Last Sunday  was so much fun! We put on a Bridal Show at the resort for all the brides that are having their wedding here and brides looking for a venue to have their wedding. The turnout was great for vendors and brides!

We had our registration table for brides to enter a drawing of a complimentary one night stay and breakfast for two! Then we drew the winner on monday morning ! We also had two photographers set up tables, a cake vendor, a wedding planner/baker, and two dj companies.

We are planning to do another bridal show in March, and can’t wait to see all the summer brides !

Guess what ? We got a new Catering Sales Manager this past week, Katy Pfenning – Setzer! She handles most of the weddings we host here. One of the first projects she tackled was creating a Facebook page for weddings here at  Quartz Mountain Resort.

When you look at the page it shows information about the lodge, with lots of  beautiful pictures of past weddings held here ! Everyone who becomes a fan or friend of the page can let us know what they think! Everyone can also see reviews of the resort and events coming up !

We already have lots of followers and hope to get more !

 Click the link to see our page !

During the  holiday season we decided to pair up with a group called Praise to do a canned food drive! The group consisted of several churches from around the area in Blair, Mangum, and Sentinel. We named the food drive “A Baby Changes Everything” due to the play the Praise group put on of holiday traditions and baby Jesus. The play was held in the performing arts center here at Quartz Mountain Resort. 

On December 21 we collected 600 items of food and received gracious, signficant monitary donations. We then in return gave our collections to a Sentinel Food Bank, Altus Food bank, and also Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Southwest Housing.

It was such a succes, this will become an annual event the monday before Christmas. Thanks are definately due to Julie Barnett and Southwest Oklahoma.  I know everyone can’t wait till Easter time to do it all again, with another play production as well.

For more information on donating to Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Group click here !

Love Quartz Mountain Resort?  Then you will love our sister hotels as well!  We invite you to visit one or all!  Please see the listing below for more information.

Lexington Downtown Hotel and Conference Center, A Hilton Affiliate Hotel

 Dauphine Orleans Hotel

 Bourbon Orleans Hotel

 The Roosevelt Hotel

 Westin Atlanta Airport

 Copley Square Hotel

 Aloft Nashville-Cool Springs

 Hilton Irvine/Orange County Airport

We always feel like we’re trying to tell everyone how beautiful the resort is, but it’s always nice when our guests go home and tell people themselves (it’s even better than a nice comment card):

One multi-generational family trip involved hiking the nature trails, exploring the caves, and searching for wildlife (and an apparently haunted television).

Photographer Jim Griggs visited and took some beautiful images while staying with us and hiking Mt. Baldy. He also talks about his chat with our chef.

Kim from the Claire Chronicles says, “What a beautiful place this is!” even though she was here workingand talks of being startled by 3 deer one morning.

And while much of the country is covered in snow, your kind words have warmed us – it’s 54 degrees here today and the forecast is for 70 tomorrow. Spring is in our sights!

Our Executive Chef, Bola Togun, and his team have been cookin’ up a storm here at the lodge!  We just rolled out a brand new menu featuring comfort food favorites such as pot roast, homemade fried chicken, panfried catfish, mini slider burgers, homemade meatloaf, homemade pizzas, stuffed baked potatoes but each is infused with his own twist. We also added a “Fresh and Honest Eco-Inspired Cuisine” section of the menu that includes items like salmon, shrimp scampi and oven-roasted chicken.   Chef has implemented an amuse bouche – or free little bite –  at the beginning of each meal to wake up your palate.

His fresh made apple-fritters have everyone in town talking.  People have begun to drive up here just to purchase them to take home and enjoy.

Chef Bola Togun is originally from Nigeria and came to the United States to pursue a  career in the kitchen.   He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and has over 15 years of experience.  He has worked at Bayfront Hilton in St. Petersburg Florida, The Renaissance Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Country Club, and Northfork Bar and Grill, and now has been with us at Quartz Mountain since last summer.

I sat down with Chef Bola to ask him some questions:

Q:  Did you cook growing up?
A:  No I didn’t but I watched my mom cook.

Q:  What made you decide you would become a professional cook?
A:  Watching other chefs in restaurants inspired me to want to cook

Q:  Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
A:  Most of my training is on the job started out washing dishes, prep, etc.

Q:  Best piece of advice you would give a home enthusiast?
A:  Have fun with cooking and try different recipes.

Q:  Favorite food to cook with?
A:  Steaks and seafood.

Q:  When at home what do you like to eat?
A:  I like to eat home cooked meals like meatloaf, gravy, and fish.

Q:  Your favorite cookbook?
A:  I usually don’t read cookbooks.

Q:  What are the challenges and rewards of cooking at the resort?

A:  The team at the resort and everybody’s efforts make it fun to work here.  The rewards far out weigh the challenges.

See the new menus from Chef at Quartz Mountain Resort’s Sundance Cafe including the new eco-inspired cuisine.

Chef Bola Togun in the Kitchen

Chef Bola Togun in the kitchen.

Leave a comment to ask Chef Bola recipe questions or to ask for advice on cooking, and  of course, he’ll be happy to help with ideas for your next event here at the lodge.

We host a lot of great parties at the Resort and each is fun but I have to say that New Year’s Eve is probably my favorite event. Each year the staff just keeps trying to top themselves with decorations, food, and making everyone feel welcome and special for the night.  And once everyone was checked in, my official duties were done and I just had to make sure people were having fun at the party.

We got everyone checked in and greeted before the pre-banquet reception at 7. It was great to watch everyone walk in and see the room all decorated plus the hot and cold hors d’oeuvres – and that was just the beginning.

Then the ball room opened and everyone found their tables decorated complete with party favors and noisemakers to help them ring in the New Year.  Between the room and everyone in their finery, it was shaping up to be a great night.

Chef Bola Togan and his staff definitely outdid themselves with the buffet. Especially when it came to the desserts, I know I wasn’t the only one who was glad that my New Year’s resolution diet didn’t start until the next day. (Or maybe the day after – or is it after the Fiesta Bowl?)

During dinner, we seat groups together if they came to celebrate together, but if you’re a single couple out for the best party in the area, we’ll seat you with other like-minded folks so you can dine with and meet new acquaintances. We often see those people coming back as groups and developing longtime friendships.

We always tell people to bring their dancing shoes and this year was no exception – the John Arnold Band had everyone up and dancing well past midnight. But they took a break at midnight to do the countdown and everyone enjoyed the champagne toast that capped the evening’s festivities.

Whether from indulging in the champagne, the buffet or the dancing, I know many of our guests were very relieved to not drive home and take that short walk across the courtyard to their rooms for a good night’s rest.

Just a tip for next year – reserve early if you want a king sized bed. Those always seem to get reserved first.

See you next year and bring your dancing shoes.

(Guest Blogger Lyle Exstrom is  Reservations Manager at Quartz Mountain Resort)

I heartily agree with my co-worker; the drive over the hills to the resort simply takes your breathe away.  But I’d like to add another anticipation of mine in coming over that last hill and seeing the lodge on the horizon every morning.  Working in reservations, I hear stories, all kinds of stories.  For instance, “Oh, we spent our honeymoon at the lodge 30 years ago.”    Or, “I met my husband at the lodge when we both had come to spot eagles.”  Then there’s the woman who only gets to see her artist daughter once a year when she comes from New York to teach at the adult Art Institute session on modern art at the lodge. It’s, in fact, a pleasure to labor to make sure these memorable events continue to come together.

But we all have our day and my own memorable occasion at the Lodge came on December 20th.   Awkwardly and with lots of coaching, I shuffled through my first two-step dance at the annual “Bob Will’s Cowboy Ball with the Texas Playboys.” Having been raised in Texas and having lived for years in Georgia, this type of event – the music and the mode of dance  –  shouldn’t have been so extremely noteworthy.  But as my taste and training are more to modern jazz and rock, I found myself completely “out of step” in every way.

For one thing, my style of clothing was off.  While most women were wearing clothes that were lit up with freshly mined jewels, in my best eccentric frock, I looked like I was still suffering from a hangover I got at Woodstock!   Fortunately, the room was dark and I felt sure I could enjoy some anonymity, at least.  Immediately I entered the room, however, some people from my church hollered my name.  After making my “hellos,” my mother and I eagerly sought to sink into the background.  We were only there to observe after all.

As I watched the dancers sashaying around the room, I made a startling discovery.  They all knew the same dance.  Ah… so this was the Texas Two-Step.  I was glad I wasn’t in danger of having the chance to display my ignorance on the floor, hiding out as I was in the darkness.  Then suddenly a dashing old cowboy pointed at me with firm resolution to take me out on the floor.

Amiable though he was, he insisted that I learn the steps though I explained this wasn’t my style.  “1-2-3,” “1-2-3” he counted as we made our way around the dance floor.  If I started to do my own footwork, he just counted louder.  I finally said, “I can’t even hear the music so that I can move with it.”  He said, “You just follow my lead.”  On the last dance, I finally grabbed his hand and we danced an Irish jig for a moment, and we both died laughing.

While I was gathering my coat, I heard the announcer say, “We’ve seen a lot of different dances tonight,” and was proud that I’m sure we had danced one of those to which he referred.  I only left with one question.   If it’s called the Two-Step, what’s “3” about?

It’s very cold at the lodge today.  It’s one of those days where you just want to cuddle up with a warm blanket and stay indoors with a good book.  The sky is as gray as can be, and just looking at the water and the mist on the lake sends a chill down my back.  On a day like today it’s nice to get to sit in front of a warm, inviting fireplace sipping a cup of coffee.  It’s relaxing this time of year.

As I write this, my co-workers are hustling and bustling about to prepare the hotel for the holidays.  It’s amazing to see how they transform the hotel into a winter wonderland.  We have several decorated Christmas trees throughout the hotel and wreaths galore.  Giant star ornaments line the hallway from the entrance all the way to the cafe.  We are preparing for the many Christmas parties we have booked as well as the huge New Years Eve bash we are hosting with the John Arnold Band providing the entertainment.

It’s a busy atmosphere but the soft Christmas music playing in the background makes for a pleasant and soothing environment as I drink my coffee by the fire in the lounge.

As I drove into work today I was reminded of how beautiful it is here.  Even though I grew up in the area I have taken the beauty of my surroundings for granted.  Everyday I notice something new here that I had never paid much attention to.  The natural lighting from the sun, or lack of, changes the entire feel of the park.  For instance, on a cloudy day everything seems to be at a standstill as though nature has stopped.  When the sun is out it seems like everything in nature is moving and busy.  It’s strange.  On a windy day the lake is like an ocean and it’s just moving like crazy.  It’s amazing how each day has a different tone but always a calming feel.  Today was very pleasant.

The leaves have all started to change color now.  Bright orange and yellow outline the road as you drive up the mountain.  Everyday I see small herds of deer throughout the park.  Today as I got to the lodge there was a huge buck right by our bunkhouse.  As I got closer I rolled my window down to snap a photo but I scared him off. As he ran away I spotted four other deer.

It’s amazing getting to see all of the wildlife in it’s natural surroundings, and even makes a pleasant drive to work on Monday morning after a holiday weekend.