(This story was first published in the November 7, 2013 edition of the Vermont Standard.)
Inn GM On Woodstock: ‘I Feel Like It’s Home’
By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
Monday was Gary Thulander’s second official day as the general manager of the Woodstock Inn and Resort Corporation, but he wasn’t wasting time settling into the position.
“I feel like it’s home,” Thulander said of his new community.
Thulander moved to Pleasant Street two weeks ago. He’s new to the town where parking and noise complaints are top issues, but he’s a native New Englander who grew up in New Hampshire. Thulander has 28 years of experience in the hotel industry.
“Most resorts that I’ve managed are usually one of the largest employers (in the town) and play a major role in the community and success of the community,” he said.
Thulander recently sat in on a two-hour “Woodstock Is” meeting led by the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce, where residents tried to identify Woodstock now and in the future.
“The tag is ‘the prettiest little town in America,’” Thulander said. “Turning the corner on Route 4 coming to town, it really lives up to its name. When you drive through Woodstock it’s a quality town… that’s what its all about and I think that’s what I like.”
Thulander’s goal is to make the Woodstock Inn the no. 1 resort in the Northeast — and he has a track record of achieving that.
Under his direction, the Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts in Saint Lucia, were voted the top two resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Bahamas in the Travel and Leisure 2013 World’s Best Awards.
Thulander has been a hotel manager for the past 16 years, the majority of which have been at luxury hotels, including the Equinox Resort and Spa in Manchester, Vt. and the Williamsburg Inn in Virginia, another Rockefeller resort. When he was asked to return to Vermont, Thulander didn’t hesitate.
“We want to really focus on continuing the Rockefeller legacy that’s one of the reasons that I took the job,” he said. “Laurance (Rockefeller) was really interested in having a luxury resort experience and really having a good sense of place for where that resort is.” But he’ll have to face a new set of challenges in Woodstock, where the Inn faces frequent noise complaints due to outdoor weddings and events. “We want to be respectful to the community,” Thulander said. “At the same time, we want to make sure that we can attract events and functions here…We try to find a balance with it. I think that’s most important.”
Thulander develops success through motivating managers, encouraging employees and being passionate about what he does.
“I enjoy meeting my guests everyday, and also interacting with the community members,” he said. “I like the challenge everyday. I thrive in it. It’s definitely a motivating factor for me.”
This will be his first time working at a resort that has a ski component, but Thulander is no stranger to snow. He ski raced as a child all around New England. Thulander hopes to build on the past success of the Woodstock Inn.
“You don’t have to make it too complicated,” he said. “It’s really attention to detail and personal service.”
Thulander is in the midst of a three-week orientation where he is meeting with all departments and department managers.
“Right now, I’m really listening and understanding and learning,” he said. “It’s a lot to digest, but it’s part of the energy that I enjoy.”
Thulander hopes to stay in the area for a long time. He wants to grow with the resort and then retire.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work at some wonderful destinations and wonderful of hotels and I hope to bring my experience here to Woodstock,” he said, adding, “I don’t think I’ll ever get out of this industry.”
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