Hosting the senior spirit
Monday, 90 Eagle County seniors from the Eagle River and Roaring Fork valleys were guests of the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek for lunch and an afternoon of general fun.The Park Hyatt entertains the seniors twice a year, winter and summer, and the number has grown from about 60 to Monday’s 90 in the four years they’ve been doing it.”This is an opportunity for us to give something back to the community that has been so good to us,” said Jim Steinbach, the Park Hyatt’s director of sales and marketing. “These are the people who blazed the trail that the rest of us are following.”Pat Nolan works with seniors in Minturn, running exercise sessions and other programs. In an area this transient, she says, it’s a refreshing change to deal with people who’ve lived in the same house for 50 years.Not only that, but some have lived with each other for 50 years.The good stuff lasts.All the stories in our spiral arm of the universe were in that room Monday.Like the time those wacky guys building that ski area showed up at the meeting of a local civic club to try to sell shares for $2,500 each – a huge pile of money in a world where a gallon of gas cost a quarter.Or the first time anyone brought sheep to western Eagle County – the heart of local cattle country. The bold move touched off a local version of a range war. They settled it over a bottle of whiskey and lived happily ever after.And what about all the times they wandered along U.S. Highway 6 to check out the new ski area’s progress, making the same pronouncements people made about radio when it was introduced to the masses: “It’s a fad. It’ll never last.Helmut Fricker provided the music, staying with the theme “music we know the words to.””I’ll play anything you want to hear,” Fricker told the delighted crowd. “If I don’t know it, I’ll fake it.”The crowd immediately launched into a game of Stump the Band, stumping him with the first two requests. Fricker ultimately prevailed, however, keeping the funny lines coming at a rapid-fire pace.- “The more you drink the better I sound.” (There was no alcohol in the place).- “I’ve been asked for a duet – do it somewhere else.”- “I’ve also been asked to sing tenor – tenor 12 miles away.”- “Mom was 92 and she never used glasses. She always drank straight from the bottle.”When they had sung and laughed and eaten until they could do no more, the seniors played Bingo – which can be dangerous with people who know all the rules and how to apply them in their favor. The Park Hyatt folks asked for plain M&Ms for Bingo card markers, but ended up with peanut M&Ms, which tend to be more mobile. It’s not unusual for one to quietly roll from one part of a Bingo card to another part, where it’s needed, or for someone to get the back of their hand smacked for trying to satisfy their sweet tooth by pilfering M&Ms from someone else’s card.Entertaining seniors at the Hyatt started about four years ago. Steinbach was talking to Park Hyatt Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing Kathi Kotula, who spends a little of her time off delivering meals to local seniors who have trouble getting out. One senior’s name led to another and before long an idea was born – bring seniors to the Park Hyatt a couple times a year for unbridled fun and laughter.They took the idea to Park Hyatt General Manager Robert Dallain, who likes happy, laughing people in his hotel.Katie Harper and some other folks from Eagle County Senior Services got together with Dallain, who reiterated his appreciation for happy, laughing people, and up to 300 of them would be just fine. They decided the Park Hyatt would entertain area seniors twice a year, winter and summer.”They always do a wonderful job. They have gone far and beyond anything we imagined when they first contacted us,” said Harper. “Lots of people do so much for us. Adam’s Rib provides Thanksgiving dinners for the seniors.”ECO Transit transported all 85 people who participated in Monday’s event.