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People Making Changes Issue 5 -
NZ Ski Lodge Management

- Dorothy - 7/2/97

“From sheep and school children to a tourist lodge in one leap.”

One week last July Evan Glass was sharing the management of a sheep farm with his brother and Heather Glass was principal of a local primary school. The next they were managing a Methven tourist lodge for skiers at the height of the season. This had been their dream - to have their own tourist lodge. This was in mid-Canterbury, the part of New Zealand where they belonged. Wonderful, but such a sudden transition!

Heather & Evan Looking back on it six months later they say that to be plunged into the height of the season was probably the best way to start. They had planned to sell the farm and move into tourism in the ten year plan. Then Toni's Lodge came on the market, Evan's brother wanted to buy Evan's share of the farm, so Heather and Evan took their chance.

Support and advice in the transition days came from Toni, the previous owner, who was there to assist. She helped Heather with the planning of the menus for thirty five guests and Evan took over the office work, the grounds and the handyman's jobs. The cooks and household staff stayed on after Toni left.

Sleep the scarcest commodity
The first few weeks proved incredibly exhausting. The office shut at 10 p.m., but Evan had to stay in the dining room until the bar closed. Luckily most skiers did not stay up too late because they wanted an early start in the morning, but some stayed at the bar until one or two in the morning. The managers had to be up soon after five to prepare breakfast. The morning chores, cleaning and the seemingly endless washing of sheets was usually done by lunch time, and then Heather and Evan worked in the office to learn more about the booking system, client lists and the accounting systems.

The peak season was a success. They achieved their aim of good service and a welcoming atmosphere. The guests came from all over New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Tahiti and many other countries - and went away satisfied. There were no double bookings. Every booking had been triply checked to avoid such disasters.

So much to learn all at once
Now they are familiar with all the office procedures. Now they know that those hours in the early afternoon are the times to catch up on some sleep. They also know that summer is the time to do other jobs - any reorganising, renovating and replanting. They still believe that being thrown in the deep end was the best way to learn. They also learnt not to worry about quiet times in the summer as the winter season is so busy.

Heather and Evan coped, but where had they developed the necessary skills?

Heather & Evan & Guitar Heather grew up on a farm. She likes living in the country. Being principal of a school developed her management skills. She is used to cooking for a crowd. At thirteen she was able to cook for harvesters on the farm. She is used to mixing with people from different places and lifestyles. After years at boarding school in Christchurch she trained as a teacher, taught in different parts of the country, and then went overseas. She has had experience in a tourist lodge. Working at a tourist lodge in Scotland she got first hand experience at different sides of the business, even entertaining the guests as she played her guitar and sang Scottish songs. She's increased her repertoire, the guitar is in the dining room, and music is a feature of many evenings at Toni's Lodge.

As a farmer Evan learnt management skills - how to plan and how to cope with peak pressure, as at lambing time, especially when the weather proved stormy. He thrives on involvement with people. On the farm he and Heather hosted Scandinavian students on a year-long exchange scheme. He is a Justice of the Peace and a marriage celebrant. He has had long involvement with rugby coaching and administration - coaching teams at all levels, president of the local club, ten years on the South Canterbury Rugby Union. He enjoys meeting people from all over the world and talking with them about sport and living, farming and skiing in Canterbury.

Following their dream
Like others in this series of articles Heather and Evan are coping with change and working to achieve their dream. With changing life patterns they have acquired a range of skills and are putting them all together to create for their guests a home away from home with the friendly service, efficiency and warm welcome that are key features of Toni's Lodge, Methven.

18 May 1998
We had an update on their activities from Heather and Evan this week.

"Last season we changed our name to Abisko Lodge. The name change came after many contributions from guests on our name suggestions board. Abisko is a national park in the north of Sweden, where people go to tramp and ski. Features of the area include mountainous area, plain and river valley.

At Abisko Lodge we are now gearing up for another ski season. The recent snow on the mountain signals the end of a long hot summer.

We have enjoyed the challenges of the last two years and look forward to meeting many new and familiar faces in the future.

To find out more about Abisko Lodge you can visit our home pages at
http:nz-holiday.co.nz/methven/abisko
http://www.travel.guide.co.nz/kiwi/abisko/

74 Main Street
Mt Hutt Village
Methven

Ph: 64 3 3028875"

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