By Liz Wood 

Saratoga Resort and Spa under new management


Liz Wood

The new managers at the Saratoga Resort and Spa, from left to right, are Sarah Williams, Deb Hockley, Mike Degenhart and Cheena Deakins. Long-time general manager, Susan Wallace, retired Dec. 1.

A group of people sitting at a table at the Snowy Range Brewery was full of energy, as the three new managers of the Saratoga Resort and Spa and the new executive chef finished up their first meeting last Thursday afternoon.

Longtime general manager Susan Wallace retired Dec. 1 and the new management is very excited about their new positions, they said.

Michael Degenhart is the new executive chef and he is the newest addition to the Saratoga Resort and Spa. Thursday was his second day on the job and he was working with the managers planning the New Year's menu.

Cheena Deakins began at the Saratoga Resort and Spa as the food and beverage manager Nov. 14. Deb Hockley, who has been working at the Resort and Spa, was promoted to Customer Relations Supervisor and Sarah Williams, who had served as assistant manager, is now the Resort Facilities Manager. She is in charge of resort lodging, housekeeping and the grounds.

"[Mike Janssen] wants to empower the staff," Williams said. "He wants the staff to be more involved."

Janssen owns the Saratoga Resort and Spa.

The team is working collaboratively, calling it a "group effort management".

"We are operating kind of like a board," Williams said.

Working as a team allows for discussion in decision making, Hockley said. "To not have just one opinion, but several opinions to come up with a conclusion for any issues we may have. It gives us a different way to resolve (issues)."

One opinion they all share is they are honing in on customer service, Hockley said.

"We want to improve the experience, not only for our visitors, but for our local crowd too," Hockley said.

The Silver Saddle Restaurant, which has been closed for about one year, is reopening mid January. The restaurant is now serving breakfast, Deakins said. "We want to reinforce our hours and really push the breakfast," Deakins said.

Degenhart said he is planning a fresh food menu, taking out the fried foods and making the menu more health-friendly.

Degenhart said they are still in the formulation stages of the menu, but they plan to bring in a fresh, creative new perspective to the food. The menu will include gluten-free items and vegetarian and vegan items, Degenhart said. He said he hopes this will bring new energy to the restaurant.

Deakins said she is interested in building relations with the local businesses.

The restaurant is bringing international students to work at the Resort and Spa. The students will intern for one year and will train in various areas including the kitchen, serving in the dining area, hosting and helping with customer service at the front desk, Deakins said.

Deakins said she is excited about the new menu and bringing more business to the Resort and Spa. She is also excited about becoming involved in the community and getting more activity at the Resort and Spa.

Hockley said they are also planning events for staff development. "We want our staff to be happy and stay here and that is a huge goal."

"Everyone has been really excited about the changes and stepping up and enjoying themselves," Deakins said.

Williams said they want to bring the energy back to the Saratoga Resort and Spa, like it used to be. "It used to be here," Williams said.

Dec. 22, the Resort and Spa is hosting a company Christmas party and the complex will be closed to the public for that day.

"We are doing a lot of team building exercises," Deakins said.

"This is to establish a unity," Williams said.

"Mr. Janssen is allowing us to take over the resort completely (Dec. 22) where we can stay the night ... and doing all sorts of fun stuff," Deakins said.

Janssen is implementing an open door policy, so that employees can come talk to him about any concerns. "He wants to hear from the employees and not just the managers," Deakins said.

Included in the new management system at the Resort and Spa are division managers. Kevin Sandoval is the head of maintenance. Jake Olsen, the golf superintendent, is also helping with maintenance, as is Mark Janes, who heads the snowmobiling department, Deakins said.

Deakins said Sandoval is working on renovating the rooms. "I think it will make the experience better." "They all have been so vital to all the improvements here," Deakins said.


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