A New Elevator? Oh, We Hope So!

With all of the many improvements that the Antlers has made over the years, we know that our real Achilles’ Heel is the south (original) elevator. Clearly it does not begin to match the Platinum quality that we have worked so hard to achieve in the condominiums. Although we have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to make that elevator acceptable, the handwriting is on the wall that it just needs to be completely replaced.

A little historical perspective …

Only a few guests and owners will remember that the original elevator had just three landings to service our seven story building! It stopped on 2½, 4½ & 6½. That was it. Everywhere you got out of the elevator, you had to go up or down a half flight of stairs to get to any condominium. Hard to believe, I know. People in the first floor units had to hike a half flight up to the lower parking level and three half-flights up to the lobby. It’s hard to comprehend the hassle of moving everything … from luggage to furniture. We didn’t have any luggage carts, instead using an appliance dolly with a big drop down tongue. Oddly, back in the day, our guests and owners didn’t seem to mind when we handed them that thing. I can only imagine what people would think if that happened today. Oh my goodness!

Our housekeepers were practically body builders from having to literally carry their vacuum cleaners and all their cleaning supplies up and down stairs all day long. To go to the swimming pool from the 6th floor, you had to walk up a half flight of stairs to catch the elevator, ride down to the lobby level and then walk down another flight and a half to the first floor. The return trip, dripping wet in the dead of winter, would be beyond intolerable by today’s standards.

I remember working at the front desk in the early 80’s and dreading the late night call from a guest asking for a rollaway. I would have to manhandle it alone, up and down those same stairs.  In every respect the inconvenience was unbelievable and looking back, it’s amazing that our owners and guests tolerated it for twenty years.

My first significant capital project as General Manager was in 1994 when we finally figured out that we could build glass-enclosed landings on the west side of the shaft (which was previously outdoor, open airspace). That allowed the elevator to have doors front and back, stopping on every floor. Oh, the convenience!

Unfortunately, the first and second floor openings were constrained by a massive concrete retaining wall, which is why those two doors are much narrower than all the other floors and don’t come close to meeting the building codes of 2017. That retaining wall remains one of our physical constraints today.

The original elevator was a hydraulic piston elevator, more typically suited for a two, or at most, three story building. The original four story run (from the lobby level at floor 2½ up to 6½) was too much for a single piston, so it had a two-stage “jack”. Even that was pushing the limits and maintenance on it was a major hassle from day one.

When we added the extra landings in 1994, the distance from the first floor to the seventh was far too great for any two stage piston, and the accompanying underground silo was nowhere near deep enough, so we had to import a three stage jack from Germany. I was told that it was the only one in America at the time. There’s a reason for that … the third stage had to be of such small diameter (to fit inside stages one and two), that when it was fully extended it had all the stability of a spaghetti noodle. Maintenance challenges continued, to say the least.

Our other intrinsic problem is that the elevator and associated equipment room are basically outdoor, untempered spaces. That meant the hydraulic fluid would get way too cold in the winter and because of the added stress of the long rise, it would get way too hot in the summer. As a result, sometimes the elevator just wouldn’t run at all. We added hydraulic fluid heaters early on, and only recently added a loop to run the fluid out into the garage to help cool it in the summer. Both solutions helped, but were compromises at best.

Since day one, both before and after the 1994 redesign, our elevator has been our weakest link and the source of innumerable guest complaints. The maintenance on it has continued to get more and more challenging and expensive. We are now in a situation where people have actually been stuck in the elevator. It has happened several times in the past few years and in the hospitality business, that is simply the textbook definition of “UNACCEPTABLE”. Although we’ve taken measures to make sure THAT doesn’t happen again, the elevator is still way too slow, and we just can’t continue to tolerate the inconvenience of those narrow door openings on the first two floors. After repeated efforts to improve or at least “band-aid” that thing, we just have to replace it!

With all that as background, the question today is, “Why can’t we just rebuild it in the current location with a modern, tension (cable) elevator, like every other tall building in the world?” The answer lies in a variety of physical constraints, combined with today’s building codes. The existing shaft is simply too small to accommodate both the elevator cab and the cables that have to run between the cab and the shaft wall. Enlarging that shaft is truly the only answer. You would think that could be done for less than the $1.7 million dollar cost that it will take to relocate a new elevator elsewhere. Sadly, you’d be wrong.

For starters, the main electrical service for a good part of the building runs adjacent to that shaft. Relocating it would be extremely difficult and expensive, although perhaps doable. The aforementioned retaining wall, will significantly hamper any redesign of the shaft until the building is completely torn down (let’s not do that). Even if we could get past those two hurdles, a major redesign would trigger building code access issues that include the space between the garage and the elevator, as well as the main stairway. Because of the structural nature of their concrete construction, redesigning and rebuilding those two areas quickly adds up to several million dollars alone … forget about the elevator itself. Lastly, any excavation necessary for the expansion of the current shaft would likely disturb the foundation of the original building.  The risk factor on that is so high, that any cost estimate would have to include an enormous contingency to cover that worst case scenario. It might be $4 million on the low end (just for the elevator) … but several times that amount on the high end, due to that risk exposure.

Bottom line, while it would seem logical to keep the elevator in the current location, and as much as we’d like to, it’s just not feasible.  Fortunately, local architect Henry Pratt has helped us to identify a new, alternative location in the southeast corner of the courtyard.  It’s next to the area that we currently use as bicycle storage in the summer. We’ll still have to cut through the post tension slabs that comprise the garage and parking deck.  That isn’t cheap or easy, but at least it’s viable, and with a lot less risk. With that new location comes the opportunity to make some much needed improvements to the lobby, front desk, reception area and associated office spaces. If we’re going to be considered a Platinum rated property, those spaces need to be upgraded to that level of quality, just as the condominiums have been. 

Fortunately, at our recent annual owners meeting, there was good consensus to do what needs to be done, even if it is quite expensive. We’re lucky that our ownership understands and appreciates the need to provide a great product for our guests … throughout the building. As we work through this process with the Antlers ownership, our hope is to break ground in the spring of 2019 and be operational by that ski season.  Stay tuned!

 

Vertebrate and Invertebrate Education for Housekeeping Week

The Antlers is known for offering some out of the box activities for housekeeping week. One year it was Zumba classes. This year we topped that with a Walking Mountains science program.

Walking Mountains came to the Antlers and conducted an interactive program on a beautiful day by the pool. Did you know that Walking Mountains offers adult programs? Well they do offer hikes but for something like this you may need to arrange a private custom program.

The program was a hands on experience to learn about vertebrates and invertebrates animals. They had the opportunity to dissect a fish and a squid and had LOTS of fun along the way. It also gave everyone an idea of what their kids get to experience while at Walking Mountains camps.

Scott Robinson, Director of Marketing and Communications for Walking Mountains concluded, “What a great experience. We were so pleased to see how engaged your staff was.”

Check out a few of the fun photos below.

Antlers at Vail housekeepers participating in a Walking Mountains science program for Housekeeping Week.

Antlers at Vail housekeepers participating in a Walking Mountains science program for Housekeeping Week.

 Antlers at Vail housekeepers learn about vertebrates and invertebrates.

Antlers at Vail housekeepers learn about vertebrates and invertebrates.

Antlers housekeepers dissect fish and squid during a Walking Mountains program.

Antlers housekeepers dissect fish and squid during a Walking Mountains program.

Antlers housekeepers after their Walking Mountains science program.

Antlers housekeepers after their Walking Mountains science program.

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Antlers Teams Receives Leadership Training

The housekeeping team were all smiles after being selected for and receiving face-to-face leadership training from VALUEUSA.

Last year the Antlers was the honored recipient of the Vail Valley Partnership’s Community Impact Award and then this year our own General Manager, Magdalena King won the Hospitality Professional of the Year.  These awards are not just a reflection of the culture fostered at the Antlers, but also a refection of the dedication of Antlers employees. Many members of the Antlers team go home after a long day’s work to study math, read a book or do homework with the goal of bettering themselves and their community.

Several years ago Magdalena initiated a partnership with the Literacy Project and then subsequently with the Vail Library to provide the Antlers housekeeping team with the resources to be able to learn English and to be able to advance their education. Since then several members of the Antlers housekeeping team have gone on to earn their GED and all have been learning English and participating in a book club. Because of their dedication to these programs they were selected to receive leadership training through Voice of Adult Learners United to Educate (VALUEUSA). In May VALUEUSA brought instructors to the Antlers to provide our housekeeping team face-to-face training to help them become better leaders in the community. They learned critical thinking skills, organizational skills, priority setting and more.

Both the Antlers front desk team and maintenance team have followed lead in starting up book clubs. The front desk has read a handful of books and engineering just got started with their book club, having now completed reading and discussing the management style in “The One-Minute Manager.”

The cumulative effect of many different Antlers employee programs … book club, English classes, a financial education series presented in Spanish, and others … play an instrumental role in some of our staff’s decision to go back to school, get their GED and effectively change their lives forever.

Extended Stays at the Antlers

Bob Johnson & his Husky, Lily, enjoy living like locals at the Antlers.

The Antlers is grateful to have many guests who make our hotel their home for a month or longer. It’s always fun to hear their stories, and welcome these guests back. Our 30 Day Live-Like-a-Local package has received national attention in a recent publication of the Boston Globe. The package includes tax-free luxury lodging in a variety of options from a studio to four-bedroom residences; complimentary lawn tickets for Bravo! Vail and Vail International Dance Festival, Vail Jazz Festival, and Vail Summer Bluegrass Series tickets (depending on event dates); complimentary bikes; loaner GoPro camera; and unlimited access to the Vail Athletic Club. With the launch of this package it is timely to share feedback from guests who’ve recently stayed 30 days or more with us here at the Antlers.

Meet Bob Johnson

Bob, his wife Heather, and their playful husky, Lily, have stayed about a month with us every winter for the past 8 years in one of our pet-friendly condos. They visit us from Washington state. Bob & Heather found the Antlers by way of their friends who were attending a medical conference and have stayed with us ever since. Bob told me that they return each year because the Antlers makes for a flawless 30 days. Being close to the lifts, close to restaurants, and always having the friendly Antlers staff available to help makes their vacation perfect. Bob also told me that it’s the relationship that makes the difference for them in staying here instead of at other properties. “The staff is always friendly and says hello”, he says. During their stay Heather enjoys our complimentary yoga classes, they dine at Vail’s many great restaurants, they have longer ski days sometimes, and other times enjoy a couple of hours on the slopes. Having the Antlers as their home base makes skiing extremely easy with Ski Butlers ski valet service and our proximity to the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Staying with us for 30 days gives them the opportunity to enjoy a sport they love hassle-free, and is a special highlight to look forward to every year. They find that their extended stay is an incredible value. Hearing this from Bob really made our day, and he told us that we made their month. They’re lovely people. It’s always a pleasure to welcome Bob & Heather back.

Meet Mike Beatty & Sue Burton

Another wonderful family we get the opportunity to see every year is Mike Beatty, Sue Burton, and their lovely lab, Lulu, (not pictured). They visit us every year from Ontario. Mike and Sue have been guests of ours for about 10 years. They love our service, hospitality, and our proximity to the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Mike & Sue say that everything about the Antlers is excellent. During their most recent stay with us, we had the pleasure of inviting them to a local celebration of the Vail Symposium’s 45th anniversary of Convening Locally, Thinking Globally. It was wonderful to catch up with them, have dinner, and talk about our ski days together. They’re wonderful people, and it’s delightful to welcome them back to the Antlers year after year.  

Whether you’re enjoying the slopes for a long holiday in the winter, or enjoying a season of Bravo performances in the summer, the Antlers is a wonderful place to call home for your extended stay in beautiful Vail, Colorado. Are you interested in becoming one of our extended-stay guests? Keep us in mind! We’d love the opportunity to invite you in to the Antlers family.

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LINC Golf & Wellness Retreat | June 14th-17th, 2017

LINC Golf & Wellness brings golf and yoga together.

LINC Golf & Wellness Retreats returns to Vail on June 14th-17th for its Girlfriend Golf Getaway. Kickoff your summer with this fun, four-day retreat offering golf, yoga, clinics, hiking, meeting new friends and lots of learning. If you are looking for a girlfriend’s golf getaway and want to improve your golf game this summer, this retreat is for you! 

This exciting 4 day, 3 night retreat will include:

  • 3 nights of lodging at the Antlers
  • On-course instruction with LPGA/PGA Professionals
  • Golf clinics daily
  • 2 rounds of golf at the Vail Golf Club
  • The newly trademarked program, Yoga Fit FORE Golf
  • Unlimited range balls and club storage
  • Cocktail reception, goodie bags, and more

Visit the LING Golf & Wellness Website for more details or to book your spot for this exciting retreat!

Please call 303-380-7175 for more information. 

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.  

 

2016 Holiday Events at the Antlers

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Children enjoy the Antlers at Vail model train set-up in our Conference Center during the Holidays.

At the Antlers, we love the holiday season. We decorate our lobby in festive decor and serve hot cocoa to all of our guests as they return from their ski day or outing around Vail. Our entire team gets into the holiday spirit. One of our employees can even be seen on occasion dressed as a pretty impressive Santa Claus.

This year, to herald in the holiday season, the Antlers at Vail is hosting exclusive holiday events for all of our guests on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of December. Join us in the Rob LeVine Conference Center from 4 – 5:30 PM daily for fun holiday activities. On Thursday, December 22nd, join us for a visit from Santa! On Friday, December 23rd, come create your own uniquely decorated holiday cookie. And on Saturday, December 24th, join us for a holiday sing-a-long. On each of these days there will be free gift wrapping, holiday crafts, holiday stories, and hot cocoa. Also, take photos on your smartphone, and post them to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #AntlersHolidays or tag the Antlers at Vail in your photos to be entered to win a free, family holiday gift basket from the Antlers! The photo with the most likes wins. The winner will be announced on our Facebook Page on Christmas Eve at 6 PM, and we will deliver the gift basket directly to you at your condo.

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Families enjoy Ice Skating in Vail.

Have a few days to spare before the holidays? Take advantage of our Holiday Package and book a Studio through Four-bedrooom condo December 20th-26th with reduced minimum night stays and enjoy complimentary Sports Ski or Snowboard rentals from Ski Butlers. Stay for 3 nights or more and enjoy all of our holiday festivities as well as some of the best skiing in the world on Vail Mountain. In addition to enjoying all of our holiday festivities, take advantage of our other complimentary amenities such as ski storage and ski valet service to and from the Eagle Bahn Gondola, underground parking, high-speed WiFi, daily housekeeping, a business center with computers for guests’ use, unlimited passes to the Vail Athletic Club, an electric car charging station, and our beautiful, creek-side pool and hot tubs. And don’t forget, cooks can choose from a lending library of specialty appliances & spices, and for outdoor fun, guests can access loaner snowshoes, sleds and GoPro cameras to record their outings. Our Holiday Package starts at $615 per night in a studio condo. Also, families can bring their ice skates for skating at Vail Square in Lionshead. Conveniently located 150 yards away from the Antlers, the ice rink is open daily through the winter, and skate rentals are available in Vail Square if needed.

Looking for even more holiday fun? Art in Public Places Winter events begin on Tuesday, December 20, 2016  with two different paper-lantern making workshops, so families can bring their uniquely designed paper lanterns to the Winter Solstice Lantern Walk in Vail Village on December 21st. For more information, visit Art in Vail’s website.

So, bring the whole family and join us this holiday season for a wonderful vacation at the Antlers at Vail.

The Holiday Package is subject to availability. Other minimum night stay requirements may apply, and are subject to change at any time. 

 

Early Season Events

 

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Vail Snow Daze is back for the 2016/2017 Season

Here in Vail, the 2016/2017 Ski Season is about to begin, and along with the mountain opening to an array of enthusiastic skiers and snowboarders, is a wide range of fun events to enjoy. Vail Snow Daze, the largest early-season mountain bash in North America, is happening December 9th-11th. During Vail Snow Daze, you can get your turns in on Vail Mountain, take a break and check out the vendor expo at the base of Gondola one in Vail Village, and then head over to Vail or Lionshead Village for Aprés and enjoy some of the best food & drink the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Two awesome concerts are also happening this weekend at Solaris Plaza in Vail Village. The Michael Franti Trio will play Friday, December 9th, and Lettuce will take the stage on Saturday, December 10th. Both concerts begin at 5:30 PM.

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December 8 the Vail Symposium will celebrate the past 45 years (and welcome the next 45 years!) of thought leadership in the Vail Valley.

On December 8, you may want to consider joining the Vail Symposium in celebrating the past 45 years (and welcoming the next 45 years!) of thought leadership in the Vail Valley with “Then, Now & Then Some”, an evening of eating, drinking, dancing and toasting to healthy discussions at the beautiful Donovan Pavilion in Vail. Since the Symposium’s inception in 1971 to where it stands today, the Vail Symposium remains an integral part of the intellectual truths that have guided a once small mountain town to become a world beacon for healthy living, tolerance, self-discovery, curiosity and informed decision making through education.

Antlers at Vail is offer 25% off of studio to 2-bedroom condos for Skadi Fest.

Antlers at Vail is offer 25% off of studio to 2-bedroom condos for Skadi Fest

Next up is SKADI Fest which is taking place December 14th-16th. Inspired by the Norse goddess of winter, this will be the ultimate week of skiing for female skiers of all levels. Enjoy ski demos, customized lessons, pre-ski yoga, and wine and cheese pairings throughout the week and take advantage of 25% off of lodging rates at the Antlers.

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Families in Vail ice skating and enjoying the holiday season

Now that your ski boots are nicely worn in, get ready for the holiday season during Vail Holidaze, kicking off on the weekend of December 16th. Vail Holidaze is when Vail celebrates with everything from tree lighting, to caroling, and ice skating. You’ll feel the yuletide in the air this weekend as you experience the gentle snow falling and hear the sound of jingle bells outside the shops of the village. And after Saint Nicholas stores away his sled and reindeer for another season, stick around for an epic firework display on New Years Eve at Golden Peak. Early Season in Vail is a magical time, so grab your skis and poles and we will see you on the hill.

For a full-view of all events happening at the Antlers at Vail and beyond, we invite you to check out our events calender.

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