SVRA leadership goes to France |

SVRA leadership goes to France

Brent Gardner-Smith

The Snowmass Village Resort Association has a new president.

Jim France comes to Snowmass from Asheville, N.C., where he was the vice president and general manager of the Grove Park Inn Resort, a venerable hotel known for its Southern hospitality.

Monday was his first official day on the job, and he has spent the week getting to know some of the key players in the Aspen and Snowmass areas. This area is new to him, as his first visit was during the SVRA interview process.

“I had been to Colorado before, but not Snowmass Village,” France said. “I was extraordinarily impressed with the place.”

The last president of SVRA, Terry Hunt, resigned in August after a decade with the organization. Michael Somma, the vice president of marketing for the last seven years, resigned the same day. Hunt’s contract extended his position to June 2001, and the SVRA recently negotiated $200,000 in severance pay for him and Somma.

The SVRA has also announced that it has hired Brett Huske, formerly of the Ocean Key Resort in Key West, as its new vice president of sales and marketing.

France comes to Snowmass to try and turn around two consecutive winter and summer seasons of lackluster marketing results, and he said he is looking forward to the challenge.

He has extensive experience in the hospitality industry with an emphasis on marketing and sales. Prior to his nine years managing the Grove Park Inn, he was managing director for the Indian Lakes and Nordic Hills golf resorts outside of Chicago.

In 1983, he was the opening manager at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., and he also logged 11 years with the Wesson hotel group.

“My whole life has been in the hospitality industry in one form or another,” France said.

His father managed hotels in the United Kingdom, and France attended both the Cole Homelier in Switzerland and Cornell University’s hotel program.

“I came up through food and beverage in the hotel industry, but my actual background is in marketing and sales,” he said.

And it is sales that he plans to concentrate on in Snowmass Village.

“Revenue production is where my main focus will be,” said France, who garnered praise from his former employer as he was leaving.

“Under Jim France’s eight-year leadership, the Grove Park Inn has achieved record revenue and earnings annually,” said Robert Korba, the CEO of Sammons Enterprises Inc., which owns the Grove Park.

“Jim’s tenure as general manager corresponds with the best long-term performance in the hotel’s 86-year history.”

His replacement at the Grove Park, Craig Madison, told the Asheville Citizen-Times that France deserves a lot of credit for the resort’s success.

“He was a marketing-driven guy, and overnight he turned this into a marketing-driven company,” Madison said.

That will be music to the ears of the Aspen Skiing Co., which relies on SVRA to help market Snowmass, the resort.

“We care as much about Jim’s success as Jim does,” said John Norton, chief operating officer of the Skico.

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