Tough Winter Forces Layoffs At QBurke Affecting Both Ski And Hotel Staff
Q Burke Mountain Resort announced Monday it is scaling back its staff, citing a combination of a bad winter season and challenges in getting the resort’s new $50 hotel and conference center open, according to a prepared statement.
Calling the cutbacks a “Spring 2016 Reduction In Force,” resort human resources spokesman Andy Barter stated that winter season operations will conclude this Sunday, March 27.
Ary Quiros Jr., whose family are partners in the Q Burke development, said in a brief phone conversation that the layoffs of staff are more than the typical end-of-season job reductions, and include hotel staff.
“There are just 180 jobs involved,” said Barter. “The composition includes many, many positions that are seasonal with the ski season,” he said.
About 45 of the 180 reductions are full-time, year-round positions, said Barter. “A good number of the 45…the majority of the 45, are the hotel staff,” Barter said Monday afternoon. “There’s some awareness that’s general, because there has been scaling down that’s been ongoing, but not in droves … there’s also some awareness about the hotel not opening.”
Barter said a mailing went out to employees about the job cuts on Monday and meetings with managers are happening for employees starting today.
The State of Vermont’s Department of Labor Rapid Response Team has been called in, according to the press release.
“Vermont hospitality operations in general and Q Burke Resort have suffered from the weather this winter season,” the announcement began. “And Q Burke Mountain Resort is looking carefully at cost-cutting and cost-containment measures.”
The press release went on, “Q Burke Mountain Resort has worked diligently to create job jobs and to retain personnel, even through these rough times; however, job creation, job retention, and economic development do not seem to be as important to the State as previously believed.”
The State of Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development as well as the Vermont Division of Financial Regulation have both been involved in a stepped-up review of expenditures from an immigrant investor program connected to the EB-5 program, which is helping to finance the hotel.
The state agencies and the hotel’s general contractor, PeakCM, have been in a dispute for several months over some billings dating back to November, which the state has refused to authorize and has accused the contractor of overbilling nearly a half million dollars.
The contractor said in a recent interview he was owed more than $5 million for the completed hotel; Jerry Davis, the principal and president of PeakCM, is holding the certificates of occupancy and will not release them until the state authorizes the billings, and he has commitment from the Q Burke partners for the remaining obligations.
Bill Stenger, general partner for Q Burke and president and CEO of Jay Peak, Burke’s sister resort, said in recent days he is continuing to raise investment from international funds and is hopeful he will have the contractor paid by the end of April and the hotel possibly open a month later.
Stenger, contacted Monday, also did not have figures for how many jobs are involved.
“We are closing a bit earlier because of snow and general weather conditions,” Stenger said. “Because of the disappointing winter we will need to be very lean in the off season. Every ski area in New England is facing this kind of challenge.”
The news release sent by Barter on Monday stated that the terrible winter ski season combined with “…difficulties associated with the opening of the Q Burke Mountain Resort Hotel and Conference Center,” forced the job cuts.
“Q Burke Mountain Resort is dedicated to providing assistance to employees in transition and is working closely and cooperatively with the Vermont Department of Labor and the Rapid Response Team,” the announcement stated. “On-site services are scheduled for employees throughout the day on Wednesday, March 30 at Q Burke Mountain Resort.”
The state’s Rapid Response Team will assist employees, the announcement stated, with information about unemployment insurance and seeking new positions through resource centers around the state.
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