Forging family bonds in Stowe, Vermont
I remember being in high school when my parents sat my sister and I down to tell us they were planning on buying another hotel, the Sun & Ski Inn and Suites. I can’t say that I was too thrilled back then, but little did I know that it would be the hospitality businesses that my parents put so much work into, which would offer me all of the opportunities I had growing up and with my continuing education.
Today, March 19, as we walked the halls shutting off lights, turning down heats and locking doors until the threat of COVID-19 passes, I’ve become suddenly very aware of the privilege it is to own a business, to work, and earn an honest living. Like you I’m sure, I’ve also become immediately aware of the importance of my family and what matters most. In the spirit of family and the very meaning and purpose of our work, I would like to share our story.
Our humble motel, acquired in 1996 by my parents Michael and Debi, was originally built in the 1970s in two phases. It is situated on the Mountain Road in Stowe Vermont between the historic village and Stowe Mountain Resort. Over the years the property has evolved from an Austrian-style motel to the modern hotel with attractions and amenities that it is today. Stowe Golf Park was built in 1999 and our latest expansion with Stowe Bowl and a new hotel building was completed in 2016 after my husband and I took over the hotel in 2012.
After early hospitality careers in Florida, my parents moved to Vermont in 1986 and ran their hotels over a combination of years from 1986 to 2012. Between 1986 and 2004, they successfully owned and operated their first hotel, the Grey Fox Inn. During that time period they expanded the hotel with several new facilities, rooms and the well-known Dutch Pancake Café; a concept they brought to Vermont from my father’s native country, the Netherlands. Over the years, my parents have been active in several community and industry organizations as volunteers and board members.
My husband Mark and I also have early roots in hospitality. Mark like my father was born and raised in the Netherlands by a family that made its income from a small business. He worked in movie theaters in various positions for over a decade during his high school and college years. I grew up with my parents in the hotel business and served in several different functions at the Grey Fox Inn before and during college.
After pursuing master’s degrees and our first careers in the Netherlands, Mark and I decided to move to Vermont to assume general management of the Sun & Ski Inn and Suites.
Since 2012 we have been involved in several remodel and expansion projects and have worked to grow and professionalize the business year over year. My husband and I are also very committed to our community and serve on the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation and Stowe Area Association Board of Directors respectively.
Over the last few years we have worked hard to further define the foundation of our businesses and developed a mission statement that would be expressed and executed through everything from our products to customer service and marketing.
Our mission is to create exceptional “family” experiences by developing relationships with our guests that leave them feeling content, connected and eager to return.
Our definition of family is broad and inclusive. We believe that family is about connection and meaning and that can come in infinite forms. Delivering family experiences means providing the place and stimulant for this deeper connection and meaning. With the beautiful Stowe, Vermont landscape as the backdrop, we provide a comfortable and unpretentious environment where our guests can be themselves, interact with their “family” through laughter, play and recreational activities and create lasting memories.
Delivering exceptional family experience means delivering everything our guests need for a stress-free getaway and responding to their needs and requests. Our guests can focus on the important moments they came for. We strive for our guests to leave with feelings of warmth and belonging. It’s the memories of this feeling that draw our guests to come back again and again.
We believe that achieving our mission is above all else, dependent on extending this mission to include not only our guests, but also our employees. Our employees are part of our family and deserve the same attention to delivering exceptional work experiences.
If you happen to wonder why it feels like our business is family owned, I would say it comes from all of the above.
As we all have more time these days to think and reflect, I hope you will feel gratitude for the most important things in our lives beyond anything material and purchased: our health and our loved ones. We are thinking of all of you and look forward to sharing the experience of health and family with you in the near future in one of the most beautiful places on earth: Stowe, Vermont.