Nelson County, Virginia
Late this afternoon we received word that Kessler had send a rather lengthy email to members at Wintergreen indicating his retirement. Below is the letter verbatim.
“I am writing to let you know I have decided to retire. My last day as General Manager of Wintergreen Resort and Wintergreen Club will be June 5th, so I’ll have time to get work started on some key capital projects which will occur over the summer. More about that below, but for now suffice to say I think you will like those improvements.
My decision to retire has been made with careful thought and over time, and it has not been easy. As many of you undoubtedly understand, there is probably no perfect time to walk away from something you have been passionate about for 44 years. I think most of you can point to a sports figure, a colleague, or a family member who should have retired a little sooner than they did. For me, I think the right time is now, and I am looking forward to it.
Looking back to four and a half decades ago, I knew I wanted to live, work, and play in the mountains. I also knew I wanted to raise my family there, to have a home surrounded by trails, and to have a pond to swim in. Skiing was the link which afforded me the opportunity. I graduated from a Ski Area Management program in 1977, and I set forth on my path to learn the ski business.
During those formative years, the ski and resort businesses evolved quickly, although not as fast as they are today. I was fortunate to be given opportunities to be on the leading edge of technology changes in the industry for several decades, particularly in mountain operations, construction, and hospitality. At Stowe in Vermont, I worked on research and development for grooming equipment and high-pressure snowmaking systems, and I held senior positions while building the world’s fastest gondola. I also held a senior position during the development and construction of Revelstoke in British Columbia which has the longest vertical drop in North America. That background led to me running a resort in Colorado and to my swansong here at Wintergreen. From my perspective, my career has been proof that if you pursue your profession with passion and dedication, wonderful things can happen.
Wintergreen is blessed to have some similarly dedicated people. Probably the strongest contribution I have experienced in my years in the industry has been by the associates here at Wintergreen over the past year. In the face of an extraordinarily difficult operating environment, they showed an incredible resiliency and a dedication to keep moving forward by putting in countless extra hours when we were short staffed, finding creative ways to adapt to the situation, and maintaining positive, pleasant attitudes when they weren’t always met with the same from guests suffering pandemic fatigue. The performance by this team is more than noteworthy. Their individual and collective efforts will always be with me. I am proud of the work we have completed and strongly believe the future at Wintergreen will be built on our associates’ dedication along with a similarly strong commitment from Pacific Group Resorts.
With the support of Pacific Group Resorts, we have invested in our infrastructure such as improvements to the Mountain Inn with new Real Estate & Membership offices, retail space, restaurant space, and lobby improvements including open seating and event space. We have replaced our tennis bubble, upgraded our golf cart fleets, renovated the Members ski locker room, redone the locker rooms at Stoney Creek, and added new features to Discovery Ridge. We have greatly expanded the Wintergarden fitness center and upgraded the indoor pool, and now we are in the process of making improvements to Stoney Creek Bar & Grill, Coppermine, and Upper Crust. Aside from infrastructure improvements, we have made significant investments in our operating systems such accounting, payroll, RFID access, marketing, lodging, and membership. In total, just since I have been here, more than $10 million has been invested to improve the operations of Wintergreen. This is a place worth investing in, for the employees, for Pacific Group Resorts, and for you as members. I congratulate you on your decision to be here, whether that decision was made 30 years ago or 30 days ago.
To sum up a long good-bye, I will miss this place. I will miss the excitement in the air when I give the order for the first snow guns to fire up each winter, and I’ll miss the energy of preparing the resort to host a big event like the Sound of Music. That’s why this decision has taken such careful thought.
I will still anticipate those first turns of the ski season, I’ll just do so from a little different perspective. I am looking forward to spending time with my family here and in Colorado, to hitting the water in my kayak, to the first strike on my dry fly, to the final roll over of my pedals after completing a big climb, and just maybe to mastering the perfect turn on my skis.
It has been my privilege to serve the membership of the Wintergreen Club at this special place called Wintergreen. I wish you and your families good health, happiness, and prosperity.”
More as we know.