The Golden Hotel’s Tim Gerhold on the Hospitality Road Taken

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Tim Gerhold

Tim Gerhold, general manager, The Golden Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection in Golden, Colorado, definitely has the often-mentioned hospitality gene. That guest-first sensibility was on full display when, mid-interview with LODGING, he didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone and proceed to offer the caller—a honeymooner inquiring about a room—an upgrade to a suite with a fireplace and river and mountain views. The suite would command a significantly higher rate during this Rocky Mountain foothill property’s high season, which had just ended. At just 40 years of age, Gerhold has traced a hospitality path likely to continue for decades toward his ultimate goal of “having my own empire”—one that would almost certainly be built upon the things he enjoys most personally and professionally, such as F&B and high-level guest service.

Culinary Beginnings

His path began with French fries—that is, making and serving them on the boardwalk at Bethany Beach, Delaware, at age 14. “I felt comfortable right away with that type of interaction with the customer. I’ve always felt that way,” he said.

After French fries came French pastry at a European bakery called the Upper Crust, where he worked with a chef who schooled him in the art of fine food. “I was learning about the difference between and importance of different ingredients, and got to sample fabulous food. It was always so busy with neighborhood locals, and I just loved the family connection,” he recalled.

Later, he burned the candle at both ends—going to classes by day at Boston University and working overnight at the landmark eatery, the South Street Diner. Although he admitted that he was far more interested in his job than his studies, he nonetheless maintained a full course load, and to his surprise, was eligible to graduate after only three years.

His first full-time job turned out to be one that indirectly gave him hotel experience and introduced him to a higher tier of service. “Millennium Partners Sports Club Management was a super ritzy kind of country club gym experience and was actually located in the same building as a Ritz-Carlton, where there were condos, a spa, a junior Olympic swimming pool, and a real upscale restaurant,” he related. The position also enabled him, at age 22, to earn far more than he did for many years after—mainly because he was so good at selling memberships.

He said his first career misstep came when he interviewed for the position of human resource director of Millennium Partners’ Washington, D.C. club. After being turned down for that position, he abruptly quit. The year was 2008—aka the Great Recession—and that impulsive decision came back to haunt him. He was ultimately forced to take several steps back into the familiar ground of F&B—starting as a waiter at Hemingway’s, where he was quickly promoted.

First Hotel Job

Gerhold said that while he learned a lot during those three years in restaurants, he had always planned to move to New York. It was there that he took his first official step into the hotel industry as night auditor at The Library Hotel on Madison Avenue, and began assembling the building blocks that later qualified him to become GM.

He recalls a bad situation during that time—Hurricane Sandy—as “a nice opportunity for me to spread my wings.” He became part of the skeleton staff that kept The Library Hotel operational when the disaster knocked out power to nearly two million people and brought subways and tunnels to a standstill due to flooding, stranding guests, and staff reliant on transportation. Also in New York, Gerhold relished the team spirit, resources, and professionalism of “the big-box experience” gained at Marriott as assistant GM of Residence Inn, and at Hilton as GM of Hilton Garden Inn. “Those were wonderful times, and I learned a lot from seeing how these global behemoths did things,” he said.

Moving to the Mile High City

Gerhold left the security of the Hilton organization when he quit his position at the Hilton Garden Inn during the pandemic, and, finding himself unemployed, accepted a contract position as task force manager through Chris Manley, a former mentor who founded Denver-based 5 Senses Hospitality. Six months later, he was hired as GM of 5 Senses-managed Golden Hotel.

He said this position enables him to indulge his twin loves of F&B and personalized guest service: “The Bridgewater Grill has a gorgeous, huge outdoor patio, which reminds me of the crab houses on the Chesapeake Bay. And there’s a robust banquet business, so I’ve been honored to curate and execute happy moments of celebration like weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and so on,” he said, adding, “I like being the person that can help shape someone’s journey. Day to day, there is always a story to connect with.”

Gerhold is especially proud of what he’s achieved since arriving at The Golden in 2021, noting, “In 2023, we set RevPAR records nine out of 12 months and have grown top-line revenues by 50 percent.” And he makes no secret of his desire to secure for The Golden an award conferred by Choice International for exceptional service. “We’ve worked tirelessly to deliver a guest experience that checks all the boxes that matter, and we are proud that our efforts have landed us in the top 10 percent for the Ascend Hotel Collection based on its likelihood to recommend (LTR) survey.”


Mistakes and Mentors: Up-and-Coming Professionals Can Find Value in Both

Tim Gerhold, general manager at The Golden Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection, in Golden, Colorado, admits he has made some mistakes en route to his current position: “I had gotten too big for my britches when I left a good company just because I was denied a promotion, and it was definitely a mistake to leave a secure position with Hilton during the COVID pandemic.” Yet, he said, there was nearly always gain from the pain, including takeaways and new opportunities. The job search following that resignation led to a contract position as task force manager through Chris Manley, one of Gerhold’s former mentors and the founder of 5 Senses Hospitality. Six months later, he became GM of The Golden Hotel, managed by 5 Senses. Mentors can make a difference, he added. “There were so many people that let me do things I had no business doing because they had faith in me, and I rose to the occasion because their belief in my abilities made me powerful.” That is why he now seeks to pay it forward: “My focus now is to teach a new group of hospitality leaders to grow and develop into larger, more fulfilling roles.”

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