When people learn how long we’ve lived in the Vail Valley (whether that’s 5 years or 45 years) they often say, “You must have seen a lot of changes during that time.” One of our favorite responses is, “Hey, we’ve seen a lot of changes since Tuesday!”
That’s never been more true than right now, right here. The changes that we envisioned a year ago are happening, and happening fast! During our last big renovation in 2001, we built a new lobby which seemed like such an enormous improvement over the previous pillbox. Well, that reception area has now been completely demo’d. And the replacement is going to be AWESOME.
Much less visible, but equally important, is the extensive foundation work that has taken place in preparation for the new elevator. That, after all, was the impetus for this whole project. The renovated front desk area, offices and one brand new condominium were all afterthoughts (and good ones) to the main motivation of improving the weakest link in our guests’ experience … the 1972 elevator.
The past two months have seen an awful lot of noise and dust, but most of the worst of that is behind us now. Sure, there will be some more noisy days, but the concrete saw cutting is almost done, as is the jack-hammering of the stone pillars. Throughout it all, our staff and our guests have survived and even often said, “It wasn’t as bad as I expected.”
There have been a lot of parallels between this $5 million project and the Antlers 2000 project twenty years ago. One of them has been the number of owners in residence, and guests as well, who are actually entertained by watching the construction! Although the courtyard is off-limits, and packed with equipment and materials staging, most of the walkways have a birdseye view of the whole operation and it tends to bring out the wide-eyed little kid in all of us.
Another similarity between the two projects has been the participation of an “owner’s rep”. In the construction world, that’s they guy you hire to keep an objective eye on the contractor as well as the architect. Someone who has a lot more construction expertise than the person actually writing the checks. Never has that been more relevant and necessary than here at the Antlers. In 2000 we hired Jack Berga to fill that role. He was beyond wonderful and absolutely instrumental in making the whole project successful. As great as Jack was, Dave Collins is even better. And the best part is that Dave has been on the Antlers staff for five years now, acting as our construction coordinator for the dozens of condominium remodels we’ve completed during that time. He has an extensive background in large-scale construction projects, but also the pleasant demeanor that is often missing from those in the world of hardhats.
Despite Dave’s generally easy-going attitude, don’t let that fool you. He can quickly “get in your face” when he sees something that isn’t right, or that could be done better. And that’s EXACTLY what we need. Our general contractor, Hyder Construction, has been a delight to work with. Nevertheless, not a day goes by that the Antlers board and management don’t thank their lucky stars for the presence of Dave Collins.
Although the construction impacts have been, and will continue to be manageable, we don’t want to risk any of our guests having a bad experience. So as we approach the halfway mark in the construction schedule we’ll continue to limit our occupancy to about 50% – 60% of our normal capacity, and we’ll continue to bend over backwards to inform those guests (and owners) what to expect. In a twist on the old customer service adage, we are trying to over-promise and under-deliver on the negative impacts from the construction. So far, so good.
And we sure look forward to showing off the finished product this coming ski season!