Park Manager Earns Navy’s Top ‘Getaway’ Award
Wendy Eldredge, manager of the Beach Motel and RV Park at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif., has been named the 2010 Navy Getaways Manager of the Year, The Lighthouse, the official website of the Ventura County Naval community, reported.
For Eldredge, it’s a team a reward.
“This is all about the front desk staff and the housekeepers,” she said. “If not for them, this wouldn’t work. Everything has to run smoothly to be successful.”
Eldredge has a staff of 11, and together, they keep the 24 motel rooms and 72 RV sites up and running and the people who use them happy.
The Beach Motel and RV Park are run by Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) as part of the Recreational Lodging Group. The Navy Getaways program is separate from Navy Gateway Inns & Suites, which is reserved for business travel. Navy Getaways includes 47 recreational lodging destinations offering RV spaces, cottages, cabins, hotel-like guest rooms, yurts, tent sites and bunkhouses.
Navywide, the recreational facilities are undergoing some new standardizations, and Eldredge hopes to become a major part of that.
“Some of the other facilities, especially those in remote areas, still make reservations on paper,” she said. “Our organization needs a reservation system that will make us more efficient.”
There are times when both the motel and RV park are full, but at other times, especially during the winter, they can run as low as 40% occupancy. Eldredge hopes to change that over the next few years, and not just with a more efficient reservation system. Plans call for the Beach Motel to be renovated in 2012 or 2013 and for the RV park to get new wiring, new hookups, a workout facility and possibly a beachfront restaurant.
Already, the rooms have been furnished with new linens a $7,000 upgrade and the doors have been hooked up to a new electronic locking system.
The last two winters have been especially rough on the RV park. In February 2010, campers staying on the beachfront sites had to move back because of high seas, and this year the entire RV park and the Beach Motel were evacuated for a few hours because of the tsunami threat after the earthquake in Japan.
“Out here, with all the elements, you have to have a lot of patience,” Eldredge said. “Once you cross the lagoon, it’s like being on your own little island out here. Power can go out, the Internet goes down. We can’t process credit cards, and we can’t make reservations.”
But most of the time, she added, it’s a beautiful place to work.
“I learned how to relax out here,” she said. “I walk on the beach. I do my yoga.”
Job stress used to be a way of life for Eldredge, who entered the hospitality field through the restaurant business.
“I started in restaurants when I was 14,” she said.
As a teenager in Colorado, she bused and waited tables, then worked as a pastry chef and line cook.
Then came the Culinary Institute of America in Denver and two straight years of serving as a backup chef for the Telluride Food and Wine Festival.
After that, she became a chef herself, working at restaurants in Denver, Washington, D.C. and Nashville.
The big change came seven years ago when Eldredge’s mother needed a hip replacement. Eldredge dropped everything and moved to California to help her. She saw an ad in the Ventura County Star and faxed her resume to MWR. She was hired in food services and worked at The Point and Nap’s for four years before moving over to the Beach Motel and RV Park.
She spent the first six months organizing paperwork, reviewing the budget, planning renovations and hiring new staff. After three years, several of those she hired still work for her.
“She brings new ideas to the table,” said Recreational Assistant Mary Martinez. “She treats her staff well, and she’s just a good person to be around.”
Eldredge, a self-described “beach girl,” says her ultimate goal is to open a bed-and-breakfast somewhere near a beach. Even though she’s served an estimated 1 million meals, she still enjoys cooking, especially soups, her own chili verde recipe and seafood “with a little flair to it, a little spice.”
But she has to cook it near a beach.
“The beach has helped me learn to take care of myself,” she said. “Spiritually, mentally, this place helps me so that I can be a leader to my staff. Here, I can absorb things and think about things and not just react to things. You come down here and you take it all in. You learn to relax.”