SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Since opening in 2009, the Viceroy Snowmass has quietly garnered one accolade after another, including being named the No. 1 resort hotel in Aspen/Snowmass in the December 2012 issue of "Conde Nast Traveler" magazine.
Hugh Templeman has been general manager of the Viceroy Snowmass since July 2010. As the Viceroy Snowmass kicks off the 2012-13 winter season, Templeman has a new accolade of his very own: He recently received his United States citizenship.
"The timing was perfect from the standpoint that it was an election year, and a lot was going on in the world from a business perspective," Templeman said. "Actually, prior to citizenship, I felt I couldn't say anything. Now you're part of the conversation, and I can say we, as in we Americans. I think it's an amazing thing."
Templeman's journey to the Viceroy Snowmass began in his homeland of Australia, where he was born, got married and had two children.
Working in the hotel industry, he found himself at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bali in 1997, when he was promoted to a job at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn, Mich. From Michigan, he was transferred to St. Louis, then he took a job with the Four Seasons organization in Dublin, Ireland, because he was promised an eventual promotion from food and beverage director to hotel manager.
He stayed as hotel manager in Dublin until 2009, when he moved to Santa Monica, Calif., to become the general manager of the Viceroy Santa Monica. He was excited to return to the United States and Santa Monica because he was only a 12-hour flight away from his two daughters, Scarlett (who will turn 20 in January) and Velvet Belle (who just turned 17). After only 93 days, he was moved to the company's Avalon hotel in Beverly Hills and then was asked by his bosses to temporarily take over the Viceroy Snowmass in Colorado.
"I met my wife Rebecca when I was working in St. Louis and we got married in Las Vegas," explained Templeman. "Rebecca said that she wanted to live in Colorado one day. At the time, I said she was nuts because I was a bike rider, and I'm a big guy at over 200 pounds. I was fine going around an oval, but the idea of going up and down in Colorado didn't appeal to me then. As fate happened, the opportunity came, and I fell in love with Colorado."
He had resisted in his earlier U.S. stay because he didn't want to give up his Australian citizenship. But while working in Europe, the law changed and it became possible to have dual U.S.-Australian citizenship.
"The process to become a citizen is very civilized," Templeman said. "It's cumbersome. There's a lot of paperwork, and a lot of checks and balances. But fortunately for me, I am married to a very organized human being. She was an amazing help."
He began the paperwork process this past April. You must prove most everything about your life with documents: Child support. Bank accounts. Since Templeman's mother had remarried and changed Hugh's last name from Boland to Templeman, that had to be documented. Taxes. Bank accounts.
Then there are interviews - his took place in Denver - and fingerprints and a background check.
Additionally, to become a citizen of the United States, you have to know our country's history and specifics about our political system. They give you a 30-page book with questions and answers. How many citizens can name: Who is the speaker of the House of Representatives? What was the last state admitted to the U.S.? How many representatives in the House of Representatives? Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
As general manager of the Viceroy Snowmass, Templeman has a daily meeting with staff. He incorporated his learning into staff meetings by asking three questions a day. Eventually, it all paid off in a final interview in Denver in September. And it happened so suddenly that Templeman didn't have his wife with him when they suddenly said he could be sworn in that afternoon. Along with 49 other people from 39 different countries, Hugh Templeman became a United States citizen.
"Taking citizenship turned out to be far more emotional than I had ever imagined," Templeman said. "I was born in Australia. Now, I was stating publicly this is my home: America. So on that day, it was a big deal. Going through the process with other people that were not as articulate or as educated, I realized what that meant, and it was a very reverent moment when you are pledging allegiance. I thought it was pretty cool, and I was very proud."
So stop into the Viceroy Snowmass this winter season and say hello to one of America's newest citizens. That is, if you can find him. In addition to bike riding and racing go-carts down in Grand Junction, Templeman has also become a skier.
Steve Alldredge is the former associate editor/reporter for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at email@example.com.