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BACK TO BLOGS Skip's Candidacy Announcement: Mr. Lake Geneva

April 17, 2024| Local Area, Awards, General

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A Legacy of Charity: Skip for Mr. Lake Geneva 2024

To vote Skip for Mr. Lake Geneva, please make a donation at

Skip Harless, Managing Director at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa has announced his candidacy for Mr. Lake Geneva 2024 and selected the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA as his charity of choice. Skip's commitment to participate in the local fundraiser pays homage to the Marcus Corporation legacy, "People Pleasing People." This philosophy goes back nearly 100 years when 14-year-old Ben Marcus immigrated by boat to the United States with his mother and two sisters in 1925. Many passengers fell ill with seasickness and diseases, but Ben quickly assumed responsibility for delivering water, milk and oranges to those in need. Hence, the Marcus way of, “People Pleasing People,” was born, and 100 years later, Marcus Corporation continues to give back through volunteer work and in-kind donations. In a single year, Marcus contributed more than 28,100 hours of volunteer time, $3-4 million in in-kind donations nationwide, and over the last decade, Marcus has donated more than $7.5 million to nonprofit organizations through The Marcus Foundation. Individual employees such as Skip Harless, also make an effort to continue the legacy through their own charitable endeavors.   

The Mr. Lake Geneva pageant uses entertainment and humor to raise money for local charities. Well-acquainted with the stage, Skip received a degree in Performing Arts but later decided Hospitality was a better fit for his career long-term. Beginning his career at Hyatt hotels in 1989, Skip was a Team Lead and oversaw the daily operations for three floors within the hotel. When asked what the phrase, “People Pleasing People,” meant to him, Skip referred to it as a commitment to not only guests but associates as well. He said, “We take care of each other! We take care of our guests, and we want to make them feel special and appreciated!”

In true Marcus spirit, taking care of others and providing memorable experiences is the epicenter of Skip’s role at Grand Geneva. “It’s what I do every day... I love watching guests come in and the reaction they have to the property or the associates. It’s a vibe that is hard to describe, but it just fills my cup; it’s so cool!” Skip himself is not a stranger to the impact of a kind gesture. He credits his reverence for charity to his father who encouraged him to identify his strengths and how they would lend themselves to a career. “It became obvious that hospitality was a good choice for me and my Dad was very encouraging.” Perfectly on par with Marcus’s mantra of, “People Pleasing People,” Skip’s father taught him to leverage his identity as a performer to bring joy to others. However, this year, Skip’s passion for entertainment will stretch beyond his day job as he competes for Mr. Lake Geneva.

The opportunity to run for Mr. Lake Geneva first arose last year when Skip was awarded the Visit Lake Geneva Hospitality Award. Another award winner, Kelly Gerlitz, President and CEO at Lakes Area Lifeway, had just accepted the Impact Award for Community Service. Skip was so impressed by her speech, her personality and her commitment to her community, that when she later approached him to run for Mr. Lake Geneva, it was impossible to decline, “…I’m telling you, there’s nobody on this planet that can say, ‘no,’ to Kelly Gerlitz.” And so, Skip announced his candidacy for Mr. Lake Geneva 2024, and had a special, local organization in mind for his Charity of Choice: the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA.

For the Third Annual Mr. Lake Geneva competition, contestants will raise money for a charity of their choice and no matter the results of the race, all funds raised will go to benefit the charity they have selected. Skip said it was an easy decision for him to choose the Geneva Lakes YMCA. “They’re such an important organization. With 140 years+ in the community, they have a great reach in terms of the number of people that participate with the Y.” He was also inspired by the impact the YMCA had on him as a child recalling, “As a kid, my grandmother used to take me to the Y for swim lessons and life safety classes and I got a lot of confidence out of those experiences.” Ann Fulmer, the Senior Director of Marketing and Development at the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA says the fundraiser couldn’t have come at a better time.

There is currently a very high demand placed on the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA. Servicing 6,475 members and another 4,000 community (non-members), they are the primary outlet in the Geneva Lakes area for recreation and wellness in Walworth County, western Racine and Kenosha counties, and the communities that border the Illinois state line. Fulmer said, “When we heard Skip selected the YMCA as his Charity of Choice we were thrilled! Donations that are raised for the Geneva Lakes Family YMCA will support our Financial Assistance and Community Outreach programming.” During 2023, the Geneva Lakes YMCA provided more than $122,000 in Financial Assistance to families unable to pay for fee-based programs. Funds raised from Skip’s candidacy will help cover those fees and allow more children the opportunity to participate in YMCA programs. Fulmer said that the YMCA is eager to support Skip’s fundraising efforts and she encourages the public to do the same, “Make a donation to his personal page or attend the event in-person!”

The Marcus legacy of, “People Pleasing People,” forged almost 100 years ago, is alive and well today in the great people that work for Marcus Corporation. For someone such as Skip, it is the reason he loves what he does and where he works, and he views the Mr. Lake Geneva competition as an opportunity for Grand Geneva to give back to the community. Skip said, “I think over the years, there’s’ developed a separation between Lake Geneva and Grand Geneva, so I am always looking for ways to bring us together…We’re all in this together and we have to support each other.” To vote Skip for Mr. Lake Geneva, please make a donation at , and to learn more about the Mr. Lake Geneva pageant as a whole, please visit

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About Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

Owned and managed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is an award-wining, AAA Four-Diamond all-seasons resort set on 1,300 acres in the legendary southeastern Wisconsin community of Lake Geneva. Located 90 minutes from Chicago and 50 minutes from Milwaukee, Grand Geneva Resort & Spa features 358 guest accommodations, including deluxe rooms and suites, along with 29 new villas. On site, guests can enjoy the WELL Spa + Salon; two championship 18-hole golf courses; The Mountain Top, a ski and snowboard facility; 62,000-square-feet of meeting and convention space and three restaurants. Also on the resort’s grounds is the Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, featuring 225 guest suites and 50,000 square feet of year-round, indoor/outdoor waterpark excitement, bringing the total number of rooms on the Grand Geneva campus to 612

Whatever the time of year, visitors are always discovering something new – from a hillside turning crimson in autumn to the joys of Christmas in the Country, and annual winter celebration from November through the holidays

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