Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inelegant resort

Driving back from Ridgway today, we passed the turnoff for Elk Mountain Resort. They no longer have the big sign. It was a very fancy mountain resort with a gun club. We'd had lunch there twice, before it became a private club. One of those times I went for a trail ride while Jon had a go in the gun club, which he described as being very weird and exciting, with live ammo and an interior setting where you were supposed to shoot the bad guy, and an ex Navy SEAL advised you on what to do as you moved from room to room. Don't worry, we're not gun people. This was in 2006 when the place was first getting started.

Since lunch there had been memorable, good food, empty room, slightly creepy but atmospheric, I decided to check on line to see the resort's status. No longer a private club, (which seemed like a losing proposition at $20,000 a membership), it was back to being open to the public, sort of.

I just happened to check the trip adviser reviews when the website the resort was so unrevealing.

You have to read this anonymous review. I've edited it a little so it's not the longest blog post ever. You could probably pitch this as a movie. Jon and I experienced a lot of the creepiness, just driving in for lunch. It costs $215++ a night. Room service pizza and beer is $80. If you want a bagel it's $10, or $15 with cream cheese! (I thought I'd written about this long ago but couldn't find it in the blog.) Here's the review:

We recently spent several nights at Elk Mountain and it is possibly one of the strangest experiences we’ve ever had.

The drive to Elk Mountain was beautiful. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from Montrose. We reached Elk Mountain and we were so excited. There was a sign that indicated if you didn’t have business on the property, you better leave! ( the wording on the sign was almost to the extent that you’d be shot if you proceeded). We came upon the entry gate and received a warm greeting. However, the “guard” asked if we were carrying firearms. We said no, and just thought it was weird.

We proceeded slowly to the main inn, to be greeted by a young man waving with strong movements to “come here”, like he was rushing us. We were enjoying the scenery and not in much of a hurry! He obviously was in a hurry. We pulled up to the front (actually, entrance is on side of inn) and were escorted into this fabulous room. Two men, one young and one older, greeted us. Service was exceedingly formal, with extremely little talking. I attempted to ask a few questions about the property, but each was answered with as little information as possible. You got the sense that staff had been told to interact as little as possible with guests, maybe in attempt to create a more formal atmosphere. However, I could have been talking to robots!

One man told us that they had prepared a “personalized” welcome package for us, that included personal letter from the owners. Package consisted of map of property and the letter – which was just a “glad you are here” letter, with my husband’s name spelled incorrectly and my name omitted (although I was the one with all the prior contact with the inn). They made such a big deal of this personalized welcome package, and it was a joke. We were escorted to our room by two men. On way to room, one young man told us that if there was an emergency, we should go to the parking lot, because the lobby gets crowded if everyone comes to lobby. I asked him if there had been “emergencies” and he said no, they just don’t want all the guests coming into the lobby. WHAT????

There was no other conversation on the way to the room. All rooms open to the outside. They unlocked the room and opened the door. Our two small bags were placed in the room, by just leaning into the room, and the two men disappeared. I mean they were gone in a flash! I was expecting at least one to enter the room with us to retrieve luggage rack and maybe give a brief overview of room’s features. It was odd…we stepped into the room, were sort of taking it in, and the door shut behind us. They were gone! We didn’t even have time to tip them.

We took some time to walk around the property. It’s fairly big and we didn’t see one person. I don’t know why, but I got the sense we were being watched. It was an odd feeling, and a little difficult to explain. A staff member told us that 15 rooms were occupied, but there were only 3 cars in parking lot. A bit odd. One other note – rooms are not air conditioned. Our room was a bit hot. We called front desk to ask how to open windows and young man told us how….however, there was a piece of furniture that had to be moved to get to windows! I guess we were expecting a way to open the windows without moving furniture.

We re-entered the main building, just to look around. Young man at front desk asked if we’d like to see restaurant. We said yes. He opened door to restaurant for us, while at the same time fumbling with his supposedly “hidden” earpiece and microphone. Again, just like entry in our room, we’re left standing in the restaurant by ourselves. I thought he was coming in with us! Instead, he shut the door behind us. In a few moments, a young lady comes running from the back, drying her hands, and said she’d been “summoned” to show us the restaurant. She seemed slightly peeved. Well, we didn’t ask to see the restaurant. This gesture was offered and we accepted.

We had heard good things about the food and restaurant – BUT there were also disappointments. The young lady we’d seen earlier was the only staff member working in the restaurant. She was the bartender, the wait staff, the runner, she added wood to the beautiful fireplace, she did EVERYTHING! There were 9 guests dining. . In the meantime, I could see the two young men sitting out in the lobby area. Just sitting behind their desks. Breakfast was not much better, because the chef was the waiter!

As to top off our experience, our check out experience was less-than-optimal. I was presented the bill and asked to sign and the young lady on duty just “tossed” the pen across the desk at me. This sounds picky, but there’s nothing wrong with passing a pen or sliding it across a desk.

I couldn’t recommend Elk Mountain to anyone. I hear they do a lot of weddings and special events. We did ask, quite casually, how they manage to do that with such limited staff. A staff member told us they hire out to temp agencies. It’s obvious. Elk Mountain doesn’t provide anything close to a luxury or even decent experience.

This is a mushroom we saw in the road, with my Timex watch next to it. It's a giant puffball, supposedly edible but no thanks. The effort it took to break through the ground, though... amazing-- and out of season!


Namowal said...

The Elk Mountain review you found made the place sound strange. I think I'd take my chances at the hotel from The Shining before I'd swing by that place.

Didn't realize how big that mushroom was until I saw the wristwatch next to it. Mushroom? I say it's a Mushmansion. (Har de har)

A Wanderer said...

Finishing a rough draft of a chapter, transcribing an entire handwritten story from months ago, I'm burned out, and that review really made my day. Thanks for posting it!

"The Shining" comparison does sound apt.

Snowy hotels in the off-season do have a weird, creepy quality indeed. Snowshoe, West Virginia is kind of strange in the off-season, but nowhere near as bizarre as Elk Mountain.

stray g said...

It sounds scary. You can't make up things that good.

Sally said...

Glad you all enjoyed it. Forgot to include the original url of reviews which is here.

There are other amusing ones in the group, including the gungho concealed weapon gal and the wedding party.

good luck with your project, a wanderer!