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Tourism professionals recognized for creating memorable guest experiences

The staff of Ski Country Resorts, recent recipients of the service industry award from One Breckenridge, pose for a portrait on Friday, Oct. 2.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

BRECKENRIDGE — One Breckenridge, which is run through the Breckenridge Tourism Office, recently recognized individuals and businesses that put in their best effort to make visitors’ time in town enjoyable through ongoing health restrictions. 

The Lodge at Breckenridge, a hotel and wedding venue, received two nominations for One Breckenridge’s summer season guest service champions. One nomination expressed appreciation for the staff at The Lodge for creating a special wedding experience, while the other nomination shared how General Manager Rhonda Wilson showed friendliness, professionalism, a welcoming attitude and attentiveness to them. 

The staff of The Lodge at Breckenridge, recent recipients of service industry award from One Breckenridge, pose for a portrait on Friday, Oct. 2.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

“Rhonda Wilson, and the entire team at The Lodge at Breckenridge, made our wedding incredible … They then went above and beyond by leaving a note and bottle of champagne to toast our wedding. They were incredibly friendly, helpful and understanding,” the nomination said.

Wilson said The Lodge’s purpose is to “create the wow.” She said this motto comes from the response people have when they come to the hotel’s lobby and see the view of the mountains. In training her team, Wilson said she emphasizes to employees that what they say matters and that they want to create an experience for guests that will inspire them to return in the future.

She said while The Lodge was shut down this spring, the place has stayed busy this summer, and adapting to COVID-19 restrictions hasn’t been as difficult for the team and guests as she thought it would be. 

Wilson said weddings tend to be the highest generator of revenue for The Lodge aside from lodging, so it was difficult when weddings had to be postponed or canceled this year as The Lodge typically hosts 75-100 weddings per year. To adapt, Wilson said The Lodge has been doing more micro-weddings or elopements, which has allowed them to host up to three of these types of weddings per day with parties of around 10-15 people, as well as some more traditional weddings with restrictions. 

“Looking back to June 4, the day we opened, I thought this was going to be the worst time of our lives, and the team came together — we started off with a really minimal staff and everybody worked really hard during that time to take care of things,” Wilson said.

Wilson explained that some former employees had left the county by the time The Lodge reopened, so new staff members had to be hired. She said most of the team was reestablished by the middle of summer and she’s excited about the new team.

Ski Country Resorts was another hospitality establishment that received recognition from One Breckenridge this summer. 

“My trip to Breckenridge is one of the last things I did back in the era of ‘normal,’ and the memories are priceless,” the nomination read.

David Garrett and Jeni Shelton owners of Ski Country Resorts and recipients of a service industry award from One Breckenridge pose for a portrait on Friday, Oct. 2.
Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

Ski Country Assistant General Manager Michelle Jarzabek echoed Wilson’s sentiments, saying that the summer has been busy as Breckenridge offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation. Jarzabek said that while things were uncertain at the start of June, reservations quickly started pouring in once lodging reopened. She added that it has been the second-best performing July for Ski Country Resorts in 11 years. 

“We’ve been glad to have visitors coming up, and we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from guests, and overall, people are really happy so it makes us feel good to be part of getting Breckenridge back on track and providing services and experiences for our guests that they’ve come to know and love up here in the High Country,” Jarzabek said. 

As person-to-person interactions such as office visits are limited, Jarzabek said their staff tries to combat the loss of personal interaction by making sure guests get plenty of communication and that staff is as warm and welcoming as possible when they do interact with guests. Jarzabek said that while Ski Country Resorts has lost some staff members that weren’t comfortable returning, the remaining staff has become closer as a team and has stepped up to adapt to the changes together.

Jarzabek said she believes Ski Country Resorts received the nomination because the team is able to provide a great environment for guests.

“I was not expecting to stay in Breckenridge for more than two months, and now I’ve been in this company for four years and that is one of the things that I like best is sharing our passion and our love for this mountain community with other people and just having them have those great memories,” Jarzabek said.

Majai Bailey was an individual nominated for the service champion award as a “support staff champion.” Bailey is the events specialist for the Breckenridge Tourism Office. His nomination explained that he was helpful and positive during the Walkable Main setup.

“I could see his smile through his mask,” the nomination read. 

Majai Bailey won a support staff champion award for his work with events at the Breckenridge Tourism Office this summer.
Photo from Majai Bailey

Bailey said that as he was in charge of the rentals for Walkable Main, he coordinated with restaurants to make sure they had what they needed. He said he worked to answer questions and has received positive feedback on the tourism office’s work through the pandemic from locals and visitors alike.

Bailey works to make sure that the proper precautions are taken for events and is currently helping to plan 10 Days of Ullr, the Lighting of Breckenridge and the annual snow sculptures event. 

“I’m stoked on the (Breckenridge Tourism Office) team and what we’re doing and just hopefully moving forward to better times,” Bailey said.


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