New England Hermitage Club, VT, in the news.

Discussion in 'General Resort Discussion' started by Muleski, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    This does not sound like great news. $10K per member assessment to pay off things like the current RE tax bills.

    IMO, there is truly one private club that works. It's the grand-daddy, and the one with members who seem to be the most fully invested in every sense, the YSC.

    Hope this all comes together for the Hermitage Club. Have had doubts since day one, to be honest.

    I also think it might not be good press for Les Otten's latest project/dream, The Balsams.

    https://vtdigger.org/2017/10/20/hermitage-club-taps-members-pay-off-debt/#.Wf9n38bMzVq
     
  2. Erik Timmerman

    Erik Timmerman Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    I don't really understand the appeal that that place ever had, but I've never needed a ski resort with a place to park my helicopter, so it's obviously not meant to appeal to me. I know a couple of people that coached there and they have told me some stories. It's a small resort so I certainly won't repeat them as it would be easy to figure out sho they are.
     
  3. Read Blinn

    Read Blinn lakespapa Inactive

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  4. Burton

    Burton Putting on skis Skier

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    I, for one, wouldn't mourn the failure of the private ski club model in general. It just seems obnoxious, though admittedly I'm not the target demographic. Oddly, though, I have received a fair number of Hermitage Club solicitations in the mail. I attended a USSA coaching clinic at the Hermitage Club last Spring, and it just felt odd to me. They made a big deal about how the visiting coaches were to only go in the main members lodge if absolutely necessary and instead we were to use the ski team bubble building. Employees seemed forlorn. Grooming was good and stayed good due to very low skier traffic, and the heated chair was awesome. But I kept thinking back to the races I had there in college, when it was lowly Haystack Mountain, and in my memory it's main attributes were that it was cold as can be, windy, and icy. Sure enough, the days I was there for the clinic, it was around 10-12 degrees and blowing serious stink. I stayed at a great local inn, and chatting with the innkeeper, it was mentioned that many in town were not fans because the club didn't pay it's vendors. Rich people with fancy things who don't pay their bills to the local trades is all kinds of wrong.
     
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  5. Erik Timmerman

    Erik Timmerman Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    I certainly don't want to wish failure on them, I mean they're not hurting anyone (assuming those bills got paid). I just don't see the appeal and so I wonder how it is viable.
     
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  6. Thread Starter
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    OK....I have a good number of friends who have roots there. Close buddy and college teammate grew up there. Believe it or not in the late 60's and 70's, before there really were any ski academies {other than fledgling Burke}, Haystack had one of the strongest alpine programs in the East. Coached by Chip Woods. My friend was married at the inn. He's "done pretty well"; retired at 45. He still owns a home nearby. He fits their demographic. No interest. He has adult kids in CO, and owns a home near Vail. Skis Vail and BC. Mainly because of friends. We have three mutual friends who live in CT, or Boston and all three own at the YSC.

    To be really blunt, if you want a private ski club, the Hermitage Club is "Seriously Junior Varsity." I have heard many comments like "why on earth would we do this, and ski here?" Vermont has plenty of great places to ski, and depending on where you buy a home, who your friends are, it's very nice.

    The place has never made sense to me. We have friends who have been solicited, hard, and nobody is bailing on Stratton, Sugarbush, Stowe, etc.

    I hope they can pull it off, as I hate to see any ski area close down, regardless of the model. This one has no appeal to me. For that matter, the first couple times that I visited the YSC, I was not so impressed. I've changed my mind. The members love it, they could not be nicer, and 99.9% of the skiing public have absolutely the wrong impression about the place.

    No chance that Hermitage or the Balsams is ever going to be the same. Hard to describe. Has to do a great deal with people who are just really impressionable. As in "I'd rather ski at a mediocre small hill because it's private, than at some of the best skiing in the East." BTW, I don't know anybody who could easily afford the Stratton Club who has joined it. Just not that "important" to them. Very important to others. Of course my friends have skied at Stratton for 30+ years. Not trying to impress anybody. Not easily impressed, either.

    Not paying vendors and alienating the real locals is a really bad business practice. Led to the near demise then the complete salvage of the YSC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
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  7. Erik Timmerman

    Erik Timmerman Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Bad move, but probably better than not paying the IRS!
     
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  8. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    The beginning of the end.
     
  9. Dave Marshak

    Dave Marshak All Time World Champion Skier

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    Private ski clubs are for guys who are so rich they are afraid someone will grab their children for ransom. Or maybe they're for rich guys who want to get their wives out of town, but their wives want it to be a private club. Hermitage is a bet that there are enough guys like that between NY and Boston to make it work. That's the only way it makes sense.

    AS far as not paying bills, that's a common practice in NYC commercial real estate. We typically aren't paid until we sell another job that the owners want. Then we get paid for the last job and stuck for the next job until we sell another job. Those guys are hard to deal with if you can't get a lien.

    dm
     
  10. K2 Rat

    K2 Rat Out on the slopes Skier

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    Unfortunately, it is a real mess. But no ones knows truly how bad because of the lack of transparency. As the article states, they tried to raise $5 million through a equity offering to the members, but I understand the terms were not very favorable to the investors and it failed. So, the decided to hit the members with the 10k assessment and raise the $5mm a different way. Of course, the members are reluctant to pay this as this is a band-aid and when is the next assessment? What seems the most likely scenario is some legal action and have a court appointed receiver to take over and really understand the depth of the issue and come up with a solution/plan. Since it is pretty hard to survive strictly as a private ski area, this was a real estate play and was hurt by the state delays on their master plan (approved this summer).

    Clearly various local banks could have forced them into involuntary bankruptcy already, but there is a lot at stake and they ultimately want to get repaid. The town is poised to foreclose on various hotels and initiate tax sales. They bought a handful of these local hotel to offer "Ski and Stay" packages to give potential members a place to stay and try the facilities. They are not allowed to sell individual tickets, but can add them to a room in a package. Yes, they owe so many vendors and contractors and no one really knows how much. Supposedly, people have paid up front for them to build million dollar houses. The houses are done but the "owners" can't close because of liens from local unpaid contractors. And rumor has it that their snow cats were repossessed.

    Mount Snow Academy trains Tues -Thurs at Mt Snow and Fri-Sun at The Hermitage. Because of uncertainly about Hermitage opening this winter, we are securing contingency weekend hill space. The beauty of training there is we get decent terrain and never a lift line. The kids get so many more laps even during holidays.

    Can Hermitage survive? Well, we all hope so as it is very important to the valley. Personally, I never thought the business model as a private ski there is a viable one. After all, it is just Haystack. Not a bad mountain, but not that exciting. All of my friends who belong there also have season passes to Mount Snow and ski both. I think it would get pretty boring just skiing Haystack. When Mount Snow owned Haystack, we only went over there on some holidays when Mt Snow was very crowded or when my Mt Snow racer children were training there. But we did not go that often because it was just Haystack. You knew there was not much a market for a private ski area based on the price that Mt Snow sold it for : $5mm under the requirement that it is a private area.

    A lot of history at Haystack, which I have lived through since I have been hanging around that area for about 50 years. As @Muleski said, it used to have a very good race program. Over the years they held lots of USSA races, college races , Masters races, my son's first J5 race and an awesome J4 Vt States 12 years ago. They are on the schedule for the first time hosting a VARA Southern Council u14 race this winter and we hoped this was just the beginning.

    We will see and fingers crossed they can come up with a acceptable plan for all parties.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
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  11. elemmac

    elemmac AKA Lauren Skier

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    Is the Balsams' plan to be a private club? Just curious...hadn't heard that before.
     
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    No, the plan is not for the Balsams to be a private club. I think that would cut out must of LBO's funding from the state.

    One of the obstacles that keeps coming up,
    I hear, is that the plan is to go after the very affluent, create some club like ownership options, etc. The challenge is that that segment of the population, who ski, almost all have current situations that work for them.

    In other words, they need to dump the present experience, home, friends to make this leap. Because there aren't so many new entrants.

    It may be a tough sell. Reaching this alleged super affluent group seems to be not that easy. Plus, his development costs are going to be enormous.

    Pulling people away from where the recreate to join his Century Club sounds tough to me.

    Of course he thinks he can create some of the best skiing in New England. Maybe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  13. elemmac

    elemmac AKA Lauren Skier

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    @Muleski - Thanks for clearing that up for me. I'd agree it may cut some of the funding, didn't think about it that way before. Who knows what'll happen with the Balsams, it'll be interesting to see. And as a NH resident, hopefully it's not at the taxpayers' expense.
     
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  14. Tony S

    Tony S aka qcanoe Skier

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    He may think that. I don't. I skied Sunday River in 1975. Glorious. Hidden treasure. Now? Not my thing.
     
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    The Balsams project makes NO sense to me. None. But then again, Les dreams big and he has hit a few home runs. And he's struck out.

    I think the location is terrible. Perception is everything. Perception is even worse than reality in terms of being remote. I have no idea on earth how they are going to raise the money to built out the skiing according to the plan. And of course, the amenities planned to be built will be ginormous.

    I know a number of people who were approached about throwing some money into this. The question that they asked, and asked me, is who are the customers, and where do they come from? This is primarily a winter play, though it is "four seasons." Who are they?

    So....people in his demographic from Boston through Montreal, who ski, already have it locked down. Ski homes, ski friends, ski plans, vacations. Oh, Les, BTW, a huge percentage of them have long standing summer plans....traditions. He loves his house on the pond. Most of NE likes the coast, the ocean, the big lakes. At least those in his demographic.

    We'll see. I have little faith in it. When he started talking about the well to do in Montreal, my eyes glazed over. Not heading to the Balsams. No. Have family there, man friends. They all ski, and ski all season. And are happy where they are.

    I'm solidly in his target, and it has no appeal at all. None.

    Then again, I too could never have visualized what Sunday River grew into. Many more things working in his favor then. Not my favorite at all.

    Oh well. It's of no concern to me. Nor is the Hermitage Club. It would be neat if Haystack can continue to operate, though.
     
  16. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    Just a few guesses here:

    1) People that join a private ski club/resort/development typically don’t fly commercially

    2) For people who fly privately, a few hours flight is the same as the rest of us driving a few hours, so think Montana

    3) YSC has an airstrip not far away

    4) YSC has a lot more and better terrain with a much longer season

    5) YSC also has a very good golf course

    There is also a high dollar private ski club going in CO I think that has some pretty nice terrain too
     
  17. Dave Marshak

    Dave Marshak All Time World Champion Skier

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    Apparently you are operating under the misconception that anyone has to choose between Hermitage or YSC. If you can afford YSC, the answer is BOTH!

    dm
     
  18. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    @Dave Marshak

    I am operating on the assumption that the private ski clientele would be looking for something bigger/better than that small mountain that tips out under 2600’ I believe. And the flight time to YSC would not be a hinderance.
     
  19. Thread Starter
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    I know very few people who fly commercially to the YSC. Perhaps that tells you something about the place. They all fly into Bozeman, which does have decent commercial service. It's a bit over an hour to the YSC from the airport. Flying to Bozeman at the speeds at which you fly privately makes it very easy {albeit incredibly costly.}, and of course you arrive and leave when you want. Pretty nice.

    Plus, it's in Montana. And Montana is both "hot" and special. And yes, the golf course is very nice. with kids, families, dogs, etc.

    Yes, comparing the YSC to either of these ventures is just foolish. Grapes and watermelons.

    Colorado is likely The Cimarron Mountain Club. We'll see how that goes. Unlimited cat skiing no lifts planned}, and dues around $50K. Flying there is not quite as easy as the YSC. Guess it will appeal to people who dislike the public in Crested Butte?

    Their original plan was just 12 homes. "Cabins" on $4Mil 100 acre pieces of land. That went nowhere, Now they have retooled, and are planning on something like six suites in a big lodge, and maybe 3-4 four bedroom cabins right there. Just 15 memberships to be sold, I think. They claim that six have been sold at $3Mil plus. Nine to go.

    I think you get a 35 acre building site with your membership, if you do decide to build. You don't have to build. But you can't sell. BTW, you can't drive to the actual destination. You travel in by snowcat for snow machine.

    I have a contact who has done some work with the ownership group. They have run down a few dead ends before "sort of" landing on this current plan.

    It's sort of like an ultra exclusive cat skiing operation. Which is far form unique. The ownership play is.

    Reasonably familiar with the YSC. That one is working, just fine. Now, what you really need to aspire to is a home at the YSC, and another at their sister property Baker's Bay Club in Abaco, Bahamas. Snow and sand. Golf. No public. BTW, not the real Abaco experience either.

    If you need real security, real privacy, etc. YSC and BB are very special. And the members love them.

    Sorry, Dave, I would venture that there are zero members of both the YSC and Hermitage. Average member now spends 70+ nights at YSC. I know members who still have ski homes in N.E. ski towns, and still ski quite a bit there. In many cases home they have owned for decades. Hermitage is just not appealing to them.

    Not the same.
     
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  20. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    @Muleski
    Bakers is beautiful from what I have seen. Prior to the 2016 election we were looking for places to move and that area was in our possibilities.


    Looks like Bozeman is the closest public strip to YSC. Seems they would correct that
     

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