First and foremost I have spent most of all of my snowboarding adventures at Timberline and do agree by far that Timberline has one of the best mountains in place for a resort. With that said... My trip was overall a good one. I went with a cousin, her friend and two more relatives by marriage all of whom were better skiiers than I am a snowboarder. None the less it was a good get together to have fun mostly.
The conditions of the resort were deteriorating fast yesterday. When we arrived it was clear skies for as far as the eye could see with a warm and semi-humid temperature of around 40 at the base lodge. Before I even hit the slopes when buying my ticket me and my friend Rob decided to start shedding clothing because it was that warm. In fact standing in line for the lifts I was sweating from the heat.
The ride to the top told the story. On the frontpage of DCSki.com you see a frosty scene of tree's and the slope past midstation. It was far from that yesterday with no tree's having any snow/ice on them, and several large melting spots were developing in some places with lots of water running off the trees as well. Snow conditions at base lodge were best described by one person who skiied past me, "This snow feels like I'm skiing in mashed potatoes". Of course nothing could be done with temperatures around 40 with humid air, I just chose a really bad day to go.
The lift systems so far haven't been a problem for me. In the 3+ years I have been going to Timberline there hasn't been any major stoppages of the lift outside of the usual person falling where they have to stop the lift momentarily. Other than the 10-12 minute ride time (due to the technology of the lift) it's been fine. Although I agree if possibly they should invest in a new faster lift system to appeal to customers.
Now onto a few comments I have about Timberlines ability to run the resort. The largest problem I have is that from the first time I ever went there, I got the feeling that they only gave you enough to get the job done and that was it. For example when it comes to the base lodge itself I have seen so many discrepencies in lack of quality of work it is appalling.
The food service is one. Yesterday at lunch time everyone was going for food and the line was horrendous. The line squiggled out into the tables, trays weren't stocked up, people serving food were getting customers mixed up and the line continued onto a single register where there are no bars to hold a full tray. Rather you have a fraction of a table spot to sit a balanced tray to get your money before your stuff falls over. It really is as if no one at all has put *any* thought into how to best serve customers food and to make it efficient.
Secondly is construction and design of the lodge itself. I come from a background of engineering and construction so I am quite familiar in recognizing certain no-no's. Most of the things I noticed were things such as bolts sticking up through the floor where flooring and joists are bolted together. Carpet was cut in a very shotty way with edges not secured causing tearing and wearing that I had noticed last year and the year prior.
All of this together gives me the feeling that they are only giving customers the bare nessecities without going all out to make it a great experience. When I have went to Wisp, that is a whole nother story on service. Service is amazing there, so much so that there is even a doorman to open the door for you when walking into the rentals area. There is lots of staff willing to help in a friendly way and even the eating places there are very fancy and well done.
Overall the management at Timberline is failing their duties to customers. It seems there is no desire on their part to not be satisfied with what they have. I know as a small business owner myself I can never be satisified with the level of service I give and always look for better ways to better improve service for my customers.
I am tempted to write a letter to management at Timberline, not in a angry sort of way, but rather to point out these deficiencies that I have found and ask them to consider making changes in order to keep my business.
[This message has been edited by bawalker (edited 12-30-2003).]
Brad, I think it's important to distinguish between performance of the core services expected of a ski area (lifts, snowmaking, ski patrol, ski school, basic food) versus the enhanced services provided by other areas. Doormen, extra staff, concierges, etc. need to be paid. Same with capital improvements which improve the look of the buildings. That adds to the costs that you will be paying for the services (lift tickets, food prices, rentals, lessons, etc.) and/or the crowds with whom you will be sharing the mountain. Lots of customers are just looking for the basics and don't want to pay for the extras and prefer an uncrowded skiing experience. Since other resorts in the Mid-Atlantic stress service and amenities, you have a choice as to how much you want to pay and what services you desire.
It unfortunately appears that Timberline is not delivering on the core services. Having more than one cashier on duty during lunch with tray holders at the registers is a pretty basic service (and inexpensive to provide). Lifts which do not break down is another basic service. I would consider detachable high-speed lifts as "extended" basic service, slower lifts which reliably get you up the mountain work for me. Though taking 10-12 minutes to climb only 1000 foot vertical is about as slow a lift as I've ever come across.
East of the Appalachian Divide has the opposite problem: it's very convenient but lower snowfall and slightly warmer temperatures. However I don't think that's an issue for most mid-Atlantic skiers. Nonetheless, Bill Bright's "Almost Heaven" plan is the most aggressive realistic option on the table right now. Though there has been an interesting thread on Winterplace that suggests he may not have great customer service, either.
Regardless, to all: Happy New Year!
Timberline the resort is perhaps the weakest resort in the mid atlantic.
It is sad that such a shoddy organization is sitting on what could be a jewel.
Personally the accessability to that area of WV wouldn't be much different than getting to Timberline or CV now. For those of you who don't know, the same Rt. 33 that goes through Elkins, CV and those places ALSO goes east into Franklin, WV and Harrisonburg, VA. There is a very accessable exit in midtown Harrisonburg to get on US Rt 33 west. Go right through town and then continue following that route through Franlkin and then back through towards Elkins.
It may mean many skiers have to travel an extra 45 min south on I-81 to Harrisonburg, but travel distance is somewhat the same, give or take an extra 45 minutes.
But there are plenty of examples of good service and low ticket prices, all over the country. Wildcat and Bromley come to mind.
I love T-Line and will continue to go there. Their beer is cold the bar is warm and the snow is good. (I always bring my own food though)
Its clear that the management is lacking and I am not convinced that T-Line will be around for the long haul.
Those are the type of things I really noticed that made me shake my head in that this is a problem that shows how lax or bad management is in seeing that services are met adequately.
Now when it comes to items like properly working lifts, lift time, and so forth I can't say I'm as qualified as most of you are to comment on that. But like I have mentioned the 10-12 minute ride to the top is a mixed bag of blessings. As I'm still working my way in shape it's good to have that breather and like someone else pointed out it really breaks up the crowds that go down the Salamander. Although for those who buy halfday tickets that ride time can really eat up a persons skiing/boarding time at the resort when you realize that riding the lift to the top 5 times has already eaten up 40+ minutes alone.
Timberline is going to continue to suffer unless management from top to bottom is examined and replaced/fixed. It really doesn't take much to run a clean, efficient, effective "indoors" side of a resort. Mostly what is required as of any management position for any business is hardwork, dedication to never being satisifed. What is going to keep Timberline going is the quality of the mountain alone, and I'm afraid as Canaan gets better, "Almost Heaven" gets built even the quality of the mountain may not be able to sustain a solid customer base.
Speaking of Almost Heaven... can someone give me details on this?? Where exactly is this future resort supposed to be located? What is the current status of land aquisition, buyer status, etc?? Too bad someone doesn't build a resort in Pickens, WV outside of Tygarts Valley... the place that has the most natural snowfall in all of WV. I believe they get 70"+ annually of natural powder.
You'll find no shortage of discussions, articles and opinions on this site concerning Almost Heaven. Just look around a bit. I'm sure Andy will be glad to point them out to you.
As an FYI, Canaan Valley and Timberline get around 150 inches annually from ma nature, and Snowshoe around 180.
There's also material in this discussion strand:
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-31-2003).]
Have been skiing Timberline 3-6 times per year for the last 7 years. Yes, it's frustrating to watch how screwed up foodservice and rentals are simply because they appear to be leaving money on the table that could be used for improvements.
Yes it takes 10-12 minutes to lift to the top; I usually need the time to rest my legs anyway.
If you're looking for high speed lifts and four star service, go to seven springs. If you want 1000' of leg burning fun, come to timberline.