Beaver Run general manager receives Hotelier of the Year award |

Beaver Run general manager receives Hotelier of the Year award

Bob Barto has spent 37 years working in hotels in Summit County. He is currently the general manager at Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center.
Kailyn Lamb / |

At the annual Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association fall meeting, Bob Barto, board member and general manager at Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, was about to get the surprise of his life.

At the Nov. 7 meeting at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, the association named Barto Hotelier of the Year. His wife, Karen, their three children and several of Bob’s coworkers were there to surprise him as he accepted the award celebrating his 37 years in the hospitality industry in Colorado.

Karen kept the news of his nomination from him for five weeks, something Bob still wasn’t sure how she accomplished in the month following the meeting.

“We don’t keep secrets,” he said.

At the start

In 1979, Bob jumped in his car and moved here from Pennsylvania. Like so many of Summit County’s residents, Bob moved here with starry eyes, dreaming of skiing for a season while working nights. He got a job as a dishwasher at Keystone Resort, quickly moving up the ranks, becoming a bus boy and then a server.

“That was like going to school, I had probably 10 jobs in 12 years,” he said. “I learned the hotel business from the ground up.”

He met his wife Karen while working at Keystone, where she was a bartender at the time. In the next six years they spent in Summit, they fell in love with each other and with the county. In the summer of 1985, Karen was offered a teaching job in her home state of Minnesota, marking the only time the couple would consider leaving the county. After spending several months on the road to see if the job was a good fit, the couple came to a different life-changing decision: they got married.

“Seventy-two days in a Toyota pickup, we got to know each other pretty well,” he remarked.

Both Bob and his wife are big skiers, but as their three children were growing up in Summit, skiing sat on the back burner compared to chauffeuring the kids to their hockey, lacrosse and rugby games. Karen took a job as a gym teacher at Frisco Elementary. Bob joined the group of parents that fought to get a turf field built at the high school.

“Your world changes. Spending time with your kids, that’s the whole focus,” he said.

Their kids grew up and left the state for school, but quickly returned to start their own lives in Colorado. His oldest son now coaches hockey at Summit High School, and his daughter works for the Breckenridge Tourism Office. His other son works in hospitality in Vail.

“You have to leave here to know what you got,” Bob said. “You have to get away to realize the slice of paradise that you live in.”

Getting to the top

In 1991, Bob left Keystone after 12 years to become the assistant general manager at Beaver Run. In 1995, he became a board member of the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association. By 2009 he was promoted to general manager.

While sitting at Spencer’s Steak and Spirits, staff and guests alike greet Bob as an old friend, shaking his hand and talking about the slopes.

Receiving the Hotelier of the Year was something that Bob said he was humbled by, but for him it means more than the prestigious title. Bob said that he is “the highest paid busboy,” and will still do small tasks as the general manager to help out. He also stands in at orientations to talk to new hires about working in the hospitality industry. It is his hope that the award, and his more than three decades of experience in hotels, will inspire others.

“You can work your way up to run a facility of this magnitude,” he said. “You get your foot in the door and kind of do what I did, take the ladder up.”

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