HALE'S LOCATION — In July, the White Mountain Hotel and Resort celebrated 30 years in business and its reopening after months of being closed due to Gov. Chris Sununu’s COVID-19 emergency order.
Carol Sullivan, the resort's director of sales and marketing, recently spoke about their robust reopened business and the pleasures of working at the family hotel, owned and operated by her husband, Gary Sullivan, general manager, and herself.
The hotel and resort, situated at the base of White Horse Ledge, is home to 80 deluxe and standard rooms, a nine-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor dining, heated pool, spa services, fitness center and events venue.
Generally, it is open year-round.
“We don’t staff up for summer and then lay off," said Carol. "Our sales department fills the shoulder season. We bring in our own groups and a lot of our staff are tour guides,” she said, mentioning their association with Collette Tours, a Sullivan family business, of which Gary is the director of sales.
Before the pandemic last fall, the hotel was booking three buses a day, or about 150 people, mostly seniors filling the rooms and dining facilities.
The tour business will be different this year, but they are still offering other packages before ski season begins.
“This is how we remain busy by offering," Carol said. "November Girlfriend Spa with a new outdoor schedule, Friday night lawn games, cornhole, a fire pit and country singer — all on the north lawn by the gazebo. White Mountain Stay-cation Package, Active Military Promotion and a Salute to Our Heroes Package. So far, all have been well-received,” she said.
The staff is busy, and staff retention is high at the hotel, 25-30 years for some.
“We offer health, dental and vision after 90 days of employment for staff working 25 hours a week or more,” said Carol.
Employee food discounts include on-shift food discount of 50 percent and off-shift food discount of 20 percent.
The hotel is a member of the New England Inns and Resorts Association. The association offers hotel discounts for over 300 hotels in New England.
“We offer these special discounts to our employees. Also, we offer 50 percent off WMH logo'd apparel and items in our store. We offer an employee rate of $25 for overnight rooms for an employee and $50 for family of employees,” stated Carol, noting there are raffles, prizes, golf rounds, ski lift tickets, gift certificates for other hotels.
Presently, the hotel is looking for an executive chef, line cook, dishwasher and housekeeping staff. Carol said wages are competitive along with a stellar benefits package. Those interested should apply online at whitemountainhotel.easyapply.co.
“We are an extended family. While we were closed, Gary made a series of videos to touch base with guests and employees. You could see his emotion in having to furlough some; it was very touching,” Carol said.
After closing in mid-March and re-opening on July 1, Sullivan said at first 50 percent of the staff returned and then 100 percent, with the exception of a few in the sales department. While July got off to a slow start, August brought 100 percent occupancy.
“We usually have a party for the staff at the end of the foliage season, to thank all for their hard work. We bring in catered meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner,” said Carol.
This year, Staff Appreciation Week was Sept. 21-25, with a catered breakfast, dinner or lunch each day from local restaurants for all staff working those days.
"We gave away items, with daily grab-bag drawings," Carol said. "We also raffled off a two-night stay at a renowned New England property in Vermont for one lucky winner.
"The staff have been champions with the extra precautions and protocol because of COVID-19. People came back and worked so hard, it warms your heart.”
“We are a big ol' family,” she said.
That family feeling traces back to Gary’s father, who was in the travel tour business.
“I worked at Collette Tours for Mr. Sullivan, Gary’s dad. His dad helped so many people and me. In a big corporation, that doesn’t happen. He was hands on, had a personal awareness. People were happy. Employees are our greatest asset,” stated Carol.
For more information, go to whitemountainhotel.com or call (603) 356-7100.