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December 25, 2012
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Concierge desks help answer, 'Now what?'

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - "We've skied for a couple of days - what else is there to do?"

Guests ask that question countless times over the course of a ski season, and the people most often expected to find the answers are concierges. These are the people whose jobs depend on having the right answers from questions ranging from "Where can I get a bottle of aspirin?" to "Can I really take a taxi from Vail to Aspen?"

But knowing the right answers often involves helping guests determine exactly what kind of questions they're really asking.

Victor Rossi of the Sonnenalp has been a concierge in the valley for more than two decades. There aren't a lot of questions he hasn't been asked. Over the years, Rossi has developed the skills needed to get a guest what he or she wants.

"Our job is to narrow down the questions," Rossi said. "Do you want something outside? Something non-skiing?"

At the Poste Montane lodge in Beaver Creek, concierge Robin Lundgaard literally sizes up his guests before offering recommendations. Does a guest have the look of an adventurer? Maybe snowshoeing is the answer to a still-evolving question.

If another guest looks less adventurous, maybe Lundgaard will recommend a trip to Beaver Creek's gallery row near the ice rink.

A family with kids at Beaver Creek may learn how to get to Vail's Adventure Ridge.

"I try to use my judgment on what (guests are) up for," Lundgaard. "One of the biggest hints is if they've been skiing."

But trying to coax the right question out of a guest can be challenging.

Brian Gohean, the assistant general manager at the Sitzmark Lodge in Vail Village, noted the sheer variety of what's available in the Vail Valley. That's especially true in a slow snow year, Gohean said.

Guests can take in anything from sightseeing - especially if they have access to a car - to gallery tours in the resort villages. Several resorts have their own to-do menus - the Sonnenalp has guided snowshoe tours, among other activities.

But the resorts aren't the only places to steer guests toward new adventures.

Rossi said he often recommends snowmobile tours or dogsled rides, and 4 Eagle Ranch north of Wolcott hosts an increasingly popular "ranch experience" evening with dinner and sleigh rides.

"We try to keep people local, because a lot don't have cars while they're here," Rossi said.

Information and literature all needs to be close at hand for those in the concierge business.

Sharon Geankaplis at the Cascade Village Resort says that lodge's concierge desk has a large list of suggested activities, from fly-fishing to zipline adventures near Leadville.

A lot of those activities might be familiar to people who live here, but a family in town for the first time is a different story.

"For guests, these are all unique experiences," Rossi said.

While there's a wealth of answers to "now what?" the concierges contacted for this story said few, if any come as a real surprise to guests - with one possible exception.

"Glenwood Adventure Caverns has spelunking," Lundgaard said. "Not a lot of people know about that."

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 25, 2012 11:34PM Published Dec 25, 2012 11:32PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.