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.