Grand Lake Lodge gears up for the season |

Grand Lake Lodge gears up for the season

Tonya Bina
Grand Lake, CO Colorado

GRAND LAKE – For the first time since 2006, the largest employer in Grand Lake will be in full operation starting this summer.

The Grand Lake Lodge cabins are being updated, and management is starting to accept applications to fill the 80 to 100 positions available to run the 55-acre resort property, partially surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park and overlooking Grand Lake.

“Our preference would be to stay with a local-based workforce,” said Josh Shmaltz, regional director of operations for Regency Hotel Management, which bought the Grand Lake Lodge on Dec. 21, 2010.

The initial “big rush” of hiring is taking place after May 1, according to Jeff Larson, the Lodge’s new general manager. Applications are being accepted now until the beginning of May for much of the staffing for the season, he said.

Part-time and full-time positions for restaurant staff, housekeeping, kitchen staff, and front desk staff are available.

“We realize the community has a wealth of employees. We feel a majority of our employment can be fulfilled by local residents,” Larson said.

The Lodge’s opening is a welcome addition to the jobs pool, according to Lisa Pederson of the Colorado Workforce Center in Granby. In the Grand Lake-area alone, there are presently 36 unemployed individuals registered with the Center as active job seekers. In the Granby area, that number of unemployed individuals is nearly tripled, according to a March 30 report. Not factored in are summer-only residents who might soon be looking for work.

The Center has already been receiving inquiries about the prospect of Lodge employment, Pederson said. “People are asking us if they’ve heard anything.”

Schmaltz said Lodge employers have looked at International students as an option to adequately fill staffing needs, “but our first goal is to hire as many local people as possible,” he said.

Capturing countless summer travelers in Grand Lake and Rocky Mountain National Park, the historic Grand Lake Lodge had been a mainstay summer employer for decades until 2006, when the property was put up for sale and closed.

After having been mostly dormant since then, the restaurant, bar, gift shop, event facilities and some of the cabins are now planned to open on May 20, with a full opening of rental cabins slated for June 10. The Grand Lake Lodge season is planned to close on Sept. 18.

A transfer of the liquor license was approved by the Grand Lake Liquor Licensing Authority on March 28. The Lodge restaurant – a “Colorado-themed steakhouse” – will serve a breakfast buffet and full lunch and dinner seven days per week (with a Sunday brunch) open to the public, said Larson. The Lodge hours are set for 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with possible later hours for special functions.

Larson is in the process of hiring a head chef and has possibilities narrowed to four candidates, he said.

Renovations of the cabins are taking place in two phases, with the first phase including 17 cabins, slated to be completed by June 1.

The remaining 40 cabins are planned to be renovated in the fall. Structurally, the cabins will all stay the same, Schmaltz said, but each is being treated to new beds, bedding, furniture, carpet, bathroom tiling, new granite vanities, and some changes to some cabin kitchenettes. Big Valley Construction of Granby is contracted for work on the cabins, he said.

The Lodge itself is not going to change, Schmaltz said. Long-term plans for the Lodge are some restorations, such as revealing and restoring wood floors beneath restaurant carpet.

The goal of the new management is to “get (the Lodge) back to its once-famous origin,” Larson said. “The previous owners did a great job.

“We’ve got big shoes to fill.”

The new GM

The new general manager of the Grand Lake Lodge Jeff Larson has been inspired the beauty and the people of the area since he moved to Grand Lake in early February with wife Ruby and their 14-month-old daughter Jady, he said. Originally of Mitchell, S.D., Larson jumped at the opportunity to relocate his family when Regency Management based in Sioux Falls, S.D., offered him the Grand Lake Lodge position.

“It’s a beautiful historic lodge in a pristine setting, a setting like you only see in magazines and on television,” Larson said.

Larson was the general manager of the Sylvan Lake Lodge, a 35-cabin, 32-guest-room lodge property in Custer State Park of the Black Hills. He has worked in the hospitality industry most of his life, and with the Regency company since 2007.

“The community of Grand Lake has been very welcoming to my family,” he said, adding, “We’ve come into a property that has such a great reputation with the previous owners, and we want to uphold that tradition.”

The Regency hospitality company owns and manages more than 50 properties in 19 states, operating under various franchises. The limited partnership of hundreds of owners and investors employs more than 6,000 people.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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