A few weeks ago I went skiing with some buddies in Vermont. One of my friends has a condo near Sugarbush Mountain, so we headed there. Even though Sugarbush is a good hour farther away than several other mountains from our home in New Jersey, we prefer Sugarbush because the crowds are usually smaller and the service is greater than other mountains.
On this particular weekend, pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. First, the weather was not great (not their fault, but still), and the mountain hadn’t had fresh snow in a few weeks. Second, one of their major ski lifts had a mechanical problem halfway through our first day on the mountain (a Thursday, so the crowds were lighter than usual). This combination led to very long lift lines Thursday afternoon. Third, they had a major 3rd party event on their sister mountain (Mt. Ellen) which had shut down part of the lower part of the mountain.
Needless to say, this was by far my worst experience at Sugarbush…. ever. Even after over ten successful visits over the years, this left a very bad taste in my mouth. I wasn’t sure if I would go back.
Two days after our trip, I got an email from the owner of the resort, Win Smith. Win is usually at the mountain himself, greeting visitors and taking care of issues. On this particular weekend, he was out of town. Win sent an outstanding and heartfelt letter explaining the situation, apologizing for the issues and expressing a strong interest to ensure it never happens again. The letter was humble and direct. I was already planning to contact the mountain since a $20 credit I was supposed to get had not been processed. I sent a note through the Sugarbush website, referenced Win’s letter, and also described our personal experience from the weekend and my feeling that we lost (at a minimum) an entire day of skiing due to the issues.
This note was forwarded directly to Win, who then replied directly to me. After a little back and forth, he offered our entire party a full credit for the lift tickets for the weekend. That wasn’t necessary, my ask had been for one day only, but that clinched it. Win did everything in his power to own up to the mistakes made that weekend and to show that Sugarbush really is the most customer-centric mountain in Vermont (if not the entire East Coast!)
The bottom line is that Win (and Sugarbush) take a public and proactive approach to their customer service – and it shows. Kudos to the Sugarbush team – we will be back next year and tell all our friends why it’s worth the extra hour drive!
PS – If you want to read Win’s note about that weekend, you can do so here.