By Marge Lennon
In the nearly two decades Jeffrey Mitchell has worked with Bluegreen Resorts, he has grown professionally from his initial job right out of high school as a marina attendant to being named the top Assistant Resort Manager in ARDA’s 2018 award competition.
His Bluegreen journey began in 1997 at Shenendoah Crossing in Gordonsville, VA where he checked out boats for guests. Recalling those early days, he says it was the best job a young man could have so he decided to remain with the company, quickly advancing to positions of greater responsibility. Along the way, he earned a business degree from Longwood University in Farmville, VA, and found his second calling as a restaurant manager as well as a resort manager.
IN 2006, Jeffrey worked a short time for another Bluegreen property and moved to the restaurant world for several years, returning to Shenendoah in 2015 as Guest Services Manager. When key personnel suddenly left the resort’s multifaceted Food & Beverage team, not only did Jeffrey step in and stabilize the collapsing department, but he did so at extreme personal sacrifice. He voluntarily took on the challenge even though it meant indefinitely delaying surgery that ultimately relieved severe knee pain.
In addition to his resort management role, he used his restaurant knowledge to implement proven F&B procedures for a 60-seat onsite restaurant and deli that served several hundred guests each day on the 1200-acre resort. Although his F&B team was understaffed at the time due a challenging labor market, his department ended the year with a net operating profit of $90,000, compared with a loss the previous year.
Commented Ada Soriano-Grzywna, Senior Vice-President of Resort Operations for Bluegreen, “Beyond simply keeping the kitchens open and operating, Jeffrey personally cooked in them. He called on his F&B background and worked multiple kitchen shifts, prepping, cooking and cleaning. He was so obsessed with serving the customer that he worked daily from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. – running both front desk and F&B in addition to his role as guest services manager. His unhesitating decision to jump right in and help wherever needed, set the tone for the resort’s entire operations. For a period of several months, he was a One-Man-Show, running all F&B outlets until they were fully staffed.”
In 2017, he served as assistant manager at Bluegreen’s Laurel Crest resort in Pigeon Forge, TN for about a year. In July 2018 Jeffrey was named Resort Manager for two legacy 28-unit beachfront resorts in Bradenton Beach and Homes Beach in Southwest Florida. Many of the fixed-week owners have been coming to their resorts for as long as four decades. An interior renovation is planned for Via Roma during the coming year.
“Because these are small, extremely high occupancy properties,” says Jeffrey, “our entire staff of 15 pitches in to do multiple tasks. It’s a very cohesive and hands-on team. The beachfront location is totally different from other larger Bluegreen resorts where I have worked in the past with a team member for each specific task. Here, everyone has multiple skills as we work together harmoniously as a group on a day-to day-basis.”
It’s been a long, circuitous route from Virginia to North Carolina, Tennessee and now Florida, but Jeffrey has treasured every minute of the journey. When not providing hands-on customer service, he loves golf, basketball, football and cooking, preferably Italian fare.
“If you want to work in the hospitality industry,” says Jeffrey, “the timeshare industry is the place to be because you are serving guests during the favorite week of their year when they are most happy enjoying their annual vacation. This enables us to provide them with great experiences and memories as we share in their happy times.”