Sundancing His Dream
Hilary Ingoldsby Whitesides
July 1, 2008
Fourteen years ago, Chad Linebaugh was a college student looking for any job that included a free ski pass. Fast forward past stints as a waiter and regional and national sales manager and today Linebaugh is the co-general manager of Utah’s celebrated Sundance Resort.
“It’s been a great journey,” Linebaugh says.
Growing up in Pleasant Grove, Linebaugh remembers not only loving business, but discovering an interest in the hospitality industry. “My family traveled a fair amount and from a fairly early age I always thought I wanted to be in the hotel business,” Linebaugh says.
At 15 Linebaugh moved into the hospitality industry working as a dishwasher at the Underground Restaurant in Provo, and at 17 was a busboy at what was then the Excelsior Hotel. When he graduated from high school, he moved to San Diego, Calif. to work as a banquet captain at the La Jolla Marriott. As winter arrived however, Linebaugh started to miss the snow – and more specifically skiing – and heeded the call to return to Utah.
Having grown up skiing at Sundance, Linebaugh was happy to be a waiter at the resort and frequently put his free ski pass to use. Although he was also a business major at UVSC, he never imagined that a combination of waiting tables and pursuing his favorite hobby would help him fulfill his professional dream.
”Sundance gave me my career and my wife, which I guess really equals my life,” says Linebaugh, whose wife’s family was one of the few who live at Sundance.
All it takes is a quick conversation with Linebaugh to see just how passionate he is about his work. His eyes light up as he talks about the skiing, film festival, art classes, restaurants and many other amenities Sundance has to offer. And though he may be too humble to make the connection, one can’t ignore the fact that Sundance has been recognized with more awards since Linebaugh was promoted in 2006 than it previously received, including the 2008 National Geographic Traveler Stay List Best of State Best Vacation Award and the Smart Meetings magazine Platinum Choice Award. Also, in a 2007 reader’s poll by Conde Nast publications, Sundance was ranked the second best mainland resort in the country.
Despite such acclaim, and Sundance’s most financially successful first quarter in the resort’s history, Linebaugh considers his employees to be his greatest Sundance achievement. The resort employs more than 500 workers and Linebaugh is proud to say he feels the employee morale is the best it’s ever been.
He also hasn’t forgotten the resort’s commitment to its Utah roots.
“Mr. [Robert] Redford loves the local community,” Linebaugh says, “And our number one market is Utah. Sundance, through all these years, wouldn’t be what it is and it may not even be here if it weren’t for the supportive local community.”
With a job description that includes everything from rubbing shoulders with world leaders and entertainers to frequently hitting the slopes, Linebaugh’s enthusiasm for the hospitality industry and for serving people certainly seems contagious. After all, his nine-year-old son is already counting down the days until he can do what? Work at Sundance.