In short, the place is rather disorganized with ill-informed and less-than-completely helpful people at every turn.
Our first mistake was staying at the bottom of the mountain hotel--the Snowshoe Inn. While economical, this hotel offers no access to the upper mountain, forcing you to drive. That would be fine, except for the parking situation at the top of the mountain.
All (general) parking is at the Top of the Mountain area, as is general resort registration. That sounds helpful, but if you don't own equipment, you have to go to another location (in our case Spruce Lodge) to pick up your equipment. But there's no place to park there. Furthermore, while Spruce Lodge is at the heart of all the lifts, the lift that serves the Top of the Mountain is far removed from most other trails.
I learned from other folks on the lifts that there are at least 2 or 3 other rental places, and that people were frequently given mis-information on where to find their equipment.
Shuttle buses? Yes, I guess they were running. I saw a couple of them. They sure didn't seem very frequent or commonplace.
Staff members did little if anything to explain the complex logistics of checking in, getting lift tickets, getting rentals, parking, and shuffling around to the various locations we were forced to visit. Actually, most of them provided vague answers and acted a little annoyed that we didn't know where to go and what to do.
Then there was the odd phenomenon of the "superfluous staff member". At each desk we visited (the resort registration desk, the equipment rental, an information counter at Silver Creek, and our hotel registration desk) there sat at least one person who did nothing, just sitting, ignoring the customers backing up in line. If these people were on break, they should take their breaks out of view of the annoyed customers. If they were somehow on duty, then they shouldn't be there.
In our ignorance and frustration, we actually ended up at Silver Creek the first day, which was a place where we could park and get changed without going to our hotel first (we arrived around mid-day).
Having suffered through all of this, I think Snowshoe should do the following:
1. Provide a shuttle from Snowshoe Inn (even if infrequent) or don't purport to include that facility as part of the resort.
2. Increase the number of shuttles.
3. Increase customer service training for staff.
4. Print detailed instructions in the registration package on where to go and what to do when you get there. The e-mail updates were not exactly informative.
5. Coordinate equipment rental locations with lodging locations.
As for the Inn, yeah, its a joke. Its like staying 15 minutes from the resort in another town. Everyone has either been burned by that place or learned from someone elses burn, its worth the extra bucks to stay up top.
The shuttle buses, well I've used them a couple times and they do seem a little disorganized. Nothing is posted to let you know where the bus is going to unless you ask the driver. It usually makes it to where your going but the trip from Shavers center to top of the world back to shavers and then to Silver creek is 45 probably. Get on the wrong bus and your in for a long ride.
Basically they need to give overnighters a page or 2 pamphlet that lets them know where everything is, the best way to get there, and who to contact if you are totally lost.
Write them a letter and let them know just how frustrating everything was. Make it short and to the point.
It seems to me that over the past 3 years that i've been going that they have made big strides in correcting some of the little problems like this that can add up and make a trip there really annoying. I think constructive comments will really help them to improve ones stay there. Don't give up, its really can be a fun place, i promise.
The shuttle busses run every fifteen minutes or so - given the conditions, they might run slower at times.
Top of the World was expanded for this season. For skiiers staying at the Inn, this is the place to park. It is considered the day skiier parking lot. After exiting your vehicle, head towards the shaver's center. You will notice Top of the World at the edge of the parking lot. Go down the stairs, through a hallway, and you will see the rental shop. It is clearly marked.
All staff members I have come in contact with at Snowshoe have been very helpful and friendly. I'm sorry you didn't have the best experience.
If you don't own, then I have found the best bet is to rent from a shop preferably not near the resort. Keep in mind that if you ski twice a season, your equipment purchase will pay for itself quickly in quality, time not spent in line, and pride.
Also, some resorts sell tickets thru local ski shops - that is the place to buy them even if they are a few bucks more (and often times they are discounted). Also, packing a cooler with subs, beer, soda, and munchies is a good idea: while you will still eat out it saves a lot of time and money to have something on hand.
To summarize: the resort is useful for three things - a lift, a ride from the parking lot, and a room. The rest of the services they provide are more of a PITA than anything else.
Sorry your experience was not as pleasant as it should have been.
Snowshoe has high volume to avoid this mess it is critical to take as much of the responsibility away from the resort as you can. This year I'm advising everyone to get rentals here before they leave, it costs the same anyway but you don't wait in line for an hour.
Get your lift tickets before you leave, you still have to go to a ticket window to cash them in but at last they are bought and paid for so no screwing around on the first day.
I agree with staying on top of the mountain. I've stayed there before and it's okay if it's just one or two. The big downside is when you want to go party it up at the village and you have to have designated drivers. On the hill you can always shuttle or walk.
I love the Shoe but you have to know how to work it.