Heidel House’s new general manager welcomes guests to relax at resort

KEVIN KARAU WAS hired as the next general manager of The Heidel House Thursday, Feb. 18.  Hannah Tetzlaff photo

by Hannah Tetzlaff

Since his start as a hotel shuttle bus driver, Kevin Karau has cruised the winding road to success and now hopes to steer his resort staff toward a beaming future.

Karau was named the new general manager of the Heidel House Resort and Spa in February.

As general manager, he oversees operations of the year-round destination, including 18,000 square feet of meeting space, 180 guestrooms, Grey Rock restaurant and Evensong Spa.

Prior to his new position, Karau worked as the director of operations for Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, was general manager of three beach-front hotels for Seahaven Beach Resorts in Panama Beach, Fla., and was employed in various roles in numerous other hotels and resorts across the country.

Karau has been in the hospitality business for more than 20 years. He entered the industry when he was young and lacked direction.

“After I got out of school, I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do, so I went out there [to Colorado] to ski and kind of figure out what my life would be like,” Karau said. “I started as a shuttle driver and then I became a maintenance engineer, and essentially held every position in the hotel over the next 10 years. I worked as a houseman and a bell man. I worked in housekeeping in concert with maintenance … and that’s kind of how my career was built.”

Although he operated in various positions and at destination resorts all around the country, Kauru was attracted to the position offered at the Heidel House due to its seasonality and the beautiful Green Lake community.

“I like small town and I really love seasonal resorts,” he said. “I love them twofold. One, I really like the direct interaction with the staff that I get … on a day-in-day-out basis because our businesses kind of rises and falls with occupancy seasonally. I also enjoy being in a beautiful place … so it was a good fit for me and my family.”

Since Karau worked his way up in the hospitality world, he has a great understanding for all the jobs and tasks his staff accomplish at the Heidel House.

“There really isn’t a job I haven’t done in a hotel as an hourly associate or as a supervisor or manager in any department,” Karau said. “[Because of this], one, it is kind of hard had to pull the wool over my eyes … but two, I have a real understanding of what I am asking every supervisor, manager and associate to do because I’ve already done it.”

What’s most enjoyable about his new position are the everyday surprises.

Karau 4 6 1-8 BW

Kevin Karau shares a laugh with a kitchen employee. Karau has worked his way from ground up and has held almost all the positions in a hotel, which helps him have a great understanding of what he asks of his employees. Hannah Tetzlaff photo

“There is no way to plan your day,” he said. “You don’t know what is going to happen next and you can’t second-guess it … I am that kind of person where I like a variety of things in my day and in my life … I like that there is always something that is going on. You never know what the next guest might bring … or the challenges you will have and how to solve them.”

Even when facing high-stress situations, he always tries to point out the humor in the problem.

“If you can’t have a good time [and] if you can’t have some fun, [then] our job can be very stressful in delivering for the guests and delivering exceeding expectations,” Karau said. “I find things funny almost inappropriately right away, so it is just my way of dealing with it … I do that to my staff as well, get them to laugh even during a heavily stressful situation because you still got to have fun, still got to deliver and still got to be relaxed.”

Despite having worked at the Heidel House for a few months already, Karau does not plan on implementing any major changes. He added that he and the staff are more concerned with finding the weaknesses in services and improving upon them.

The future is unpredictable and although it brings some speed bumps and potholes, Karau and his staff plan to maneuver them with dedication and laughter.