• Welcome to AlpineZone, the largest online community of skiers and snowboarders in the Northeast!

    You may have to REGISTER before you can post. Registering is FREE, gets rid of the majority of advertisements, and lets you participate in giveaways and other AlpineZone events!

Windham - Open Letter to Mgmt

Magna999

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
17
Points
0
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?


Sent from my iPhone using AlpineZone
 

ss20

Active member
Joined
Jan 13, 2013
Messages
2,578
Points
38
Location
CT
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.
 

BenedictGomez

Active member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
10,655
Points
38
Location
PRNJ
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.
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,734
Points
38
Location
NJ
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.

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.
 

andrec10

Active member
Joined
Sep 22, 2008
Messages
2,204
Points
38
Location
Hyde Park, NY...Hunter on Weekends in the Winter..
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.
 

KustyTheKlown

Active member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Messages
2,351
Points
38
Location
Brooklyn
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.
 

Magna999

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
17
Points
0
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/groups-weddings/tour-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/videos/964909293865176/
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!




Sent from my iPhone using AlpineZone
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
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.
 

Magna999

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
17
Points
0
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.


Sent from my iPhone using AlpineZone
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
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.
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,734
Points
38
Location
NJ
There may be some valid points in that letter, but there were also some comical, irrelevant, and even borderline incorrect points (perhaps misleading would be a better description than incorrect).
 

mikec142

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2014
Messages
383
Points
18
Hunter West...best terrain in NY other than Whiteface...hahahahaha. Maybe the letter writer should make their way up to Gore.

That said, I ski Windham 2-5x/season. It's convenient for me. And the reason is when my kids were younger, I remembered the Hunter stereotypes and chose Windham. My biggest issue is that they groom the heck out of everything. Even after huge storms they groom everything. Give me some powder and bumps!
 
Last edited:

tnt1234

Active member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
1,153
Points
38
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.

Where is the new quad at Bell?
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,734
Points
38
Location
NJ
Hunter West...best terrain in NY other than Whiteface...hahahahaha. Maybe the letter writer should make their way up to Gore.

Yup...that was one of the parts I found comical. Personally I prefer Platty's terrain as a whole over Hunter West as well so I wouldn't even say Hunter West is the best terrain in the Cats, never mind NY.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
Where is the new quad at Bell?

You will not be excited to hear they got rid of the 2 old doubles running from Discovery up to Overlook and replaced them with a new FG quad.

At least the name is funny: Catskill Lightening.
 

JimG.

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
Messages
10,969
Points
48
Location
Hopewell Jct., NY
I've seen a bunch of posts today regarding leaving bumps on trails.

I think you can pretty much forget having lots of bumps anywhere. You won't see them at Hunter or Windham anymore and the plague has spread to Belleayre now that Bruce Transue, ex-Hunter employee and avowed hater of bumps is GM. That guy half groomed all of the short expert pitches at Belle that used to be left alone to bump up. Blame the insurance industry that sets rates based on percentages of expert and ungroomed terrain the more of which drives rates up like crazy.

Platty is the last survivor in terms of no brutal grooming.

I'll also add that Transue's decision to open Deer Run first sucks. I understand they want to utilize the Gondola but to open up early with Beginner and Intermediate terrain only makes early skiing there almost painful it's so boring. The last thing Belle needs is more boring.
 
Last edited:

Tonyr

Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2019
Messages
199
Points
16
I get what your saying regarding insurance but how would you explain Plattekill and the VT resorts, do they pay lower insurance premiums? The owners of Magic and Plattekill are as nimble as can be with their finances and still have their mountains bumped up and ungrommed in areas. Stowe is as bumped up as it gets for the east coast, I'm hoping that will rub off a little bit at sections of Hunter now that Vail owns the mountain.

Tony
 

cdskier

Active member
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
Messages
3,734
Points
38
Location
NJ
I've seen a bunch of posts today regarding leaving bumps on trails.

I think you can pretty much forget having lots of bumps anywhere. You won't see them at Hunter or Windham anymore and the plague has spread to Belleayre now that Bruce Transue, ex-Hunter employee and avowed hater of bumps is GM. That guy half groomed all of the short expert pitches at Belle that used to be left alone to bump up. Blame the insurance industry that sets rates based on percentages of expert and ungroomed terrain the more of which drives rates up like crazy.

Platty is the last survivor in terms of no brutal grooming.

I'll also add that Transue's decision to open Deer Run first sucks. I understand they want to utilize the Gondola but to open up early with Beginner and Intermediate terrain only makes early skiing there almost painful it's so boring. The last thing Belle needs is more boring.

That's a shame about Belle...I haven't been there since Bruce became GM. The wide variety of bumps at Belle were always one of my favorite parts of that mountain.

I'm curious whether that insurance reason really is accurate though. To be fair, based on NSAA stats, more injuries (and fatalities) occur on trails rated as blue squares than on trails rated as diamonds.
 

catskillman

Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
Messages
810
Points
18
You will not be excited to hear they got rid of the 2 old doubles running from Discovery up to Overlook and replaced them with a new FG quad.

At least the name is funny: Catskill Lightening.


The main thing that is not mentioned is that Hunter on weekends is way overcrowded, and is to the point of dangerous! The exit of Windham skiers will only make this worse.

Also Hunter has consistently had issues this season with the six pack and they shut it down today around noon for "mechanical issues" with a big storm coming..........
 
Top