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Paul

Hermitage Club/Haystack, VT In Financial Trouble

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This is an Area way out of our way even for me travel wise,  but the Hermitage Club is a private club in Southern Vermont, and operates the Haystack Ski Area. This area is located in Deerfield Valley, Vermont near Mount Snow. Haystack was a public ski area that was closed and then purchased in 2011 by the current owner and reopened it as a private ski area. This piece is to show that private ski areas and clubs aren’t immune to serious financial troubles like their public ski area comparables. The area is in this predicament at the current moment. 

I will let you read the article via this link for details. The initial membership enrolment fee and the annual dues for members are in USD so you could figure on adding at least 30% to these amounts for the exchange to CAD.

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newenglandskiindustry.com%2Fviewstory.php%3Fstoryid%3D644&h=ATP8Cup67bgh42b-DK1r5Z58Vm9aC_IGuW6BjRFRn00FH9hrexEDPO_LzEUUNGbkv_jR0pmus_2HiZlxszu1wDkR6D_fcr_n0ZkN1wk20A&s=1&enc=AZOOdjPIrR5Zn80mJAcaEQ74eYXy6ibswrfGekDonH-te7L-zbqKexYO8S6hSZNvFQfaCcETorSW8KU3Trcdk-tM

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Unfortunate news, hopefully, things get sorted out before it closes or cannot operate. The recent investments over the past 5-6 years are quite sizable. I find it a little shocking that they can turn around and say they need from all members an immediate payment of $10,000 in membership fees, no doubt above the yearly fees, and already paid membership initiation fee. Being a private operation, I guess they have justification to operate as they need and see fit.

I do find that Private ski clubs are really overpriced for what they offer over a public area. The one-time enrollment fee being anywhere from $40,000-$80,000+ and then annual fees, sometimes dependant on the size of your family can range around another $4,000 - $10,000 or more per year.

What do you get extra? Perhaps a nicer lodge... Obviously since it isn't public, the operational costs have to come from the memberships so it makes the high prices more understandable, yet still priced out of reach from most but the upper class.

Ontario is a prime example and one of, if not the largest area in the world for private ski clubs. In Southern Ontario, there are more private ski clubs than public. Just look at Blue Mountain in Collingwood, it's the largest public mountain in the province, yet it has private clubs on both its sides, Craigleith and Alpine. Judging by the pictures posted, they appear to be quite busy with lineups at the lifts anyways. I know Ontario has limited choices with the majority of the public areas being very small with 300 feet vertical or even less. The private areas in Collingwood are among the highest vertical in Ontario. Calabogie Peaks is a public hill and marketed as the highest public vertical in Ontario around 760 feet, yet Craighleith or Alpine (I can't remember which) has a bit more. So in the end perhaps the justification is that you get the biggest vertical possible in a region that is generally quite short on it.

To me it would seem to be mostly a lifestyle choice. Same for golfers that insist on being part of a private golf club than going to public ones.

I guess it can have its benefits but personally if I had all that money to spend on skiing, I would rather put it towards a condo hotel unit right in the Resort Village at Tremblant than pay it all on essentially what could be compared at a public area as a lift ticket.

If anyone reading this is part of a private club, please feel free to share your experiences with us on being a member. I'm sure there are advantages but when most of us are often commenting on rising lift ticket prices, I'm not sure what a private ski club costing $40,000 + to initially become a member can offer over other mountains unless of course, you live in a region that is geographically limited in vertical drop.

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Here is an update on the Hermitage at Haystack Mountain saga. It does not look promising for the private club as the Bank has filed for foreclosure action on the properties there. The link below is an article from the Deerfield Valley News that describes the situation and provides the details. Just recently there was a threat of water and sewage line disruptions because of unpaid bills to the town. Haystack Ski Area had closed previously and was purchased by its current owner in the early 2000's and reopened as a private club.

http://dvalnews.com/view/full_story/27547385/article-Bank-files-for-foreclosure-on-Hermitage-properties?instance=news_page

 

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Things at the Hermitage Club/Haystack Ski Club has gone from bad to worse as the area and club has been forced to close by the State of Vermont for unpaid taxes.  There was a foreclosure notice as well for default of payment of loans taken out to the tune of $16 million. According to the latest, employees were escorted off club property by authorities. The link here is from the New England Ski Industry's site with links to previous articles on the situation.

http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=667

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$80K memberships? Places like this exist? Is skiing on a tiny hill in Vermont really worth that much, even to the exceptionally wealthy? Just wow. Maybe the business model is the problem?

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I am surprised that someone would step in a loan them the cash to get things back on line after what went down there. It's the size of the loan that is pretty big, but then again you have Balsams Wilderness that wants to reopen and they have been 5 years trying to secure the funding for their project, and they haven't broken ground yet. I wonder what the overall evaluation is of Haystack/Hermitage Club that someone or some lender would take on that risk.

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An update found on the New England Ski Industry web site on the situation at the Hermatige and it doesn't look promising for the upcoming season. In summary, a judge has denied their request for the increase in mountain's off season maintenance including scheduled lift inspections putting their opening for the season in jeopardy. The receiver of the area is only funded at the moment to preserve the equipment from deterioration. Also it looks like they are still trying to secure the loan from the real estate firm to pull them out of receivership. 

Here's the link to the site for the full story.

https://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=725 

 

 

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Also: "Barnes stepped down from day to day management in February and is reportedly facing facing sex discrimination, whistleblower, malpractice, and conflict of interest complaints."

Wow. :( 

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