Thanksgiving in Vail at the Antlers

Thanksgiving in Vail marks the start of ski season. And, while it may not yet be peak ski season it is still a fantastic time to enjoy winter in Vail. The holiday lights are twinkling in the snow, which has begun accumulating. The mountain is open, and the holiday crowds have yet to arrive. As a Vail family hotel with a variety of spacious condominiums from studios to 4-bedrooms, the Antlers at Vail hotel is the perfect place to spend this family holiday. This year we are making it even better by offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner prepared by internationally trained chef, Barry Robinson, delivered right to your condo.

Thanksgiving at the Antlers at Vail hotel

Enjoy Thanksgiving at the Antlers at Vail hotel, including not only skiing but also a traditional dinner in the comfort of your own “home”.

Your Thanksgiving dinner will include roast turkey breast and gravy, garlic mash potatoes, roasted butternut squash, green beans with almonds, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mixed salad greens with herb dressing, and for dessert: pumpkin pie and vanilla ice-cream. This scrumptious feast is being offered for only $30.00 per person (includes 20% service fee) plus 8.4% sales tax.

Dinner will be delivered to your room in oven proof recyclable containers for heating and re-heating at your leisure. Reservations must be made by November 20th 2014.

Antlers Offers Vail Bourbon Sipping Package

Antlers at Vail hotel is partnering with Vail’s first craft distillery with a lodging package that includes a visit to 10th Mountain’s newly opened Vail tasting room for sampling and souvenirs.

Antlers at Vail hotel is partnering with Vail’s first craft distillery with a lodging package that includes a visit to 10th Mountain’s newly opened Vail tasting room for sampling and souvenirs.

We feel very fortunate to be able to call Vail home for so many reasons. There are so many things that make this place special — from the epic skiing and spectacular wildlife and mountain activities to its unique history and people. The Vail ski area was founded in 1962 and has close ties to the brave men of the 10th Mountain Division who trained in the area.

To celebrate both the local history and the opening of 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit’s new Vail tasting room – one of Colorado’s hottest new apres-ski options – Antlers at Vail hotel has partnered with the distillery to offer guests a sip-and-stay lodging and tasting package. Available through Dec. 21, 2014, the package includes two nights at the Antlers and a visit to the 10th Mountain tasting room for a chance to savor the spirits, locally crafted with Colorado-sourced Olathe corn, Palisade peaches and water from pure Rocky Mountain snowmelt.

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit was founded by Vail restaurateur Ryan Thompson and Vail entrepreneur Christian Avignon, grandson of a 10th Mountain Division medic. “The patriotic men of the 10th brought diversity, courage, and hope to the Rocky Mountains when they arrived in the 1940s to train just a few miles south of what is now Vail,” the 10th Mountain Whiskey’s website states. The 10th Mountain Whiskey crew credits the military division with founding the mountain lifestyle enjoyed by so many today and is committed to paying homage to their rugged ideals – including by donating a portion of sales to the Wounded Warrior Project, Vail Veterans Program, and the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.

“We love the 10th Mountain connection with Vail’s history,” says Antlers at Vail GM Rob LeVine. “At the same time we enjoy offering our guests an early opportunity to taste the wares of Vail’s first craft distillery. Whether they opt to come in fall and make the craft bourbon and whiskey experience the focus of the trip or come a little later in the year and combine it with early-season skiing, it’s fun to be part of all the buzz around Colorado’s growing craft spirits industry – and of 10th Mountain’s strong connections to the Vail community and commitment to a quality local product.”

The Antlers at Vail sip-and-stay 10th Mountain Whiskey package offers guests two nights for two people in a one-bedroom suite plus a visit for two to the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company tasting room at 286 Bridge Street in Vail. The tasting includes a flight of five tastings, a souvenir rocks glass and a $5 certificate to spend toward merchandise for each person. Package rates are $392 for two people (double occupancy) through Nov. 20, and $454 from Nov. 21 – Dec. 21. Package rates are based on availability; tax not included. Some two-bedroom packages are also available; call for pricing.

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company produces its spirits in its 7,000-square-foot distillery in Gypsum, Colo. Local ingredients, including grains from farms in central Colorado and the state’s familiar wild sage, were sourced to produce the craft distillery’s first offerings, a corn moonshine, a rye whiskey, a Bourbon, a potato vodka and a sage-infused, peach-vanilla cordial. “We want to hang our hat, so to speak, on our whiskey and bourbon lines so we’ll be producing a number of different expressions as our distillery matures,” says Thompson of the company’s future plans. For more information visit http://10thwhiskey.com.

New & Improved Condos, Logo & Website

It is an exciting time to be a part of the Antlers at Vail family. A little over a year ago our team embarked on an alignment process based on the book “Triple Crown Leadership” by leadership guru Robert Vanourek. As we progressed through the process and moved on from identifying and creating our purpose, values and vision to setting measurable goals it became clear that the most important thing that we could accomplish would be to close the gap between the different lodging quality ratings for our variety of condos. We created and embarked on a fairly aggressive Unit Quality Improvement plan that continues to be revised as we reach milestones on our path to becoming an overall platinum rated lodge, representing the quality that visitors from around the world expect from a Vail, Colorado hotel. As we have seen the impactful results of the plan, we also realized that it was time to represent the new and improved quality of the Antlers at Vail condos through a new visual brand, photography and website.

logo, Vail hotel, elk, mountains

Created by Denver-based Wigwam Creative, the new Antlers at Vail logo represents the new and improved quality of the hotel’s condominiums.

Drumroll, please! Nine months – and plenty of construction – after we launched our Unit Quality Improvement plan, more than half of our Vail condominiums have received the luxe upgrades – and we are also boasting a brand new logo and website to celebrate our new look.

Designed by Denver-based Wigwam Creative, Antlers at Vail’s new logo offers a clean, modern approach while incorporating the Colorado mountain resort town’s famously European cachet, as well as the Vail hotel’s popular elk antlers theme – on view in the iconic bronze statue of two clashing elk in the hotel’s courtyard, a favorite photo opp for guests from around the world.

Yesterday, October 12, 2014, snow fell on the elk bronze statue in the Antlers at Vail courtyard where guests from around the world have their photo taken.

Yesterday, October 12, 2014, snow fell on the elk bronze statue in the Antlers at Vail courtyard where guests from around the world have their photo taken.

The just-launched website emphasizes photography – including the newly upgraded units as photographed by Michael Rawlings and styled by Amy Lewis – and presents the old site’s familiar color palette in a new way. Created by Vail-based Nichols Interactive, the new website is a responsive site that automatically adjusts to devices used to access it, and puts the most valuable information at the user’s fingertips while highlighting the fun personality of the Antlers’ established blog and valuable feedback from travelers on TripAdvisor.

“Our logo and corporate identity was 40 years old, and as comfortable as we were with it – too comfortable, probably – as we began to see the amazing results of our Unit Quality Improvement plan moving us toward becoming an overall Platinum-rated property, we realized it was time for a new logo and visual brand to represent the new Antlers,” says Antlers GM Rob LeVine. “Both because of our name and our well-known courtyard sculpture, we felt it was important to keep the elk and antlers as part of our logo. Plus, we wanted to convey that although we look better, our values remain the same, emphasizing our ‘the answer is yes, now what is the question’ approach to customer service, our family feel and our strong role as a community partner.”

Unique to vacation destinations, Vail Valley Partnership manages a Lodging Quality Assurance program (LQA) that provides a standardized rating system for all units rented through the Vail Valley’s central reservation systems, with Platinum representing the highest level of room appointments. Antlers at Vail interior upgrades in recent months have included granite countertops, stainless appliances, new flooring, new lighting and entertainment systems, new fireplaces, furnishings and much more – with resulting upgrades to the Platinum LQA scores.

 

Early-Bird Family Snow Adventure Package

family package, snow adventure

Two hours of high-country snowmobiling with Sage Outdoor Adventures (left) is just part of the early-bird winter fun in store with our new family package.

As the fall colors peak and the mountain is golden we are preparing for it to turn white and hoping for another powder-filled winter. Vail has always been a winter wonderland for families, and now our new Early-Bird Family Snow Adventure package offers snow fun three ways – complete with our famous “good snow guarantee.” The early-bird advantage package includes three nights lodging for a family of four, a guided backcountry snowmobile adventure for the whole crew, SkiButlers ski valet service for a ski day, and snowshoes for hiking local trails, all for $985 through December 15.

“If early snow conditions aren’t to your liking, we’re also reinstituting last year’s ‘good snow guarantee,’” says LeVine. Antlers at Vail‘s Good Snow Guarantee promises a zero cancellation fee policy through December 15, 2014, so skiers can plan Colorado ski trips now with no financial risk – based on the skier’s own interpretation of “good snow.”

With the early-bird package’s snowmobiling tour, guests can choose morning or afternoon departure and will be picked up the Antlers at Vail hotel and delivered to the start of the Sage Outdoor Adventures tour at an 8,000-feet elevation private mountain ranch. Good for beginning to advanced snowmobilers, the two-hour guided tour explores 6,000 acres of aspen glades, dark timber forests, high alpine meadows, and ridges with stunning views. For more information, including what to wear (helmets are provided), visit them at www.sageoutdooradventures.com.

Antlers at Vail’s new Early-Bird Family Snow Adventure includes three nights lodging in the Antlers’ one-bedroom plus bunks suite for a family of four; a two-hour snowmobile tour for four with Sage Outdoor Adventures; complimentary SkiButlers ski valet service, including in-room fitting of rental gear if needed and ski gear delivery to and from the slopes; and use of Antlers’ complimentary-for-guests snowshoes. The package is available through December 15 for $985 (plus tax, based on space available). The “good snow guarantee” is also valid for a no-penalty cancellation.

Call 800.843.8245 to book!

The Antlers Has Done It Again

The Antlers has just done what nobody else has done … again.  For someone who likes to think outside the circle (see?) it is insanely gratifying to work for a company that’s consistently willing to try new things, break ground and be on the cutting edge. Do leaders get some arrows in the back? Sure, but I’d much rather have a few darts in the derrière than just slog along in the middle of the pack.

Among all the lodging properties in Vail (and later the Vail Valley), here are just a few of the things on which the Antlers has led the way:
Not charging for local phone calls (that’s right … 1983-ish)
Accepting non-Saturday to Saturday bookings during the height of the ski season (even harder to remember that)
Building employee housing (1982)
Converting all wood-burning fireplaces to gas (1991)
Putting VCR’s in every condo (1987)
Getting a fax machine (1992-ish … people asked, “What will you do with it?” and we said, “We really don’t know.”)
Computerizing our operations (1980 … with an Apple II+)
Adopting a stretch of highway (1985)
Offering free snowshoe rentals to all of our winter guests (2012)
Starting the redevelopment of Lionshead (2001 … at $18M, that was the biggest of all)

Now comes another biggie … more subtle than some of the others, but with potentially huge impact.  For many years the Antlers owners have enjoyed a 64/36 rental spilt. Owners get 64% of the rental income from their condominium. For full service properties (daily maid service, etc.) that’s the best in Vail, by a pretty wide margin. The rental split at most of our competition ranges from 60/40 to 50/50.

Last month the Antlers owners agreed to change that split, but here’s the fun part … Consistent with our efforts to encourage the owners to upgrade their condos to Platinum status, the split will be a sliding scale. Those units rated 90 and above (Platinum) will maintain the old 64/36 split, but for every rating point below 90, the split changes by 1%. In other words, a unit rated 88 (high gold) will receive 62% of the rental revenue rather than 64%. Our lowest rated units with an LQA score of 83 (thankfully not many of those) will have a 57/43 rental split … right up until the time they make some improvements (many of which are now being hastily scheduled).

This is a pretty radical departure from our historical approach of only using carrots to motivate condo improvements. This has a decidedly greater “stick” element to it. Does that part bother me? Yep, a little. But there’s such justification for it and ultimately it really is fair (in my mind, at least).

Best of all, it’s totally cutting edge. Nobody else is doing it … YET. I’m willing to bet that others will follow. I can’t wait to see.

Rob

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.

We Lost A Great One

Col. Don circa 1990We lost another one.  A great one.  One of the original Antlers owners.  He liked to tell the story about walking through the building (the original building) when it was a concrete shell.  Must’ve been 1971.  Colonel Don Wiethuechter (pronounced Wee-Tuke-Ter) was known to us as just Col. Don.  He was as supportive an owner as there ever was.  He came to every annual owners meeting as well as one or two other times a year, and always offered encouragement and appreciation.  Sure, on occasion he may have tied me up on the phone for a few minutes too long (hours, maybe?), but what I wouldn’t give right now to hear that voice say, “Hello Mr. Manager … How are you doing today?”

Col. Don and Bud Benedict were great chums and I remember when Bud retired, me being a little worried about that element of the transition.  My worries were unfounded … Col. Don had my back just as much as he ever had Bud’s … and as much as any other owner ever has.

I always claim that the Antlers Heart and Soul is what sets us apart from our competition.  It’s unquestionably what has kept me here (and happy) for 36 years.  Well, if ever there was a symbol of our heart and soul, it was Col. Don.  We’ve had some great owner/cheerleaders over the years, but Col. Don was Col. Don circa 1995there with the best of them.  I think we only took second place to his beloved Huskies at the University of Washington, and maybe his employer of 30+ years, the U.S. Army.

He would frequently travel with the Washington football team to away games and I think even received some sort of super-booster honor at mid-field one time.  I remember when Rick Neuheisel got the coaching job at UW, after getting canned from CU.  Things didn’t go so well for Rick at Udub either and we had a great time ribbing Col. Don for years afterward about our hand-me-down.  Despite his propensity to bleed purple (as they say), he always took it well.

I think we only have five or six of the original owners left now, although there are happily another six or eight that have been handed down in their families.  It’s such a bummer to see the number dwindle, but Col. Don will always be a permanent part of Antlers lore.

NEW: Antlers Offers On-site Ski Rental

The Antlers at Vail hotel and Ski Butlers have joined forces to add on-site ski rentals with ski valet to the long list of amenities the hotel already offers. This ski season guests will be able to not only rent ski equipment from Ski Butlers who will have an on-site location but also enjoy complimentary ski valet with Ski Butlers bringing their skis back and forth to the ski lifts for them.

Ski Butler

As part of Ski butlers’ ski rental service, guests don’t have to leave the comfort of their condominium to be fitted for their equipment. Ski Butlers will come to their condominium at the guest’s convenience to fit them and when the guest is finished skiing Ski Butlers will pick the equipment back up. No waiting in lines or carrying equipment around. Any questions or additional ski equipment needs, Ski Butlers will be the touch of the button away and on-site. Now, guests will be able to get on the hill more quickly and with minimal effort and be able to save all that energy for ripping down the slopes or skiing fresh powder.

“With the philosophy of ‘The answer is yes, now what’s the question?’ we are excited to have been able to fulfill another guest request at no additional cost to them,” says Rob LeVine, general manager of Antlers at Vail. “This partnership with Ski Butlers is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Ski Butlers fits customers with ski equipment in the comfort of their condo.

Ski Butlers fits customers with ski equipment in the comfort of their condo.

The Antlers at Vail hotel offers a relaxed Vail lodging experience in a fabulous mountain setting and was recently awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and GreenLeader status. With condominiums ranging from studio suites up to four-bedroom penthouses, every unit at the Antlers enjoys a fully-equipped kitchen, fireplace, private balcony, daily housekeeping service, and complimentary wi-fi and parking. The Antlers has an A+ location on the banks of Gore Creek, just steps from restaurants, galleries, shops, free Vail town shuttle and the Lionshead Gondola. For more information, call 1-800-843-8245 or visit www.antlersvail.com.

Founded in 2004 in Park City, Utah, Ski Butlers now serves 35 North American resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and British Columbia, Canada. Ski Butlers award winning service makes renting ski and snowboard equipment convenient and hassle-free all for the same price or less than most resort ski shops. Ski Butlers is the only ski shop in Vail/Beaver Creek Colorado to win the Vail Valley Platinum Service Award for exceptional customer service 7 years in a row! Questions? Call 1-877-754-7754 or visit http://www.skibutlers.com/portal/antlers.aspx.

Stay & Play Vail Golf Package

The Antlers is now offering a Stay & Play Golf Package starting at only $109.50 per person

The Antlers is now offering a Stay & Play Golf Package starting at only $109.50 per person

With spectacular views, courses designed by golfing greats like Arnold Palmer, and those extra-long high-altitude drives, Vail, Colorado, knows how to make every golfer feel like Tiger Woods. Now Antlers at Vail makes a good thing even better with its 2014 Stay & Play Package. Starting at $219* (only $109.50 per person!), two people can spend a relaxing night in a spacious Antlers at Vail condo located on Gore Creek and also play a round of golf at Eagle Ranch.

Situated in Brush Creek Valley, Eagle Ranch Golf Club sits at an elevation of 6,600 feet above sea level. Eagle Ranch is an Arnold Palmer Signature Design set in the center of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Mr. Arnold Palmer designed the layout, which includes an interesting variety of mountain and links-style holes. The open, rolling fairways lead to large, undulating greens which play fast. There’s water on most holes and strategically-placed bunkers throughout. Eagle Ranch demands accuracy. But with five sets of tees there’s fairness for golfers of all abilities.

Call 800.843.8245 to book your stay & play golf package today!

*One night lodging Sunday through Thursday in a 1-bedroom condo and a round of golf at Eagle Ranch for two people is only $219. One night lodging Friday or Saturday in a 1-bedroom condo and a round of golf at Eagle Ranch for two people is only $249. Upgraded condos available. Subject to availability.

The Ultimate Vail Hotel Sleep Machine

Vail Hotel Sleep

The rushing waters of the Gore Creek running alongside the Antlers at Vail hotel.

My first night in Vail was much too quiet.

I was all checked into Condo #308 at the Antlers and I was all tuckered out after a long day of meetings and introductions.

I turned off all the lights and climbed into bed when I was struck with the most deafening kind of silence. The room grew so quiet I was actually frightened.

Back in Brooklyn, where I live, I have become used to a lot of noise. A “quiet” night for me involves ambulances, honking horns, and drunk teenagers. Most nights I have to sleep to the manufactured sound of falling rain or ocean waves just to drown it all out.

So to lie in bed, in pitch black nothingness, with only my thoughts was a bit scary. I searched Diane and Jeff’s unit for something, anything, that could relieve me of the horrifying soundlessness. An A/C unit? A fan? But there was nothing.

That’s when it came to me: the perfect noise machine was just outside my window. I rushed back to the bedroom and cranked open the glass. The raging Gore Creek flooded the unit.

I crawled back into bed, finally at peace. Falling asleep to the sounds of the river became one of the greatest moments of relaxation during my week at the Antlers at Vail hotel. I don’t think I’ll sleep that well again for a long time.

Vail America's Best Summer Job BenBenjamin Solomon is the winner of America’s Best Summer Job, a 10-week, all-expenses paid summer job exploring what summer in the Vail Valley has to offer. A freelance writer based in New York, Benjamin has contributed to publications such as Vanity Fair, New York, Travel + Leisure and is the former editor of Next Magazine. Follow his journey on Blog.Vail.com as well as on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #VailBen.