Phil Castle, The Business Times
After managing hotels everywhere from Europe to South America and the Caribbean to the South Pacific, Helmut Scholz offers what’s literally a global perspective on the hospitality industry.
Regardless of the different geography and cultures, though, the hotel business remains foremost a people business, Scholz said. And that means providing guests with quality service and treating employees with respect.
It’s an approach Scholz brings to his latest position as general manager of the Wine Country Inn in Palisade.
Scholz officially started his duties on Feb. 1, overseeing the operations of a lodging property with 80 guest rooms and 50 employees.
Richard Tally, principal owner of the family venture, said Scholz beat out more than 80 candidates considered for the job over the course of a two-month span late last year. “Helmut was a standout from the beginning,” Tally said. “We did our due diligence and confirmed our initial impression with his on-site visit and interview over the Christmas holidays.”
“Judging from his hands-on approach since he got here, I think we were right to trust his 30 years of worldwide experience in the business. I think I speak for the whole family when I say we are extremely pleased,” Tally added.
Scholz said he was attracted to the position in large part because of the unique property. A boutique, wine-themed hotel, the Wine Country Inn is located in the middle of a vineyard in the middle of the winegrape growing region in the Grand Valley. The architecture of the reception building, guest house and a third building housing private suites, evokes the feeling of a Victorian farmhouse.
The commitment to quality is apparent, Scholz said. “It shows everywhere. There’s a love of detail and quality that I instantly fell in love with.”
Scholz said he was equally impressed the Tallys operate the Wine Country Inn as an independent property rather than part of a franchise.
The combination makes it easy to differentiate the Wine Country Inn from competing hotels, Scholz said. “This is absolutely different. It is really unique.”
Scholz compares his role as a hotel general manager to an orchestra conductor in making sure everything comes together in harmonious fashion. And just as a conductor sometimes plays musical instruments, a manager must be prepared to fill in, whether its checking guests in, carrying suitcases or busing tables, he said.
Scholz has worked in the hospitality industry his entire career, realizing his childhood aspirations to see the world in the process.
He grew up in Germany and attended a hotel school there. He soon worked at hotels not only in Germany, but also the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. He traveled even farther to work for a hotel in Curacao in the Caribbean.
His work for the Hilton International chain of hotels brought Scholz to the United States.
Scholz helped open hotels in Canada and evaluate the operations of hotels in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. He subsequently managed a beach resort in Guam in the South Pacific and after that hotels in Algeria and Germany.
Scholz eventually returned to the United States and settled in the Kansas City area, where he was involved in a project to open a hospital offering patients the amenities and services of a five-star hotel. He was involved in another project with a church to develop a spiritual retreat offering the services of a resort.
Prior to joining the Wine Country Inn, Scholz operated a hotel management and development consulting company, offering his services on a contract basis.
Over the course of a varied career in locations around the world, Scholz said he learned to adapt his managerial style to the culture and, even more specifically, to the individual employees with which he worked.
At the same time, though, people everywhere wanted to be treated with respect, he said. And its up to the manager to inspire them through inspirational leadership.
Moreover, the secret to success for a hotel is the same the world over and not so secret, he said: “Service, service, service.”
The hotel industry can impose a challenging environment with long hours and sometimes demanding customers. But the rewards of creating memorable experiences and making customers happy are equally great, Scholz said. “It gives you a satisfaction you don’t get from the average 9-to-5 job.”
At the Wine Country Inn, Scholz says the goal is to continue to provide quality services to the guests who come there for leisure travel or such special events as weddings, but also cater to businesses looking for a special venue for meetings and retreats. Given the amenities at the hotel and activities in the Grand Valley, the location is a good one for guests of all types, he said.
The two customers bases are complementary, he said, in that leisure travelers and special events fill hotel rooms on weekends, while businesses usually need rooms on weekdays.
After traveling the world to manage hotels, Scholz said he’s excited to continue his career in Palisade.
For more information about the Wine Country Inn and its services, call 464-5777 or visit www.ColoradoWineCountryInn.com.