Face of The Gate bids farewell to hospitality
Glen Christiansen wants to set the record straight.
The Cromwell father of three spent his last day as The Gate's general manager on Monday amid a swirl of speculation about why he stepped down.
"It has been quite funny. What I enjoy about Cromwell is the rumours and I've embraced the fact that I've been asked to leave because of my performance; the fact my wife is pregnant with our fourth child and she has put the ultimatum on me to leave...it's been quite interesting."
The truth, while not likely to cause tongues wagging over coffee cups, is about family and the need for change.
"The motivation is really just about getting a balance of life with the family and moving on away from the 24-7 on call work. Also, fresh eyes will be great for this place and I'm sure the next person will be fantastic. They may have a completely different view from me, but I'm confident it is going in the right direction."
Christiansen has been in the hospitality industry a long time. He graduated from the Cromwell Polytechnic in 1994 and in November 1995 took his first job as a porter in Queenstown, working through the ranks since then.
"In 2005 I came to the Golden Gate Lodge as general manager. It was my first hotel placement and pretty exciting times. Cromwell had just gone through its first property boom really from 2001 and it was starting to get a name for itself. I came into a hotel that was in my mind a country hotel about to get into the tourism game. Our occupancies have grown. We have exceptionally high occupancy for four months of the year however we still have quiet time for May, June July August where we struggle to fill the rooms. It is an interesting hotel to manage."
The hotel directors had allowed him to run the hotel in a style that suits him and did not "micro-manage", he said.
"We always have a laugh and we always meet for blue cod and chips on a Friday for a director's meeting. They have embraced the idea of chasing money so we have done certain things - we started a rail jam here brought a truck and trailer load of snow in and had it in car park, the initial Rustic Run was a concept by the hotel, held golf tournaments. I have also been free to sponsor and support community events.
"[My resignation] took them a bit by surprise but they also understand it is coming up 12 years and change is good for them and it is also good for me. They were pretty supportive."
A big career highlight had been the multi-million dollar redevelopment of The Gate.
"The redevelopment was in the pipeline in 2008. We discussed where we would go as a property and what the options were. The global recession hit so we had to be careful and bank our money. We have now gone forward and become a tourism destination - that was the goal. It is a completely different concept. We are not a public bar, we are not a place where you come in and guzzle beer. It is definitely targeted for a certain market which is tourism and in-house guests which are vital to us. Both are going extremely well and we are very happy with the changes we made."
Christiansen had taken a job with ITM in Cromwell, and was looking forward to the new direction, he said.
"II have got a lot of emotions going through me at the moment. I have had it really good here, bosses who have supported me, I have staff that are like family now and I knew [the job] - I got up, came to work and knew what I was doing. But it's going to be good for me to move forward. I'm looking forward to it - a completely new industry and completely new direction so should be a bit of fun."