Resort Management Program Teams With Crested Butte For Hands-On Experience

Western’s unique emphasis in Resort Management, which builds leaders for the hospitality industry, is embarking on a new approach: offering courses at one of the world’s top mountain retreats, Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

The program is set to begin in January with six students studying and interning at CBMR’s Grand Lodge and the Lodge at Mountain Square, just steps from the high-speed chairlifts that serve some of North America’s most interesting ski and snowboarding terrain. The students, all upper-classmen, will work daily at the resort, where they will also be learning and earning credits toward graduation.

“We’ve designed this program as a full-immersion semester for upper-level students,” explains Dr. Michael Vieregge, professor of Resort Management. “Our faculty will teach around their paid internships, providing academic background for their work experience.”

The Resort Management emphasis in Western’s new School of Business will offer four courses in the program’s first semester: Lodging Operations (BUAD 334), Hospitality Operations Management (BUAD 482), Independent Studies in Slope and Rope Management (BUAD 492) and Internship (BUAD 499). All are three-credit courses, with the Internship course offering the option of three additional, general-upper-division credits.

“The 334 course in Lodging Management will be a blended course, including both classes and some internship experience,” Vieregge explains, adding that “the courses will include both traditional and blended delivery.”

More importantly, he says, CBMR will provide a classroom for this first semester of the program, allowing students to ride a free bus to the resort from Western’s campus in Gunnison in the morning and return in the evening – perhaps catching a few runs on the hill during winter months. Vieregge foresees a time when future students will also sleep at Mt.. Crested Butte. Officials at the Elevation Resort and Spa Hotel have said they intend to  join CBMR and Western in an official partnership, in which two-dozen or so students would live, work and learn at the mountain.

“A lot of our students like the industry and want to work with a ski or mountain resort, “ he says, noting that two of the first cadre of students are Western Mountain Sports athletes, one a snowboarder, the other a mountain biker. “They’re interested in being on the mountain, both winter and summer.”

Vieregge adds that the program is new and yet to take its final form. There is not yet an official partnership with the resort operators, nor any new funding to support it. For students already well on their way toward a Business degree with an emphasis in Resort Management, it’s also hard to juggle their schedules as they approach graduation. Incoming freshmen, he says will have this planned into their degree programs.

Expansion of the program might also include exchange students from technical or other schools who have skills to offer – and polish – beyond those Western teaches.

“We might have students from a culinary or mechanical program spend a semester at Crested Butte, both working and taking our courses,” Vieregge says.

Regardless, he says, the idea for the program is a natural for Western’s Resort Management education.

“Our students already want to spend as much time as they can at Crested Butte,” he explains. “The resorts need their help. Our students need to learn how resorts operate.

“It’s not a shakeup cocktail of new things. The ingredients were already there.”

Story by Greg Smith, University Communications.


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Monday, October 27, 2014 - 3:45pm