After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt
In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year.
MIM+E: When did you begin your career in hospitality?
PF: I started in 1968 as a busboy at Holiday Inn Traverse City. From there I moved on to bellman. After a couple of years in the Army, I was hired back as night auditor, then as a front-desk supervisor, and on through roles in sales, accounting, purchasing, and food and beverage. Finally, after 13 years, I became general manager of the new Petoskey Holiday Inn.
MIM+E: In 1985, after being on the steering committee to form a Petoskey convention and visitors bureau, you assumed the role of executive director. You’ve had a lot of job opportunities over the years that you turned down to stay. Why?
PF: Petoskey is one of the most beautiful places in the country. I believe that in my heart, and millions of people that have visited here will attest to that. It has small-town values, and it’s a perfect place to live and a perfect place to promote.
MIM+E: What makes the area appealing to visitors, including meeting planners?
PF: I’ve been answering the question “What’s so great about us?” for 36 years, and the number one answer is always the area’s natural beauty, the fresh pollen-free air, the water.
Along with that, we have some of the best facilities and state-of-the-art equipment and connectivity that you’ll find anywhere. Plus, meeting planners know they’re going to be well taken care of here. When it comes to amenities and team-building activities, we have 17 championship golf courses, over a dozen wineries, several breweries and distilleries, ziplining, kayaking and miles of continuous biking and hiking trails.
If attendees and their families stay on after the meeting, they can enjoy fine dining and great shopping in the Historic Gaslight District, including independent shops you won’t find anywhere else. Harbor City has 11 art galleries and some of the best chocolate chunk cookies you’ll ever taste at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.
MIM+E: What are you going to do once you retire?
PF: I’m a member of a couple of golf clubs and a yacht club, and they have activities going on all the time. I like to fish. And, I’m looking forward to going to more cool events, like the Boyne Falls Polish Festival, Harbor Springs Brew Festival and Art in the Park in downtown Petoskey. Whatever I do, I’ll always be a steadfast promoter of Petoskey.