“As the Antlers Turn…” scene 6

Did you ever plan on getting hurt? 

I don’t think anyone gets up in the morning and thinks “Today would be a good day to break my ankle.”  I don’t know anyone who says ” As soon as I’m done with breakfast, I’m going to slam the car door on 4 of my fingers or slip on the ice, fall forward and break my nose again.”  Injuries happen and it’s always a surprise.

We here at the Antlers hotel have had our share of mishaps over the years.  Some serious and some not so. Regardless of the severity, we heal.

Let’s say you are out skiing with your friends and you fall down. My personal observation of everyone that gets “bit by a snow snake” is as follows.  First you’re surprised that you just fell down.  Then you believe it hurts.  Then you wonder why it hurts. Then you apologize to your friends for having to wait for you to get up.  Then you feel really bad because you think you just ruined every one’s day.

Reality ultimately sets in.  You are the one that has to have surgery.  You are the one that goes through therapy.  You are the one that has to use crutches or learns to write with your left hand because of the cast.  Then you heal and you realize it really was just a bump in the road.  It’s another notch in your belt.  Something to talk about with your buddies.  You’re right back where you were and just a little wiser, not cautious, wiser.  There is a difference.  Regardless of how or where you sustain an injury, you can chose to not ever participate in that activity again.  That’s being cautious.  To continue and participate and know not to make the same mistake again, that’s being wiser.

Here’s a few things that have befallen some of the Antlers employees.

Gladys and Lora have both had their share of set backs.  Lora tripped on the carpet and broke her clavicle last year.  Gladys has pushed a vacuum with her right arm for so long, she needed surgery on her elbow.  They’re healed now and still participate.  Lora continues to walk on carpet and when Gladys needs to use a vacuum, she alternates elbows.


We had an employee picnic a few years back and brought a volleyball net with us.  Tom is a tall guy and we wanted him on our team until he “did a smash” and landed awkwardly on his ankle.  He took himself out of the friendly game and watched his ankle balloon.  He found out the next day that the ligaments in his ankle were all torn.  Follow doctors orders and he was bowling at the next employee get together.          

Can anyone guess who belongs to this leg?  It was a great run down Windows in Sun Down Bowl when a large snow snake reared his ugly head.  “Just another notch on my belt and a bunch of screws in my leg.  Worst part about it?  I couldn’t fly anywhere because I couldn’t get through security.”  He has seen and experienced worse in the years he has played here and he continues to be a constant participant.  Nothing keeps him down.  On Sunday, he will ski in the morning, play golf in the afternoon and then text everyone that he’s at the bowling alley if anyone wants to join him.

Magda has a good one in recent months.

I have something to say about myself.

Darci is still in the process of fixing herself.

And Randi is the most recent participant on the playground.  All that coming soon……..

“As the ANTLERS TURN….” scene 5 by Gz

I was feeling a bit stupid standing there thinking I was some sort of Green Hornet who had rushed to saved the place from burning down.  Now I was thinking, “I wonder if I could use the women’s changing room since the other would be out of order for awhile.”                  

It was after midnight now and a crowd was gathering.  Rob showed up and stood next to our newly hired Preservation Manager who was questioning himself and the decision to accept employment at the Antlers.  They watched the fire together and only sober thoughts ran through their heads.                         

 A 25 year vet, Rob thought “the end of an era.”               

Tom thought “I’ve been working here for 2 weeks and the pool burns down.       

Tom ponders Antlers interview tactics

 What have I gotten into?”                          

We had a lot of guests in house because the skiing was great and they all had a birds eye view from their balconies.  I was on the other end of the pool deck wondering why there was no water coming out of the hoses.                

The only fires I have ever been around are the ones I’ve started.  I was setting them as a wee lad burning my plastic army men behind the garage.  When I matured to adolescence, I started them on the High School Campus after a football game.  Now that I’m really mature, I’ve been spotted behind the Antlers sitting next to my campfire on Gore Creek.  Always under control of course.  I’ve never seen a “real”  fire when the the red trucks and sirens and lights flashing and uniformed officers were needed to put the thing out and they have those really cool plastic hats and I wonder if they really slide down a pole and….                                 

It’s amazing how professional they are.  I remember now all the equipment being put in place.  The hoses being dragged around to proper position.  They were  methodical and efficient. After the set up,  I heard the a radio call to “hit the water”.  Within minutes, the inferno was extinguished.  Man, there is some serious water pressure that runs through those hoses.                  

We wanted to blame the cabana boy but we didn't have one

  The mess  that was left the next day was not a pretty site. Our crack maintenance crew had the well roasted building torn down and shoveled away with-in a couple of days.  Now a   decision needed to be made. We were in the middle of ski season and who doesn’t want to swim a few laps and use a hot tub after an exhilarating day on the mountain? Should we keep the pool open? El Jefe called an emergency meeting and wanted input.                    

 Knowing I was one of the people who took advantage of a hot tub after a day of skiing, I decided to give my 2 cents worth.  I was thinking selfish selfish but didn’t want to appear as such.   So I said “We have to keep the pool open.  I would…I mean our guests would be totally upset if they had know where to soak .”    


 Tom offered the thought of building a wall where the fire left most of the damage.  “That will keep inquisitive minds from falling through the hole.”              

Rob ultimately decided to add some water and keep it open

Construction began that spring and anyone staying here (and me) in the interim, shared pools and hot tubs with our neighbors until we were proud owners of a brand new, state of art, swimming pool complex.  This one has new changing rooms with showers, hot hot tubs, gardens that are unsurpassed and we even threw in a couple of  flushing toilets.         

     Action and “you had to be there to appreciate it” scenarios are still developing, so no tease for the next scene. It’s getting busy here so just stay tuned……      


It was worth the wait



“as the ANTLERS TURN…”scene 4 by Gz

Not Hogan but kinda sounds like him

  Ben and Hogan were working the front desk this particular evening.  Ben was playing video games and Hogan was writing a thesis titled “Currency, Inflation, Social Engineering and Why I Need a Break”.  It was quiet until the phone rang and Hogan answered.  The person on the other end, who was an employee of the Marriott said,  “We just dialed 911.  There is a fire behind your building.”                      

 Hogan, who had no inflection in his voice, ever, said “Thanks for the call”.  He hung up, looked at Ben and said “The pools on fire”.  Ben jumped to his feet knocking over his chair and ran out the lobby screaming “You call Rob and I’ll tell Greg!”  To this day, I don’t know why he didn’t just call me.                       

Hogan picked up the phone and dialed Robs cell number.  There was no answer on the other end so he just left a message.  “Good evening Rob.  This is Hogan at the front desk.  The pools on fire.  Other than that, everything is normal”, and he hung up.                          

Not Ben but kinda looks like him

I remember Ben as a big guy with a genuine smile.  Not this night however, He was just a big guy in panic.  After he nearly had beaten my door down to make the announcement The pool’s on fire!  The pools on fire!’, I watched him run down the hall.  He went to the right and turned around, shouted an explitive, and fell over a bench.                     


I went to the pool in what I would consider a fast, walking pace (I was trotting) wondering how that pool water started on fire (I’m originally from the Cleveland area).  I arrived and was almost relieved to see the men’s changing room was totally engulfed in flames.                         

 For those that haven’t been here before the fire, you need to know of some of the attractions of the original pool area.  Frozen boards that had splinters, the “portable hot” tub never stayed hot, an ice rink around the pool from splashing, but we did have gas heated changing rooms with no toilets. 
 I was amazed at the height of the flames when I arrived.  You really couldn’t get close to the action and while some employees and a few guests stood there doing a rain dance, I said to myself, self “Do you remember where the gas shut off valve is?”       

I had to deduce that the flames were being fed by the natural gas and turning off the valve should slow the burn.  The fire department hadn’t even arrived so I thought I would take things into control.  I didn’t have a flashlight when I went below the decking area to find the gas valve.  First thing that happened was a confrontation with an old pipe in the dark.  I walked right into it and it didn’t give an inch.  I fell on my derriere and exclaimed “THAT’S GOING TO LEAVE A x!!x!#! MARK.”  I persisted and crawled through the rumble and dirt to get to the valve.  I could see now because the wood deck was on fire above me and it was giving off plenty of light (and heat).                          

I thought to myself, self  “Who in the hell do you think you are? Antonio Bandarus?  What in the world are you doing  down here?”  I got to the valve and turned it off, went back up to the deck and the Fire Department had arrived to save the day.  I felt the blood flowing down my face from the losing battle with the pipe below and then I heard an officer in blue yell at me to “Get Back Now!”                          

He turned to his comrades and yelled to them “Does anyone know where the gas shut off valve is?”………..           

“As the ANTLERS TURN….” scene 3 by Gz

Myrna has been working on the Antlers Housekeeping staff for 5 years and like the rest of the crew, goes about her business everyday without anything to write home about really.  This was not one of those days.     

She’s a small girl, I would consider her almost petite, and very soft spoken.  We could have taken bets that the deafening scream did not resonate from her. Did I mention that she is zoophobic (the fear of animals)? The Antlers is a pet friendly lodging establishment and she is never scheduled to service rooms when a dog or cat checks-in and brings their owner.     

Rob should have told Darci, who should have told Gladys, who should have told Myrna why the guest in 524 moved to 604.  Suspecting no surprises, Myrna and Ramona arrived to do their duties after the radio call.     

Poor thing….She was stripping the sheets of the hide-a-way bed and when she pulled them off, a little fury Marmot lunged out of the ball of sheets and directly at her.  Its front paws got stuck up in the large pocket of the smock she was wearing.  One claw got tangled up in the material while the other three little legs thrashed about ripping at her clothing.  Hence, the scream.     

When I got there with the cage trap to catch the bear cub, she was lying in the corridor with a cool compress on her forehead.  I stepped around all the others that were trying to compose her.  I poked my head into 524 and turned back around and asked “Has anyone seen a bear in this room?”     

I never saw the little pest, but I was sure now that it was cowering somewhere in the condominium.  No need to interview Myrna on the validity of  its presence.  I set the trap with a carrot donated by Katie and left the area.     

I don’t particularly like animal surprises either, so without admitting it,  I commandeered an army to check the status of the animal trapping.  It was now our job to safely entrap the intruder and relocate it to a place where he could be free to raise a family of its own.  It had been hours and myself, Darci, Amy and Randi went to check on the progress.     

We opened the door and the four of us, looking like Larry, Curly, Moe (and Shemp), poked only our heads into the unit.  Darci went in first and the rest of us followed.  You would have thought it was the introduction of a new infant. “Ahhhhhhhh.  He is Sooo Cute.  Ohhhh. Look at him.  Look at those sad eyes.”  Then he hissed.     

Murray the Marmot never touched the carrot

There he was, resting comfortably in the confines of his new prison cell.  He was under arrest for breaking and entering and the damage he had done to a private residence without a permit.  The carpet had been ripped back at all the doorways, pictures were knocked ajar, wooden blinds had been eaten and screen doors torn.     

We never figured how the little marmot got into the unit, but we were all happy it wasn’t a bear.  Myrna was fine after a bit of a rest and some therapy.  She actually got a new smock and went right back to work.  The guests that were “inconvenienced” were fine after our apologies and actually stayed an additional night. Tom, the Antlers Preservation Manager, took our little bundle of joy home with him and found a nice place in the forest where, as rumor has it, he found a girlfriend and they are homesteading somewhere above Minturn.     

……..As I have mentioned, it’s October and things are relatively quiet around here.  Because there is a lack of continuing excitement, I thought I would go back in time a bit…….     

I was on call this particular evening in January of 2003.  It was 10:30 pm or there abouts, and a knock on my door.  No, let me clarify.  It was a pounding on my door, as if the whole thing would come crashing down if I didn’t answer in seconds.     

I was in my Big Labowski Robe and hurried to the door to see what in the world I had done to make someone so mad at me.  It was Ben from the front desk and his eyes were as big as saucers and panicked.     

“The pool’s on fire!  The pool’s on fire!”……….

“As the ANTLERS TURN….” scene 2 by Gz

…….Rob was not crying at his desk this day.  He was visibly upset though.  He looked up at me and explained how the day had started.

“The guests in 524 just called and they were in a bit of a rage”.  I immediately got concerned for lack of confidence in myself.  (I was thinking “Oh man oh man.  I know whatever it is, it has to be my fault.  He can’t fire me today. I have a wedding to pay for in the spring.  Just take it like a man. I don’t even know what I did wrong.  Oh man oh man”.)

He continued “The way they were explaining it to me.  They were up all night because of the sound of dishes being moved, carpet being ripped up, blinds being chewed on, and so on.  They are NOT happy”.

“Any ideas what it is?’ I asked him, now totally calm knowing it wasn’t me moving that stuff around and eating carpet.

“Well, he got up in the middle of the night to investigate and saw the shadow of an animal, and this is his account, about the size of a bear cub running across the floor and then behind a chair.  He called from his cell phone this morning and they’re having breakfast.  He wants us to address this immediately”.  Rob sat back in his chair and took a deep breath.  “I think what he’s most upset about is the fact that he had to put a blind fold on his wife to get her out”.

I was concerned, but had my doubts.  “What would you like me to do?” I asked him.

El Jefe tilted his head and starred slightly to his right as he does when he is contemplating a reply to a question.  “I’m going to change their reservation and move them to another condominium, move  their luggage, put a bottle of wine in their place, with a sincere apology, and discount their stay.  If you could do me this favor.  Put one of those cage traps up there that we catch chipmunks with.”

I was fighting back laughter when I replied “You know Rob, what you just told me is a 1000 to 1 scenario but if there is a bear up there, we’re going to need a bigger trap”.

He looked at me steely eyed.  I said “I’ll go check it out”.

Just around the corner from Rob’s office is the front desk and Pedro, one of our more knowledgeable front desk employees whose only problem is he never knows when to stop talking, overhears our conversation.  He proceeds to tell Darci, the mailman and 2 other guests that “there is a bear in house.”  Ratz has told him countless times to “Speak when you’re spoken to but try to limit your response to a half day”.  Rob approaches them and explains the room move.  “Could you update housekeeping for me?”

This is the type of conversation that goes on between the Antlers Front Desk and Houskeeping litterally dozens of times a day.

Darci is on the radio and says “Front Desk to Housekeeping”.

Gladys answers “Go ahead”.

“There was a little problem in 524 this morning so Rob moved the guests to 604.  So 604 is a check-in and the guests are already moved and 524 is a check-out and the room is dirty.”

“OK. Thank you.” and then Gladys relays the message in Spanish to the crew that is responsible to clean 524.  These gals are good and when it’s time to clean a room, it gets done.

Five minutes later there was a blood curdling scream and there were reports it was heard as far away as the Vail Marriott……

“As the ANTLERS TURN….” scene 1 by Gz

We live in a resort town and it just happens to be Vail, Colorado.  We are the employees of the Antlers at Vail.

My name is Greg, The Director of  Nothing,  and in my years here I have been witness to a wonderful business practice at our little condominium resort.  I also have been surrounded by borderline insanity with regards to day to day operation of this place.  The purpose of this ongoing series is to share some of the things that go on around here that you probably wouldn’t know or hear about without me making it public.

I’ll promise this one thing; what you read in the coming months is true and almost factual.  I will reserve the right to embellish on any one situation I deem obligated to report.  The characters are real, although I’ve changed the names of a few to protect their innocence.

Let’s get started….

It’s October in Vail and our little town sleeps this time of year.  We are in transition so to speak.  A lot, but not all restaurants and shops close down for vacation purposes, hotel staffs are working shorter hours and the weather usually starts its change from glorious fall days to cold rain and spitting snow.

Not this year however.  I don’t remember such beautiful days through September and this far into October.  People must have heard of the pleasant season we are having because there are more guests staying with us this time of year than I can remember.  Good for them I say.  Take advantage of the reasonable room rates and delight in the surroundings.

It’s 6:45 am and Darci, our Front Office Manager (she should have 2 titles;  the other one being What Goes On In the Back Office Manager), is unlocking the doors to the Lobby.  She is constantly amazed how early people get up as 4 guests are waiting with coffee cups outside in their pajamas.  One is reading the paper and leaning against the sign that says “Lobby Opens at 7:00 am”.  He asks Darci, as she fumbles with her keys, “What time does the Lobby open?”

She turns on the lights and is escorted to the coffee station to begin the first brew of the day.  She checks messages after settling in behind the front desk.  ” You have…19…new …messages….to listen to your …messages.

Meanwhile Rob (El Jefe), as a testimony to how nice the weather has been, is still riding his bike to work.  He peddles away at 7:30 in the morning and the only thought that runs through his mind is “I’ve got to win the Sole Power Challenge.  I’ve got to win the Sole Power Challenge” (more on that later).

This particular day was going along at a routine pace.  Chris (Assistant Mgr or Director off All Things Big & Small) is on vacation.  We just call him Ratz.  There is no real relevance to this except that the front desk gang have a tendency to relax a bit more when they are at work and he is in Italy (more on that later). 

I love my coffee and will make several stops a day to the Lobby to enjoy a cup and today was no exception. I say hello to everyone before going to the back offices to check the mail.  “Darci, I heard everyone went out last night to celebrate a perfect strangers birthday. Did you get enough sleep last night?”

She looks up and says “Greg you know me better than that.  I never get enough sleep.  I could sleep 14 hours a day and still take a nap.  And we did go out and she wasn’t a stranger.  Amy knows her because of Yvonne when she lived here.  Yvonne knows her because a good friend of hers knows her Uncle in Des Moines.”

“Certainly sounds like someone you would lay down and die for.  I hope you weren’t required to bring a gift” was the only thing I could think of saying.  “Is El Jefe in yet?

“I didn’t see him but I know he came in through the back door and went right to his office.”  She went back to starring blankly at her computer screen.  No chit chat with me today.  I can see that.  Poor girl didn’t get enough sleep.

I poked my head into Rob’s office to say hello and I saw him sitting at his desk with his head in his hands.  Very uncharacteristic.

“Good Day Rob.  Is everything all right?”  I really thought he was going to lift his head up and I would see the swollen eyes and tears running down his face…………tbc

What is a Driver?

This is an account of what goes on behind the scenes.  I feel compelled to share with you some information that goes unnoticed, but certainly has an impact on a days event if some detail was missed.

This past Saturday the annual Triple By Pass bike race, event, excursion, whatever the participants call it, was scheduled from Evergreen, Colorado and terminated in Avon.  This is 100 miles of insufferable bike riding over 3 Colorado mountain passes.  Congratulations to the Antlers team that endured and completed the contest.  (I suppose I should name names.  Meridith, Rob, Kathy, Bert, Danny, Jimmy, Randi and Don.  Your commitment to your sport is admirable).

Now I would like to congratulate me.  The preparation to get these world class athletes in place for the days event is tireless.

First I have to get gas in the van.  Then I have to get up at 4:00 am to drive these people to the starting point in Evergreen.  Then I have to drive back. 

Mighty are the preparations for thier arrival back in Avon 10 hours later.  I have to get a spot for the gang in the picnic area.  Make sure the ice for the margaritas doesn’t melt, buy a watermelon, purchase some helium balloon’s and write countless text messages that no one answers.  I was exhausted. 

I suspect pictures will be posted soon dramatizing the day.  You will not see, however, any pictures of the “Driver”.  He simply goes about his business.  It is a thankless yet rewarding job and I am proud to be a small part of such a momentous day.

That is what a Driver is.


(This Post is filed under shamless plugs)

I’ve got your shoe

When was the last time you got home and realized that you were wearing one of your shoes … and one of somebody else’s?  Any chance it made you think about how much you’d had to drink?

Last night we had our end-of-the-season employee party.  After an awesome dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Avon (Foster’s is Australian for “beer” you know), we went bowling.  In case you were wondering, they serve beer there too.  In my defense (actually there is no defense) at the bowling alley you have to take off your shoes and then put them back on later.  Seems simple enough, but apparently not always.  Here’s the voicemail that SOMEONE left for Greg later that night.

I can’t imagine that you’ll have trouble following along (it’s crystal clear) but just in case, here’s a transcript:

Hi again, I still like that message.  Hey I just got home … took off my shoes … I took off my shoes and one of them isn’t … isn’t mine …….  I’ve got …. I’ve got your shoe


What Surrounds 2 Dozen Picnic Tables at 11,000 Feet?

What I saw were 15 restaurants and their chef’s cooking on their own grills. Chardonnay chilling in piles of snow. Bottles of Stella in buckets of ice. A few 100 people dressed in street clothes or ski gear holding small plates of samplers from each of the vendors. And a ton of Colorado blue sky.

On Saturday it was the annual Taste of Vail Mountain Top Picnic held just above Eagles Nest. Lets talk about a festive atmosphere.

We arrived at the picnic after attempting to make a few runs on the front side before the sun had time to “soften” things up a bit (Chris R has the perfect analogy; “It’s like skiing on corral”). Mr. Sun was only shinning on the back and we chose not to venture that way with the risk of not getting our fair share of grouper fish tacos, cherry bbq ribs, craw fish pie, lemon seared quail, and a few other delectables I don’t remember because of all we tasted to wash it down with. If it all wasn’t so perfect, I would call it decadent. Or maybe it was almost perfect with a little sprinkle of decadence.

We behaved enough though, and rather than ride the gondola the wrong way down, we decided to ski in what was now soft snow. So much fun we did it again. A little warm up for things to come. I can’t wait for the “Mother-In-Law Picnic” coming to a ski area near you soon.

Stephanie and Randi chow down……But where is Greg?

Ahhhh….All the comforts of home.

……..And ……Relax.

Just as I Predicted….

It has been sort of a strange ski season as far as the weather man is concerned. A little bit of snow in November. Enough to open the mountain and that’s pretty typical. December was brutally cold. January was unusually warm. February started out as January and that’s when I made my prediction. Late season snow will be here at the end of the month and it will snow until the Mountain closes.

I would be exaggerating if that is what has happened, but not by much. We are definitely getting our share of spits and dumps and along with it, some beautiful sunny days. I have’nt talked to anyone that is complaining about the conditions because there is nothing to complain about.

I went out yesterday for a couple of hours and road the chair with a nice couple from New York. She asked me “Aren’t you the guy that predicted perfect conditions for March and April?” “Yes, that’s me” I replied as humbly as I’m capable.

“It doesn’t get any better than this” he said. “I don’t think we ever have been disappointed coming here”.

His wife asked if I had any thoughts about a good place to eat in town. I told her I was not in the habit of suggesting culinary delights. I am after all, “only a simple weatherman who predicts the future”. (Although I did mention the bowling alley for some great tuna spears).

Come join us for the best conditions of the year.  I predict you will not be disappointed.  Greg