Who We Are

But that’s another story

Ask us what we love about Custer Resorts and you’ll get a number of different responses. Every day we are touched by the humble beauty of the park, the people we meet, and the stories they share with us. So, here are a few of our favorite memories to inspire you on your journey.

Josh SchmaltzJosh Schmaltz
President, US Hotel & Resort Management

Josh is a 2003 graduate from North Dakota State University, Fargo, where he majored in Hotel & Restaurant Management with a minor in Business Management. He has been with Regency for nearly the entirety of his professional career, most recently as Regional Director, overseeing operations at Grand Lake Lodge Colorado; Al's Oasis; Arrowwood Resort at Cedar Shore; Ramkota Hotel, Casper, Wyoming; The Lodge at Deadwood; Best Western Ramkota Rapid City; and our very own Custer State Parks Resorts. 

Favorite Park Memory:
"My time spent as GM here in the Park. The team you see below is an upstanding group of dedicated professionals that I have had the pleasure of working side-by-side with for many years. It is my sincere hope that you, too, are able to make your memories at each of our heartwarmingly-unique Lodges during your stay. Dine at the Game Lodge and catch the herd bounding through. Kick your heels off and breathe in the fresh canyon air at our Chuckwagon Cookout. Experience Sylvan's unrivaled views, and let your kids delight in the sand between their toes at Legion. Welcome to my family's second home. May you get caught in many buffalo jams.” 

Favorite Thing on the Menu:
"Game Lodge Buffalo Tenderloin is tough to beat."

Krystal HunsakerKrystal Hunsaker
Director of Retail

Krystal got an early start in retail at the age of six when she began working in her mother’s store. She grew up in the Black Hills, and got her first job in Custer State Park as a waitress during high school. She has been in love with the park ever since, and after attending the Art Institute of Minnesota for interior design, and managing her own home décor store, she jumped at the opportunity to come home to Custer State Park where she has been our Director of Retail since 2007. She strives to offer quality souvenir, apparel and gift items for our guests, and believes that a keepsake of your vacation should be a unique and beautiful treasure.

Favorite Park Memory:
"My favorite park memories are being made every day, getting to raise my family in Custer State Park! We were on the Chuckwagon one time and were so close to the elk herd, we could nearly touch them. Amazing!”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I'll let my daughter answer this one for me: A twist ice cream cone from Coolidge Store!"

Gina KonechneGina Konechne
Director of Sales & Marketing

Gina obtained her Bachelor’s from the University of Sioux Falls in both English and Communication Studies. She fell into hospitality after moving on a whim to Austin, TX with her husband, where she was hired on as an Event Planner for one of Texas’s top-rated championship golf & spa resorts. Her five years there took her though Event Management, Member Relations and Group Sales; but South Dakota remained the only place she wanted to raise a family. She moved back at the turn of the century to join the Regency team in the Park and has been delighted by buffalo outside her window ever since.

Favorite Park Memory:
"I still get excited every time the herd comes through, but the mountain bluebirds in their simplicity have a special place in my heart. I had been told that they were the ‘bluest blue’ and it’s true. Each time I spot one brings a smile to my face in remembrance of so many great times here with my Park family.”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
“The Game Lodge offers Wine Dinners each October. I love treating myself to them!"

Rob SteeleRob Steele
Director of Human Resources

While Rob has been in his current position with the Park since 2012, he is no stranger to its 72,000 acres. He worked for Custer State Park Resort from 1997 to 2003, having held management positions at both Legion Lake Lodge and at the State Game Lodge. He left only to pursue a dream and open his own restaurant in Custer with longtime friend and coworker, Craig Gill, having sold it after a successful six years in operation. A father to two energetic boys, he is thrilled to again be working for the resort in the Park he calls home.

Favorite Park Memory:
"Custer State Park is where I met my wife. She was my boss at Legion…after less than six months of knowing each other, I proposed to her on Lover’s Leap hiking trail. I remember being so sweaty and nervous on the way up…I didn’t think I’d make it all the way up the hill! We were of course married at Sylvan. I have thousands of memories all over the Park.”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
“Sylvan added a Stuffed Pheasant Breast to their dinner menu. I have to say, it's awesome."

Susie TimmSusie Timm
Reservations & Tour Group Manager

A familiar and friendly face to many of our returning guests, Susie has been with Custer State Park Resort for the majority of her professional career. She has management experience in nearly every department, from Housekeeping to Catering to Lodge Management. She was selected to direct the Reservations team since its inception and is a vital part of the Park’s every day success. Call our Reservations line and you will likely speak with Susie!

Favorite Park Memory:
“I always enjoy meeting all of the new visitors that come to see us. It makes each day unique and exciting.”

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I enjoy a lighter fare, so I love how each Lodge offers unique salad options. A good salad is always hard to find!”

Chad EganChad Egan
General Manager, State Game Lodge

2014 marks Chad's second year as General Manager, but Chad is no stranger to the industry. Chad earned his degree from Baker College in Michigan for his degree in Business Management/Culinary Arts. He has worn many hats in his day, including Executive Chef, F&B Manager, and Group Sales at various Michigan Yacht Clubs and Resorts. After having joined Custer State Park Resort in 2012 as Chef for Legion Lake Lodge, Chad knew he had found his new home. He is excited to joing the CSPR management team, and loves adding those special touches to his events. You are in the best of hands with Chad at Blue Bell Lodge!

Favorite Park Memory:
"I am making new memories every day here in the Park with my fiancee...I don't know how to chose!"

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I start with a Buffalo Brisket Quesadilla, and order from our Cattle Drive Burger Menu that lets you mix-and-match your protein selection and your toppings. The Triple Mac 'n Cheese is tough to beat, too!"

Tommy HegerfeldJason Deuhr
General Manager, Blue Bell Lodge

Jason is excited to be rejoining Custer State Park Resorts having spent the last few years working in Iowa. Jason's first job with the company was a busboy in 1996 and since then, has gained experience in just about every facet of the hospitality industry.  His management background includes fine-dining, banquets, and catering sales. When he is not working, you can find Jason hiking one of the many trails or climbing the abundance of rock climbing routes the park has to offer. 

Favorite Park Memory:
"Meeting my fiancee. A prettier smile I had never seen!"

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"Blue Bell Lodge's 'famous' Bloody Mary!"

Chris KellerChris Keller
Executive Chef

Originally from Long Island, NY, Chef Keller is, surprisingly, right at home here in the Black Hills. Chef graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1990 before moving to Colorado, and has held executive positions at some of the most notable restaurants in both Colorado and Florida in his time. He most recently was the Executive Chef for Grand Lake Lodge before being recruited here to Custer State Park. 

Favorite Park Memory:
"I would have to say the Buffalo Roundup & Arts Festival. The heart and soul of the Park can be felt watching the sunrise with 20,000 people the morning of the event as we all await the herd's arrival...I look forward to it every year."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"My favorite item is always the newest. I would say right now, the soutwest quinoa salad is one of my current favorites. It's niche, light and unique."

Waiting on PictureMike Madsen
General Manager, Legion Lake Lodge

Mike was raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and attended school for Graphic Design/Marketing at Southeast Tech and Black Hills State University. A true success story, Mike started in the Park in 2012 as a seasonal front desk clerk and was promoted the next year to front desk manager, and then again the following year to assistant manager at Sylvan Lake Lodge. He officially joined the executive team for 2015 as GM of Legion. Mike is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys traveling the world. He has climbed everywhere from high Himalayan Peaks to the hot beaches of The Virgin Islands.

Favorite Park Memory:
"My first summer here I fell in love with the Park. I have to many memories to share but always ones hiking or climbing on a nice cool afternoon in the park."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"I enjoy a good burger each lodge has their specialty!"

Kaila Vetsch
Catering and Events Manager

Kaila is a lifelong resident of the Black Hills. She recently graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising with a Public Relations emphasis and a Marketing minor. She began her career in  event planning in the music industry by working events while in college and later as an intern in Philadelphia, PA. After touring around the country working VIP programs for music festivals and hosting VIP events with different artists, she decided to come back to her roots here in the beautiful Black Hills and to Custer State Park. 

Favorite Park Memory:
"My favorite memory (to date) is the experience of learning about all of the lodges and history of the Park. I am looking forward to the horseback riding opportunities offered at the Park as I believe that will top my list of favorite memory."

Favorite Thing on the Menu?
"The dining experience at the Game Lodge is an amazing and very well presented meal. I dined on the Quail stuffed with Rabbit and Rattlesnake Sausage, paired nicely with a glass of wine. Not only was it very ‘South Dakotan’, but it truly was one of the best combinations of food I have experienced."