Haystack Mountain Ski Area

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Haystack Mountain
LocationWilmington, Vermont, US
Nearest cityAlbany, New York
Vertical1,400
Runs48
Longest runOutcast
Lift system1 6 pass heated bubble chair installed 2015, 2 Triples, 2 Quads
 tow ropes    = 1 
magic carpet = 0
Snowmaking90% Non-Gladed Trails
WebsiteHermitage Club

The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain is a mid-sized alpine ski area located in Deerfield Valley Southern Vermont Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vermont.

Early operations[edit]

The ski area featured two unique areas, complete with lodges and chairlifts. Haystack opened in the early 1960s as an alternative to crowded resorts. The upper mountain, serviced originally by the Oh No double chairlift (a Mueller installed in 1965), featured over one thousand vertical feet of trails for intermediates and experts. The lower mountain, serviced by multiple lifts (including Haymaker a Mueller double chairlift), featured shorter trails for beginners. For many years, a transfer chairlift connected the lower and upper areas.

In the mid 1980s a significant expansion took place, resulting in the installation of three new triple chairlifts, including a CTEC chairlift serving a new expert complex called "The Witches." The "Witches" is known for its tough terrain that even challenges experts.

Mount Snow merger[edit]

In 1991, S-K-I Ltd., owners of nearby Mount Snow, purchased Haystack and soon began promoting the two ski areas as one. Though they were never connected by alpine ski trails or lifts, (there is a Nordic trail along the ridge between the two), trail counts and snow reports were often combined.

In 1996 S-K-I Ltd. merged with LBO Resort Enterprises, forming the American Skiing Company. The American Skiing Company (ASC) would soon hit financial troubles, resulting in the scaling back of operations at Haystack. By the end of its ownership of Haystack, ASC limited operations to weekend and holiday periods.

Sale and closure[edit]

On March 30, 2005, the American Skiing Company announced it had sold Haystack Mountain Ski Area for $5,000,000 to a group of local businessmen.[1] The Haystack Club concept was created as a result, with the plans to open an upscale private ski area. The Club will include Town House Villas as well as a new Hybrid "chondola" (A lift with chairs and gondola cabins) to the summit. The "oh-no" Double will be removed. Barnstormer will also now service as a beginner area lift and transfer lift. The Haystack Club has been open since the sale. The club was open for two days of groomed uncrowded skiing for the members. Although they were open only two days because they got sued by Mount Snow for water rights.

The Haystack Club[edit]

The Haystack Club has started renovations. Four town houses were torn down. Additionally, the Upper Base Lodge is being renovated to be turned into the "Hay Loft." The Club will sell 900 family memberships. Benefits include exclusive skiing, uncrowded, as well as access to a golf club and Equestrian Center. Also, along with the 900 memberships, everyday 450 Tickets will be sold to Wilmington Residents for the day. As of winter 2010 the area will not operate for skiing this year. The old Upper Base Lodge has been completely demolished.

December 2011 Update[edit]

This earlier effort to develop Haystack Club failed. However 'First Tracks!! Online Ski Magazine' reports that another members-only plan is currently in process after the owner of the Hermitage Inn, Jim Barnes, purchased the Haystack ski area and golf course in October 2011, for $6.5 million, saying he plans to reopen the ski area in a similar manner.

Barnes’ plan includes 450 planned homes and condos with prices starting at $650,000. He stated he hoped to have the ski area open on weekends beginning in late December, 2011. The slopes would be open only to prospective members and residents of Wilmington to whom Barnes would offer 250 lift tickets per day at reduced prices.

The Hermitage Club At Haystack Mountain[edit]

In September 2012 The Haystack Club and Haystack Golf course became The Hermitage Club At Haystack Mountain and The Hermitage Golf Club at Haystack Mountain.

Hermitage Club: Permit Violations Lawsuit[edit]

According to a lawsuit filed by the Vermont Attorney General's Office, the group allegedly performed construction activities without land use permits, performed construction activities without a storm water permit, constructed a building without a wastewater and potable water supply permit and disturbed a wetland without approval.[2] In his response, Hermitage Club President Jim Barnes said “Although the Hermitage didn’t agree with the allegations we agreed to 100% mitigation at our expense."[3] The Hermitage continued further dialogue with the state and although disagreeing with the penalties proposed, offered a proposal to settle this issue which has since been rejected.[3]

Summer 2015 In the summer of 2015, the Club has replaced the Barnstormer Triple with the Barnstormer Express Six Person Bubble Chair. Also a new lodge has been constructed at the top of the Hayfever Triple.

Hermitage Club: Cash Flow Woes and Weather force cuts[edit]

After a weekend of valley-wide speculation about the continued operation of the Hermitage Club, the private resort has curtailed operations and laid off 15% of its workforce, more than 70 employees.

According to Hermitage Club officials, the cutbacks are connected to this week’s warm weather, which nearly reached 70 degrees on Wednesday. “The Hermitage is open for business,” said Hermitage Club Director of Public Relations Meridith Dennes. “The mountain will be closed midweek due to weather, and there has been a reduction in force appropriate for the services being offered.”

The speculation began on Friday Feb 16, 2018, when word leaked that Hermitage Club employees were told not to cash their checks until Tuesday. A local Hermitage Club employee, who requested anonymity out of concern for possible workplace retaliation, confirmed the information. “We were told we had to hold our paychecks until Tuesday,” the employee said. “And that’s not OK for everyone, people have kids to feed.”

The news spread fast and, according to the local employee, members were upset, not only that the club’s continued operation was up in the air, but also that employees’ compensation was in question. “It was a very sad day,” the employee said. “I heard about one member who went around giving ski instructors $100 bills because he was so distraught and didn’t want to see the club go down. A lot of members cleaned out their lockers and took their equipment home because of the uncertainty. Members were hugging employees. The worst part was getting hugs from children who don’t know if they’re going to be back again. There’s a real sense of community here.” [4]

Hermitage Club: Foreclosure Proceedings Begin[edit]

On February 23, 2018, Berkshire Bank announced it is seeking foreclosure on several Hermitage properties including the Hermitage Inn, Haystack Ski Resort and ski area lands, Haystack Base Lodge, Haystack Golf Course, Chamonix Townhouse Village, Haystack Golf Course, water rights to Mirror Lake, hundreds of acres of land, along with several smaller parcels. The foreclosure action also includes the Snow Goose Inn, the Horizon Inn, and the Doveberry Inn.

According to the complaint, Barnes and the Hermitage failed to meet their obligation to make payments on three loans, including a $15 million "base lodge" note signed in December 2014, a $1 million bridge loan in June 2016, and a second bridge loan of $1.1 million made in July 2017. Of the total $17.1 million in loans, the Hermitage and Barnes still owe $16,342,175.61 in principal, along with $213,799.76 in interest, and $43,603.79 in late charges. [5]

Hermitage Club: Suit Filed Against Barnes Alleges Fraud[edit]

March 30, 2018 - A lawsuit filed in US District Court on Thursday afternoon accuses Hermitage Club founder and owner James Barnes of fraud, and seeks to recoup more than $2 million paid for three townhouses that were never built.

In the first of eight counts, the three plaintiffs say Barnes' actions violate Vermont's Consumer Fraud Act. “Barnes' false representations to plaintiffs about the status of construction on their townhomes, Barnes' use of funds advanced by plaintiffs for other purposes, and Barnes failure to disclose that Ritz-Craft had returned the townhome deposit funds constitute misrepresentations, practices, and/or omissions likely to mislead plaintiffs” and “constitute unfair and/or deceptive acts or practices in commerce causing the plaintiffs to sustain damages in a significant amount.”

Read more: Deerfield Valley News - Suit filed against Barnes alleges fraud

Hermitage Club Townhomes

Deerfield Valley News Lawsuit March 30 2018

Bank Moves to Takeover Troubled Club[edit]

On Monday, April 16, Berkshire Bank attorney Elizabeth A. Glynn filed an emergency motion for appointment of receiver, and at the same time filed a motion to shorten the Hermitage’s deadline for filing an objection to Monday, April 23. Berkshire Bank’s motion foresees a public auction of the properties at the end of their foreclosure process.

In support of the motion asking the court to appoint a receiver, Glynn says that the size, complexity, and value of the Hermitage assets requires a receiver to “manage and preserve” the property during the foreclosure proceedings. Glynn also alleges that the Hermitage is “no longer a going concern, able to pay its bills as they come due,” noting that Hermitage operations were shut down by the Vermont Department of Taxes three times, the last time on March 30, and is unable to conduct business in Vermont.

Glynn also lists a number of related expenses that Berkshire Bank has paid in order to maintain the viability of the property, including an $83,851 payment to Wilmington for the lease of town-owned land at the ski area; a $74,000 payment to the town of Dover for delinquent taxes to avoid a tax sale; $48,259.19 to Suburban Propane “for an emergency fuel delivery to keep the resort’s heat on during this unseasonably cold spring”; and $82,554.01 to Green Mountain Power “in response to a disconnect notice, and which will keep power on until May 6.”

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mount Snow Announces Agreement to Sell Haystack :: Vermont Ski Areas Association".[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Hermitage Club charged with permit violations".
  3. ^ a b "{title}". Archived from the original on 2015-03-09. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
  4. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  5. ^ "{title}". Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-02-26.

External links[edit]