Leslie Levesque Resort General Manager Holiday Inn Club Vacations
When Leslie Levesque transferred to Holiday Inn Club Vacations® Mount Ascutney Resort in Brownsville, Vermont, to become its General Manager three years ago, the property had significant issues due to problems inherited from the previous developer. Three years later, the improvements are so impressive that it’s hard to tell it’s the same property … a testament to her entrepreneurial and leadership skills.
Although she had been with Orange Lake Resorts for over five years, Leslie had never been a GM, starting out with the company as the F&B Manager at their Desert Club Resort in Las Vegas. Previously, she was Resort Manager and Food & Beverage Manager at Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip and held multiple positions at the Palms Casino Resort, including Executive Housekeeper, Director of Front Office and Hotel Manager. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, so becoming a GM was always on the horizon.
Her experience in housekeeping, F&B, and front desk plus a strong emphasis on cross training enabled her to assemble a high-performing team at her Vermont property and resolve issues one at a time. Today, she is responsible for the daily operation of the 80-villa resort with a staff of 49 plus supervision of all resort departments, including a farm-to-table restaurant and full-service community fitness center. Ratings for everything have climbed into the clouds and her property was recently awarded Resort of the Year (Small Resort) from Orange Lake Resorts plus RCI’s coveted Gold Crown Award for 2017. She was also a finalist in this year’s ARDA awards program for General Manager. Way to go, Leslie!
Leslie proudly admits that she loves the uniqueness of timeshare resorts and how they offer so much more for owners and guests than typical hotels. When away from her property, she loves to read, play with her dogs and head up to the hills for her own skiing adventure.
One of her biggest challenges today is recruiting for new employees. This is because of the area’s low population and the unemployment rate, which means and she must work hard to provide an enticing employment package that is above her competition. After being closed six months for renovation, on the day her full-service restaurant re-opened, she worked in the kitchen cooking every item on the farm-to-table menu due to sudden/unexpected kitchen staff shortages.
In late 2015, Leslie recognized that her company could save money and improve the guest experience by transitioning their company-owned fitness center away from a third-party management team and bringing management back in-house. She worked to get the center staffed, trained, and to develop programs that would lay the groundwork for the operation to be successful and more cost efficient. By 2016, her in-house management was up and running, personal trainers in place, group fitness classes ongoing, resulting in a 16.8% increase in memberships since July.
Because of the small size of her local community and the critical need to partner with others, Leslie frequently volunteers to host local functions, recently donating food and coffee for a community fundraiser to support the newly opened rope tow ski lift(s). She ensures that the resort supports local initiatives by donating parking space, banquet space, and providing food and beverage services at cost, so the community can maximize their fundraising efforts.
Recently, Leslie’s team provided hot coffee to firefighters who were battling to contain a blaze during an ice storm with high winds. Because of the icy road conditions, her team members walked the coffee uphill to the firefighters, in record low temperatures. Their efforts to assist resulted in her resort receiving positive feedback from the community and local media, strongly aligning with her company’s sense of commitment to giving back.
Leslie’s leadership has made a tremendous impact on the exceptional improvement in customer service and employee engagement ratings. Her can-do attitude has shown her team that they can accomplish any goal when they work hard together.