New England Hermitage Club, VT, in the news.

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

  1. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Posts:
    1,321
    I skied there one weekend (one day - left the next morning) and was asked to join a couple of times and as I have said on here many times it was painfully obvious it was not going to work, or will it ever work. You are much better off joining a private club a real mountain like the Stratton Mountain Club or spending that money to travel to different places depending on conditions that year. The air of exclusivity may have been there in the glossy brochures but once you got there reality hit hard. It was completely second rate, make that third rate, compared to Yellowstone Club, which is exactly what most of the members thought they were buying into or could brag about.
     
  2. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    This is a pretty accurate summation. Haystack is not a great mountain. I've had fun skiing there but not on a regular basis as the terrain isn't great. The main mountain has some OK cruisers but the pitch is really inconsistent (including a spot or two where it's not entirely clear which way is down). The Witches area is a bit better with a nice sustained pitch but the trails are rather short and there isn't much variety. The beginner area is actually really good but it's somewhat disconnected from the rest of the mountain. The truth is that when Haystack was owned and operated by Mount Snow you could ski there with your Mount Snow lift ticket (not a bad idea to escape the crowds after 10-11am) or get a Haystack-only lift ticket for a fraction of the price. And still, nobody skied there. There are examples of this type of story with a happy ending. Park West comes to mind. Different scale and different part of the country but Park West played 2nd or 3rd fiddle to Park City and Deer Valley. There were coupons for dirt cheap lift tickets given out with value meals at McDonald's and still nobody skied there. But there was investment and they were successfully reinvented as the Canyons and later merged with Park City. There are many differences here but the point is that you can make a go of it even with bigger and more famous mountains around you.

    The Hermitage Club was never claiming the best terrain. They were offering a different experience and as far as I can tell the members were mostly satisfied. The question is whether the club can be run in a way that is both sustainable and able to keep those members satisfied. I've commented here before that we really don't know if this is possible here. Clearly, the court appointed receiver (who should know more about the finances than anyone) doesn't believe so as he continues to keep the club closed. But the Club right now is a mess of properties (in addition to the mountain and lodge there are 4 hotels/inns and who knows how many real estate deals in various stages of development), obligations (tax, maintenance, environmental permits) and lawsuits (from members, employees, businesses). To resume operations with all of these things looming would be silly. But, if all these things could somehow be unwound maybe the club could operate sustainably in a way that satisfies membership.
     
    Dee, Erik Timmerman and Muleski like this.
  3. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Posts:
    1,321
    Plymouth Notch in Plymouth, Vermont is also for sale. Clearly the private ski club on small mountains (hills) does NOT work.

    But, there is a fool born every minute so I am sure someone will sooner or later try again.
     
    John Webb likes this.
  4. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    Skied Mt. Snow this weekend and when the holiday crowds became unbearable, went over The Hermitage one afternoon and skinned to the top. Ran into a couple families and dogs sledding near the base, a pair of skiers and two solo snowshoe-ers. One guy who may have been an employee seemed to be scouting some of the lift equipment by snowmobile. On the snow you could see that there has been some uphill traffic and some nice turns coming down. Also lots of snowmobile tracks in certain areas. But most of the time it just felt quiet and peaceful...the perfect antidote to my morning at Mt. Snow.

    It rained last week so the upper part of the mountain had a crust that was thick enough to exceed my ability to ski it with anything resembling competence. But on the lower part of the mountain the crust was soft and I was able to make some enjoyable tele turns.

    Posting some pics showing a couple dormant lifts (including the disputed barely-used 6-person chair) and the cabin at the summit which itself is evidence of what a half-season of neglect can do to what is supposed to be a luxury space.

    . IMG_4136.JPG IMG_4142.JPG IMG_4143.JPG
     
    Dee and LKLA like this.
  5. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2017
    Posts:
    1,321
    WOW :eek:

    I am not surprised that there were people futz'n around - why not? They will have the place to themselves!

    But it really shocks me to see the photo of the cabin at the summit. It would seem to indicate that the situation is in complete and utter chaos. Even in receivership / bankruptcy one would think that there would be a skeleton crew to avoid such costly and easily avoidable damage. This is not investment in painting lift chairs or putting in new snow guns. This is BASIC maintenance!
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
    Brian Finch likes this.


  6. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    Yes. In the grand scheme of things, the value of a table, chairs and rug in the summit cabin isn't going to make this thing break one way or another. But the entire situation is very strange. All the parties are looking out for their own best interest and the result may be that they are all going to suffer. I guess things would be different if they were in bankruptcy and the court would be in control. Then you'd see them either try to reorganize or sell off assets. And, either way, they'd want to keep the rug dry so they can use it upon re-opening or sell it at auction. But instead we have a circular firing squad. Keeping the club in a mothballed state for the season is the worst thing for all parties.

    They either need it up and running in a way that shows members (and potential members) that this thing can actually operate sustainably or you want to sell off assets so that the various parties can get some pennies for their dollars. But since there is no bankruptcy, neither of these seems to be an option. It's all very strange.
     
  7. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    While it's not stated in this article, we can assume that things at the Hermitage Club are very bad. https://www.reformer.com/stories/ey...mitage-officials-call-for-cooperation,565124?
    I'm not talking about the lawsuits and unpaid taxes and frustrated members. I'm talking about the fact that the club's owner and manager, in light of the colossal failure of the past few years, seem to stubbornly believe that the solution is to continue on exactly the same course. If only everybody would cooperate, everything will be fine. Presumably this means the state should let them not pay taxes and the bank should let them not make payments and the town should let them build a hotel and the employees who were wronged should stop suing and the members who paid for unbuilt homes should stop suing and the unpaid vendors should keep working.... If everyone would just let the club do what it wants, all will be well. Now, there are certain conditions under which this plea could make sense. If the club had failed due to an act of god or bad weather or simply bad luck, then you could understand the idea that a little time and some financial forgiveness could allow them to get things going. But that's not what happened here. Everything that has gone wrong is the result of the decisions and behavior of the club.

    They continue to indicate that there is some new financing lined up that will make everything OK. But it's clear that the new financing will not make all the interested parties whole. The idea seems to be that the club should reorganize its debts and obligations but not its business plan. This is a disaster.
     
    aubergine and Dee like this.
  8. sparty

    sparty Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2018
    Posts:
    114
    Was the door or window left open by a careless visitor, or is the building actually damaged and thus allowing snow intrusion?

    Sometimes it's easier to leave a remote building unlocked and hope that it doesn't get badly abused than it is to deal with finding the door forced open the next time you return.
     
  9. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    Can't really say. The door was locked when I was there. But there were some footprints so it has been opened at some point after that snow arrived. Hard to say. It can get windy up there so it's possible that this snow blew in while some maintenance person was there. In general, the place looks to be in good shape but for how long?
     
  10. Black Dog

    Black Dog Its all downhill from here.. Skier

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2016
    Posts:
    160
    Location:
    On The Edge
  11. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    Is it possible to be half-bankrupt?

    https://www.reformer.com/stories/sheriff-cant-serve-court-papers-to-barnes,571105

    In any case, it looks like things are getting uglier. Barnes seems to be AWOL, missing appearances and impossible to reach through attorney or otherwise. Personal home is vacant and for sale. Under these circumstances, you have to wonder what the receiver/lender is thinking. It's been clear since late last year that the current ownership/management did not have a legitimate plan for the future. Their plans amounted to nothing more than doubling down on the same sort of ideas that got the club into trouble to begin with. Not sure how it's in anyone's interest to let these people continue to try to figure it out.
     
  12. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    The next chapter may be ready to begin: https://www.reformer.com/stories/bank-eyes-august-sale-of-ski-resort,573408

    Perhaps following the Barnes' half-bankruptcy and the snowmobile incident, it became more clear that Barnes isn't the one to lead any type of restructuring. If the club is put up for sale, the question will be whether it will remain a club or be sold in pieces. In pieces there would seem to be very little value here. The Barnstormer lift is worth something (but there's dispute over who gets to call the shots as the lift was funded by a group of members). There may be some equipment and inventory of value. The property has be be worth a lot less without a viable resort. And many of the structures (including the gorgeous base lodge) have to be nearly worthless. As a club, the value could be greater.... or it could be zero.
     
  13. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    May 2, 2017
    Posts:
    1,438
    Even after bankruptcy guys like this will still have their fancy cars and homes, while contractors and others trying to send their kids to college get the shaft.
     
    John Webb and LegacyGT like this.
  14. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Posts:
    7,660
    Would Mt Snow consider buying the mt and lodge?
     
    Brian Finch likes this.
  15. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
    I don't think they have expressed interest. There are a number of points that make the case for this and a number that make it seem like a bad idea. Here are a few:

    For:
    1) Mt. Snow is the only entity that can operate Haystack as a public resort. When Mt. Snow sold it, there was a requirement that it could only operate as a private club.
    2) Peak resorts which owns Mount Snow has been willing to spend money acquiring resorts and expanding them. When Mount Snow and Haystack were operated as a single resort there was always talk of connecting the two via trails and lifts. One of the barriers to this project was access to water for snowmaking. Since that time Mt. Snow has invested heavily in snowmaking including a large storage lake and enhanced pumping and pipe capacity. Maybe the new system could support snowmaking on the additional terrain.
    3) On busy days Mt. Snow definitely could benefit from additional terrain, parking and lodge space.
    4) There is a ridge trail connecting the Mount Snow and Haystack summits. This used to be something that people did on skis. With greater interest in backcountry skiing, maybe this could become a thing again.
    5) The Lodge offerings at Mount Snow are overcrowded and not particularly luxurious. (Whatever they say about the new Carinthia Lodge, it is not luxurious or special in any way.) The Haystack Lodge could be a legitimate luxury offering.

    Against:
    1) Mt. Snow previously owned Haystack with limited success. They used it for some ski school operations and it handled some overflow crowds on busy days but really very few people skied there.
    2) Mt. Snow may be more interested in certain assets (like the Barnstormer lift).
    3) The Haystack terrain just isn't that great. It has some things that are very good. For example, the lower mountain is a great beginners/learners area and some of the newly built/partially built homes offer more of a slopeside ski in/out than most of Mt. Snow's offerings. But the majority of the mountain is smaller and less interesting to ski than Mt. Snow. I have some doubts about the topography between the two mountains. Would there be interesting trails or just runouts to get from one to the other?
    4) Operating costs would need to rise if supporting more terrain and properties. Would this acquisition generate the additional revenue to cover it?

    I could see this going either way. It probably really comes down to the last point above. Does this generate enough revenue to cover the operation of a larger area? There's two scenarios under which I think it could work. One would be if the additional terrain allowed them to market the size of the area and maybe steal some thunder from Stratton and Okemo...and maybe even Killington. Under this scenario the goal would be attracting more guests. The other would be playing up some sort of luxury angle and offering something along the lines on the Stratton Mountain Club where people paid extra for access to the Haystack Lodge and facilities. Under this scenario they may attract new guests but they would also be opening up new forms of revenue through true luxury offerings.

    In any case, I'd be surprised if this gets resolved in the near term. The Hermitage Club situation seems pretty ugly. There are a lot of players and few of them are on the same page. But the creditors should be looking for the quickest way to get as much of their money back as possible. If Mount Snow expressed any interest, it would have to be the most attractive buyer. The second most attractive would be some group that would serve the remnants of the Hermitage Club membership. Beyond those two options, they'd be selling off assets piecemeal and getting very little for them.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    James and Brian Finch like this.
  16. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    May 2, 2017
    Posts:
    1,438
    I was going to ask about this. Looks like a good area for ski in or snowcat backcountry a la Sugarlaof's bracket basin and burnt mountain.

    For the right price maybe they could make it work with the new lodge and golf course. Does Mt Snow already have updated function facilities?
     
  17. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Posts:
    7,660
    Haystack worked pretty well for junior races.
     
  18. CalG

    CalG Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2017
    Posts:
    1,442
    Location:
    Vt
    The Forest Service is activly improving "The Ridge Trail", for recreational use.

    No possible way they would release the area to a private concern.

    But, I'm pretty happy with the FS plan.
     
  19. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Posts:
    121
    Location:
    NYC
  20. Brian Finch

    Brian Finch PT, CSCS, Cert- DN, FRCms, M|WOD Coach Industry Insider

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2015
    Posts:
    1,682
    Location:
    Vermont
    Link will not work, what the gestalt?
     

Share This Page


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice