Thoughts on my Timberline trip yesterday...
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bawalker
December 30, 2003
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
With alot of discussion regarding Timberline and it's quality of service and business practices, I thought I would comment on my trip from yesterday.

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.

Brad

[This message has been edited by bawalker (edited 12-30-2003).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
December 31, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,923 posts
Thanks for the update Baywalker. I'm planning on heading up tomorrow for 4 days. I don't care what the conditions are like. As long as I can make a few turns, I'll be happy. Timberline has enough base to survive this warm-up.
JohnL
December 31, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Hmmm, by reading the various Timberline threads of the past week, seems like T-Line has some serious customer service issues.

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.

(Anonymous)
December 31, 2003
you know - timberline is reporting 33 of 35 trials open as of this morning.....including all of there expert terrain
Roger Z
December 31, 2003
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Bawalker: I've always thought Tygarts Valley, particularly the southern end, had some spectacular mountains for a future ski resort. One in particular who's summit is currently being excavated (Snyder Knob), hence I think there would be virtually no environmental problems in building on it (that is, it's already commercially used). I saw it this autumn for the first time and it has a perfectly rounded teacup summit with broad shoulders; looks like a great potential ski mountain. The problem, as I have learned from the posters here, would be accessibility. It's convenient to Elkins and Beckley but that's about it; it'd be an hour further from the northeast corridor than Snowshoe. So unless you're building the mother of all ski resorts out there, it'd be very hard to build a sustained base of skiers, whatever the snowfall might be.

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!

(Anonymous)
December 31, 2003
The snowiest place in all of wv pound for pound(snowfall per elevation)is kumbrabow state forest at about the same elevation as CV.this place is just up from pickens.Although the diff between cv & kum are almost to close to call.CV has recieved 61" so far this month alone!!Snow shoe has 68 to 70 (conflicting reports) at 4800' compared to CV's 3200" This tells me that cv is a snowier place.This also tells me that Mount porte crayon(Almost Heaven)which has almost the same moisture fetch as pickens with its 4770' would be the snowiest place south of killington!!(add to the close proximity to canaan) Mpc is closer & larger than anything else to the big cities.Case closed
gatkinso
December 31, 2003
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Timberline the mountain is great.

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.

bawalker
December 31, 2003
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Sorry about that, I meant to type 170"+ per year. I got a little over anxious when typing. Actually for those interested there are archival records for Pickens, WV recorded snowfall going back to the 1920's showing how each year they get insane amounts of snow.

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.

Brad

DC_Skier
January 1, 2004
Member since 01/2/2003 🔗
56 posts
I don't mind slow lifts as long as they are reliable; slow lifts keep the trails fairly uncrowded.

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.

bawalker
January 1, 2004
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
I do agree there is a difference between basic and extended services. Mostly what I've noticed is a breakdown in basic services. The lunch line is just one of the examples I've noticed. That and everytime I have been there it seems like the dining area isn't kept clean. There aren't staff going out removing used trays, there isn't anyone constantly removing filled trash bins or even wiping off tables with left over food/drink items. I thought it sorta shameful that on Monday outside on the decks there were two trash bins that were full and completely overflowing that another skiier took out a trashbag from their group and stuck it beside the trash bin to help alieviate it.

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.

Brad

JohnL
January 1, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
>> Speaking of Almost Heaven... can someone give me details on this??

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.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
January 1, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,923 posts
This is the Almost Heaven story:

http://www.dcski.com/news/2003/09_30_2003/porte.php3

There's also material in this discussion strand:

http://www.dcski.com/ubb/Forum1/HTML/000403.html

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-31-2003).]

jimmy
January 6, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
I spent last week skiing Timberline. This was the week to be there if you enjoy varied conditions. I found the snow on Monday very nice and the weather was like spring. Tuesday the top of the mountain was boiler plate until you got down out of the wind and there the snow again was sweet. Skied Off the Wall on Thursday and it was starting to get icey but still manageable. Rained out Friday, mashed potatoes Saturday before our trip home.

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.

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