New England Hermitage Club, VT, in the news.

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

  1. Dave Marshak

    Dave Marshak All Time World Champion Skier

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    That's why Hermitage doesn't work, but that doesn't mean it wasn't what the developers were hoping. IME with big money Catskills ski properties and clubs, the answer to "why don't you get a place out West?" is always BOTH.

    For some of those guys, the expense is part of the attraction. Plus having a place close by to get your trophy wife away for the weekend. She's not going to Mt Snow but she might go to Hermitage.

    dm
     
  2. Thread Starter
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    It's hard to correct the airport, as I'd imagine that keeping a 8-9000 foot runway clean and open in the winter weather is something that I don't think they want to take on. As they would be the only real customers who would need it. And for some of the planes these folks have, 9000 ft. might be pushing it. I have not heard anybody suggest that the Bozeman airport is a real issue. I know a few people who have big enough planes that they really want a commercial airport. Have no idea about hangar space, etc., there. A couple of years ago, I had to help a friend find an airport in Maine to land his Citation in March anti was not easy. His pilots were not that comfortable.

    It's not like Jackson Hole, where you are very close to home, typically have a nice hangar for the plane, and the car{s}. And a long commercial runway, that is always kept clear other than in a storm. Or Aspen, where you can have 200 jets along side the runway at busy times. They must have created more space at the Bozeman airport. Just guessing

    Baker's Bay really has huge appeal many people. We have some friends there. I would never work for us {aside from the costs, which eliminate it right away!} because we have spent many, many years in that part of the world....which has been remarkable unspoiled for generations. We love Abaco. Not sure if Baker's Bay is a plus. But, I also don't think it alienates many people. The YSC surely does not. Heck, there are something like 1500 tradesmen working there year round to handle the building.

    Dave, I'd suggest that you may not have an accurate impression of the YSC, or their membership. It's a lot more than Bill Gates and Justin Timberlake. And Don't get the sense that people are flocking there just because they can. In fact, they actually turn people down. It's a club.

    Maybe the HC guys were working your trophy wife plan. When I have been at the YSC, have not noticed too many. Unless you consider, Gisele. Mrs. Brady. to be one. Maybe he's a trophy husband. They evidently are very, very nice, and super down to earth. Nobody is mobbing them for selfies or autographs. A huge draw.

    BTW, they were at BB this past weekend, as the Pats had a bye weekend. Nobody bugging them on the beach, or golf course.

    I would not think the trophy wife would rush to Mt. Snow. No offense to those who love it, BTW!
     
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  3. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    It just does not make much sense.

    People pay to join a golf club largely because of the course itself. The reason why people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to join Westchester Country Club, National Links, Pine Valley, Merion, Friar's Head, Riviera...is because they are some of the best golf courses in the world.

    Hermitage is far from being the best hill in Southern VT! Hermitage does not offer anywhere near the best skiing in New England and when you pay that level of money you expect the level of the terrain (variety, challenge, vertical drop,...) to match it.

    Some New England resorts have their own private clubs that offer private dining rooms, gyms, concierge... which tends to be cheaper and provide many of the same amenities, while offering "better" skiing.

    Mount Snow is likely going to develop real estate (ski in/out) over the next 2-3 years, so most people interested in buying a place in Southern VT would likely go to Mt Snow (or Stratton) first.

    There are definitely ways to beat the crowds, more so if you stay slope side or buy a pass special pass that are offered at certain mountains (Okemo) that let you skip to the front of the line.

    If you are serious have the disposable income to join a place like Hermitage, you will likely want to join Yellowstone Club first.
     
  4. Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    I often ski at Holimont in Ellicotville, a private club in Western NY. It is the best run ski area operation in the world. I can’t change the 500’ vertical but it’s a mile wide, has modern lifts, beautiful lodges, amazing ski homes. It shares the same quaint ski village as Holiday Valley (which has Vail-like skier numbers yet is also a well run, enjoyable ski area).

    Cheap midweek lift tickets for the public on weekdays, perfect grooming, maximum snowmaking, uncrowded.

    I’m no longer a full member but used to own a home there, which steadily appreciated. Like any club I guess there is some drama behind the scenes but to their credit they do things right. It’s mid-level country club expensive and there is a long waiting list but it’s nowhere close to the same price range as Yellowstone, etc.

    Of course the other private clubs in the area have come and gone, it takes good members with business-minded leadership. Being close to Toronto helps. Cleveland and Pittsburgh also come. That’s about 6 million people within 150 miles.

    This is Buffalo mainly. It’s hard to be snobby in Buffalo and keep your teeth.

    So yes it is possible for the private ski club model to work. Good management and proximity to a large population make it happen.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
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  5. Thread Starter
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    And of course there are many private ski clubs in the Toronto area........kids used to race at a number of them. Hosted FIS races.

    The Holimont "Slush Cup" was pretty legendary! Very neat spot. Different feel that what I think the HC might be aspiring to.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
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  6. QueueCT

    QueueCT Getting on the lift Skier

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    Have a friend who's a member at Hermitage and have been up there a few times. The club is geared toward the wealthy but not the super rich. And it is, without a doubt, a real estate play. I had fun, my daughters had a blast, but it's a country club. You go up, hang with some friends, do a little skiing then hit the bar/restaurant. If you're a casual skier, it's fairly attractive and the short lift lines are a dream. If you're more serious then it's a diversion.

    I was pitched pretty hard though politely. The annual dues were very reasonable at the time, and the initiation wasn't out of line, but there's no way I could have skied Haystack every single weekend. And I would feel obligated since the initiation + dues + 2nd home is a very significant amount of money for me. For others, not so much. The assessment is worrisome ... if I were a member I'd be seriously evaluating the future solvency of the club and plan for more assessments on the horizon. Once there's a whiff of desperation it's really hard to attract new members. Then current members can't recoup their initiations when they resign and it all falls down.

    Some doom and gloom possibilities and I hope it never comes to that. A club like this is like a boat ... best enjoyed when your friend has the expense.
     
  7. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    It has got to be one of the dumbest ways to spend $85,000 I've ever come across (initiation fee) and $800 a month going forward in monthly dues.
     
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  8. QueueCT

    QueueCT Getting on the lift Skier

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    When the initiation and monthly dues were less than half the current rate it was more ... reasonable? Not sure that's the right word but it was comparable to other clubs. But I agree with you, both with past rates and current rates.
     
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  9. x10003q

    x10003q Getting off the lift Skier

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    Haystack could barely hold my attention for a day, even when the snow was good and Mt Snow was overrun during a holiday weekend. The new HS6 is 1181 vertical feet over 5450 feet in length - a real snoozefest. The empty trails are a draw, but the skiing is pretty mellow. I would never spend 3-4 hours in a car to ski this place every weekend. They have managed to sign over 600 families and I am sure they will continue to sign more. The risk for these families spending big bucks on RE is mitigated somewhat by Mt Snow being a few miles away.

    Once the next piece of real estate gets sold they will be back in business. ogwink
     
  10. Erik Timmerman

    Erik Timmerman Making fresh tracks Instructor

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  11. Pdub

    Pdub best day ever Skier

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    I learned to ski at Haystack in the 70s and recently spent a weekend there after being solicited. It was October and the place was absolutely hopping, so it seems they have plenty of members. I got the sense they were wealthy (but not super rich) NYC/suburban families seeking a nice weekend enclave with a smattering of skiing and various other activities. The crowd was decidedly NOT outdoorsy and I really could not imagine many of them on skis. Not the passionate ski-crazies you see at Sugarbush or Jackson Hole (or here). So, the fact that it's a humdrum hill may not affect the target audience.

    I suspect the problem is that they over-built the real estate. There are a ton of high end houses and condos in various states of completion, not to mention the fancy lodge and lifts. They built it but not enough came.

    I just hope that when it goes bankrupt the place can still be put to use. I hate to see all that effort and environmental impact go to waste. I would ski there a couple of times a year if it were open to the public, because it is close and half-decent.
     
  12. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    I thought that at first when I heard about the Yellowstone Club, but then I actually talked to someone who instructs there and I get the reason a little better.
    Its not for me, but I understand why someone who's wealthy or famous may want the added security of not worrying about the kids skiing off with friends.
     
  13. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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  14. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    Hermitage just makes no sense, including no economic sense. And reality seems to be proving that more and more each year.

    Mount Snow is barely a mile down the road and blows Hermitage away when it comes to skiing (and Mt Snow's facilities are not too shabby either). Stratton is not too far away. Given the location of Hermitage (southern Vermont, low altitude, short vertical drop,...) snow will only be more and more of a rarity.

    Hermitage has as much in common with The Yellowstone Club or The Cimarron Mountain Club as my local hill does with Whistler. Not much.
     
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  15. mister moose

    mister moose Instigator Skier

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    Except not paying municipal expenses is short sighted. Towns have the best lien there is, they will get all expenses and attorney fees plus interest. Getting your water shut off is the last act of desperation of a failing business, not normal business practice. This to me signals either mismanagement, or a more dire situation that is being let on. Why wait so long to assess members?

    What are they flying, fully loaded C5 Galaxys???
    ***Edit: 4,471 field elevation. Nevermind.



    The Hermitage is an interesting conundrum. On one hand, there's the Yacht Club person who joins for the social set and doesn't even own a boat. The dock facilities don't matter to this person. On the other hand if the yacht club is on a mud flat and you can only get a jet ski or a sunfish to the dock, boating members will get bored.

    I wonder how many members actually paid the full initiation fee - there might have been a lot of deals cut to raise the roster. And then there's the huge expense of the both the new 6 pack and the expense of maintaining/operating/staffing 5 chairlifts. That's a lot of chairlifts for a small area.

    If you fly to Montana, block to block you're looking at 4.5 hours Teterboro to Bozeman. Add an hour drive at each end. Alternatively you can drive NYC to Dover VT in what, 4 hours? So that's 5 hours less travel time on a weekend. That has appeal even before we look at the cost difference. Going west needs long weekends to work.

    I think there's a niche for an Eastern private intermediate ski area. I just don't know if the niche is big enough to float the Hermitage's cash flow.

    As a side note, I looked at the Hermitage's site to count the chairlifts. There's a nifty imbedded drone video of a skier carving down an empty packed powder trail. The skier is seen skating to get going - struck me as funny given the low angle comments the place has generated.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  16. Thread Starter
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    Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    There might be a niche, as we have discussed. The few guys who I know who really understand this niche tell me that one of the biggest challenges is that most of their prospects already have ski "roots" elsewhere. No need to be thinking of the YSC, or other club like facilities in the West. Just families with deep pockets who love skiing and already own ski homes in the North East. They typically have ski friends, have a social circuit where they ski, etc. Plenty of cocktails, dinners in and out with friends, houseguests. They often have kids in programs who have friends. Some may even ski with a favorite instructor many days. Most days.

    The point is that for those people, you need to disrupt them. And that is not easy. If I have a beautiful home at....pick any area....have skied there forever, and love the area, what's the compelling reason to be at the Hermitage? It's "private?" Or, "exclusive?"

    I just don't see it. The day that I first heard of it, I shook my head. I can already have an incredible ski experience in NE, with all sorts of pampered treatment, if that's my thing, in a place where my family may have done it for years......or where I aspired to end up years ago.

    I don't get it. I know hundreds of people in their wheelhouse. Know not one who has been interested.

    Tough business, IMO.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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  17. jack97

    jack97 Getting off the lift Skier

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    I currently live in a town where some would not think twice about going out west to ski, they think NE skiing is just too icy. The only thing holding them back was their kids in after school programs, sport and/or academics. IMO, Hermitage is a compromise where they can spend a day to two skiing without disrupting the after school programs. I bet the place would still be in good conditions after the morning groom, the cost would keep a lot of the riff raff from skiing off the trail.

    Brettom Wood caters close to the same crowd where the grooming is great, can deal with the high cost ticket and skied a couple of runs. I'm sure they hate the large crowds that can accumulate.
     
  18. graham418

    graham418 Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Where I ski, in Collingwood, there are 6 private clubs, and 1 public one. The private ones all seem to do quite well, lifts are new , clubhouses modern and new. Most of them open to some of the travelling ski clubs on Wednesdays. Its a cash injection that they all need , and most of the members aren't around to be bothered. Grooming is always good, and the snow lasts longer without the skier traffic.
    Its not uncommon for the membership to be assessed 10k for some capital improvement or another. New clubhouse , new lift, etc. And if they get really strapped , they can open the membership for another 100 spots at $35k or $40k. Most of the clubs have a waiting list.
     
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  19. LKLA

    LKLA Out on the slopes Skier

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    After missing another payment deadline, the Hermitage Club appears to be one appeal away from having its water and sewer shut off, which would also disable its fire suppression system, reports the Brattleboro Reformer.

    Though it made a payment last month, Hermitage owes $87,000 in outstanding water and sewer bills. According to the Cold River Fire District administrator, "citing the past delinquencies and the fact that this is six months past due, the full amount would need to be paid to avoid shutoff."

    The services could be shut off as soon as Monday if an appeal is unsuccessful.

    In October, Hermitage announced it was imposing an immediate $10,000 fee on members to pay down debt.

    A single membership at the Hermitage currently costs $80,000 plus $4,750 in annual fees.

    Recently, The Bachelor Winter Games reality show was filmed at the private resort.

    Located in the Deerfield Valley near Mount Snow, the club features the Haystack ski area, a golf course, and numerous inns and restaurants. Hermitage founder Jim Barnes acquired the defunct Haystack ski area in October 2011 and soon installed two new quad chairlifts. An 80,000 square foot lodge was constructed for 2014-15 and a $7.3 million heated, high speed detachable six person chairlift for 2015-16.
     
  20. LegacyGT

    LegacyGT Putting on skis Skier

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    This is certainly logical. But exclusive clubs with huge fees catering to high wealth people are necessarily operating outside the realm of logic. These are emotional decisions more than anything else. It's mostly about how the membership makes you feel and little about how many hours it takes you to get there (or if you even go at all). If the Hermitage Club can cultivate the same cachet as some of those other private clubs, it may succeed. But they are not even close right now. Does it carry as much cachet as the Stratton Mountain Club which is a private club that operates at Stratton Mountain?. Membership there may be considered just as prestigious (rightly or wrongly) as the Hermitage Club and Stratton can operate it with minimal incremental cost because the broader ski area operation is already in place.

    From a skier's perspective, it's a tough sell. Haystack Mountain is OK but not very good. The terrain is simply not as good or varied or plentiful as Mount Snow, Stratton, Okemo, etc. In the 90's Haystack was owned and operated by Mount Snow. At that time a day ticket at Mount Snow was about $40 and you could ski at Haystack for about $17. And guess what? Nobody skied at Haystack. I would go there for the afternoon on very busy days at Mount Snow but that was only a couple times a year. The Hermitage Club has made some infrastructure upgrades, added a whole lot of luxury, and promises very small crowds, but you can't change the terrain.
     

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