From bellman to vice president to the beach |

From bellman to vice president to the beach

KEYSTONE – Tim Patterson is going to have to figure out what to do with all his suits and winter jackets.

Patterson proudly notes that he’s one of the few Summit County residents who not only owns suits, but wears them frequently. And, well, who doesn’t have a closet full of cold-weather tops? But where Patterson is going, he won’t need either.

“I’ll be at the beach or golfing in aloha shirts,” the resort vice president of operations said Wednesday, contemplating his final days in his corner office in the Keystone Lodge. After 26 years at Keystone, Patterson is taking a job as general manager of a beach resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I think it’s a statement to sell your Outback and get a convertible,” he said.

An Air Force brat, Patterson learned to ski as a child in Europe. His family took its first vacation to Keystone in 1974, and trips to other Summit County ski areas soon followed. When he finally landed back in the United States, the Florida heat and humidity were too much. He headed for the mountains and the skiing he’d fallen in love with in Colorado. He found himself a job as a bellman making $1.60 an hour, plus tips.

“It doesn’t always seem like 26 years,” Patterson said reflecting on that first job. “It depends how you count it.”

When he wasn’t skiing, Patterson was learning the ins and outs of dozens of jobs. From bellman to night auditor, to maintenance, to the stables, to banquet waitstaff, he worked at Keystone until taking over as food and beverage manager at Arapahoe Basin in 1983. Patterson said there were weeks-long stretches when he never came down the mountain.

He continued on this career path, moving into property management, reservations, conference services and quality control, until he became a vice president in 1999.

At first blush, Patterson admitted the jobs weren’t too stressful – he describes his jobs by comparing them to the clown at the circus who must keep a dozen plates spinning on top of poles. The jobs were made interesting and easier because they presented new challenges each day. Then he reluctantly noted that, when he first moved here, he had hair and didn’t wear glasses.

When he’s finally settled in at the beach, it won’t be the jobs he misses, though. Tearing up, Patterson said it’s the people he met along the way.

“We all moved here single, and now we have families,” Patterson said. “We know more about each other now than we probably ought to. We grew up together.”

He’s seen plenty of changes on his watch. When he arrived, Keystone had only 250 condos and about as many employees. Brand new Flying Dutchman condominiums cost about $40,000 then. The food and beverage department at Keystone has developed world-class restaurants and a respected culinary arts program in partnership with Colorado Mountain College. But Patterson won’t take any credit for those things.

All he wants to take with him are the Summit County skies.

“If I could take one thing with me, that’d be it,” Patterson said. “You just don’t get blue, blue, clear blue skies like this anywhere else.”

Reid Williams can be reached at

(970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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