At Suncadia, you step out of urban life and into something that’s all too rare: a place where you know your neighbors instead of just passing them on the way to work. And as visits become longer and more frequent, you get to know the people who help shape Suncadia into a community you hold close to your heart. This column celebrates the Suncadia staff who play a role in the way residents and guests enjoy their time here. Some might be familiar faces or names, and others will be new to you. This week, we chat with Michael Bennett, Director of Community Associations.
LIFE BEFORE SUNCADIA
I was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in the San Bernardino / San Diego areas where I enjoyed a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, rock climbing and skiing in the mountains, body surfing and sailing, camping, dirt bike racing and riding for pleasure in remote areas of the desert. My love of the mountains led me to the California Sierra and Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in 1997, where I transitioned from resort hotel management to condo-hotel management and large scale homeowner association general manager duties.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
In 2012, while attending the Large Managers Workshop in Seattle, our group of 150 managers toured Suncadia where I first met Pat Simpson (Director of Community Associations) and Jennifer Kramer (Director of Design Review). I was completely taken with the natural splendors of the Cle Elum area, the understated mountain lifestyle elegance of the Lodge, and the look and feel of the community and homes in Suncadia. From 2012 forward, two large scale communities in the Pacific Northwest were on my bucket list to someday hope to manage: Sunriver in Bend, Oregon and Suncadia. My hopes were realized when Pat Simpson chose to retire after four decades or more in the hospitality industry and I was eventually hired in late 2018.
ON THE ROAD
In my younger years, I was always hoping to be a pilot. I was a member of the Civil Air Patrol in junior high and participated in several actual air search and rescue operations. I also endured an abbreviated week of actual boot camp at Camp Roberts, CA in 1970, near the end of the Vietnam conflict. I did actually fly “left seat” several times. After high school I went on the road as a professional musician.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
In a nutshell, my role is to be a Jack of all trades and master of some… to borrow from an old figure of speech. However, my primary role boils down to maintaining, enhancing and improving community property values and quality of life for our owners, residents and guests.
As the onsite manager of the various Suncadia Homeowner Associations, villages, neighborhoods and non-profits, I find there is something new and unique about each work day. With assets totaling more than $1.5 billion in private property and Community Association assets, our team must be proficient with operation, reserve and capital budgets, while we plan our work, work our plan and then adjust to reality.
ON THE JOB
On any day our team will be working with new and existing owners, new home builders, contractors, and Suncadia’s many associations and councils. Additionally, with over 40 miles of trails and miles of paved roads to repair and maintain, our Community Operations Department and various contractors are constantly working to maintain our community to the level our owners, guests and residents expect and deserve.
My favorite part of my job is talking to and working with great people, solving challenges and issues, and expecting that something new and exciting will occur every day.
I try to make time to drive the roads in the community and stop at the various amenities several times per week. Driving at 15 miles per hour in observance of our mountain lifestyle and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists allow me to look, listen and feel the day!
IN ANOTHER LIFE
If I weren’t doing what I’m doing, I would probably be farming organic vegetables, keeping bees and raising chickens to feed my second passion: cooking for others and enjoying a meal with friends and family.