2018 Navigator Awards: Mark Walker helps ensure Steamboat’s tourism economy keeps rockin’
September 1, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It's clear that Mark Walker cares about Steamboat Springs and making sure the community thrives.
Walker, this year's Navigator Award Business Leader of the Year, took the reins as president of Resort Group in 2005.
Resort Group is Steamboat's largest lodging company, with a portfolio of more than 80 homeowners and commercial property associations with more than 5,000 individual units. They have in excess of 700 night rentals, and they also manage the historic Hotel Bristol downtown.
If you go
When: 5:15 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7
Where: Thunderhead Lodge at Steamboat Ski Area
Cost: $65 for reserved seating, $650 for a VIP table of 10
"As the leader of the largest property management company in Steamboat, he has had a profound impact on our community," said Rob Perlman, president and chief operating officer of Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. "He cares for this community. It shows in everything he does."
He called Walker a quiet leader.
"He's not flashy," said Perlman, who nominated Walker for the award. "He just puts his head down and contributes in many ways throughout the community, and his attitude and his passion for Steamboat is truly infectious."
Walker has served as president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and has been on the board for 10 years. He is currently co-chairman of the Steamboat Citizens to Ensure Air Service campaign committee. The committee is rallying behind a 0.2-percent city-wide general sales tax to maintain and grow commercial air service that flies in Steamboat's winter tourists.
"If he has time and passion, he will volunteer and see it through to the very end," said Adonna Allen, president of Alpine Bank. "He shows up ready to work, puts a great face on and gets it done. He's a lot of fun to work with."
Walker also has been involved with ensuring the success of the Steamboat Free Summer Concerts and the revitalization of the base area at Steamboat Ski Area.
His volunteer efforts have been inspired by the help the community has offered him over the years.
"There's been many inspirational leaders that I've seen give back in the past that it kind of inspired me to give back," said Walker, who has lived in Steamboat since 1991.
Allen is a fan of Walker's band Loose Change, which plays country rock with Walker on the drums.
"If you ever see him on stage, it's just contagious, and you just want to get up and dance with him," Allen said.
Any business' success is dependent on its employees, and Walker has implemented strategies to ensure the staff is rewarded and has a roof over their heads.
He secured a long-term contract with the owners of the empty 33-room Alpiner Lodge downtown to house Resort Group's seasonal workforce.
"He has tried very hard to get affordable housing for his employees," Allen said. "Mark works tirelessly to try to get his employees here in Steamboat."
Walker also implemented a program to incentivize the staff.
Guests are solicited for feedback, and staff are rewarded with cash if a guest thinks they stand out.
"He cares for this community," Perlman said. "It shows in everything he does."
Walker said he was honored and shocked to learn he was named Business Leader of the Year.
"Just to be nominated and awarded this in front of so many incredibly professional business women and men in this community that have done so much, and for me to be a part of that is super, super great, so I'm very appreciative and very thankful for the award," Walker said.
The Navigator Awards, which are presented by the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, are celebrating their 20th year this fall.