It’s been a tough year for the hospitality industry, but individuals and businesses were recognized for keeping up friendly customer service, holiday spirit and ski town charm through One Breckenridge’s fall and holiday season guest service awards.
Nancy Binsfeld, manager at The Crown, was nominated for her work ethic and general kindness. Binsfeld has worked at the coffee shop since 2014, and while she admitted it’s been a tough winter with fewer customers due to no indoor seating, she’s managed to continue making customers feel welcome.
“With our locals, most of them we see every day or every other day, and so it’s good to just chat with them,” Binsfeld said. “And then with tourists, it’s usually easier to tell because they’re just trying to figure out how things work, and then we’ll just ask where they’re coming in from and if they’re skiing.”
While it’s harder to see people’s facial expressions while wearing a mask, Binsfeld said people still can tell when she’s smiling, and by keeping the conversation warm and lighthearted, customers can tell she’s happy to have them in.
“I just want everyone who walks through our doors to have a good experience,” Binsfeld said. “Whether they’re just grabbing a to-go cup of coffee or they’re going to sit down on the back patio and have cocktails and drinks, we want everyone to have a good experience and to tell their friends that they had a good time at The Crown, so we’re always aiming every day to make everyone happy who walks through our doors.”
Charlie Freeman, a waiter at The Lodge at Breckenridge’s Traverse Restaurant & Bar, was nominated by Rhonda Wilson, general manager of The Lodge, based on teamwork and positive customer feedback. Freeman, who has worked in the service industry for 15 years, said he’s had the opportunity to study under some great chefs and house management in the competitive restaurant environment of the West Coast.
“I really like that aspect of just really hustling, knowing service and doing it well. What I think I bring to the table is just my love for food, love for good drinks, wine pairings and obviously my passion for people,” Freeman said. “I’m just a people person.”
Whether he’s serving visitors or locals, Freeman said he does his best to treat everyone like family while maintaining a professional level of service.
“We’re the service industry,” Freeman said. “We’re there to provide a service and make sure everyone is enjoying their experience. Service should be on point. That’s what you go out for, and that’s the priority next to good food.”
Lindsay Reinwand, general manager of Breckenridge Grand Vacations’ Gold Point Resort, was nominated by a co-worker for being personable with guests and co-workers and an “excellent leader and team player.” Reinwand said her customer service approach is simply to make sure that guests and owners at the resort enjoy themselves and want to come back to Breckenridge. As a manager, she said she is constantly working with her team to make small improvements to the property.
“I always want to work side by side with our team and do whatever I can to help them out, and really just lead next to them and create good experiences for them so they want to work here and want their friends to work here, and feel like a family and also so that people keep coming back,” Reinwand said.
Amid restrictions, Reinwand said she and her team still try to personalize people’s vacations by getting to know guests and looking for gift baskets that can be delivered to give them a special experience.
Ski Country Resorts, which has been nominated for past guest service awards, was nominated for the fall and holiday season award by a guest who wrote that the hospitality at the resort exceeded his expectations. General Manager Tiana Wales said she was proud of her staff for stepping up and showing good customer service despite pandemic-related restrictions and challenges. Wales said one of the most important characteristics she tries to instill in her team and exude herself is patience.
“The more things that pop up, the more stressed we can all get as people, inherently, and as workers,” Wales said. “But I think that continuing to lead with patience is good from both an employee perspective as well as a guest perspective.”
Despite lower occupancy levels than in past years, Wales said the resort attempted to keep the holiday spirit alive with festive displays and chocolate gifts at check-in.
Megan Pierson, who works at the Breckenridge Tourism Office, was nominated by a first-time visitor to Breckenridge. The nominator, Sunshine Bowditch, wrote that she sent an online message to the tourism office asking for printed maps of town. Pierson responded, saying that while the office didn’t print maps this year, she could mail Bowditch maps from the prior year.
“She ended up sending two maps … stickers and other tour guides,” Bowditch wrote. “We were thrilled to have this material before our trip! It was great customer service and made us even more excited for our trip!”
In her role at the tourism office, Pierson said she makes sure people have what they need for their vacations, know where to go and what to do. So far this winter, she said there’s been a steady stream of visitors seeking information and that she’s been able to help people navigate the area amid COVID-19.
“I just want everybody to have a really nice vacation and keep smiling,” Pierson said. “If I can keep a smile on their faces, that makes my day.”