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.

car charger

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!”

car charger sign

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?

Pay It Backward Gratitude

The response to our Pay It Backward Weekend (see previous post) has been overwhelming.  Out of the 36 organizations we invited, we now expect 33 to attend.  Even better, their gratitude has made us happier than ever, that we decided to quit talking about doing this and just pull the trigger! Two of the people I spoke with even told me that when they awarded the stay to a member of their organization, that person started to cry.  Of course that prompted some commentary among ourselves that if the reaction to a stay at the Antlers was tears … what exactly does that mean?

No, no, no … these were tears of joy … honest.

This letter we received today is a great example of why we’re so pleased to be able to do this.  We think we’re the lucky ones!

Thank You Letter: Pay It Backward Gratitude

letter from the Center for Mental Health

Stay tuned for pictures and follow-up from the reception on Saturday.

Rob

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.

Not Just Another Site Tour

Under the heading of “Life’s Little Pleasantries”, Magdalena gave a site tour to Aimee Heckel on Sunday. By the way, Aimee is a very entertaining writer (aimeeheckel.com).  In this case, she was reviewing some Vail properties for Fodor’s.  Magda reported that it was a great site tour and also relayed an interesting comment from Aimee.  When she asked about our neighboring properties, Magda naturally responded 100% positively, even noting some of the strengths of each.  Aimee said that when she asked the folks at Sonnenalp about the Sebastian (where she was headed next, before us) they too had nothing but good things to say.  On her way from the Sebastian to the Antlers, she got the same feedback from them, about us.

Her observation was that she had never experienced quite so much respect and camaraderie between different properties, when on a travel writing assignment like this one. Hearing that made me quite proud of our community. No surprise … just a reaffirmation really, but I guess it’s evidence that when we sometimes call this place Happy Valley, we’re not always being facetious.

We neglected to get a picture of Aimee and Magdalena, but here’s Magda showing unit #518 on a recent (but different) site tour. Notice Asst. Executive Housekeeper Gladys Villeda on the right … who else sends their housekeepers on site tours? We do because we’re proud of that department! And yes … that’s an international travel agent proudly wearing his new antlers.

Rob

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

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Thanks,

Rob

The 2015 World Championships … Even Better than the Hype.

If you know anybody who knows anybody who knows anybody, who’s been in the Vail Valley these past ten days, you’ve probably seen some version of all the pictures attached hereto … and a whole bunch more. Facebook and the social media world have been overrun with them.  It’s not surprising, since the World Alpine Skiing Championships have been as exciting as anything that’s ever happened in Vail … and that’s a pretty long list of amazing events.

2015 stands

Biggest crowds to watch a ski race since the Salt Lake City Olympics

 

The common sentiment among locals has been equal parts fun and excitement, but even that seems to be outweighed by an enormous sense of pride in our community.  I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard someone say, “I can’t believe a place as small as this can pull this off!”  Between the races themselves with huge crowds, the award ceremonies replete with all kinds of fireworks and fun, and the multiple big-name concerts (free) literally every day … it’s truly been extraordinary.

Our heroine, Lindsey Vonn

Our heroine, Lindsey Vonn

I had the pleasure of watching the Women’s Super-G last week from the VIP tent with Antlers owners Ron & Dawn Bobuk and their nephew Anthony.  Ron had been regaling me with stories about New Year’s Eve in Times Square right under the big ball, but he had to admit that this scene was even better.

Bode Miller in the Downhill Training Run

Bode Miller in the Downhill Training Run

Anthony scoring Bode's autograph!

Anthony scoring Bode’s autograph!

It’s worth noting that this is Dawn’s second time on our blog in just a few months.  Last December she helped us decorate the lobby in high fashion for the holidays.  Ron took all these pictures, except for this last one.  No wonder they’re two of our favorite owners!

2015 Ron Dawn Rob

Rob, Dawn & Ron

 

Rob

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.

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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!

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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 …

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Our heart and soul lives on.

 

 

– Rob