Read into this what you will. Just spoke to the brother of a season pass holder @ LM. He received a letter from LM management (7 Springs) to remove all his belongings from his locker @ LM. Since there have been no updates on the LM website regarding season passes, one wonders if 7 Springs is backing out of managing LM. I hope not, but this news does not bode well for the future of LM, at least under the 7 Springs umbrella.
Just spoke to a season pass agent @ 7 Springs. She informed me that a decision on what 7S will do with LM won't occur until sometime in July... the suspense continues.
I'll have to admit that I had high expectations for Laurel Mt. at the beginning of last season. So I paid an extra $50 when I picked up my 7-Springs season pass, which allowed me to ski at both places. Unfortunately, LM just wasn't able to attract enough skiers to break even despite the fact that 7-Springs had improved the snowmaking there. For the most part, I'm happy with the skiing at 7-Springs; however, there are times when I get a little bored with the terrain and the moderate vertical there. Nearby Blue Knob (about 1 1/2 hrs away from 7-S) offers more challenging terrain and greater vertical, but has (in my opinion): questionable management, inconsistent and sometimes rocky conditions, and a horrible environmental record. So, I had hoped that LM would continue to offer an alternative to BK. I just bought my 7-Springs season pass for the upcoming ski season and my best guess is that I'll be skiing 7-Springs only (other than ski trips) because a last minute LM upgrade won't be available between now and the start of the 2005/2006 ski season.
I wouldn't count LM out yet. The bank has several other parties that are interested. My guess is that 7 springs is dragging their feet on making a descison hoping the other parties will lose interest, or that a deal will be made too late to make any improvements. They have already drug it out past the point of offering discounted passes. The regular price for a pass at laurel was $350 last year. In previous years passes for LM were $199 before June 1. If you were torn between a pass for LM or 7 springs and you had to make a decision before June 1 to get the deal on the springs pass , not even knowing if LM would be open next year, or knowing that if LM is open the passes would be $350+ by the time you you can buy one, what would you do? Would you rather have bought a pass for LM for $199 and use it at the springs tues-thurs and any other day LM is closed? Who wants to fight the crouds at seven springs on the weekend anyway? I also wanted to mention, 7 springs did not make any improvements to the snowmaking at LM. The only thing they did is create a new beginners area that no one ever used, I beleive because the lift didn't work most of the time, and they changed the snack bar. I think if someone would develop LM to it's full potential it would give 7 springs a run for their money, and I think now they know that. One way to make it fail would be to drag their feet on their decision instead of stepping aside to let someone else in. I've also heard from inside people that they did turn a profit, but not much. Not bad considering most people didn't know it was open again, and they didn't even sell season passes until November, after everyone already bought passes for other resorts.
And another thought on the same subject! Laurel Mountain Village is an untapped resource for potential buyers/owners. It is in some serious need (ie. road repairs and water and sewer upgrades)but there is enough undeveloped property to turn it around again. "A rebirth of a Classic". Some people simply don't want to be in the chaotic environment of 7S, but truly what are the other local options.....Hidden Valley anyone?
I agree that there is so much untapped potential @ LM. If only someone or some corporation were willing to throw some money (several million $) into LM. Place in LM Village a hotel similar to the Log Cabin Motel in DOnegal (intersection of PA 31 & 711). That style of lodging would fit in nicely with the surroundings. I'm sure occupancy in the summertime wouldn't be an issue either with Laurel Mountain and Linn Run State park nearby for hiking and mountain biking.
Just like you, I avoid 7S on the weekends... after 10:00 AM, it's bedlum. Even though it's only a 20 minute drive for me, the hassle isn't worth it.
I, personnally, think 7S is missing the boat. They obviously have the financial capability to invest a couple million. There are many people like me who won't go to 7S on weekends and for that matter weeknights when there are high school ski clubs. Why not have an option for those of us who prefer a more laid back, family oriented skiing experience coupled with the challenging terrain LM offers. All LM needs is another way or 2 down the hill, WITH SNOWMAKING, PLEASE.
One more thought on LM. The ski area sits on PA state park land and commercial development is not allowed by state law (and also written into the deed when the land was handed over to the state by the Mellon family). That thinking (or lack therof) by the state of PA is why places like LM fail. If I'm not mistaken, Wisp sits on Md state park land. And look how it and the surrounding area has flourished. Also look at Rocky Gap State Park (golf course and lodging constructed within the past 10 years) just east of Cumberland Md. Proper and regulated commerical development on state park lands can enhance the visitor's experience. PA is not progressive and is usually behind the times on almost everything. While these career (i.e. old & stupid) politicans hold office for life, we have experienced a brain drain, a horrendous economic record, and declining population. And guess where a great deal of young people from PA move after graduating from college... Maryland. I did, but I moved back here to Western PA 10 years ago. Don't regret it, but get very frustrated by the lack of vision of our politicos. There is one thing that is constant in PA... lack of change. My rant is over!!!
Last Sunday's Pittsburgh Post Gazzette had an article about West Virginia and MD's state park resorts. WV just added another resort park with a 2,200 acre lake, golf course, etc. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name. There resort parks are operated by private concessions (i.e Canaan Valley) Laurel Mt would be the ideal place for a resort type park.
As far as family atmosphere, Hidden Valley has the best family atmosphere in the region. It just needs a few more challenging slopes. If only we could convince the Kettler's to go ahead with the Outback expansion, there would be some decent challenging slopes with a consistent 600 to 650 feet of vertical.
The Kettler's were also at the bank auction for Laurel Mt when it was auctioned off a year or so ago. So they may be looking into operating LM as a way of competing with 7S. Who knows!??
It should be noted that there are 400 - 500 acres of developable land adjacent to LM ski area and state park. I believe that the land was chopped up into lots by the previous owner. I believe that the bank owns them. I think that if you could combine a lodge type hotel at the ski area with developing the adjacent real estate, it may create the critical mass necessary to produce a viable ski resort. It would be the closest ski area to Pittsburgh. However, perhaps the place is jinxed. The last owner went bankrupt and the guy who bought the place at auction died 2 weeks later.
A note on Hidden Valley! I completely agree with your observation of HV being family friendly, BUT the staff that work at HV is anything but friendly (most come off as hating their job), the cleanliness of HV leaves a lot to be desired and parking (in the pay lot) is a complete nightmare. The surrounding property seems to be falling into disrepair and the food is simply gross and overpriced! That being said, the choice for me and my family will 10 out of 10 times will be LM. I haven't given up hope that someone, somewhere (with lots of money) loves Laurel Mountain as much as I do!
Heather, do you have any comments?
Sorry if I offended you with my comments on HV. The patrol and ski school seem to be the only two entities that give a damn about HV (and this seems to be the case in most poorly run resorts). A note on the person of questionable people skills (assuming we are thinking of the same person) he really is a teddy bear, you just need to speak to him and don't let him see how he affects you! I can say that during the time LM was closed (2003-2004), HV Ski school and patrol were extremely helpful in letting the LM crew come over and be part of their "group". That being said, HV does deserve praise for these two groups of people, for without them and their ability to play nice with the LM crew many of us would have had a skiless season.
Sorry for my rambling on about LM, but I just spoke to someone who is in the developement phase of building a golf course near LM (across route 30 in what appears to be a vast waste land)
Yeah heather i wasnt turn off at all, sadly i agreed with alot of you statement. I know how much the people i work with care for the most part. And figured it was the other departments here.
I believe that the outlook for LM could improve substantially should Blue Knob ski area close. Without BK, LM would capture a lot of BK's regional business. I'm not saying that the closure of BK is imminent; however, the Commonwealth of PA now finds itself in the unusual position of either continuing to turn a blind eye to it's own environmental and erosion control Laws (thereby allowing BK to stay in operation), or enforce it's Laws, in which case, given the extent of the environmental damage there, BK would probably close. What I currently know are the following: Mainstream environmental organizations are now taking a hard look at BK and asking PA more and more questions. And, a local PA citizens group is currently working on a petition (to be sent to the PA Government in Harrisburg) relevant to the environmental damage at BK and downstream from the ski area. So, who knows? Should BK close, I bet that there would be an increase in the amount of interest in LM. And, even with BK still in operation, I feel that LM has far more long-term potential than BK, which (in my opinion) has none.
I had to edit out a couple of the posts in this thread, and wanted to explain why. I encourage open discussion on the DCSki Forums and hate to delete posts, but there are some situations where I must step in. Anytime a specific individual is named and criticized openly, that raises the risk of slander and I can't allow that. Please feel free to offer constructive criticism about area resorts when appropriate, but avoid calling out specific individuals.
A few posts in this thread began to move in this direction (although they otherwise had good content in them), so I had to remove them. This is never an easy decision because the posts are often borderline, but I err on the side of caution. To the posters -- please do not be offended by this; hopefully my rationale above makes sense, but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.