Without reservation | SteamboatToday.com

Without reservation

As a 24-year-old general manager for a Steamboat Springs hotel, Kona Ward is on the fast track to success in the hospitality industry.

He credits his ability to run the Hampton Inn and Suites of Steamboat Springs to his education at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.

Ward received his associate’s degree in hotel and resort management from the Steamboat college seven months ago and was immediately hired as assistant general manager at the Hampton Inn.

Ward recently became the general manager – and he had no reservations about being prepared to run a hotel in the internationally known Hilton family of hotels.

“I definitely feel the hospitality industry is one where you can’t learn everything in school, and that’s probably true of every industry, but as far as being overwhelmed, no,” Ward said. “I felt I was very well prepared by the program.”

Others agree.

Recommended Stories For You

CMC Dean Kerry Hart and hotel and resort management professor Terry Hunter are talkling with University of Delaware officials about creating a two-plus-two partnership with the East Coast school.

The creation of the partnership will enable students to leave CMC with an associate’s degree and enroll at Delaware to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hotel and resort management.

Hart said the optimum relationship would be one where CMC students would receive in-state tuition at the Delaware school. CMC students would be able to count 90 hours toward the 120 hours required for graduation from Delaware.

“The University of Delaware has international connections,” Hart said. “That would tie our students in on an international score and put CMC and Steamboat Springs on the international map.”

Hunter has been a professor at CMC for 18 years and has helped establish hotel and resort management as one of CMC’s most popular programs and one of the nation’s top programs in the hospitality industry, Hart said.

Hunter, who got his start in the Steamboat Ski Area’s food and beverage department, is on the education advisory board for the American Hotel and Lodging Association. That position helped springboard Delaware to contact CMC about a possible partnership.

Hunter referenced the recent sale of the Steamboat Ski Area for $265 million as evidence someone believes in the hotel and resort business.

“The program has tremendously successful students,” Hunter said, noting that educating students on the hotel and resort business in a community with a world-class resort is an advantage. “There is a lot of opportunity here.”

And that is why Ward, when searching for a school offering hotel and resort management, looked no further than Steamboat, his home off-and-on since 1989.

“I knew people who went through the program who said it was worth going through,” said Ward, who noted that Maria Villegas, executive housekeeper at Hampton Inn also is a CMC graduate from the hotel and resort management program. “I do think the program is just awesome. Terry spends a lot of time with his students. He’s really concerned with their progress, not necessarily just the grades, but the career development.”

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com