Who’s next?

I’ve always been amazed by the active lifestyle of people who live here. Skiing, snowboarding, biking, running, rock climbing… You name it. People of all ages are always doing something active and adventurous. It’s not weird to see a three-thousand-dollar car with a ten-thousand-dollar bike on its rack. Same true with skis, snowboards or whatever it is that people call their passion. I admire and respect that so much that I’ve secretly wanted to become this way.

You see, growing up, I was the “uncoordinated” one. The one that was too slow to run, too heavy to jump or too clumsy to do anything. I was just not that good at sports. And then I came here.

I ventured out to learn to ski and of course I tore my ACL on the bunny hill the first time I went out with friends, BUT I didn’t give up. After each season I became a little more confident. This year I had a crazy goal: To take guests out skiing with me. While my co-workers know exactly the name, the length and the little secrets of each run, I barely know the runs by their characteristics: “I love the one that has those tall trees on the left”. Furthermore, my sense of direction is nonexistent so I really had to prepare well to acheive my goal.

My first guests were my dear Aussie friends: Gavin, Paul, James, Lozza and Chris. I studied the grooming report as if it would be the final test for my MBA graduation. I did some warm ups at home just to make sure I was in the best possible physical shape. I tuned my skis to perfection, all to make sure my friends would have the best time ever.

Well… while skiing with them, I found out that I had it all wrong. It is not about being perfect, fast, or knowing it all. It is really about just having fun! I remember thinking back to when I just arrived to Vail 9 years ago: “Why do people call this a vacation, when they are sweating just trying to put their boots on?” It took me all this time to understand it. The fun of sharing and unfolding a ski adventure is priceless. For a moment you forget about the world, and you are just present, gliding towards paradise. While sitting on the chairlift on your way up, you laugh about almost crashing with each other, or confess that your legs were burning with each turn, and it is all good.

Thank you my Aussie friends for skiing with me. I am glad you had fun, just like I did!

Now, who’s next?

Magda-

With my favorite ski run in the back. The one with the tall trees on the left.

Antlers Book Club

Under the heading of “People” in the “People, Planet, Profit” scenario, we couldn’t possibly be more proud of our Assistant GM, Magdalena King, and our Executive Housekeeper, Cristina Roberts (who happen to be Ecuadorian sisters).  However, they’re not the people we’re talking about.  Rather, Magda and Cristina are the ones caring for and investing in, the people … our people.  Among the bountiful evidence of that, is their initiative to implement English classes for our Spanish speaking housekeepers and housemen.  Thanks to the help of Colleen Gray from the Literacy Project, with Magda and Cristina filling in as substitute teachers from time to time, all of our housekeeping crew are able to attend ESL classes right here, every week … on the clock.

As if that wasn’t enough, Magdalena has a stated goal of having every Antlers housekeeper obtain their GED.  As a highly educated individual, Magda believes strongly in the value of learning for an enhanced quality of life, as well as for improved job performance.  That’s true even when the specific instruction isn’t directly related to the job.  She rightly claims that anyone who has a GED will simply be more thoughtful and make better decisions than someone without.  Who could argue?  Happily, Myrna, Gabriela, Elsa, Olaya, Ramona and Cristina are now enrolling in a local GED program.  They have our full moral and financial support.

little prince

As an adjunct to the ESL classes, Magda and Cristina started a book club for our housekeepers (and anyone else).  Their most recent book was The Little Prince, which of course was read as El Principito (the ESL program is still young).  I had the good fortune to accompany all of them for a book discussion at the Vail Library, where Lori Barnes has been a fabulous friend to the Antlers.  Lori’s Spanish is comparable to mine, so she and I muddled through as the rest of them enthusiastically explored the world of little planets, sunsets, baobabs and the frequent lack of adult understanding, all in a Latino context.  It was totally inspiring.

Antlers Book Club

The Antlers housekeeping book club at the Vail Public Library

Gabriella and Elsa

Gabriella and Elsa

Lorena, Myrna, Isela and Ramona

Lorena, Myrna, Isela and Ramona

Angel and Cristina

Angel and Cristina

Lori Barnes and Magdalena

Lori Barnes and Magdalena, who had just come from a school event with Derrick and Matius. Nice cape, Matty

 

 

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.

 

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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.

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

Antlers Lobby Holiday Decorations

Once again, we are the supreme beneficiaries of the generosity and artistic skills of one Dawn Bobuk.   Dawn and Ron are two of our favorite owners.  Their condo #607 is perennially one of the most requested at the Antlers, and for good reason.  As you might expect, the owner of such a tasteful unit also has an eye for the elegant when it comes to holiday decorations.

Dawn humors a fairly worthless helper

Dawn humors a fairly worthless helper

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She’s done it for us before, and we can never thank her enough.  This year it took Dawn nearly three days to set up one of the most popular Christmas trees in our history … the Snowman Tree, as well as to re-build the Department 54 village that often graces our lobby this time of year.

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We owe Dawn a huge debt of gratitude.  I hope we can figure out how to repay her one of these days.

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Happy Holidays to all!

Most GM’s Don’t Get To Do This

Bill and Shirley Rauter bought Antlers #506 back in the day.  It was 1972 to be exact. They were the original owners and now theirs is one of only a few Antlers condos that has never changed hands. We’ve been good friends ever since I came on the scene in 1978.

Typical of most Antlers owners back then (and now as well) they had hearts of gold and whenever they came to town they were anxious to share their appreciation for this place they loved so much.

When Bill passed away a few years ago, the Antlers Heart and Soul took a big hit. He was such a nice guy and simply loved having fun. When Colorado passed proposition 64 a couple years ago it was proof that Bill was just a little ahead of his time.

One of Bill’s many joys was sitting on the balcony of #506 and just soaking in the scenery … with Gore Creek as the only thing separating him from the slopes of Vail Mountain. At one point he said, “When I go, I want you to spread my ashes up there so that I can enjoy this scene forever.”

Bill Rauter

Earlier this year Shirley brought some friends and family together for a bit of a reunion and to celebrate Bill’s life. Heart and soul makes a comeback! One of their goals was to spread his ashes as he suggested. Although they sprinkled some at the top of the mountain, they didn’t quite make it down to one desired spot, right next to the trail sign at the top of Simba face. Shortly afterward though, when Shirley was leaving, she asked me if I would do that one favor for her …

“Honored” doesn’t begin to describe my feelings. I waited for just the right day.  November 9th 2014 was a crisp, clear, bluebird day, with just a hint of oncoming winter in the air. I hiked up Simba face and said my own private farewell to Bill. I told him we miss him.   A lot.

From now on, whenever Shirley or I or anyone else who knows, looks at that trail sign from the deck of 506 …

Rauter 3

 

 

Our heart and soul lives on.

 

 

– Rob

It’s November 10th!

It’s 2:00 in the PM this particular Monday.   Not just another Monday, but a stormy Monday.

The weather guy in New York told me this morning that Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota would be in for some frigid temperatures this week.  Apparently there is a new polar vortex forcing its way from Alaska and will ultimately consume most of our country.

Colorado Ski Country that is.

It got cold and started snowing on Vail Mountain about 2 hours ago and believe me when I say “it has not let up”.

A few shots around the campus at 2 on the 10th…..

 

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The tranquil Gore Creek got a little colder today.

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Our backyard lawn was mowed just last week.

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We were reminded to turn on the snow-melt system for our courtyard.

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We all have to learn to drive in the snow again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vail Mountain opens the 21st of this month.

If you haven’t made plans……Well?

Chef Barry’s Bodacious Breakfast Burritos

For many years we at the Antlers have pondered whether to provide a breakfast for our guests. The need seemed to be limited since every condominium has its own full kitchen. Most of our guests seem to be happy doing their own thing, and our compromise has always been to provide free shuttle service to the supermarket so they can pick up whatever they need.

Nevertheless, there still seemed to be some demand, so a few years ago we tried providing a wonderful, full hot breakfast buffet. Unfortunately, only a handful of people each day took advantage of it.  Although they definitely loved it, there just weren’t enough of them to support the effort so we stopped doing it. Despite that setback, we’ve always felt like it would be appreciated if we could just find the right model. So it’s time to try something new …

Enter Chef Barry’s Bodacious Breakfast Burritos!

breakfast burrito

Starting this winter, Antlers guests can grab a breakfast burrito (regular or vegetarian) pre-made by Barry Robinson, the Antlers acclaimed in-house catering chef. Sixty seconds in the condo’s microwave and voila!  …  a robust culinary start to the day, to be enjoyed with coffee in front of your fireplace, or munched down on the go as you walk to the gondola.

Under the heading of “Keep It Simple”, the only option will be whether or not to also purchase a small side of pork green chile for that smothered maneuver. Naturally, that eliminates the choice of eating-on-the-go; but that’s okay … the two-minute walk to the gondola isn’t enough time to finish CB’sBBB anyway.

Burritos will be $7.50 and the green chile side, another $3.50.  We think this will be a big hit.  We’ve already got a number of standing orders from the staff, who speak from experience.

For a little more reference on Chef Barry and his BBB’s, check out this blog post from a few years ago!

Any Idea Who These People Are?

Halloween is a holiday like no other.   People don’t spend a billion dollars every year on costumes and decorations if their not serious about pretend.

We met at a local pub this past Friday to celebrate “what, I don’t know”.

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Ryan and Katie enjoy a few apps while pretending they are someone else.

This guy even talked funny and told lame jokes..."what is a pirates favorite letter?"

This guy even talked funny and told lame jokes…”what is a pirates favorite letter?”

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Darci cast a spell and Dan struggles with his cocktail

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Katie was never this sweet and Michael put on his boyhood clothes and looked normal to me.

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Some people came as housekeepers.

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Magda came as an Ecuadorian Indian. What an imagination.

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Wilma (Randi) is about to meet Dr Death (Ramon) while sweet Katie enjoys the moment.

Nothing wrong with a few professionals “dressing down” after work.

Happy Halloween!

 

Revenue Management?

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

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

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

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

Ryan Kelsey c

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

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