This week’s episode of Hotel Impossible featured the Bromley Sun Lodge located at the base of a skier’s paradise in Vermont. The show was a perfect example of what happens when hotel owners lacks fundamental marketing knowledge.

Episode Recap: No Vision to Succeed

The lack of winter lodge marketing knowledge was visible right from the beginning of the show. Host Anthony Melchiorri arrived at the lodge, which was just seconds away from the ski lifts of a nearby ski mountain, only to find that the exterior entrance was just flat out ugly. Upon entering the lodge he soon discovered:

The Grandma Lodge

  • A dark lobby with old furniture.
  • Adjoining rooms without character and missing a ski lodge feel.
  • A fireplace room that was simply dull.
  • An uninspiring front desk.
  • Rooms with old box TV’s, no place to plug in a laptop, no modern amenities.
  • Clean but mundane rooms. The only real issue Anthony had with the room he was in was an excessive dust buildup on top of the wall picture.
  • The lodge had only one registered guest the night before.
  • The lodge restaurant received no business from daytime skiers.
  • There was no marketing effort to attract visitors/guest from the two nearby mountains that attracted more skiers.

Further inspections of the lodge premises revealed that maintenance was not consistent leaving dangerous snow and ice on stairwells and most of the emergency lighting system not working. In addition, the outside of the lodge that faced the skiers coming down the mountain had not been painted in years and looked very bad.

The result was that the overall feel of the lodge was uninviting. Anthony’s discussions with the owners revealed that the owners, Jim and Joyce, thought that the mountain was their best asset instead of the lodge.

This perspective was unfortunate because the mountain itself was not a great skiing mountain and only offered 43 easy to moderate trails with a 1300 foot drop. Most skiers went to the two nearby mountains. As mentioned above this opportunity went unrecognized.

More importantly the owners had no plan to improve their situation.

The Fixes and What Hoteliers can Learn

The fixes for the Bromley Sun Lodge were very simple and included:

Winter Lodge Marketing 101
  • Fixing the outstanding maintenance issues (painting the ski slope facing facade) and doing daily maintenance such as clearing the snow.
  • Offering skiers hot chocolate and BBQ from the restaurant as they ended their runs. This brought in daytime revenues and guest to their front door.
  • Renovation of the lobby, front desk and fireplace areas to feel more inviting and a place where guests would want to gather.
  • Giving the room some simple amenities such as a gift basket and better lamps that have jacks for Internet and laptop power.
  • Bringing in a marketing consultant to guide their marketing efforts with other mountains in the area as well as offering guests some more modern amenities such as a hotel cart and Kindles to use while they stay.
  • Some new signage.

The only real question remaining for the Bromley Sun Lodge is will the owners be willing to listen to their marketing consultant and execute a new plan after Anthony leaves. This will be an interesting hotel to revisit at a later point in time.

the most important thing hoteliers can learn from this episode is that a hotel or resort will not thrive without marketing.

Tell us about the hotels you have stayed at. What were their opportunities to improve? Come back next week for another recap of Hotel Impossible.