Buying real estate in Hidden Valley a good idea?
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Pirmin
October 7, 2004
Member since 10/7/2004 🔗
2 posts
I was looking into buying a place in Seven Springs, but soon realized that it was out of my price range. Close-by Hidden Valley seems to be a much more affordable option and I am considering buying something there instead.

Does anyone here own real estate there and can comment on the resort? Their webpage looks rather dated and doesn't give me a very warm and fuzzy feeling about the way the resort is managed. I am wondering if the website is a reflection of their philosophy, i.e. not wanting to invest money in upkeeping and improving existing facilities? In other words: Is this place going downhill or does it have a future?

I understand that the mountain is more geared towards beginners and intermediates than very good skiers. But I am looking at this as a family vacation place for all four seasons. We have 2 small children and it seems that there are things to do yearround. Can anyone comment on the non-skiing type activities and programs there?

Anything else I should know or watch out for before I buy there?

Thanks for your input.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
October 8, 2004
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,728 posts
Seems to me that real estate prospects for Hidden Valley ski area have been discussed here before, but I didn't have much luck using the search function. I haven't mastered it since DCSki switched to new forum software this summer. Maybe you could try for a while.

In general ski area real estate in the mid-Atlantic is real speculative, meaning inconsistent from resort to resort and from year to year. Appreciation is generally modest, but has been pretty good in recent years at several well functioning resorts (Snowshoe pops in my mind first). My folks had property near Blue Knob for many years which saw only moderate appreciation during a period when urban real estate boomed. Blue Knob is a marginally successful ski area, which might also describe Hidden Valley, neither have cachet for investors like Snowshoe or Seven Springs. I have never been to Hidden Valley, but I suspect its long term stability could benefit from the proximity to Seven Springs, sort of like car dealerships. It has a rep for low crowds and costs, and not too difficult terrain. If you buy, do so purely for your own entertainment. Don't plan on making big bucks on the investment. Hopefully, others with direct experience at Hidden Valley will chime in.

Just a hunch, but I get a real nice family feeling every time I visit Bryce ski area in VA. It's a very old real estate development ('60s) and seems stable. As a ski area is has sort of been eclisped by newer, bigger places, maybe making for some bargains on property? Has easy terrain, not too far from DC, and good kids racing program, also has golf course.

PS; here's a story by John Sherwood that you might find interesting, although not on Hidden Valley per se: http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=8&mode=headlines
shearer519
October 8, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
149 posts
I haven't skied at hidden valley for many years but when I was there I can say that it defiantly gets its weekend crowds. The lines never got out of control though. As the main lifts got crowded they would open up other lifts. While the skiing isn't very challenging I always had a lot of fun there. There were always fun things to jump off of or areas to duck into the woods. I was thinking of going back there last season but after noticing that it was 40 bucks for a day pass there I decided the better option was to go to seven springs which was 4 bucks more but the pass was good for 2 hours longer. Rumor has it that hidden Valley will be adding new terrain in the coming years.

For the off slope activities the Laurel Highlands are hard to beat. My family has a place in the nearby area (on Laurel Hill Creek. There is always something to do anytime of year. In the summer there are two state parks close by (Laurel Hill and Kooser) that have lakes. There are many places to hike. Some of the best trout streams in the state are there. Also there are all kinds of Activities at Seven Springs. Somerset has many great Restaurants and also bowling, movies, and ice skating. The Laurel Highlands Bike trail travels through the area. Ohiopyle is only a half hour down the road. There you will find white water rafting, biking, hiking, natural water slide, and a very nice waterfall. There are many golf courses in around that are reasonable priced. My personal favorite is a 9 hole called Middle Creek that is about 15 mins from Seven Springs. Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water is nearby. A little further out you have Johnstown, the Jennerstown Speedway, Ligonier, Latrobe, Laurel Mountain Ski area, and Blue Knob. Also there are many other activities that the locals can point out. I often find myself Dirt Biking. Needless to say there are endless opportunities for entertainment around Hidden Valley.
Pirmin
October 12, 2004
Member since 10/7/2004 🔗
2 posts
Thanks for the feedback.

We went up to Hidden Valley last weekend to check out the resort and the listed properties. I would definetly say that the resort looks somewhat run down and could use a little bit of help. Nevertheless it seems a nice place to be. Or as our real estate agent put it: "Everyone who owns here, loves it - but everyone will tell you that the resort management sucks!".

JimK - thanks for the tip on Bryce. I hadn't even thought about that. We probbably will check it out too. I am not quite sure about the skiing there, it seems even more limited for better skiers than Hidden Valley. And with the addition of Laurel Mountain this year, owning in HV would give us easy access to 3 different mountains.

We'll see... Maybe we can even make up our mind one day...
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snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
October 13, 2004
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
I purchased a Hidden Valley 2 bdrm/2 bath condo in the 'Highlands' about 1.5 years ago. I looked at other resorts in MD, VA, WV and PA and I ended up at Hidden Valley. Here is what I found:
Wisp, MD - they don't call the area "Deep Pockets" lake for nothing
Wintergreen, VA - nice resort, somewhat similar to HV, but little natural snow (ice skiing)
Snowshoe- if I'm going to drive for 6 hours, I may as well go to Vermont
Canaan Valley - beautiful area, reasonably priced when I looked, however resorts are somewhat under capitalized and Corridor H highway has driven prices up. Also not much in the way of restuarants or options for activities other than outdoors type stuff
Seven Springs - more expensive than HV, yet I did not find the resort development to be very environmentally done, thus not providing much of a 'ski resort', woodsy feel. Also, you have to deal with the bus loads which start arriving Friday night.
Hidden Valley is somewhat of a strange place. It was developed by DC developer, Kettler Bros. They did a very sensitive job in developing the real estate, going to great effort to maintain natural vegetation. There are many ponds in the residential areas and walking paths that connect the various resort developments. There are also 3 outdoor pools, 8 or 10 tennis courts, a highly rated golf course ,a 'sports center' with indoor pool, spa and racquet ball courts, 2 small lakes (one stocked with trout), 2 restuarants, and many miles of hiking/cross country ski trails. Drive around the resort and you will see that the Kettlers have done an admirable job developing the real estate.
As far as the ski area goes, it's OK. There are not many challenging slopes, there are lifts that serve whole mountain, but some are old and slow. Their best efforts seem to be snow making and grooming which I have found to be excellent. You get real snow here, over 150" last year I'm told. They built some nice ski lodge facilities over the years, but they don't maintain them that well. Some one said, and I totally agree with this, that Seven Springs is better at running a resort, while mediocre in developing resort real estate, the Kettlers are better at developing resort real estate, yet mediocre at running a resort. The ski area seems to do OK and while I have no children, everyone tells me that it is an excellent 'familly' resort. There are no loud bars and night life here for the most part. A season pass this year cost me $250 (recently raised to $280) which is about as cheap as you'll find any where. The Kettler's don't seemed inclined to want to spend money on marketing which seems odd to me, giving the area an uncrowded, private club kind of feeling. The employees are locals who are friendly, for the most part, but sometimes not well trained. I have been told by many folks that the ski school is excellent.
I haven't tried the golf course yet( except to ride my mountain bike on the cart paths). My wife and I do a lot of walking, bike riding and hiking in and around the resort. The resort is bordered by Kooser State Park and other extensive state forest lands. This provides some excellent hiking and cross country skiing oppurtunities. There is also a stone quarry which is adjacent to the resort which somewhat mares the view from the ski mountain. The resort and the community foundation jointly pay the salary for an activities director who organizes parties, social events, outings, golf tournaments, kiddie activities, etc. Thus there always seems to be something going on. The Hidden Valley Foundation is in charge of maintaining the resort and they do a good job including an excellent job with snow removal.
My condo is ski in/ski out and cost me $86.5k. Now where else can you buy a slope side, 2 bdrm/2 bath condo for that price! My wife and I invested about $2,500 in updating the decor to make it look more 'ski rustic', southwest/Adirondock type decor. I am sure that I could sell it for at least $100k after a little over a year of ownership.We drive up to HV on Friday evenings, driving north on I-83, to the PA Turnpike since we live in the Hunt Valley, MD area and it takes us about 3.5 hours to get there. We are up there about every other weekend. My wife's sister just bought a 4 bedroom ski in/ski out single home for about $160k. This was a bargain considering the houses around her are selling for $400k. I have looked at the townhouses and think that they could be a good bargain if you don't want the maintenance of a single house.
In summary, the resort owners are quirky and could do a better job running the resort and maintaining the resort facilities. They told me that they were redoing the web site, although nothing has happened yet. The resort real estate, I believe to be under valued. There are plans for expanding the ski area although the Kettler's have not provided a timetable. The expansion is supposed to add some more challenving trails. If you have any further questions call me on my cell phone (410-409-4495)
Mountain Masher
October 20, 2004
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
One thing that you might want to consider when thnking about buying a place at Hidden Valley (or anywhere in Laurel Highlands of PA) is the weather. The Laurel Highlands area is a dank, dark and cloudy place much of the year. In fact, the Laurel Highlands get about the same number of sunny days per year as Seattle, Wash. On the other hand, Bryce Mt., VA is much dryer and receives well over 1 1/2 times the number of sunny days per year when compared with the Laurel Highlands. Granted, Bryce doesn't have much vertical to ski, but the area sure has some nice weather. It's located in a beautiful valley, with a country-club atmosphere.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
October 20, 2004
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Mountain Masher - I disagree with your assessment of the weather. This summer, the weather was absolutely beautiful in the Laurel Mountains. I do not like our Baltimore summers...too hot and humid. Thus my wife and I head up to Hidden Valley at least every other weekend to enjoy the cooler and drier air in the mountain. It was sunny almost every weekend I was there. Now I do hear that Pittsburgh has dreary weather. But I have not found the weather in the Laurel Mountains to be any more dreary than the Balto/Wash area. And during the winter, Hidden Valley is in the snow belt so when it's cloudy it's usually snowing. I think the surface snow conditions are important to consider. There were great conditions last winter at Hidden Valley and 7Springs. If you get as far south as Bryce Resort, I think you can expect your typical Virginia boiler plate conditions. And with Laurel Mountain reopening under 7Springs management, we'll have 3 areas to ski within 20 minutes of each other. Where else in the Mid-Atlantic do you have that.If you want to count Blue Knob, Wisp and Mystic Mountain, we actually have 6 ski areas that are all less than an hour drive from Hidden Valley!!!
Mountain Masher
October 21, 2004
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Snowsmith, it's pretty hard to argue with statistics. The Laurel Highlands of PA receive only about 70 totally sunny days per year (about the same as Seattle). And when you add in partly sunny days (totally sunny days+partly sunny days), the total is about 175, only slightly more than Seattle. By comparison, the DC/Baltimore area receives around 210 totally sunny and partly sunny days per year, with 106 of those days being totally sunny. I'm just guessing, but I would say that Bryce Mt. receives around 222 totally sunny and partly sunny days per year. I base this on the fact that the Bryce area receives around 34 inches of rain a year, somewhat less than DC/Baltimore.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
October 22, 2004
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Moutain Masher - not trying to cast doubts on your statistics, but I find it hard to believe that Bryce Mountain has 3 times as many sunny days as the Laurel Mts. Now I have not owned up there for many years, but in the 1.5 years that I have owned a place and visited almost every other weekend, I have not found the dreary weather that you indicate. Perhaps after several years I can confirm your data. If you don't mind, can you please provide your source for this data.
Mountain Masher
October 22, 2004
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
Snowsmith, let me clarify things a bit, Bryce Mt., VA doesn't get anywhere near 3 times the number of sunny days that the Laurel Highlands of PA (where Hidden Valley is located) receives. It breaks down like this: the Laurel Highlands of PA averages 70 totally sunny days a year and about 175 totally sunny+partly sunny days a year. Bryce Mt. averages 110 totally sunny days a year and about 222 totally sunny+partly sunny days a year. I collected this data over the past year via Google by checking out a variety of sites. Because the data varied a bit, depending on the source, I simply averaged it out. So, you might find data a little above or below the figures that I gave. I currently live near BK State Park, PA, which is almost as wet as the Laurel Highlands. I'm a season pass holder at 7-Springs; but, before a given Winter ends, I've usually skied a variety of the ski areas in the Mid-Atlantic, including VA and WV. The Laurel Highlands really is a beautiful area, even if it's sometimes a bit wet.
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
October 26, 2004
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Mountain Masher-it sure was wet this weekend (except for Sunday afternoon). However, it doesn't seem as dreary as your statistics would suggest. I hope it is cloudy this winter with lots of cloud pieces falling from the sky. And maybe the new owners of BK will do a better job with snow making/ grooming so the slopes there are no all ice. It really could be a great local mountain. I am really looking forward to this winter and giving Laurel Mountain a try, also. Happy skiing!
shearer519
October 26, 2004
Member since 07/12/2004 🔗
149 posts
One thing that should be considered when talking about how many sunny days there are is what time of year those days come in. For western PA it is typically really sunny in the summer and really cloudy in the winter. In the summer I work as a life guard and I often see sunny days that last for weeks on end. The trend I noticed for the summer is lots of rain May and early June, and then the rain just goes away. I might get off work every couple of days in May due to rain but never get a day off all July and Aug, and I work every day of the week so that shows something about the weather we get. The Laurel highlands follow this same pattern. The only difference is that they are a little cooler. The difference between Pittsburgh and Seven Springs usual is about 10 degrees. This makes for a really comfortable summer with temps usual in the lower 80's or upper 70's. When the winter comes in the sun doesn't peak out to often. I remember either last year or the year before reading an article in the paper that said there were only 15 days the sun was out all winter. This can lead to some very snowy winters. In fact 7 springs to Laurel Mountain is one of the snowiest areas in the state. They average about 100 inches a year. I heard that Laurel is a little snowier then seven springs on average. All the clouds help to keep the snow base longer. Two years ago when we got the 40 inch dump that snow lasted almost a month after it had fallen. In fact I went up to my family's cabin about three weeks later when the temps had been in the 50's for almost a week and there was still 2 feet of dense wet snow on the ground. I actual got my jeep stuck trying to fight my way back to my place. Needless to say while western PA may be a cloudy area the clouds seam to come at the right times

PS today is the first day I have seen the sun in 10 days
snowsmith - DCSki Supporter
October 27, 2004
Member since 03/15/2004 🔗
1,367 posts
Shearer519 - It sure was beautiful Sunday afternoon after the sun burned throught the clouds. With the colors on the trees and hills, it was inspiring. Yes, it is cloudy during the winter. I guess that is one draw back to the lake effect snows that we continually get.My place was buried up to the kitchen window last yeat until mid-February. I'm guessing that we received well in excess of 100 inches of snow last year. I hpoe that it is as least as snowy this year as it was last yeat. I am really looking forward to trying out Hidden Valleys cross country trails this year.
Mountain Masher
October 27, 2004
Member since 03/13/2004 🔗
541 posts
By they way, I wouldn't get my hopes up about Blue Knob, it doesn't look like the sale is going through and the place is now in complete disarray! Plus, there is heavy erosion on many of the ski slopes. On the other hand.....IF you're an avid BK rockskier or rockboarder?!
BushwackerinPA
December 10, 2004
Member since 12/9/2004 🔗
649 posts
Well being kinda of a insider there i will say there is a new trail under the thunder lift. There also glades in the on the right side of t-bird, by jaguar park, between road runner and cobra, and some over on North summit between the voyager trail, some of these have been used buy kid making single trail in the woods for years, but they have been thinned a little. Its kinda of ironic that resort that has been so against anything resembling fun due to injury risk is changing it stance and put some tree runs in. If the winter is anything like last year it will be easily supported. HV un-officially recieved 184inches of snow last year, If you add up the new snow reported for each day.

As for the resort it self the houseing is is one off the better laid out sceems i have seen, Clairence kettler and his brothers did a awesome jobs of laying this placed out.Now if they only picked a bigger hill to put it on.
Glenn_C
December 10, 2004
Member since 11/14/2004 🔗
67 posts
Quote:

Just a hunch, but I get a real nice family feeling every time I visit Bryce ski area in VA. It's a very old real estate development ('60s) and seems stable. As a ski area is has sort of been eclisped by newer, bigger places, maybe making for some bargains on property? Has easy terrain, not too far from DC, and good kids racing program, also has golf course.





I've got a 1/4 acre lot at Bryce with water and electric already run to it. I'm getting ready to list it with Creekside Realty in Basye, VA in the next few weeks. We've since bought a condo in Canaan and will probably never build at Bryce. No sense sitting on the lot any more. It is a great place and the year round activities for members is phenomenal but to be honest the skiing isn't the most challenging. You're right about pricing. Lots go from 6,000 for steep, stripped plots (no utilities) to 140k for golf course fronting. We'll probably end up listing ours for ~8,000 and will walk with 7k once the haggling and agent fees are paid. It's a beautiful building lot with very little grade to it and the homeowner's association is incredible. Great security, road upkeep, trash/snow removal for $140 per year. Can't beat that with a stick--kind of sorry our plans didn't pan out.

Sorry--didn't mean to drag this thread off in a different direction. Just thought I'd add my 2 cents for the Bryce comment. Good luck with Hidden Valley.
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