Ninety minutes from the peak of the Washington Monument and frenetic energy of Capitol Hill lies a serene mountain retreat situated on a golf course in the Shenandoah Valley. Chalet High in Basye, Virginia has been a longtime popular escape for travelers within driving distance, particularly the metro Washington DC area. The timeshare resort thrived at its inception, then hit a slump, and is back thriving again thanks to the revitalization efforts the Board of Directors is shepherding.
When a resort has reached the precipice of failure, the board of directors has two options: start the legal process of closing the resort or rehabilitate the resort. A newly elected Chalet High Owners Association board of directors decided the latter, and named the new initiatives, “It’s a New Day at Chalet High.”
Walter Shorter, President of Chalet High Owners Association explains, “The It’s a New Day Boards’ first priority was to discover how challenging things were. The community was within weeks of having to file bankruptcy. The owners were not aware how dire the situation was. The number one priority was to be completely transparent and factual to the community. The board understood that this resort was worth saving, and they took the critical step of finding a reputable management company who had a history of taking distressed resorts and making them whole again. Together, CHOA’s board and SPM immediately focused on what needed to be done and then had to communicate integrity and transparency to the owners.”
The issues were daunting, but fixable. The resort was not in prime physical condition when SPM was hired to manage the property in 2012. Only 32 of the 76 units were useable. A majority of the units had roof leaks, allowing water to run into the living areas, causing mold and mildew. Other exterior issues included broken windows, missing doors, broken pipes, and falling siding.
“SPMs’ generosity of time and support proved to the Board that they sincerely cared about what happened to CHOA. The critical moment was when the Board had to make to crucial decision of having a Special Assessment to fund the repairing of the units,” notes Shorter, and adds, “The Board was very anxious about the reaction from the owners. To all of our amazement, almost half of the 1st of 3 year plan was paid within a couple of months of the notice. The Board and SPM established a 3-5 year plan of renovation.”
The exteriors have been repaired and painted, and roofs, siding, windows, and sliding doors have been replaced. Every unit has a new flat screen television, which is a relatively affordable way to make an instant improvement in an older timeshare resort for the owners. On the interior, each unit has a new fireplace mantel and electric inserts. Some of the units have new carpet, appliances, paint, and furniture.
Now, 67 units are in use at the property.
Shorter concludes,”Upon Completion of Phase 1, the exterior, the surrounding communities expressed their astonishment. Purchasing the Activity Center was crucial and had many challenges through the court system, but we are now the owners of an essential amenity. CHOA and SPM are now able to see the fruits of their labor. I want to Thank Bill Young and Team for their Trust in our Board. Their unfailing commitment and confidence kept the board focused on the minor successes rather the major challenges. It is a ‘New Day at Chalet High.’”
JD Banks, General Manager of Chalet High, boasts, “We even have golfers from the front 9 that stop in to tell us how great it is to see the changes happening at the resort.”
Chalet High’s vacation rental program has seen tremendous growth and generated much-needed income for the association, which has helped fund the necessary projects and improvements. The rentals in 2016 have already outpaced 2015. SPM’s revenue management department has been able to increase the average daily rate (known in the business by the initials, “ADR”) from $61.38 in 2014 to $83.59 in 2016, garnering more business from the Washington, D.C. area. Tom Saver, Revenue Manager of SPM Resorts, Inc., explains, “Increasing the average daily rate for a resort is an essential component of a successful rental program. In some instances, the association can generate more revenue with lower occupancy simply based on the ADR increase. Analyzing trends and where renters are coming from has helped us formulate an effective rental strategy.” Will Potter, Regional Vice President of SPM Resorts, Inc. adds, “ With all of the improvements made at the resort, owners not only love to visit again, they love to see new vacation guests visiting their resort. Plus, raising the rates increases the value of ownership as a sales program ramps up.”
Bryce Resort, located minutes from Chalet High, offers plenty for vacationers to do year-round, so the growth trend is expected to continue. Banks says, “Bryce Resort is a well-run resort and great partner of ours, offering activities throughout the year to attract visitors to the area. Ski slopes, Zipline, mountain bike trails, tubing and the golf course are all popular with owners and guests.”
The next major phase of the refurbishment work is the activity center. Chalet High Owners Association purchased the Creekside Fitness Center, located next to the resort buildings, and renamed it The Chalet High Activity Center. The refurbishment on the building will commence on July 5, 2016 with an expected completion date of October 1st. Plans include a new roof, new windows, new doors, a dehumidification system, a new HVAC system, refurbishment of the pool, a new hot tub and a new back deck for owners to enjoy. When the refurbishment is complete, the administration and check in offices will be re-located to the building, which is much more accessible than the current check-in office three miles away.
“SPM has a history of revitalizing distressed properties, which is one of the reasons the CHOA Board of Directors turned to us a few years ago. The Board of Directors was faced with tough decisions, and we have worked with them to implement their plans to turn the resort around,” says Bill Young, President/CEO of SPM Resorts and adds, “The team at Chalet High has done an outstanding job, and the property is looking better than ever.”