Five Generations of Mountaintop Magic - Eric Gullickson - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 160

Joining the show this week is a committed executive who cherishes the traditions of his resort, inspired by the legacy of his late family, the Smileys. Please welcome to the show The President of Mohonk Mountain House. 

Eric joins Host Dan Ryan, their conversation delves into the intricacies of managing a multi-generational family business, emphasizing sustainability and stewardship as core principles. Eric provides insights into their strategic planning initiatives and their commitment to balancing profitability with environmental and community preservation.

  • Hospitality means ensuring the comfort and contentment of every guest and anticipating their needs. It also includes understanding that every individual has a unique story and unique needs. Being fully present with guests, listening to them, and then delivering service based on what you've learned is key. This approach helps create a longing for guests to return even as they are leaving.
  • Focusing equally on sustainability and stewardship is essential. This involves balancing financial gains with the upkeep and improvement of the property. For example, reinvesting profits into maintaining the extensive infrastructure and natural landscape ensures that future generations can also appreciate the property.
  • Running a family business successfully requires balancing the needs of shareholders and stakeholders. At Mohonk, they ensure that while they make profits to stay operational, they also pay attention to nature, community, family, and history. This balance ensures that the business thrives in the long term and stays true to its founding principles.
  • A strong mission and principles are crucial for long-term success. Mohonk's mission is built on Quaker values like consensus-building, caring for people, and maintaining peace and serenity. These principles have guided the business for five generations and help to make clear, principled decisions for future sustainability.
  • Providing unique and diverse guest experiences can significantly enhance a resort's appeal. At Mohonk, they offer activities like mountain biking, hiking, and a Via Ferrata experience that allows guests to engage with the natural landscape in thrilling but low-impact ways. Such offerings ensure that the property remains a destination in itself, attracting visitors repeatedly.
  • Building consensus within the organization and the broader family is essential. Whether it's developing a strategic plan or making day-to-day decisions, involving all stakeholders ensures that everyone is on board with the vision and mission of the business. This approach has helped Mohonk sustain itself through five generations.
  • Effective resource management and reinvestment are critical. At Mohonk, all profits are reinvested back into the business to sustain its vast property and infrastructure. They focus on maintaining what they have while also planning for future expansions cautiously. This strategy ensures that the property continues to thrive and grow in a sustainable manner.

Quote of the Show:
"Hospitality is about anticipating and meeting guests' needs while recognizing their unique stories and individuality. In life, listening and showing compassion are essential, just as with a friend."


Shout Outs:
  • Smiley Family 
  • Quaker Traditions 

Ways to Tune In: 

Creators and Guests

Dan Ryan
Dan Ryan
Host of Defining Hospitality
Five Generations of Mountaintop Magic - Eric Gullickson - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 160
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