Marketing is Willemssen’s strength |

Marketing is Willemssen’s strength

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyAvon Town Council candidate Karri Willemssen she would like to see buses or shuttles running to Buffalo Ridge and Wildridge.

AVON, Colorado ” Avon town council candidate Karri Willemssen was once a pre-med student at the University of California, San Diego, getting ready to become a doctor.

She spent her Friday and Saturday nights volunteering in the emergency room of a hospital, rolling patients down the hall on a gurney after they’d airlifted by helicopter to the trauma center.

“That’s when most of the action happens ” and it was one of the most positive experiences for me to help people in that field,” Willemssen said.

During her senior year, she organized from beginning to end a massive ski-trip to Vail for 1,800 college students from all around California ” a job that both gave her a free ski pass and a different outlook on life.

“That kind of switched me ” that led me to thinking I wanted to live out here and change my career,” Willemssen said. “I knew then I had skills in organizing and planning. I knew I wanted to run things,” Willemssen said.

Willemssen, who grew up in California, has always loved skiing and vacationed with her family here during the winter. With college over with, and medical school not so appealing anymore, she focused on building a career in hospitality, marketing and sales in the Vail area.

Willemssen is running for council mainly because she loves being involved, loves helping people and wants to give back to the community, she said.

“You have to have a balance of experience, and the experiences I would bring are my skills in marketing,” Willemssen said.

Willemssen has immersed herself in the business community. She is the director of sales and marketing for Western Seasons, which sells, rents and manages vacation homes.

She’s been an ambassador for the Vail Valley Partnership since 2000 and runs a “Leads Group,” where people from all facets of the community meet to exchange business tips.

Earlier in her career, she was in charge of special events like weddings at the Club at Cordillera and booking reservations at the Evergreen Lodge.

She sits on the Eagle Air Alliance Committee, and is president of the mountain chapter of Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, which hosts education programs and trade shows for concierges.

“I look forward to improving guest service ” when you plan something from start to finish, like a wedding or a family reunion, and it’s successful, that’s what’s exciting to me,” Willemssen said.

One priority for Willemssen is improving public transportation in town ” such as finding some way to get bus service to residents at Buffalo Ridge, and maybe starting a shuttle system to Wildridge, which could be a big help to second-home owners without cars, she said.

Willemssen also wants to keep development in check.

“We need to take a step back and see really what’s best for the community, and move forward with that,” Willemssen said. “We need to say, ‘Ok, is this the right plan?'”

Willemssen enjoys all the normal mountain things, like skiing and hiking and golfing. She’s also spent a lot of time playing softball in rec leagues. Since her parents moved to Singletree a few years ago, she’s been able to spend more time with her family.

“My first two years here, I went through beach withdrawal. I used to surf, and I was used to the beach,” Willemssen said. “But I love the mountains. A lot of people say that you come for the winter, but stay for the summer, and that is 100 percent true with me.”

1. What is Avon’s biggest challenge right now, and how should the town council deal with it?

Avon’s single greatest challenge is creating affordable home ownership and rentals for the work force. The town council should make a commitment with the private sector that would encompass a plan of action to develop attainable housing while providing a community atmosphere.

There are some opportunities in the Village at Avon for us to work with the developer and build some homes that working-class citizens can afford to own or rent.

2. Avon’s new Main Street has been on the drawing board for years ” now it’s actually happening. How can the council ensure that redevelopment of this area goes smoothly and downtown Avon is a success?

The town council needs to ensure that the redevelopment of the new Main Street goes smoothly and is a success by making the plans fully develop, improving the pedestrian access to Avon, enforcing the existing parking for businesses so the parking does not become skier parking in the winter ” and I would want to make sure all plans incorporate a consistent long-term plan for growth.

3. How would you describe the town’s relationship with developer Traer Creek over the past couple years? How can that relationship improve, or should the town take a hard line?

We need to put past animosity behind us and create a new working relationship where both sides can win. I see great opportunities with Traer Creek and the Town of Avon.

We can create a community where we have affordable home ownership, pedestrian-friendly access to businesses and amenities and increased recreation for our residents.

Examples like Miller Ranch, pet friendly parks and a community center. Most important, we need to work together to come up with a solution for a better transportation system in Avon.

4. Avon has taken-on several “green” initiatives in the past year, such as buying wind power and developing a snowmelt system for Main Street using excess heat from the wastewater treatment plant. Should the town continue pursuing projects like these? What’s your philosophy on how the town should approach environmental stewardship?

I believe in going green. My philosophy is the town of Avon has a responsibility to move toward incorporating environment rules and regulations. This may mean some incentives provided to companies to incorporate this philosophy. Avon can take a lead by reviewing its own operations first by example.

5. A new master plan is being developed for Nottingham Park. What improvements are top priority for you?

There is a very good base plan for Nottingham Park. They have a good start to the plan.

There are several top priorities. The first would be the park connection to Main Street and access to the park. I believe upgrading the restrooms, more picnic shelters, a dog area and an under-interstate connection would be beneficial among all the other benefits of this development.

6. What can the council do to keep working-class families in Avon?

Affordable home ownership and a convenient transportation system are primary factors to keeping the working class residents in town.

Right now residents may overlook Avon as their first choice for dining and entertainment. If we could increase the variety of choices, we give residents a more desirable reason to remain in Avon. Examples would be a movie theater, bowling alley and increased diversity in retail shops.

7. What more can Avon do to take advantage of its place at the base of Beaver Creek and provide a great experience for tourists?

The Town Council needs to revise the Web site and come up with a better marketing plan. When Beaver Creek host large events, Avon needs to improve their involvement.

Avon has really brought itself to the point that it is an excellent compliment to the Beaver Creek amenities. I do think Avon can step out alone or work to promote each other.

In Avon, I see the balance between the two as a 60/40 split. Sixty percent of the focus needs to be on the residents with the remaining 40 percent dedicated to the resort community.

We need to remember the resort community helps us to afford more amenities for the residents.

8. Why should Avon residents vote for you?

I will bring a fresh perspective and open mindset to the Avon Town Council. I promise I will make a firm commitment to making our community the most balanced and resident-friendly community in the county. I will listen and work towards to solving the issues the community feels are most important.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or

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