92 and Still Going Strong

With almost 16,000 room nights a year and an average length of stay of about four and a half nights, you can see that the Antlers enjoys around 3,500 arrivals annually.  Some of those are couples and some are extended families of eight people or more. The average party is about four, so we had roughly 14,000 people stay with us in 2014 … and every year.  More than a third of those are repeat guests.  Naturally, it would be hard to say that there’s a favorite.  That is, unless you knew Vlasta Giese.

w Vlasta 0115 a

Vlasta’s from the Czech Republic.  She grew up in Prague and still goes back to visit occasionally. To say that she’s both outspoken and entertaining is like saying that Michael Jordan could play some hoops … an understatement of grand proportions. She’s a self-proclaimed, world class schmoozer and I don’t know anyone who would argue.

Vlasta started coming to the Antlers in 1994.  She was 72 years old, going on about 25. Today she’s 92 … and still skiing!  Granted, her legs are no longer going on 25, but her heart and soul … you betcha. She usually stays for about two weeks and when she first came to visit us, it was from DeKalb, IL where her husband Willis was still teaching at the University.  Once Willis passed away she moved to Portland to be closer to her daughter Alenka.

Vlasta was always on a budget and thanks to her age and her engaging personality, we would try to make her the best deal we could. As the years went on money kept getting tighter, but nothing could dissuade her love of skiing, so she’d find a way to keep coming … always in January and always for ten days or more.  Every year she’d ask reluctantly how much we were going to charge her. Finally, in 2002 (when she was 81) I said to her, “Vlasta, ten years ago you paid $150 a night. Today we’re charging you $125, and although our average rate for this time of year is now about four times that much, we will keep the rate at $125 for as long as you keep coming.”  Little did I know that would be twelve more years … and counting!

And nothing could make us happier.

Here’s to you, Vlasta!

w Vlasta 0115 b

Featured Antlers at Vail Homeowner

Featured Antlers at Vail Condo Owners Dr. & Mrs. Newbill

Featured Antlers at Vail Condo Owners Dr. & Mrs. Newbill

In 1976 Dr. Brooks Newbill, along with two partners, purchased a condo at the Antlers. Last year Dr. Newbill bought out his remaining partner, giving him the freedom to accomplish what has been the largest gain ever in lodging quality assurance score at the Antlers, from the lowest rated condo to the highest. The remodel of his condo began with a complete gutting of the unit to replace everything with platinum quality finishes and furnishings. These finishes included cambria quartz countertops, Whirlpool stainless steel appliances, LED lighting throughout, smart TVs, a new fireplace and even an unexpected surprise for guests of under tile heat in both the kitchen and bathroom. His is also the only studio condo at the Antlers to feature a double vanity in the bathroom.

Newly updated kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances and more.

Newly updated kitchen with Cambria quartz countertops, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances and more.

Q&A with Dr. Newbill

 

What motivated you to make the Antlers at Vail your vacation home in Vail?

My partners and I had stayed at the Antlers, and other Vail area lodges, a number of times prior to our purchase. We not only recognized that the Antlers had the obvious benefit of a perfect location, but it was the staff and their dedication to the guests that was the deciding factor for us.  I often talk to guests at the pool area and do a little survey about their stay.  Their almost universal response is that the staff is great and sees to their every need.  Most everyone says they love the Antlers and would certainly return in the future.

What is special about your Antlers vacation home?

My family has found our vacation home to be special because it is in the Antlers and the Antlers is in Vail, Colorado. As the ad says, “Like nothing on Earth.” My survey of guests from all over the world has found that the consensus is that Vail mountain has the best skiing anywhere.  And, the summers are even better!

We look forward to sharing our totally renovated home with our family and our Antlers guest and have to thank everyone associated with our project for their help and dedication in creating our beautiful new home.

Newly updated living area of Antler at Vail studio condo.

Newly updated living area of Antler at Vail studio condo with LED lighting throughout, new fireplace, smart TVs and more.

 

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.

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.

Featured Antlers at Vail Residence

One of the joys of staying at the Antlers at Vail is that the condominiums are true vacation homes. Each homeowner has put forth the effort to make their condo a comfortable home for guests to enjoy. In the second installment of this new blog series we feature the homeowner of a 1-bedroom Antlers at Vail residence, and let them tell you a little about what it is they love about the Antlers.

Antlers at Vail 1-Bedroom Residence

before remodel

Antlers at Vail studio condo prior to remodel and conversion to 1-bedroom with bunks

vail hotel, vail condo, 1-bedroom, platinum, vail residence

Antlers at Vail 1-bedroom residence with bunks after upgrades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim & Diana have owned a home at the Antlers at Vail since 1992. In 2010 the family took the opportunity to purchase the condominium next to theirs when it became available. It was a studio condominium in need of significant upgrades. After much deliberation Jim & Diana committed to a complete renovation that included moving walls to convert the studio into a 1-bedroom condominium with bunk beds. The kitchen was redesigned to move the sink and dishwasher to create a more user-friendly configuration. An old pot-belly fireplace made way for a new modern fireplace. New electrical and lighting was installed throughout. And, high end finishes included travertine tile for floors and the bathroom, granite for the countertops and stainless steel appliances. Their investment produced a luxurious vacation home for Antlers at Vail guests to enjoy, and raised the home rating from a silver to platinum level.

Owner Q & A

What motivated you to make the Antlers at Vail your vacation home in Vail?
Originally the beauty of Vail and variety of skiing attracted us to the Vail area. We have skied the East Coast, the Pyrenees and Alps, but nothing compares to Vail; Nothing is even close.  And, of course, the proximity of the Antlers to the slopes is extremely ideal. We love the ambiance of the village.

What is special about your Antlers vacation homes?
Our entire family has enjoyed many vacations to our Vail home. Over the years our children developed friendships with Antlers staff members, and we look forward to our grandchildren doing the same. The excellent management, employees and service at the Antlers are what make our visits to Vail special. Diana continues to show our appreciation by delighting the Antlers with her famous authentic Greek Baklava every holiday season.

To see more photos of the completed remodel of Antlers at Vail residence 402 click any of the thumbnails below.

Featured Antlers at Vail Residence and Homeowner Q & A

One of the joys of staying at the Antlers at Vail is that the condominiums are true vacation homes. Each homeowner has put forth the effort to make their condo a comfortable home for guests to enjoy. This fall these owners made a renewed commitment to overall property excellence and set the goal of reaching a platinum rating, with 50% of owners already having made plans for significant improvements to their residence.  Some of these are already rated platinum, and others are soon to be. In this new blog series we will feature an Antlers at Vail homeowner, let them tell you a little about what it is they love about the Antlers. And, we’ll tell you about the improvements they are making to their home at the Antlers.

Antler at Vail Homeowner Q & A

Antlers at Vail homeowner, Catherine Michela

Antlers at Vail homeowner, Catherine Michela

Catherine Michela

What motivated you to make the Antlers at Vail your home in Vail?

My husband and I sold his family home in Carmel, CA in 2002 and immediately started looking for a new “2nd home” in Colorado, as we had been totally in love with Colorado skiing for years.  We were fortunate that our looking coincided with the offering of several condominiums from the Antlers 2000 project and were so excited to be able to buy a new place at the Antlers at Vail, after looking at everything available in Vail and Beaver Creek and Aspen.  As everyone told us, you come to Vail for the winter and stay for the summer.  What a delight that we have enjoyed both winter and summer activities at Vail!

What is special about your Antlers vacation home?

Of course, I had a spreadsheet of all of our home buying criteria (I know – don’t laugh) and top on my list  was – close to the slopes, new if possible and good on-site management.  Not only did the Antlers come out on top of that list, it has been an absolute pleasure to become part of the “Antlers Family”.  Our guests often comment in our Guest Book “that they were so pleased to stay in our place” – “that it was beautiful and felt so much like home”

About the Michela Residence

4-Bedroom Antlers at Vail Kitchen: Recent upgrades include stainless steel appliances, durable tile flooring and custom lighting

4-Bedroom Antlers at Vail Kitchen: Recent upgrades include stainless steel appliances, durable tile flooring and custom lighting

Ms. Michela is consistently improving upon an already beautiful 4-bedroom home in the “Antlers 2000″ section of the resort. Last year she had new high-end stainless steel appliances installed. This year she selected a durable porcelain tile that looks like gorgeous hardwoods to be installed in the entry and kitchen, new wall-to-wall carpeting throughout, new living room window treatments and added custom LED lighting in the kitchen and bathrooms. This luxury home was not in need of significant improvements, but these upgrades complimented its elegant personality and also raised the rating to high platinum.

Nothing But Platinum Rated Condos

We used to just be in the condominium management and short term vacation rental business, but now we find ourselves in the construction business as well.

Like every vacation condominium property in the world, we wrestle with individual unit decorating and variance of quality.  After forty plus years of non-stop pleading with some owners to “fix it up”, we have just instituted a formal Unit Quality Improvement plan.  Now we are not only encouraging and rewarding those condominium owners who invest the most, but now we also have some sticks to go with those carrots.

As a result, 43 out of our 88 rental units have made, or are making, upgrades to their property.  Some are big projects, some smaller, but all are meaningful improvements.  And that’s in just this year … we expect to have that much and more, in the next couple years following.   Which brings us to the construction business.  If we’re going to become a completely Platinum rated property, as is our goal, we can’t just tell our condominium owners, “You go figure it out.”

Rather, it’s our job to facilitate everything from new furniture and soft goods, to new flooring, windows, appliances, cabinets and some major renovations.

Tom c

Antlers at Vail Chief Engineer, Tom Schlader

David Collins s

Dave Collins, the newest addition to the Antlers engineering department

Fortunately our Chief Engineer, Tom Schlader, is an accomplished contractor in his own right.  It’s a good thing, because coordinating and implementing this many simultaneous but diverse projects is way more than a handful.  So much so, that we just brought on long-time local Dave Collins to help Tom in that role.  Dave has worked as a project manager for projects large and small so his skills are exactly what we need.

The Antlers commitment in this regard is enormous … in both time and money.  That’s okay though.  Like so many others, our business model is changing and we can either embrace that change, or get run over.

Happily, we plan to be the runner, not the runee.

Setting the Standard for Condo Improvements: Reaching Platinum Ratings

In 2000, 70 individual Antlers homeowners came together, agreed on a plan, collectively assumed risk and then successfully completed a $22 million renovation and addition in 2002. A billion dollar new dawn of Vail followed. The Antlers is once again setting the sights high for property improvements. At the last Antlers homeowners meeting there was an overwhelming consensus to embark on a plan to become a platinum rated property within the next four years. The majority of improvements are to the interiors of the condos and require the individual owner to make a considerable investment. 39 owners have agreed to make significant improvements to unit quality in the coming year. Garo and Val are one of the first Antlers homeowners to make those improvements to their unit and reach the goal of having a platinum rated unit.

Garo & Val

Garo & Val nearing the end of their remodel of the home at the Antlers.

Garo & Val nearing the end of their remodel of the home at the Antlers.

In April, 2013 Garo and Val received their unit rating of 89 – high gold. Upon receiving their Lodging Quality Assurance (LQA) report, they researched what it would take to reach a platinum rating, and help the overall Antlers goal (of becoming a Platinum Rated Property).  They met with the LQA agency, and took notes of everything they could do to improve their home at the Antlers.

Kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, flooring, faux wood beams and new lighting.

Kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, flooring, faux wood beams and new lighting.

Before photo of the kitchen.

Before photo of the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking on the project themselves, and working hand in hand with their own contractors from Denver, they turned their home into a signature of beauty and creativity. Faux wood beams were installed on the ceiling. Beautiful and durable porcelain tile floor that looks like hardwood was installed.  The kitchen was upgraded with new stainless steel appliances. They installed a monster new flat screen TV with a stunning sound system.  And, they did all of this in just over a month!

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

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

Before photo of the living room.

Before photo of the living room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now their home is a Platinum Rated Unit (93 is their new rating). We are very proud of Val and Garo. Their tremendous effort, time and investment to make their Antlers condo the ultimate mountain lodging experience is greatly appreciated and we look forward to seeing which other Antlers owners will take on the challenge, as many already have.

To see photos of their newly remodeled home at the Antlers, click any of the thumbnails below.

The Gift of Vail: $99/ Night Stocking Stuffer from Antlers at Vail

village

UPDATE (1/5/2014): The following December special was so popular that we extended it for the remainder of the winter!

$99 spring 2014 nights with any winter stay.

The holidays season is upon us. Vail Mountain opened last week, the trees are adorned with twinkling lights, and guests have arrived in town to celebrate Thanksgiving with a ski vacation. We have been thinking about this special season and the friends with whom we have shared the holidays. One of our long-time guests, David & Jan Lee first visited the Antlers 21 years ago. The following Christmas they decided that the perfect gift would be to share that experience with their family and each year since have given each member of their family a week-long vacation and family reunion at the Antlers at Vail. And, what better gift could there be than a stay at the Antlers?!?

So, we’ve put together a deal so that our friends can score themselves some December Vail powder and get the gift of $99 spring lodging to stuff in stockings this holiday season with a special December Snow Deal from the Antlers at Vail hotel. For every night’s stay at the Antlers this December, guests can book a night between April 7 and June 15, 2014 for just $99 – and they can use the great deal for their own spring skiing (Vail closes April 20 this year), or gift the nights to friends and family.

“We were going to make the $99 deal just for April end-of-season,” says Antlers General Manager Rob LeVine, “but we got to thinking, what if you wanted to give a $99 night to your mom and dad who don’t ski? And of course you don’t have to tell them you only paid $99. Or your kid’s teacher who has to wait until school gets out – that should be worth some good grades. So we extended the offer through June 15 for guests who might rather ride the zipline or coast around town on our free-for-guests Antlers bikes in May or June, than chase April freshies.”

Photo courtesy Vail Resorts, Dan Davis

Photo courtesy Vail Resorts, Dan Davis

The Antlers at Vail December Snow Deal applies to Antlers stays December 1 – 31, 2013, for booking $99 nights April 7 – June 15, 2014. Some restrictions may apply.

 

 

Outside Adventure Film School

The Antlers at Vail is proud to welcome the Outside Adventure Film School back to the Antlers for the 5th year in a row. The Adventure Film School, sponsored by Outside Magazine and presented by Serac Adventure Films, is an intensive one-week program held June 5 – 12, 2013 teaching students how to take their film from concept to screening with expert help every step of the way. Held in Vail Colorado during the GoPro Mountain Games when professional and amateur athletes from around the world converge upon the mountains and rivers of Vail to compete in nine sports and 25 disciplines, it offers a multitude of opportunities to capture action and adventure as subject matter. At the conclusion of the games, the students with the help of some amazing film makers including school founder Michael Brown, edit their footage down to short films. The Antlers hosts a FREE film showcase where the students show off their talent and hard work with a collection of fun, funny and entertaining short films. This is a unique opportunity to get behind the scenes and up close in the world of adventure film making.  The showcase will be on Tuesday June 11, 2013 at 7:00pm in the Antlers conference room. Light snacks, sodas, beer and wine will be served. Everyone is welcome!

Here are some great videos from past Adventure Film School Students in Vail and beyond!

If you are interested in participating in the school there are still a few spots available. For more information visit www.adventurefilmschool.com.

GoPro