Rob LeVine, longtime general manager of the Antlers lodge, is retiring
November 5, 2016
VAIL — It's rare these days when a professional athlete spends an entire career with one team. It's rarer still in the business world. That's what Rob LeVine has done.
LeVine recently retired as the general manager of the Antlers at Vail, a job he's held since 1987. He's now a consultant to the lodge and it's condominium owners, but day-to-day operations have been taken on by Magdalena King, the longtime assistant general manager.
But the story of LeVine and the Antlers starts in 1978, when LeVine, then a student at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, was working at the Eagle-Vail golf course. A frequent player befriended the young student, and asked LeVine what he was doing after graduation.
As it turned out, LeVine's friend was the husband of the accountant at the Antlers, and the accountant was pregnant.
He invited LeVine to apply, saying, "You're smart; you've been to college."
Then-general manager Bud Benedict hired LeVine, telling him, "You're smart; you've been to college."
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That led to a quick stint at the front desk of the lodge, along with night auditor duties. Then the baby came, and the accountant's job opened up.
"That was something I was woefully unprepared for," LeVine said, laughing. But that thrown-in-the-deep-end experience worked out for both LeVine and the Antlers.
Moving up, staying put
In 1982 or so, Benedict told LeVine he was planning to retire in a few years. A good assistant general manager could move into the top job when Benedict retired.
LeVine was interested, but the homeowners' board balked at his salary demand. An assistant was hired from outside the organization, but only lasted about a year. LeVine ended up in the assistant's job, at the salary he'd asked for.
"That's the great thing about the Antlers — if you work hard, we try to hire from within," he said.
When Benedict retired, LeVine stayed on as a consultant for a few years, but LeVine took the top job.
That's the pattern the lodge is following now.
LeVine calls Benedict a mentor, and not just professionally. Benedict was involved with a number of community nonprofit groups, something LeVine quickly jumped into, including a four-year term on the Vail Town Council that ended in 1991. He's also a longtime member of the boards of the Vail Valley Salvation Army, the Bravo! Vail music festival and the Vail Symposium.
That community involvement is both personally and professionally satisfying.
Good for Vail
"A big part of my involvement is that it's good for the Antlers," LeVine said. "There's been a recognition of that by the owners and the board of directors."
That recognition includes a simple idea: If something is good for Vail, then it's good for the Antlers.
After a career of working with both his own homeowners and groups from other condo associations, LeVine said the Antlers model is unusual in the business. Other associations and hotels can focus more on their own buildings than the community at large.
LeVine is self-effacing about his contributions to the community, saying that most of what the Antlers has given throughout the years is empty rooms. The lodge keeps almost all of its staff working all year, so a few rooms to Bravo! Vail or another cause doesn't really affect operations.
Still, LeVine's community involvement over the years has been gratifying, LeVine said.
"It keeps it really interesting. To be able to learn new things and talk with new people, and incorporating that into the Antlers — that's what's kept it fresh."
Most of that community work is winding down, with LeVine saying it's time to let new people — people who are full-time active in the business community — take on those responsibilities.
Which leads to the future.
LeVine's optimistic about the future of Vail and the valley, saying there's still plenty of the spark that fueled the earlier years, and there are still plenty of friendly people around.
And he and his wife, Evelyn Pinney, have no plans to move from their home in Edwards — with the exception of a few golf trips in the winter.
"People retire so they can move to Vail — why would I want to leave?" he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.