New Skico hire’s got the experience
ASPEN Paul Cherrett knows all about trying to hire and retain good help in a small ski town with a limited employee base. He’s also adept at pampering wealthy guests with high expectations.So Cherrett believes he will be on somewhat familiar ground April 2 when he becomes the Aspen Skiing Co.’s senior vice president, hospitality division. Although he’s never worked in Aspen before, he said running a Four Seasons Hotel in Jackson Hole has prepared him for the challenges he will face in his new position.Cherrett, 50, has worked in hotel management for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts for 24 years. Most recently he led the opening of a 124-room hotel in Jackson Hole that includes fractional-ownership units and private residences. The hotel was recently awarded the prestigious AAA five-diamond award.Cherrett oversees 420 employees at high season and roughly 170 year-round in Jackson Hole. Business leaders warned him he would never find enough quality employees when Four Seasons set its sights on the Wyoming resort. Instead, he assembled a top-notch staff by relying heavily on foreign workers with high motivation to perform well.The Four Seasons hired employees with students visas or temporary work permits, like many other resort properties. But Cherrett put a twist in the program. Instead of hiring candidates “sight unseen,” his staff flew to the countries of origin to interview applicants.Four Seasons recruited in South America during winters and in Eastern Europe during summers as well as in Mexico during both seasons.The Four Seasons Hotels, like the Aspen Skiing Co.’s luxury properties, are labor intensive, Cherrett said. You don’t cut corners in the luxury market by reducing the staff.He believes he served the same type of clientele with Four Seasons – where he worked in Austin, Dallas, Maui, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto before Jackson Hole – as he will encounter in Aspen.Hotel guests and fractional ownership residents might have slightly different needs, but both types of guests demand excellence, he said.Hotel guests try to cram 10 days of activities into five days, so they have certain demands during their vacations, Cherrett noted. Fractional ownership residents are typically a bit more laid back, but still have similar needs.”With hotel guests you manage expectations and with [fractional] residents you manage entitlements,” he said.At the Four Seasons, he had hotel units, fractionals and wholly-owned residences all in one complex. In Aspen, he will oversee an operation with entire projects of the various types.Cherrett will oversee all operations at The Little Nell hotel, The Residences at The Little Nell, the Sundeck and the Aspen Mountain Club. He also will be charged with “leadership and oversight direction for the Snowmass Club,” according to a Skico announcement. Once Base Village in Snowmass is developed, he will oversee property management for residential units and operations of The Little Nell Snowmass.Cherrett will surpervise an estimated 700 employees at peak season in the Skico’s existing hospitality division. Once Base Village is built out by 2011, that number will swell to around 1,200, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.The Skico created the hospitality division last year. Eric Calderon, the popular head of The Little Nell, was prepared to take the helm of the division when he accepted a different job.Cherrett won’t oversee the day-to-day operations of The Little Nell or any property. His responsibilities will be broader.Even though Cherrett was with Four Seasons for 25 years, he said it is unlikely he could have worked into a position with as much responsibility as he will have with the Skico. Within Four Seasons, there were general managers with more seniority than him that would have been in line for broader-based positions.Nevertheless, Cherrett was happy with Four Seasons. He said he ignored frequent telephone messages left by executive recruitment firms. That changed this winter when a call came from a recruiter who mentioned the Aspen Skiing Co., he said. He knew the Skico oversaw The Little Nell, which is highly-respected in the hospitality business.Cherrett said all his research into the Skico management and the Crown family, owners of the Skico, showed they had the same commitment to quality as the Four Seasons. The job description with the Skico fit perfectly with where he wanted to take his career.Everything added up for him so he accepted the position. Cherrett and his wife Colleen will relocate to the Aspen area this spring. They have two children, a son, Courtney, 18, and a daughter, Maureen, 15.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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