Vail Valley, let’s keep our spirits up |

Vail Valley, let’s keep our spirits up

Tom Backhus
Vail, CO, Colorado

I had an unusual and disturbing discussion with guests at 4 Eagle Ranch on Wednesday evening. I was wandering around our dining room (as I always do) during our Sleighride Dinner and was stopped by one of our guests, who wanted to thank me for the great food and friendly people that we were ” one of the few times that they’ve felt welcome and treated in a friendly manner since arriving in Vail.

They specifically said businesses just haven’t treated them as if the business ever cared to get their business back.

Wow! I was taken aback, not so much for the compliment to us and our people, but at the disturbing thought of such poor treatment occurring in our valley. This complaint came from a group of three families ” three sets of parents and their kids, the perfect example of the clientele we want and need to maintain.

I doubt we will ever get these three families back to the Vail Valley, nor will we get their friends, nor their friends!

Our valley (in all due respect to those who take offense to my referring to our market surroundings as the Vail Valley), since George Gillett’s tenure, has led much of the destination industry in customer service, which is showing genuine concern for the guest and their experience.

George set the tone and lived the example by being out among the people, and we were off. For years, everyone complimented Vail (the Vail Valley) for the friendliness and genuine service level that we delivered.

George is long gone from his time at VA (VR), and times have changed. We currently find ourselves in probably the most difficult economic period of our lives.

Businesses are stressed, management is stressed, and people are stressed. Probably even many of our guests are stressed. We are also at that point in the winter where we are ready for winter to be over and spring to get here.

Given that mix of the economy and the mid-winter funk, it’s easy to understand a challenge to our attitudes. But we can’t let that happen.

We’ve got to recognize the challenges we all face, from ownership to management to employees (and back), from business to business, industry to industry and community to community.

We have the good fortune to live in and share a wonderful part of the world, to benefit from the culture, the restaurants, the medical care, the mountains, the sun and the many good people who make up our valley.

Let’s not lose sight of the guests and the contribution they make to our being able to live here. Times are tough and some us may not make it, but let’s not lose that wonderful spirit of genuine service that we are known for.

When others throughout the industry are experiencing these same issues, we need to recognize the opportunity we have to again stand out from the crowd and be known for our genuine concern of the guest experience.

Tom Backhus Owner/GM 4 Eagle Ranch

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