Robert Peters, Returns ?Home?, Becomes Manager of Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford, Virginia
Sept. 28–BEDFORD — As a boy, Robert Peters and his Sunday school buddies from Roanoke hiked to the top of Sharp Top, one of the Peaks of Otter’s twin mountains. More than three decades later, he has returned to the mountains, this time to manage the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant.
Peters, 44, became the lodge’s full-time manager last month, about a month after the venerable Blue Ridge Parkway attraction re-opened after a brief closure. Peters was one of the speakers during Friday’s official grand opening ceremony, which included parkway officials, congressional staffers and other dignitaries. Gov. Bob McDonnell sent an official proclamation that recognized the lodge’s new corporate manager.
Peters, a Northside High School graduate who has spent more than 25 years in the hotel business, comes back to the mountains from Richmond, where he had managed two Holiday Inns for the past 15 years.
“This was a day trip for us,” he said, recalling when his family and church groups would drive the parkway to visit the peaks. “It’s good to be back.”
Peters worked his way up in the hotel business, starting as a bellman at the Roanoke Marriott near the airport in 1987. Within six years, he rose from opening doors and carrying luggage for guests to managing the place.
He moved to Richmond in 1998 and managed hotels and operated his own concessions business. When a friend told him about the opening at the Peaks of Otter, he quickly applied for the job.
Now, he works for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, a national hospitality company that was awarded a 10-year contract from the National Park Service to run the lodge and restaurant.
The lodge was closed for eight months before Delaware North took over. The company has made some changes, such as adding flat-screen televisions and wireless Internet access to rooms and introducing new items to the menus. The lodge brought back the popular Friday night seafood and prime rib buffet this week and will offer a Sunday brunch buffet and Thanksgiving buffet. The lodge has 72 employees.
During Friday’s ceremony, Ken Leone, Delaware North’s Vice President of Lodging, said that he was happy that the new manager was a person who was familiar with the peaks and the surrounding region.
“We found somebody who had the same experiences” as visitors, Leone said. “It’s so much better when you have somebody here who remembers it fondly and who really enjoys it.”