Meet Chris Hale Vice President Sales & Marketing Shanty Creek Resorts

  • Meet Chris Hale Vice President Sales & Marketing Shanty Creek Resorts

    Rewriting the Story Chris Hale helps Shanty Creek get back on top. Rewriting the Story- Chris Hale helps Shanty Creekget back on top.

    FROM THE Fall 2013 ISSUE

As Shanty Creek Resorts celebrates 50 years in business and a resurgence in its popularity, much of the credit for its success goes to Chris Hale.

Hale joined Shanty Creek in 2009 after a decade as an advertising executive with AT&T. The St. Louis native grew up knowing the family that bought Shanty Creek in early ‘00s; a member called Hale to ask if he’d visit the resort and assess its potential.

"The resort had gone through its troubles, and the ownership had turned over a few times," Hale says. "[The family member] said, ‘You’re a brand guy; you’re a marketing guy. We thought we got something pretty special when we bought this place, but it’s not generating the money we think it can.’"

Hale spent a week at Shanty Creek and sent its owners a report on his findings. A month later, he was offered the job of vice president of sales and marketing at the property. It would mean uprooting his family from Atlanta and leaving a secure position at AT&T. But, Hale says, it was an opportunity "to work at a ski and golf resort and raise my family in the part of the state that every single other person is trying to retire or vacation to."

Hale set about improving the property and how Shanty Creek told its story. The first tagline he came up with was, "Michigan’s Favorite Resort. Again." The "again" was a way to acknowledge Shanty Creek’s past challenges and say it had moved beyond them; that "the place was awesome and we’re making it awesome again," Hale says.

Since then, Hale has helped launch a smartphone app for iPhone and Android; negotiated a sponsorship with Monster Energy; and overseen the development of Black Diamond, an exclusive craft beer from nearby Short’s Brewing Company, to commemorate the resort’s 50th anniversary.

His efforts have paid off, literally: Shanty Creek is profitable and its stature has been restored. When Travel Michigan asked the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau for a marketing campaign prize, the bureau asked Shanty Creek to provide it.

"If other entities are asking us to be their prizes- if we’re a valuable thing to win- we’re back in the game," Hale says.

Hale’s efforts earned him the 2013 Sales and Marketing Star of the Year Award at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference in April. His pride, though, comes from the benefits to Shanty Creek.

"It’s a cool place," he says. "I’m immensely proud of it and I’m happy to be there. There’s momentum here."

RACHEL TOROK thought she’d spend her life in the health field, not running nationally prominent companies serving the events industry.

After earning a master’s degree in exercise physiology in 1998, Torok received an offer from her brother, Todd Lloyd, to work for his company, which had evolved from a retail flower shop to specializing in wedding flowers and décor.


KURT COLONE WAS A CLASS CLOWN GROWING UP. "Looking back, I always liked telling jokes and stories," he says. "I did the announcements at school, and I’d always add a little flavor."

Those skills served him well at Detroit’s biggest rock radio station, 101.1 WRIF, where he met Mike Staff more than 20 years ago. He learned the DJ business with Staff, and quickly realized he preferred private celebrations to bars and clubs. He joined Mike Staff Productions in 2001; today he’s the company’s director of business development and entertainment.



Houston native Larry Alexander joined the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau in 1998. The president and CEO has been singing the region’s praises ever since.

"I set a personal goal when I came on board that I wanted to make sure we would secure at least one high-profile event to bring national and international attention to this region," Alexander says. "We’re on a good roll."