Okemo seems to have been in a downward trend for the last three years now. It's been obvious they they have been cutting way back on their snowmaking, and just about everything else. They seem to be pinching pennies everywhere they can. It used to be that they were famous for their high quality snowmaking and grooming, but that horse has been out of the barn for a while now. The conditions there were always among the best, even in a bad snow year, you could count on them having the best conditions anywhere. But for the last three years, the conditions there have been among the worst.
I was skiing at Mt Sunapee last season (in a banner snow year) and I was told by some people that normally ski at Okemo that they were at Sunapee instead because the cover was so thin at Okemo. I was at Killington earier in the season, where the cover was fine, and people in the lodge I was staying at were coming in from a day at Okemo complaining that they had trashed their skis. I have asked some of the employees of the mountain what the story is, and all I get is a wink and a smile. I have asked some of the local merchants, and they just roll their eyes, and say things are definitely not what they were. I was out to dinner, and overheard one of the ski instructors there say it's as bad there as he's ever seen it. I was at a lodge in the area this weekend, and my friend and I were debating whether to ski at Stratton or Okemo. The owner of the lodge overheard our conversation, and came over and strongly advised us not to go to Okemo. His lodge is located in between Okemo and Stratton, and he informed us that virtually every one of his customers that had skied at Okemo had nothing good to say about it. I had recieved similar advice from a local ski shop owner. We ended up skiing at Stratton, and the conditions were excellent.
In previous years, I have bought a season pass that is good that Okemo, Stratton, and Sunapee. It's a good value, and it gives you the variety of skiing a different mountain so you don't get bored. But over the last two seasons, the conditions at both Stratton and Sunapee have been far superior to Okemo. I sent a couple of emails to the management at Okemo when I had a pass there voicing my concerns and complaints about what was going on there, and they never responded to them, so I decided not to renew my pass for this season. Two years ago, when we were having another lean snow year, they were bailed out by a thirty inch dump at the end of February, otherwise, I doubt if they would have been able to stay open till the end of March. And with the warm spell we've had lately, I'll be surprised if that doesn't happen this year. And the excuse is always the same, oh, it's been a rough year. True enough. But it's been a rough year for everyone, and the conditions at Killington to the north and Stratton to the south are great, as they were in NH last week.
I'm not saying this just to rag on them, on the contrary. I'm faced with a decision on where I'm going to buy my season pass for next year. They have to be purchased by the end of April to get the best deal. And quite frankly, I really enjoyed the years I owned the pass to the three mountains. But I'm hesitant to buy another one if things are going to continue the way they have been. The word I get is that the previous owners sold the mountain three years ago, and now lease it back, and are forced to stick to a strict budget by the new ownership. From what I was told, their snowmaking budget was used up by the end of January, all the hoses were rolled up, all the leased compressors were shipped out, and the results of that have been obvious. It looks to me like a similar situation that they had at Killington when it was sold a few years back. It took the new owners a while to figure it out. Let's hope that the new ownership figures out pretty soon that this is not the way to operate a ski mountain. You can only live on your reputation for so long. And that time seems to be running out.