Ritz-Carlton has hurricane-help party | VailDaily.com

Ritz-Carlton has hurricane-help party

Carolyn Pope
Carolyn Pope/Vail DailyMichael Daley, sous chef at the Ritz-Carlton, and Scott Elliott serve up crawfish-bloody mary-ceviche shooters.

BACHELOR GULCH – “The greatest gift we can give the people of New Orleans is their dignity and self-respect,” said Ann George of Vail Resorts at the recent Hurricane Relief fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch. “They have been thrown into this situation,” she said. “We can help give them control of their lives.”

This past week, the Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch hosted an extravaganza to help out. The evening featured great music, spectacular Creole food and casino-style gambling. The grand prize was first class airfare anywhere in the world and a vacation at the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Hawaii. Although wine was the featured drink, the hurricanes served were certainly as good as Pat O’Brien’s.The idea for the fundraiser came from Steven Holt, director of marketing at the Ritz-Carlton, while he was watching water engulf the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“I saw pictures of the flooded city and knew that we needed to do something,” he said. “We know food and wine, so I brought together people from the Taste of Vail to accomplish this goal.”Enter Susan Fritz and Amy Phillips, two women who know how to get things done. Vail Resorts hopped on board, along with many wine and liquor distributors, including National Distributing, Southern Wine and Spirits, Grand Vin Limited, Bacardi and several local restaurants.”Colorado has really stepped up,” said Jan De Villier, director of interstate housing for the Louisiana governor’s office. “I called Kelly Ladyga (of Vail Resorts) and had a meeting with human resources. We’re trying to bring people home to New Orleans or put them in better situations.”These displaced people want to work, not only for the income but also for their own well-being. Being a resort town with great seasonal needs, the match seems pretty close to perfect.”If we are able to bring these people up here, it will take the entire community to help out,” she said. Many people are already being placed in occupations through the company. The Ritz-Carlton Corporation had the same idea. “As soon as Katrina hit, the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain put a freeze on outside hiring so they could offer all New Orleans ladies and gentleman first right to positions that opened at our other hotels,” Holt said. “We’ve filled three positions in Bachelor Gulch alone.

“As more become available and seasonal positions open up, we will be looking at more people from New Orleans,” he said. Cam Rinard is one of those now on board in Bachelor Gulch. She holed up in the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans during the hurricane. Her husband, Matt, had a gallery that flooded, and friend Kristen and Roger Taulli worked there.”I’d hoped to open a new gallery in this area,” said Matt Rinard. His plans, needless to say, have been moved forward more quickly than he expected. “I guess God is forcing me here.” The Ritz-Carlton is putting together a committee of community leaders to decide where the money will go, though one thing is for sure – some money will stay in the community to jump-start the refugees here.”We’re not creating this event to mourn,” Holt said. “We’re celebrating the people of New Orleans.”Vail, Colorado

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