Green Business of the Year and the Vail Valley Community Impact Award 2015.

Call us at 800-843-8245!

 

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Poolside Wedding Ceremony at the Antlers

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At the Antlers, we receive many wedding inquiries throughout the year. Some newly engaged couples hear about us from their friends, some from our TripAdvisor listing, and some simply know that they want to get married in Vail. This was Haley and Reza. 

Haley and Reza wanted to keep things simple and have a quaint yet beautiful wedding ceremony somewhere near Vail Square where their photos would be taken later in the day. Their wedding was set to take place on New Year’s Eve, mind you, one of the busiest weeks of the year in Vail. The lovely couple e-mailed us just before Halloween and we thought, you know what? Why not offer to let them get married by our pool? And you know what else, why not let them have their ceremony here on the house? After all, it would be short, sweet, and to the point – No great need to charge for 30 minutes on our patio. 

After offering our poolside deck on Gore Creek for their small ceremony, Haley and Reza were delighted to accept. After all, finding a location for lodging in Vail this time of the year is difficult enoughimage014

So, after much anticipation, New Year’s Eve rolled around and I met Reza in the courtyard. He was thrilled, and could not wait to marry the love of his life. We presented them with a champagne welcome. The officiant came in, then the photographer, and finally the bride. The day couldn’t of been more beautiful with blue skies, and the sun setting over Lionshead. At the ‘I do’s’ we had a number of guests in our hot tubs and some on their balconies clapping and cheering them on! It was pretty fun. With Reza’s brother and his partner at their side to bare witness to their nuptials, they had a toast and some laughs, and went on to Vail Square for the rest of their photographs. 

After the ceremony, I got to catch up with the newly weds in our lobby and offer them some hot cocoa and a suggestion for their first wedding anniversary… because, where better to celebrate than the Antlers?

As an independent property, we get the privilege of offering some very custom, sometimes unorthodox accommodations in the hospitality industry to some really lovely people, and this was certainly the case here. Having the ability to help out when we can just adds a little more meaning to our work, and offering a complimentary location for a small elopement-style wedding ceremony to a grateful couple was our pleasure.

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A GREAT Addition to the Antlers

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Kim Rediker joins the Antlers at Vail team.

I remember going to a Vail Town Council meeting sometime in early 2004 and thinking, “This new woman on the Council is way too young to have that much poise”.  It later occurred to me that she was the same age as me, when I was elected to the Town Council in 1989, but I can tell you that she was a lot more prepared for the task than I was.  I hadn’t met Kim Rediker prior to that, which is a little surprising given that we both worked in the hospitality business.  I thought I knew everyone in the Vail hotel scene.  Apparently not. 

In the past dozen years I’ve enjoyed watching Kim work in a myriad of community roles, both public and private.  It didn’t take long to appreciate how smart and dedicated she was, in addition to all that grace.  I’ve also had the pleasure of working with her on the Vail Economic Advisory Council for a good part of the last decade.  In that role (and others), she’s always demonstrated one of her great strengths … pragmatism.  I have long valued that skill as highly as any other.  Kim truly understands that you can be right about something all day long, but if you’re not effective it doesn’t do anybody any good.  There are SO many circumstances that come up every day in the hospitality business where understanding, compromise and pragmatic decisions are the key to success.

I love the fact that Kim has that “big picture” view.  That’s just one of the reasons I was so stoked when Magda convinced her to come be the Assistant GM.  Combined with Magda’s similar talents, the Antlers is in REALLY good hands going forward.

Rob

Freshly Ground Coffee & the Vail Veterans Program

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The Vail Veteran’s Program invites military injured and their families to participate in various outdoor activities such as skiing, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

The Vail Veterans Program is a non-profit organization who’s mission is  to empower military injured and their families through innovative and transformational programs that build confidence and improve lives. Since 2004, their programs have provided adventurous and engaging mountain experiences to wounded warriors and their families. Thanks to donors, volunteers, and the Vail community Vail Veterans Programs are provided to military injured and their families entirely free of charge.

At the Antlers, we are now providing Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company’s Whole Bean Patriotic Blend in each of our condos. When you arrive at your condo, you’ll find a jar of coffee beans and a coffee grinder on the kitchen counter to grind fresh and brew in your coffee pot. It is our pleasure to provide the coffee to you complimentary, and we hope you’ll enjoy your morning cup a little more knowing that all of the profits gathered by Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company for their Patriotic Blend will go to supporting the Vail Veterans Program. 

We’re pleased to support this incredible local charity and we hope you are too. If you love the taste of this rich coffee blend, and would like to continue supporting the Vail Veterans Program after your stay at the Antlers, Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company’s Patriotic Blend is also available for purchase on their website.  

 

The Next Antlers General Manager

June, 1978 – Freshly graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Business Administration, I had moved to Vail, 100% clueless about my future.  Mike O’Dell, a golfing buddy from previous summers working at the Eagle Vail golf course told me his wife was having a baby and would be leaving her job as controller of a little hotel called the Antlers.  I should apply.  “After all”, he said, “you’ve been to college, you must be a smart  guy … you could probably do that job.”  I went and interviewed with Bud Benedict, the Antlers General Manager.  I remember his exact words … “You’ve been to college … you must be a smart guy, you can probably do this job.”

Fast forward 38 years.  As we near my last days as the Antlers GM, one of my very few regrets is that I didn’t start keeping a journal on that day in 1978. There have been some hilarious stories and I wish I could remember one out of fifty.  Sadly, I can’t even do that.  Oh well …

Rob-&-Magda-0616One big regret that I could have, and don’t … is leaving the Antlers in hands any less capable than mine.  When Magdalena Isabel Cedeño Cabrera King told me in 2007 that she’d give me five years if I hired her, little did I know that she would turn out to have the unique combination of people skills, financial acumen and overall business sense that you find once in a blue moon.  Head and Heart, as Bob Vanourek would say … in this case, to the max.  I did know that nobody had ever committed to five years of employment in a job interview with me before, and I was duly impressed.  Turns out she had a great sense of destiny, along with all those other considerable talents.

When I told the Board of Directors last December that the 2016 annual meeting would be my last, there was no doubt in my mind who the correct successor was.  As boards do, they felt an obligation to “explore all their options”.  I simultaneously respected and ridiculed that decision. After all, the perfect candidate was right here … already in the fold.  In the end, after a series of interviews and thoughtful consideration, our board came to the absolute right decision.  On October 1,  Magda will become the third General Manager in the Antlers’ 44-year history.Rob-&-Magda-0616-b

Some people tell me that my shoes will be hard to fill, (others tell me to not let the door … ). I’m confident it won’t be a problem. Beyond speaking five languages and having the heart and grace of a saint, Magdalena has an innate understanding that “hospitality” isn’t just a word or a business sector. It’s a guiding principle and Magda lives and breathes it.  Besides, she’s been to college, she’s a smart gal … she can do this job.

Leaving the only career I’ve ever known comes with a predictable amount of angst, but as far as the future of the Antlers is concerned, there’s no way I could be more optimistic.

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 opportunity 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.”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!”

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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.

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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!