Gateway resort to lay off 30 amid economic strife

Gateway Canyons Resort announced to employees this week it will lay off approximately one-third of its workforce.

Thirty employee layoffs are either effective immediately or within a week, officials said, and about 60 employees will remain after the move. Layoffs affected mostly full-time employees, and severance packages were extended, officials said.

“A lot of it is the economy, and the fact that tourism isn’t exactly the most resilient part of our economy when the rest of it is going down the tubes,” said Lee Bowden, president and general manager of the resort. “We’re also going into our slow season. It usually slows down in the winter, but it doesn’t slow down to the extent that it looks like it’s going to this

The job cuts affected all segments of labor at the resort, including upper and middle management and line workers, said John Williams, an attorney for Gateway Canyons. The resort’s restaurant and museum are scaling back operations to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The winter schedule will be effective starting Monday. Several restaurant workers will remain through the remainder of this week.

“We’re still doing conferences and banquets,” Bowden said. “We are just going to have to scale back and try to get through this period of economic hardship.”

Bowden said current staff levels will change if business starts to increase in April or May, at which point the resort may be open to hiring again.

“Reservations are down 30 percent from where it was a year ago, and our business has slowed down quite a bit,” he said.

Certain parts of a planned expansion are on hold, including the addition of a facility housing 80 guest rooms, a dormitory for employees and a golf course.

The resort is continuing its plans to finish the Palisade Event Center and the Mission Bell Amphitheater outdoor venue.

A recent memo about the construction plan update said officials want to keep plans for year-round operations.

“Maintaining year-round operations allows us to continue to serve the local and regional communities with our general store and fuel services as well as permitting us to develop winter sports over time, activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling,” Bowden wrote in the memo.

The memo, which announced possible staff reductions, was issued Monday as a result of a statement concerning updated reviews of the resort’s operations done by the resort owner, Silver Spring, Md.-based Hendricks Investment
Holdings, an investment firm started by Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks. It mentioned reports that declines are forecast in the hospitality industry, but expressed an intention to move forward with some parts of the expansion set to finish in 2009. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Discovery Communications stock went public Sept. 18. During its first day of trading, its value sank from $18.53 to $13.81 per share.


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