Theresa Ginter always imagined she’d end up working in hotels. The native of Germany planned to attend Hotel Management School in Innsbruck, Austria, but, after returning from an “around-the-world trip,” her life took a detour. She decided to skip the formal education and instead travel to B.C. where she worked, for a time, in restaurants before landing at the Nita Lake Lodge in 2010, getting her start at the 77-suite hotel as front-office supervisor. “I see the front office as the brain-centre of a hotel — most information travels through this area and you get the opportunity to know the guests.” The hotel’s stunning location set at glacier-fed Nita Lake is a draw to guests and employees alike. “Being a boutique property allows us to have a unique voice and add personal and authentic touches in the way we interact with guests,” says the only female hotel GM in Whistler.
The independently owned property has 200 associates attending to guests’ every whim. Its mix of amenities — from its lakeside restaurant and lounge, to the cozy Fix Café and its organic spa — mean guests are pampered. “In the summer you can head out for a paddleboard or kayak on the lake, followed by delicious cocktails at Cure Lounge & Patio; in the winter you can cozy up in front of in-suite fireplaces after a day on the slopes. You can truly enjoy Whistler your way — from high-octane to secret sanctuary.”
Building on its success, in 2017 the hotel underwent two renovation projects, as well as updates to its Cure Lounge and Aura Restaurant. “We’re always looking to expand or improve, so you never know what may be on the horizon,” she says, hinting a sleep-therapy package is part of the plans for this year.
Like most hoteliers, Ginter admits staffing and motivation are ongoing challenges. But “being in a seasonal environment means almost half of our workforce changes on a regular basis; we train a lot of people each season. External factors, such as rising cost of housing and living and availability of accommodation, make it hard for people to settle in this beautiful resort town. It’s added extra pressure as it becomes increasingly difficult to find long-term committed employees,” Ginter says. “It also speaks to the challenge of motivation. With rising business levels and continued pressure to fill vacant positions, many employees, and particularly managers, work longer hours; burnout rates are at an all-time high.”
Ginter is mindful of working and living healthily and is relentless about creating balance for her team “This industry is about helping people create memories and have an amazing time, but if we, as leaders, and/or our teams don’t have an amazing time at work, how can we truly deliver the message in an authentic way? It’s one of the biggest riddles to solve to attract new talent to choose a career in hospitality.”