Windham - Open Letter to Mgmt

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  1. #1

    Windham - Open Letter to Mgmt

    Woke up today to an Open Letter email from the Windham Mountain community with a rather on point open letter about customer sentiment and frustrations with their Mgmt. Anyone else receive this? Thoughts?


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  2. #2
    Copy and paste/share with us?

    Never understood the Windham hate. The place is big by Catskills standards. A tad bit more vertical than Hunter. They leave some stuff ungroomed and have plenty of variety for high intermediate and above skiers. Wonderful glades and bike trails. I had a couple of fantastic powder days there when I was on the Max Pass. If you measure the main summit lifts at both Hunter and Windham, Windham's summit lift covers more vertical over less distance compared to Hunter's main 6, so I'm not really sure where the "flat" stereotype comes from.
    2019-2020 19 days and counting...
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by ss20 View Post

    Never understood the Windham hate.
    Every trail is the same as the last, it's dang near straight as a plumb line, it's groomed to death, there are no trees, and Muffy & Buffy annoy the **** out of me.
    President - Bicknell's Thrush Extermination Solutions (BTES), LLC



  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by ss20 View Post
    Never understood the Windham hate. The place is big by Catskills standards. A tad bit more vertical than Hunter. They leave some stuff ungroomed and have plenty of variety for high intermediate and above skiers. Wonderful glades and bike trails. I had a couple of fantastic powder days there when I was on the Max Pass.
    Quote Originally Posted by BenedictGomez View Post
    Every trail is the same as the last, it's dang near straight as a plumb line, it's groomed to death, there are no trees, and Muffy & Buffy annoy the **** out of me.
    It is almost as if you are both talking about 2 different resorts with both making nearly the opposite points of each other.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by ss20 View Post
    Copy and paste/share with us?



    Never understood the Windham hate. The place is big by Catskills standards. A tad bit more vertical than Hunter. They leave some stuff ungroomed and have plenty of variety for high intermediate and above skiers. Wonderful glades and bike trails. I had a couple of fantastic powder days there when I was on the Max Pass. If you measure the main summit lifts at both Hunter and Windham, Windham's summit lift covers more vertical over less distance compared to Hunter's main 6, so I'm not really sure where the "flat" stereotype comes from.

    Tad more vertical than Hunter. Yeah Right, if you measure to the road. Their Vertical actually measures 1400 or so.

  6. #6
    windham's mountain bike network skis well as glades when there is snow. i prefer it strongly over hunter, but choose plattekill above all. prob belleayre above windham too.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=ss20;1029693]Copy and paste/share with us?

    Never understood the Windham hate. The place is big by Catskills standards. A tad bit more vertical than Hunter. They leave some stuff ungroomed and have plenty of variety for high intermediate and above skiers. Wonderful glades and bike trails. I had a couple of fantastic powder days there when I was on the Max Pass. If you measure the main summit lifts at both Hunter and Windham, Windham's summit lift covers more vertical over less distance compared to Hunter's main 6, so I'm not really sure where the "flat" stereotype comes from.[/


    From: <redrover@tutanota.com>
    Date: November 29, 2019 at 11:05:35 PM EST
    To: Undisclosed recipients:;
    Subject: An Open Letter to Windham Management

    Dear Windham Ski Community:



    Happy Thanksgiving! Are you reading this email from the cozy comfort of your ski house, getting ready to head out to the slopes? I doubt it because as I’m sure you know, Windham completely botched the opening. If you’re skiing in the Catskills now, your only respectable option is Hunter. Criticism is never easy to give, and it is particularly painful as an open letter. Some may criticize the airing of dirty laundry, but I do so hoping to embarrass Windham into refocusing on us – the customers – rather than resting on self-proclaimed superiority. Windham needs to get back to basics – not website rebranding, bumper stickers, video ski simulators, or trucker caps. We, the season passholders and seasonal program supporters, are the lifeblood of this mountain. And management takes us for granted.



    Windham laughably markets itself as the “Deer Valley of the Catskills,” the implication being that it is a superior and more family-oriented choice than Hunter. That’s probably why most of us initially came to Windham – because of either our own childhood memories, or the desire to create new family ones. No doubt Hunter has historically had the reputation of attracting drunken gapers straight lining through the ski school kids. Who can forget Johnny Drama fist-bumping Turtle on Entourage, while explaining that the terrain out West was nothing because “I mean, if you can ski Hunter Mountain, you can ski anywhere, ya know?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14-ifN8aTu4



    But have you actually skied Hunter recently? Hunter’s family programs are robust, well-attended, and well-organized. Hunter West is arguably the best terrain in New York outside of Whiteface. Last season, Hunter added a new lift and substantial acreage to spread out the crowds. To be sure, there are still some out-of-control, blue-jean clad Long Islanders fueled up on Busch and Jägerbombs… but then again, we’ve got those visitors too at Windham. Indeed, Windham’s own website explicitly markets to the bus tours - https://www.windhammountain.com/grou...ur-operators/; or you can just check the parking lot. So rather than blindly accepting the decades-old wisdom that “Windham is better than Hunter for families,” every one of us owe it to ourselves to try Hunter at least once this season. If you do, you will see that there’s a strong case that unfortunately, Hunter is now a superior customer experience and value compared to Windham. Consider the following:



    Snowmaking

    Hunter first turned on its snowguns this season on 11/7/19 and took full advantage of the polar vortex that began on 11/11/19
    Windham did not turn on its snowguns until 11/14/19, near the end of the cold spell – and management’s excuse was that it hadn’t managed to finish maintenance on the snowmaking system during the intervening 8 months
    Hunter has over 1100 guns covering 100% of territory – the best snowmaking in the Catskills
    Windham has several runs where it does not make snow, takes an extra month to open the East Peak, rarely makes snow after Presidents’ Day, and often allows marginal snow conditions to persist for weeks on high-traffic runs like Wraparound and ski-on/off access runs
    Hunter opened 7 days a week on 11/15/19 with 9 trails (now 14), 2 lifts (now 3), and a terrain park – this is what Hunter’s opening day conditions looked like: https://www.facebook.com/huntermtn/v...4909293865176/
    Windham opened on 11/23/19, more than a week after Hunter, on weekends only (and closed Thanksgiving Day when Hunter was open), with 4 “runs” (constituting a single top-to-bottom route), 1 lift, no park, no magic carpet, no beginner terrain, and no ski-in/out – just compare Windham and Hunter’s webcams
    Windham’s post-open conditions were so sad that the mountain recycled old pictures from previous years for Instagram, including in deceptive ways, like this one: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5XwNlCDdqk/ (mountain was not actually making snow this day)


    Terrain and Lift Operations

    Hunter’s closing day last year was 4/7/2019 and took advantage of late-season snowfall; Windham’s closing day was 3/31/19, a week earlier
    Hunter expanded terrain in December 2018 – adding 9 new runs, 1 high-speed lift, and 33% more acres; Windham’s last expansion was Wolf’s Prey in 2016
    Hunter detachable lifts are 2018, 2011, and 2010 vintage
    Windham’s Westside-6 is 2018, the F-Lift Doppelmayr is 2006, and the relocated A lift (now C-lift) are 1993
    Windham lift operations has allowed key lifts to fail on holiday weekends and F-lift is regularly out of service
    Windham lack of planning for the maze at the Westside-6 was disastrous with long lines and wasted uphill capacity
    Windham’s relocated A lift (now C-lift) is inoperable – as of Thanksgiving Day, they had spliced the cable but not done a load test
    Windham regularly idles the B-lift even when there are long lines at the base, to save on labor and power costs
    Windham apparently no longer operates the J-lift rope tow, and instead requires the glacial D-lift to access lower Wilbur park


    Pass and Seasonal Programs

    Hunter adult and youth season passes are $500 less than the comparable Windham season pass
    Hunter passes are part of the EPIC network, which includes some of the best resorts in the world, like Whistler, Park City, Vail, and Northstar; Windham has no reciprocity anywhere
    Hunter’s seasonal program are $650 less than Windham
    Hunter’s seasonal programs begin on 12/7/19; Windham begins a week later on 12/14/19
    Hunter’s seasonal racing obtained USSA Bronze Certification in 2018; Windham is not certified and has inconsistent leadership (e.g., 4 leaders in 4 seasons, unpopular policies like coach rotation, etc.)
    The Race Factory community is increasingly disengaged as evidenced by attrition, volunteerism levels, inactive SkiTA, absence of community-building events, and declining new families
    Hunter Mountain Competition Foundation is an active community, with the 2019 fundraiser already scheduled and a well-attended 2018 event – https://gohmrf.org/photo-gallery


    In a nutshell, management’s focus is everywhere other than closing the product gap with Hunter. The mountain pats itself on the back for capex that strips out labor costs but doesn’t benefit users, like RFID and automated snowmaking control. Ask yourself: Is it acceptable for Windham to have an unfinished snowmaking system and C-lift when they had 8 months to get ready? Ask yourself: Is Windham making investments to improve customer experience, or to improve the financials for the private equity sponsors to sell the mountain? Ask yourself: If you’re considering an on-mountain home or condo (at the half-sold Whisper Creek), do you trust that Windham is committed to operating a first-rate ski resort and making snow for ski-on/ski-off?



    Windham’s only strength it its community: the camaraderie between regulars in the lockers and on the slopes; the long-time employees who do their jobs well and with a smile; the coaches who volunteer every weekend, some of them years after their own children have grown up; the children who grew up at Windham but now come back as parents; the volunteers at Adaptive who open the joys of skiing to the disabled. For as much as we have put into this mountain, this community deserves better.



    This email has been a long time coming. I kept hoping things would improve, but this season’s opening has brought me to despair – and anger. I don’t know whether management is incompetent or if they just don’t care about the product they deliver. But either way, it is time to tell Windham that its most loyal customers see through the self-promoting hype. We’re concerned about real estate values. We’re concerned about the quality gap with Hunter. We’re concerned that management views us as cash cows to be fleeced with annual price increases. We’re concerned with the growing chaos of the seasonal program.



    Help shine a light on the problem by sending this email to another Windham skier, and forcing operational management and the new owners, North Castle Partners, to stop ignoring us!




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  8. #8
    JimG.'s Avatar
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    Pretty amazing to see Hunter used as a foil for Windham's problems.

    Really glad to see no mention made of the ORDA resorts. Except for the line about Hunter's terrain as second only to Whiteface.

  9. #9
    Some may say this is a tough message but I can tell you as a pass-holder for years this is an accurate assessment on how much of the pass-holder community feels. They are way behind this year in particular the snowmaking construction still ongoing halfway up Whistler, and C lift seems to have major work left to get going. What irks folks is total lack of real communications from the mountain. Hoping this changes as I love Windham and plan on being there but will easily shift to Hunter If they don’t get things together.


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  10. #10
    JimG.'s Avatar
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    I hear your pain.

    Belleayre is way behind their usual opening pace but at least they can say that's because they renovated the main lodge and installed a new fixed grip quad. And this storm will open things up fast now.

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