Where happened to baby Moose?

One early summer day in 2014 there was a bit of excitement at the Antlers at Vail. This excitement garnered national news coverage, but it also made us a bit sad. A baby Moose was separated from Mama and wandered into our lobby.

The Antlers is located next to national forest land and we have the privilege of seeing all kind of wildlife, typically from a distance. For very obvious reasons we’d prefer they stay on the mountain and not enter our lobby. But this little guy did just that.

Wildlife officials searched for mama and came up empty handed. They ended up transporting him to a new home at the Wildlife Research Center in Ft. Collins. And, now 5 years later we just learned, thanks to The Coloradoan, a few things about him. He is no longer a little guy. He is now an educator. He sings. And he is named after us — Antlers the Moose!

Aniceto Quinones, Best Laundry Worker There Is, Retires

In 1994 Aniceto Quinones was looking at the classifieds and jumped out of his chair to run to the kitchen where his wife was cooking his favorite meal.  “Ilda, Ilda, I found the job I want.  I’m going to the Antlers to tell them I’m their man.”  Millie Barela hired him that week to take care of the Antlers’ tremendous laundry facility.  Ever since, he’s been the first one to work in the morning, one of the last to leave at night and he takes his job very seriously.  On average, Aniceto works 10 hours a day because that is his work ethic.

The laundry facility that Aniceto calls his home away from home, is not what it was 15 years ago.  When he started there was one washer and two dryers which he managed until our 2000 building expansion which incorporated 22 additional condominiums.  The laundry is now equipped with the newest and most efficient machines available. 

Since then Aniceto Quinones has arguably been the single most important employee at the Antlers.  We could compensate for any number of mistakes or shortcomings , but our guests and owners have absolutely no tolerance (nor should they) for sheets and towels that are not perfectly cleaned.  Like many other Antlers employees, Aniceto will tell you that he’s not just running the laundry … he’s making sure our guests have a great vacation. 

The Antlers is eternally grateful for Aniceto’s many years of dedication and exceptional performance.

Aniceto is the best laundry worker there is.  That’s not only our opinion, but that of Bill Jones, the owner of In-House Laundry.  Bill is our vendor for laundry supplies as well as the laundry equipment  itself.  His company services about 75 hotel operations in the Vail and Roaring Fork Valleys, and there’s nobody more qualified to pass judgment on Aniceto’s performance.   When he says that the Antlers has the best, it means the Antlers has the best.  But sadly not for much longer.

Aniceto has announced his retirement and is leaving us this month to enjoy his family in Mexico. We are eternally grateful for his years of dedication and exceptional performance. We are sure happy for him, but his shoes will be hard to fill.

General Manager, Magdalena King expressed her well wishes, “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to work with Aniceto all of these years. His invaluable service as a laundry man, many times was unnoticed because we never had any issues in his department. Everything was accomplished in timely manner and exceptionally well.  Aniceto never expected a reward or the recognition, yet he is always the first one to celebrate others. He’s made his family proud.  We all feel nothing but gratitude for all these years of commitment to the Antlers”.

Trash Pickin’ & Picnickin’ Returns May 6th, 2017

This Vail ski season has been one for the record books. The snow and skiing has been amazing all season. Just when we think it is melting off, another snow storm drops a few more inches of snow. But it will truly be over in just a few days. And, as the season winds down we execute our plans to get our property, and also the Vail community ready for summer. 

Join the Antlers for Trasch Pickin’ & Picnicin’ May 6th, 2017 and get a free night on us!

We’d like to once again invite our guests to be a part of our family and green team May 6th, 2017 with our annual Trash Pickin’ & Picnickin’. You come help us pick up trash on the highway for a few hours Saturday morning (May 6th), join us for a free picnic afterward at Broken Arrow in Arrowhead (that’s optional) and we’ll give you a free night* on either Friday or Saturday night.  That’s it … no other catch.  If you want to stay an additional night, we have special rates available. And of course if you visited this winter you can take advantage of your $139 spring nights.  But if you just stay one night … it’s a freebie! It’s our way of thanking you for staying with us, and for helping us keep our world a little cleaner place.

While we’ve been cleaning up our two-mile stretch of Vail Pass since 1988; we’ve also started joining the Community Pride Highway Cleanup arranged through the Eagle River Watershed Council. The past few years we’ve had a handful of guests join us and had a ton of fun, so we’re bringing it back again this year and letting you know in plenty of time to make plans. Join the Antlers green team again this spring, following the end of ski season and as the spring melt gets underway, to help clear the trash and debris that emerges after a long winter of being buried in layers of snow. This is our community’s way of sprucing up the valley for residents and visitors alike!

The Antlers – which has incorporated numerous eco-friendly business practices long before the term ‘green’ was coined – recently was awarded the TripAdvisor GreenLeader and Actively Green statuses, in addition to the Vail Valley Success Awards 2009 Green Business of the Year and the Vail Valley Community Impact Award 2015.

Call us at 800-843-8245!

 

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Poolside Wedding Ceremony at the Antlers

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At the Antlers, we receive many wedding inquiries throughout the year. Some newly engaged couples hear about us from their friends, some from our TripAdvisor listing, and some simply know that they want to get married in Vail. This was Haley and Reza. 

Haley and Reza wanted to keep things simple and have a quaint yet beautiful wedding ceremony somewhere near Vail Square where their photos would be taken later in the day. Their wedding was set to take place on New Year’s Eve, mind you, one of the busiest weeks of the year in Vail. The lovely couple e-mailed us just before Halloween and we thought, you know what? Why not offer to let them get married by our pool? And you know what else, why not let them have their ceremony here on the house? After all, it would be short, sweet, and to the point – No great need to charge for 30 minutes on our patio. 

After offering our poolside deck on Gore Creek for their small ceremony, Haley and Reza were delighted to accept. After all, finding a location for lodging in Vail this time of the year is difficult enoughimage014

So, after much anticipation, New Year’s Eve rolled around and I met Reza in the courtyard. He was thrilled, and could not wait to marry the love of his life. We presented them with a champagne welcome. The officiant came in, then the photographer, and finally the bride. The day couldn’t of been more beautiful with blue skies, and the sun setting over Lionshead. At the ‘I do’s’ we had a number of guests in our hot tubs and some on their balconies clapping and cheering them on! It was pretty fun. With Reza’s brother and his partner at their side to bare witness to their nuptials, they had a toast and some laughs, and went on to Vail Square for the rest of their photographs. 

After the ceremony, I got to catch up with the newly weds in our lobby and offer them some hot cocoa and a suggestion for their first wedding anniversary… because, where better to celebrate than the Antlers?

As an independent property, we get the privilege of offering some very custom, sometimes unorthodox accommodations in the hospitality industry to some really lovely people, and this was certainly the case here. Having the ability to help out when we can just adds a little more meaning to our work, and offering a complimentary location for a small elopement-style wedding ceremony to a grateful couple was our pleasure.

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A GREAT Addition to the Antlers

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Kim Rediker joins the Antlers at Vail team.

I remember going to a Vail Town Council meeting sometime in early 2004 and thinking, “This new woman on the Council is way too young to have that much poise”.  It later occurred to me that she was the same age as me, when I was elected to the Town Council in 1989, but I can tell you that she was a lot more prepared for the task than I was.  I hadn’t met Kim Rediker prior to that, which is a little surprising given that we both worked in the hospitality business.  I thought I knew everyone in the Vail hotel scene.  Apparently not. 

In the past dozen years I’ve enjoyed watching Kim work in a myriad of community roles, both public and private.  It didn’t take long to appreciate how smart and dedicated she was, in addition to all that grace.  I’ve also had the pleasure of working with her on the Vail Economic Advisory Council for a good part of the last decade.  In that role (and others), she’s always demonstrated one of her great strengths … pragmatism.  I have long valued that skill as highly as any other.  Kim truly understands that you can be right about something all day long, but if you’re not effective it doesn’t do anybody any good.  There are SO many circumstances that come up every day in the hospitality business where understanding, compromise and pragmatic decisions are the key to success.

I love the fact that Kim has that “big picture” view.  That’s just one of the reasons I was so stoked when Magda convinced her to come be the Assistant GM.  Combined with Magda’s similar talents, the Antlers is in REALLY good hands going forward.

Rob

Freshly Ground Coffee & the Vail Veterans Program

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The Vail Veteran’s Program invites military injured and their families to participate in various outdoor activities such as skiing, rock climbing, and horseback riding.

The Vail Veterans Program is a non-profit organization who’s mission is  to empower military injured and their families through innovative and transformational programs that build confidence and improve lives. Since 2004, their programs have provided adventurous and engaging mountain experiences to wounded warriors and their families. Thanks to donors, volunteers, and the Vail community Vail Veterans Programs are provided to military injured and their families entirely free of charge.

At the Antlers, we are now providing Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company’s Whole Bean Patriotic Blend in each of our condos. When you arrive at your condo, you’ll find a jar of coffee beans and a coffee grinder on the kitchen counter to grind fresh and brew in your coffee pot. It is our pleasure to provide the coffee to you complimentary, and we hope you’ll enjoy your morning cup a little more knowing that all of the profits gathered by Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company for their Patriotic Blend will go to supporting the Vail Veterans Program. 

We’re pleased to support this incredible local charity and we hope you are too. If you love the taste of this rich coffee blend, and would like to continue supporting the Vail Veterans Program after your stay at the Antlers, Vail Mountain Coffee & Tea Company’s Patriotic Blend is also available for purchase on their website.  

 

The Next Antlers General Manager

June, 1978 – Freshly graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Business Administration, I had moved to Vail, 100% clueless about my future.  Mike O’Dell, a golfing buddy from previous summers working at the Eagle Vail golf course told me his wife was having a baby and would be leaving her job as controller of a little hotel called the Antlers.  I should apply.  “After all”, he said, “you’ve been to college, you must be a smart  guy … you could probably do that job.”  I went and interviewed with Bud Benedict, the Antlers General Manager.  I remember his exact words … “You’ve been to college … you must be a smart guy, you can probably do this job.”

Fast forward 38 years.  As we near my last days as the Antlers GM, one of my very few regrets is that I didn’t start keeping a journal on that day in 1978. There have been some hilarious stories and I wish I could remember one out of fifty.  Sadly, I can’t even do that.  Oh well …

Rob-&-Magda-0616One big regret that I could have, and don’t … is leaving the Antlers in hands any less capable than mine.  When Magdalena Isabel Cedeño Cabrera King told me in 2007 that she’d give me five years if I hired her, little did I know that she would turn out to have the unique combination of people skills, financial acumen and overall business sense that you find once in a blue moon.  Head and Heart, as Bob Vanourek would say … in this case, to the max.  I did know that nobody had ever committed to five years of employment in a job interview with me before, and I was duly impressed.  Turns out she had a great sense of destiny, along with all those other considerable talents.

When I told the Board of Directors last December that the 2016 annual meeting would be my last, there was no doubt in my mind who the correct successor was.  As boards do, they felt an obligation to “explore all their options”.  I simultaneously respected and ridiculed that decision. After all, the perfect candidate was right here … already in the fold.  In the end, after a series of interviews and thoughtful consideration, our board came to the absolute right decision.  On October 1,  Magda will become the third General Manager in the Antlers’ 44-year history.Rob-&-Magda-0616-b

Some people tell me that my shoes will be hard to fill, (others tell me to not let the door … ). I’m confident it won’t be a problem. Beyond speaking five languages and having the heart and grace of a saint, Magdalena has an innate understanding that “hospitality” isn’t just a word or a business sector. It’s a guiding principle and Magda lives and breathes it.  Besides, she’s been to college, she’s a smart gal … she can do this job.

Leaving the only career I’ve ever known comes with a predictable amount of angst, but as far as the future of the Antlers is concerned, there’s no way I could be more optimistic.

Antlers Honored: Community Impact Award

The Antlers at Vail is honored to have received the 2015 Community Impact Award from Vail Valley Partnership. The Antlers was one of 13 Vail area organizations honored May 13, 2016, in the Vail Valley Partnership’s 13th Annual Success Awards. Even as the Friday awards ceremony was taking place, representatives from more than 20 Colorado Front Range nonprofit organizations were checking into the Antlers to participate in the hotel’s annual Pay It Backward weekend – one of Antlers at Vail’s many community-oriented initiatives.

The just-completed spring Pay It Backward weekend was the second annual invitation by Antlers at Vail to a long list of Front Range nonprofits, offering two nights’ free lodging and a Saturday thank-you reception in gratitude for all they do for the communities they serve. “It’s so much fun seeing these hard-working nonprofit staff members and volunteers have a chance to relax and recharge in our beautiful Vail Valley,” says Antlers at Vail General Manager Rob LeVine. “Saturday was actually a beautiful day so most of the families enjoyed the pool before the reception,” adds LeVine, who notes that most of the guests brought family members and/or their dogs to share in this rare opportunity for some downtime.

The Vail Valley Partnership Success Award for Community Impact is given annually to a person or organization who has contributed to the public good through programs, funding, volunteerism and generally giving back to the community. In addition to its annual Pay It Backward event, the Antlers at Vail is deeply involved in the local Vail community, participating as a supporting member or sponsor of numerous area organizations and initiatives, hosting community events, providing financial contributions and staff volunteering.

“It is a particular honor to receive the Community Impact Award in such a tight-knit area as the Vail Valley where community involvement is, honestly, the norm,” says LeVine. “I’m proud that the Antlers is viewed as making a difference in this very special community.”

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Antlers Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

Antlers at Vail Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

Antlers at Vail Ranked #1 on TripAdvisor

It was just about a year ago that we decided to execute a Reputation Management strategy. We made a decision to really put ourselves out there to be judged by our guests, actively soliciting guest feedback and TripAdvisor reviews from all of our valued guests. I, for one, was a little nervous executing the plan. The first step was to make sure all of the front line employees knew the plan and were on board with it. There was not a single objection and we moved forward.

In 2015 we received 253 reviews versus 133 in 2014, almost doubling our reviews pace. Our average TripAdvisor rating increased from 4.54 in 2014 to 4.70 in 2015 (thanks to owner support of a quality improvement plan). And then, just this week we moved from the #2 ranking in Vail’s Specialty Lodging category to #1 — WOO-HOO!

We expected to see a benefit to our business from the increased focus on Reputation Management but I think the most surprising impact has been showing us where we can improve business processes. Going into this, I thought that we had a great staff and culture and by just making sure to be on our game that we could see these types of results, especially with all of the condominium improvements to which the owners had committed. But the largest benefit has probably been having guests point out areas that we hadn’t thought about improving. We received a negative review a few months back from a guest who had left behind a hat that was important to her. She contacted us and we did our best to locate it, but to no avail. It was an eye opener as to the fact that our lost and found process needed improvement. Some items ended up in housekeeping and others at the front desk. Our newest member of the housekeeping department, who is now Executive Housekeeper, took initiative and created a process where every item found in a room (or anywhere else), goes to her with the date and location of where it was found. It’s working – our “completion rate” at returning items which are left at the Antlers and found by a staff member is approaching 100%!

Thanks so much to our Antlers guests for helping us achieve this ranking of #1 on TripAdvisor — we know we couldn’t have gotten there without you sharing your positive experiences and providing feedback on how we can improve. And, last but not least, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our owners who have made tremendous investments improving their condominiums over the past two years. In July we were designated as an overall platinum-rated property and owners continue to raise the bar. Keep your eyes out for upcoming photos of a renovation just completed last month that is really over the top!

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