New Basin Harbor manager eyes local outreach

FERRISBURGH — Basin Harbor has hired a veteran leader of independent hotels and resorts as its first general manager, and he will help oversee marketing changes in the 133-year-old, family-owned vacation, wedding and recreation destination on the Ferrisburgh shore of Lake Champlain.
Jamie Fox, 46, came aboard Basin Harbor — no longer the Basin Harbor Club — on Jan. 7 after helping manage hotels and resorts in Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, as well as in Vermont at The Woodstock Inn and Resort and the Sheraton Burlington Hotel & Conference Center.
Fox returned to Vermont after leaving his Woodstock position a decade ago. He most recently helped open and manage The Hotel Emma in San Antonio, Texas, which earned a 5-Diamond rating from AAA.
At Basin Harbor, Fox will oversee 700-acres that include a golf course, tennis courts, three restaurants, 74 cottages and 45 guest rooms, a main lodge spa and fitness center, many boats and extensive docks, and more. The owners, Pennie and Robert Beach, hope to persuade more local residents to come to Basin Harbor for day or overnight visits and use those amenities, and are making some of them more available.
Pennie Beach said her family is convinced Fox is the right person to become Basin Harbor’s first general manager and help meet that goal.
“We are delighted to welcome Jamie to the Basin Harbor team,” Beach said. “Jamie brings extensive experience in providing high-quality hospitality experiences for guests, and we are honored to have him on board.”
Fox, who with his wife Andrea and two young children has settled into a Vergennes home, told the Independent he felt the same way about being the Beaches’ selection.
“For me, it’s a big honor to be that person,” he said.
Fox grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and attended SUNY-Fredonia, but his family had relatives in Bristol and he was a frequent visitor to Addison County as a child. Then he worked for almost a decade in Vermont, starting in 2000.
Being able to move back here with his family was one allure of the Basin Harbor job.
“It’s always been a place I’ve gravitated to, so for me it really is like coming home,” Fox said. “It’s a good place to raise kids, too.”
The job being a step up the career ladder also mattered, and Fox said sitting down with Bob and Pennie Beach sealed the deal. 
“It’s hard to find that great opportunity and have the location and the job you want,” he said. “When I got to meet the Beaches that was another huge attraction, working for a family that really gets hospitality.”
Fox’s ended up in the hospitality sector despite his choice of geology as a college major. He said he “developed this love for the outdoors, which led to skiing, which led to hospitality.”
Specifically, he and a friend took jobs at Montana’s Big Sky Resort to meet the skiing and outdoors goals, and Fox after one season took on responsibilities as a front desk manager.  
“I got to handle a lot of emergency situations, maintenance issues. I really got thrown in, but I developed a love for it,” Fox said. “I learned by jumping right in.”
Nothing changed his job satisfaction as his career advanced, always with independently owned properties like Basin Harbor that he said allowed a measure of creative freedom.
“You have to enjoy the sort of crazy life of hospitality right away, but there’s also a sense of accomplishment to it, and that’s what has helped me keep pushing forward,” Fox said. “You have to enjoy getting creative and finding ways to fix problems, but also the one thing I’ve enjoyed is providing exceptional experiences for people. If you can provide an amazing resort stay or hotel stay, there’s a lot of sense of pride in that.”
Basin Harbor has thrived since 1886 by providing experiences that its patrons have appreciated. But Fox said he, the Beaches, and their marketing team hope to have more area residents enjoy what Basin Harbor has to offer.
Fox said his experience helping establish The Hotel Emma, built in a former brewery in San Antonio, will be valuable in broadening Basin Harbor’s marketing and building that awareness.
Even something as simple as dropping the “club” from its name in order to emphasize inclusivity matters, Fox said.
“I learned a ton about what it takes to create a brand from the ground up, and obviously Basin Harbor is established, but part of what we’re doing is making sure our brand out there in the world is consistent, and that people know about us,” he said. “That’s part of the process of even changing the name. We’re taking the word club, or resort, out of the name, and we’re really just going to be known as Basin Harbor.”
Fox and a Basin Harbor press release listed some of the activities and offerings to which those who are not guests are welcome, assuming they call ahead and reserve space (475-2311):
•Boat cruises. Fox said for example one package includes admission to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, lunch and a cruise.
•Boat rentals.
•Tubing, water skiing, wake surfing and wake boarding, including a weeklong July residency with a professional wake surfer and boarder who will offer instruction. Fox said Basin Harbor just purchased a second powerboat.
•Fitness classes.
•Tennis, including clinics and weekly leagues.
•The 18-hole golf course.
Fox said guests can simply relax, but in his experience many people enjoy having options to keep busy.
“People want to be active. They want to be outdoors. They can still sit in Adirondack chairs, but we easily have 100 activities a day to choose from,” he said, adding, “With reservations, we really want people to know they can call ahead and make plans to come and visit Basin Harbor.”
Fox said wedding bookings, another major piece of Basin Harbor’s business, is running at or ahead of a strong 2018 number, and after a first two-plus months on the job he is looking forward to a promising season and beyond. 
“It’s great. I’ve had the support of the Beach family, and we have an amazing team of hospitality professionals here,” he said. “Basin Harbor has always been known for a great experience and great service. What I hope to bring is just some additional support and refining some systems and taking us to the next level in terms of occupancy and revenue growth.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: