By Sally J. Sportsman:
Except for three months at the start of the pandemic, Omni Mount Washington Resort, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, has been open year-round. After re-opening, the venue, newly expanded and enhanced, has experienced continued growth.
“Both golf and skiing are fantastic socially-distant sports,” said Josh Debottis, general manager of the resort.
This double dividend is but one element that keeps the highly-rated destination busy throughout the seasons. The full Presidential Mountain Range is featured prominently from the back side of the hotel and from the meticulously restored Donald Ross-designed Mount Washington Golf Course, which enjoys consistently high ratings. Or guests can play the historic nine-hole, par-35 Mount Pleasant Golf Course. In addition to golf and skiing, a full-service spa, outdoor guided adventures and multiple dining venues are available. Displays throughout the resort illustrate the property’s rich history, dating from 1902.
Beyond all the beauty and wealth of activity options at Omni Mount Washington Resort, though, the management team’s strategic decision-making may be an equally potent factor in the venue’s ongoing success. Hiring and keeping qualified staff is one example.
“Overall, in the hospitality industry as well as almost every industry in the country, we are all facing challenges,” DeBottis said. “We have used a variety of approaches to assist with these challenges, and these approaches continue to evolve with the ever-changing world.
“It is important to remain nimble and adaptive during these unprecedented times.”
Indeed, nimbleness may be the key.
A diverse workforce at the resort keeps things buzzing along. Many associates are from the surrounding region; others are college interns, part of the Omni Cares Internship Program; and some are part of the J1 and H2B Visa Program.
“It is always wonderful to see how special they all are,” DeBottis said, “and the tremendous impact that they have on each other and our guests to create memorable experiences for all.”
As for golf operations, many procedural changes were implemented at the start of the pandemic, with a shift in priorities to focus on safety and protection.
“Like a lot of businesses, numerous things actually cost us more money when you look at lost revenue versus saving us money,” said Vince Runyon, PGA, director of golf, membership and Nordic operations. “I think the changes we made and the measures we took were what we felt best protected our staff, which in turn was best for our guests as well.”
Although hiring has been a challenge overall for the resort, the golf operation has been just the opposite. A full staff was in place throughout last summer to handle the increase in business. With fewer people in the workforce, Runyon turned to what Omni calls “Growing the Garden” – hiring from within. The seasonality of the resort was a plus.
“We have some of the best talent from our winter departments,” Runyon said, “who have now joined the golf staff in summer. This year (2021) we have been fully operational without all the restrictions and with a full staff; our play is up over 40% and total golf revenue up over 50%.
“Golf is very strong at the moment and it’s fun to see. There is not a line in our golf budget that is not out-performing projections.”