Two conflicting descriptions of Seven Springs emerged in response to my column two weeks ago that asked how resorts were doing with operation of their on- and off-mountain facilities.
Jeremy Kronman said he and his wife, Rebecca, and their five children ages 8 to 14 have had eight "great outings" this winter, thanks to "terrific" instructors, "helpful" lift attendants, "friendly" employees and "very affordable" food and beverage prices compared to resorts out west.
Ryan and Jennifer McEnroe, who own a condo and are season passholders, said they and their daughters, ages 8 to 10, have had a similar experience. They noted the "greatly improved" food and service at the Tahoe Lodge and the "fantastic" employees at the NASTAR race course.
Frank Velasquez said his son had an "outstanding" experience in junior ski/snowboard school on "very good rental equipment." He said out-of-state friends also have been impressed "with the facility and quality service."
Tina M. said her two children, 8 and 10, learned to ski at Seven Springs. She praised the professional instructors, the employees in the rental shop, the "great" lift attendants and the "clean, nice and convenient" townhouse they rented.
David Boger, Steve Waugaman, Mike H. and Tricia M. have had far different experiences.
In a three-page, single-spaced letter, Boger detailed problems with the resort's patented snowmaking system, a lack of employees to control lift lines, on-slope litter and a chilly meal at Helen's restaurant.
He and others criticized the resort's decision to focus the snowmaking system on its Olympic-sized Superpipe for national competitions last month and last year for events that draw a minimal amount of spectators.
"The result is subpar coverage on the back side of the mountain," Boger said. When he posted a comment on the resort's Facebook page about marginal snow conditions and sparse attendance at a national snowboard event last month, he said the resort called him a chronic complainer and removed his comment.
He said the celebration of a wedding engagement for a party of 11 in a semi-private seating area at Helen's restaurant Dec. 22 was spoiled by a lack of heat. The baseboard heater was not working, a request for space heaters was ignored and "the manager never apologized or offered a discount" on a tab that was more than $700, Boger added.
Waugaman, a year-round mountain resident and a season passholder, said Seven Springs "has morphed into a terrain park. I don't like to see an Olympic Superpipe constructed while the backside goes bare. Seeing the pipe used twice a season [for major competitions] is salt in the wound."
He said he is tired of "hearing the sporting clay range that's a mile and a half from my house," of being told he can have preferred parking for $20, "ever-increasing prices" and the lack of "a professional police department."
He said the hotel, which received a major room-by-room renovation, "looks great. While it is a nicer place to eat, the food has suffered greatly. It is clearly nowhere near the value of old."
Mike M. said the resort appears to have shifted grooming to the terrain parks. "While I do understand the importance of seizing the young demographic, I feel like those of us who pay for the teenagers in the parks are being ignored."
Tricia M. said resort improvements "are meaningless when service is very poor. It took over an hour to get our meal in Timbers on New Year's Eve after we ordered even though there was hardly anyone in there at the time -- and we had three kids!"
Next week: Hidden Valley.
Larry Walsh writes about recreational snow sports for the Post-Gazette.