Time to Comment On Timberline Resort…

Timberline's lodge area looks great

I should begin this piece by explaining why I am commenting on the subject of Timberline Resort at this time. Thankfully our messageboard has been pretty quiet on the subject of Timberline Resort. Some people have suggested via emails to me personally – that we have censored the content of the messageboard to eliminate any commentaries about the troubled ski area. Not so.

We’ve gotten a few, but not many posts on social media that have also suggested that we are avoiding the conversation out of some fear of reprisal or because we are being paid not to comment. Others suggest that Timberline Resort, as an advertiser on SkiSoutheast.com, has some leverage that would prevent us from sharing ‘the news’ that seems to be gaining momentum – particularly in closest proximity to Davis, West Virginia.

Those who suggest such things have evidently not been following SkiSoutheast.com for any length of time as we are pretty well-known to speak our minds around here and not pull any punches when it comes to reporting the good, the bad and the ugly about our region’s ski areas. I have personally taken to rants or critiques about more than a few ski areas over the years.

In fact, our member ski areas will tell you that they like the fact that we are independent and willing to tell it like it is. This stance has ruffled more than a few feathers over the years.

So Why Have We Remained Quiet on the Subject of Timberline Resort?

I’ve received in excess of one hundred emails sharing ‘inside information’ or innuendo pertaining to all of the negative happenings surrounding the ski area, owner Fred Herz and Mrs. Herz. I’ve been sent links to local news and television coverage pertaining to the owner/couple – none of which is flattering.

In the last 24 hours I have received 16 such emails from various people who certainly seem to have a personal goal of sharing as much negativity as possible about ‘everything Timberline’.

There are countless, unflattering photos making the rounds on 3rd party, unofficial websites related to the subject of Timberline. Two websites seem to be housing most of the negative commentaries. The combined circulation of those two websites attract a mere one-tenth of the traffic this website attracts and perhaps that is how or why this particular subject has been allowed to gain traction on those websites.

I cannot speak for those websites. However, I am getting a LOT of emails and also posts to social media accounts that seem to say that we are holding back ‘the news’ or ‘the truth’ about Timberline.

Neither is true. I can report that the owners of Timberline have not asked us to remain quiet on the issues that are surrounding them.

Today, in addition to the emails I’ve received, I also received some private comments via Facebook – as well as one publicly posted request from ‘Zachary Lette’ that said, “Time for this publication to tell the truth about the shape of Timberline.”

What is ‘THE TRUTH’?

That’s an interesting turn of phrase. I challenge any reader to show us where we have stated any untruths. We’ve simply chosen to stay above the fray. I don’t have a ton of talents. One that I do have is that I’m a great dad of four awesome daughters. Even at my age I can still throw a football 60+ yards. About the only other talent I claim is that I read people pretty well.

If you’re one of people who have emailed me with copies of documents trashing the owners of Timberline; if you’re one of the people who have sent me photos showing horrible conditions there…thus far this season – I mean no disrespect, but the ‘read’ that I have on you guys is that it is ‘personal’ for you. You have a personal grudge built on the desire that you have that Timberline Resort was in tons better shape right now.

I get it. Been there, done that with one of my own favorite resorts.

Most of the people emailing me or posting negative commentaries and even those who are posting copies of court or local tax documents are sharing ‘truths’…but NOT the REAL truth.

Those things are BYPRODUCTS of the real truth. The real truth is that the current ownership have fought tooth and nail to make Timberline Resort financially stable. What many are saying about the Herz couple might have some semblance of fact, but we all have to play the cards we’re dealt and the real issue is money, pure and simple…or a lack of it.

There is no crime in that and Fred and Tracy Herz don’t deserve all the dumping on that they are receiving right now. Have they handled things perfectly? Of course not. However, unless and until those of you who are complaining want to step forward and pony up a few million dollars to stabilize things, then you really have no room to talk.

While you may have a right to complain, going around, trespassing on their property posting ‘Sell TLine’ signs and wearing custom hoodies and shirts mocking the owners is more personal than it should be.

Faced with the same challenges that are confronting Timberline’s owners right now, most of you (and myself included) would have already closed the doors.

While I can’t speak for other websites or reporting resources, I can say in our defense that much of what you read or see in other social media outlets are opinions or comments being made by people who are often SO close to the situation that they have a bit too much passion for or against the situation. There are certainly many truths that have come from these venues, but there’s also a lot of venom being thrown at the owners that I personally feel is a bit over the top. I’ve seen lots of photos that would certainly bias potential visitors. However, if you have it in for any ski area in the region you could find terrible photos to share. I can only think of how many times we’ve been sent disparaging photos of Sugar’s base that we didn’t share out of fairness.

I have had personal contact with the owners in just the last week and I can tell you that my own personal observation is – they are hurting. If this were a boxing match, they would certainly be way behind on points, having lost several rounds. However, they have won a couple of rounds as well.

Some of their wounds in the fight are certainly self-inflicted as they have not handled the public perception well. Some of their wounds are just bad cards that they’ve been dealt. They are certainly down and maybe even close to being ‘down for the count’, but the main reason we have made the decision not to share some of the news being posted elsewhere is because SOME of it is fake news. While most of what you may have read elsewhere MIGHT be based on facts, there’s enough personal vendettas being pushed out there to cause us to err on the side of giving the owners every benefit of doubt and a chance at success. Translation: We don’t kick a wounded animal when they’re down.

I will also tell you that in my 23+ years of covering the region’s ski resorts…I know that more than a couple of ski areas have had periods of near financial failure. I also know that kicking a man or woman when they are down serves no real purpose. When you’re nearly out of money or ways to get it, many of us will react in one of a few ways. One – is to just give up and shut things down. Another – is to reach out to the community and see if there are solutions to work together and weather the storm. Yet another – is to back yourself into a corner and fight back hard…but not necessarily productively.

Timberline Resort is INDEED in a lot of trouble…but not so much from the things that a lot of people are unfairly stating.

If I were part of the Davis community, I’d probably try to appeal to Timberline’s peeps to find a path through these troubled waters. I know many will say that they have already had that opportunity. What I CAN tell you is that a lot of the same people who are spreading venom about this situation are going to be some of the same people complaining when and if Timberline is forced to close its doors permanently. Our region is dotted with such stories of ski areas that NEVER rise from the ashes.

Timberline could go the way of Hawksnest and turn what used to be a local, community favorite (and awesome) ski resort and golf course into a zip line and snow tubing operation only. You’d only have to reach out to the Seven Devils community and property owners to find out how much that decision hurt them financially.

A lot of people with vacation rental property took a beating.

When and IF the Timberline story comes to some end…whether as a failure or as a Phoenix, rising from the ashes…we will THEN tell the story. WHATEVER we would write or report right now would be “piling on” or sharing news that is more personal than truly warranted.

We are choosing to simply promote what there is to promote and not participate in he said, she said.

SkiSoutheast’s audience is by far the largest of any resource in the region – dwarfing most regionally by as much as 20 times the readership and we feel like we owe it to our readers to be more ‘above the fray’ than to report hearsay…even hearsay that seems to be called ‘news’.

Unfortunately things related to Timberline are VERY personal around the Davis WV community and I’ve been very close to a situation very similar. We’ll wait things out and see how it ends up.

Hope that helps to clear things up a bit.

We will certainly allow our forum to remain open as long as the comments don’t become pointed at PEOPLE instead of a business.

I can tell you that nobody in the ski community wants to see Timberline Resort close their ski and snowboarding operation. As to those of you who are calling for them to sell the resort – be very careful what you wish for. I am privy to a resort that was sold in the last few years. During the purchase period tons of promises were made about how the resort would be adding the longest ski trails in the region. They promised new facilities, etc. Once the sale was complete, the new owners decided skiing and snowboarding was too expensive and risky and they turned the place into a residential, condo community.

Again, be careful what you wish for.

Timberline Resort has been on the ropes for several years now. Forecasting the financial demise of Timberline has been a favorite sport around Davis, West Virginia for many years, and yet the current owners remain in business. Larger and more financially stable resorts in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic have either recently gone through some form of bankruptcy or narrowly avoided doing so and both that come to mind are doing quite well now.

Here at SkiSoutheast – we will stay above the fray and see if Mr. and Mrs. Herz are able to weather this major storm. Hopefully they can find a path to repair the negative public perception and ill feelings. There are certainly more than a few things that they could or should apologize for that would go a long way to moving towards a path of getting the local community back in their corner and of better times ahead.

As for us – we’re pulling for them. The alternative or closure of another of our region’s ski areas is not something we want to see happen.

 

Feel free to email me your thoughts. Just keep things civil. [email protected]

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Mike Doble
Mike is the Editor and founder of SkiSoutheast.com, SkiNC.com and ResortCams.com. Since September 1996 he has posted close to 14,000 posts, articles, photos and videos promoting all of the ski areas of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland.Mike is the father of four daughters, is an avid skier and enjoys golf, tennis, kayaking and hiking in the mountains. Winter snowsports and Summer boating on Watauga Lake are among his favorite pastimes.