How to really choose lodge membership (& approx cost)

Young Angus

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Just curious, about to drop some coin on a membership but wondering if I should shop around first. How best to really choose the best lodge membership and what kinds of ball park costs would I be looking at.

is $5k around what a lot of lodge memberships go for or is that the more basic end of things ie. basic lodge, no reciprocal rights, that kind of thing?

Any advice?
 

Sandy

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Just curious, about to drop some coin on a membership but wondering if I should shop around first. How best to really choose the best lodge membership and what kinds of ball park costs would I be looking at.

is $5k around what a lot of lodge memberships go for or is that the more basic end of things ie. basic lodge, no reciprocal rights, that kind of thing?

Any advice?
It depends on which mountain it is, where it is at that mountain, how many beds, how many members and facilities.

For example, if there are 150 members but only 20 beds, then it's not good value at all.
 
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teleroo

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Reality is it is hard to get in to lodge memberships these days. So if you've got a viable offer to a lodge that will work for you having read all T&C's then go for it.

At $5k I'd probably guess it is a non-resellable buy in into a club with a largish membership base. But that is fine, and it is neither expensive nor cheap.

There is typically an inverse relationship between lodge buy in cost and membership pool size.

Resellable memberships at fancy Thredbo lodges are 10 X this. Very Premium indeed, fully catered etc. My club has a negligible entry fee, modest annual and per night fees, three buildings with about 90 beds but over 1000 members. And you've got to clean the dunnies.

In my view on snow club lodge accom is becoming more valuable as the size of the punter market increases placing pressure on car parking and upwards pressure on commercial accom prices. One way to look at it is you are buying into a less rapacious pricing structure, one run for benefit of membership rather than someone else's profit.
 

Sandy

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Reality is it is hard to get in to lodge memberships these days. So if you've got a viable offer to a lodge that will work for you having read all T&C's then go for it.

At $5k I'd probably guess it is a non-resellable buy in into a club with a largish membership base. But that is fine, and it is neither expensive nor cheap.

There is typically an inverse relationship between lodge buy in cost and membership pool size.

Resellable memberships at fancy Thredbo lodges are 10 X this. Very Premium indeed, fully catered etc. My club has a negligible entry fee, modest annual and per night fees, three buildings with about 90 beds but over 1000 members. And you've got to clean the dunnies.

In my view on snow club lodge accom is becoming more valuable as the size of the punter market increases placing pressure on car parking and upwards pressure on commercial accom prices. One way to look at it is you are buying into a less rapacious pricing structure, one run for benefit of membership rather than someone else's profit.
I'm a member of a club at Hotham, and they are resellable. 38 beds, about 85 members. No cleaning duties apart from cleaning up in the kitchen after use, vacuuming rooms before leaving, etc.
@Any got a lodge membership towards the end of 2019.
 

Telezacski

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@teleroo summation is pretty good but I would also add look at what is included in the buy in as some lodges are including the coverage of maintenance costs in the initial buy in. I.e I was excluded from two years of building levy as I’d paid upfront.

I know a few cheap lodges with smaller member pools as they vet members with more vigour. I think what drives many members are the annual fees, if these are cheap there tends to be a lot of members who hold on to membership but don’t often use the lodge.

for mine the main thing is can you use the lodge the way you want to when you want to. This is what I love about our lodge. I can usually get my season of booking in the few weeks bookings open and the lodge is rarely full.
 

Budgiesmuggler

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I looked at this pretty closely a few years ago,

Most were around $20k for a self catered lodge. The annual fees varied, as did what those fees included. They were between $800 and $2000. Some included nights, others didn’t. Some gave nights in both summer and winter.

Ultimately for me it was the annual buy in plus the annual fee that turned us off. Ie if I’m
Paying $20k up front, and $1500 per year, then the payback is pretty long.

We also ended up finding a lodge that takes casual bookings, not too exy, and is generally available when we want if we book early.

We did start to look for an apartment on the basis we can then go when we want, and air bnb when we’re not there to cover the cost.
 

Annabuzzy

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Just curious, about to drop some coin on a membership but wondering if I should shop around first. How best to really choose the best lodge membership and what kinds of ball park costs would I be looking at.

is $5k around what a lot of lodge memberships go for or is that the more basic end of things ie. basic lodge, no reciprocal rights, that kind of thing?

Any advice?
I’ve found lodge memberships choose you! I‘ve never really thought of it as a consumer style exercise and I imply no criticism in saying that.

When I joined my Oz club at least 20 years ago now, I looked at that club, and one other. I liked the vibe of the club I joined a bit more and at that point rates were a touch lower. There was a point midway through the last 20 years that I seriously contemplated joining a different club but my wife kyboshed that. That moment aside I’ve loved every minute. The club itself has become like an extended second family that in the main i only see between June and October each year. And yes that can be all the pluses and minuses of the extended family - that annoying Uncle you desperately avoid sitting next to, the loved Aunt, your best buddy for a day cousin, the teenage boy stuck on his laptop gaming…It’s the best investment I’ve made in my life, but never made a cent.

I‘m also a member of another club but only the last say 4 years. I’m happy I made that call too.
 

currawong

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some other factors not already mentioned
  • how long has the lease got to run
  • what maintenance is likely to be needed, what provision has been made for that financially
  • how has the club raised money for major maintenance or refurbishment in the past
  • is the club attractive to new members or is it slowly dying as the members age
  • does the club help you sell a membership? if so, typically how long does it take?
  • what's the policy about leaving stuff at the lodge while you ski on checkin/checkout day (might be different in covid times so don't judge too much on this year)
  • do they have a policy on children? will you care about that in future?
  • with last season a write off in vic and this season badly effected, I'd want to know about financial position. Fixed costs are still high and gov support has been pretty limited. I won't be surprised to see some clubs fold, or need a substantial bail out from members
my impression about costs is that cost of joining at hotham and falls is a less than buller and nsw on-snow clubs.
 
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currawong

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Children. Do you have them? Do you want to avoid them? Different lodges have different attitudes to kids. Some have actual rules. Some rely on the vibe.

Ideally, stay at the lodge for a week before you commit.
our lodge has a policy now that you have to stay before you can join. you get to look at us, we get to look at you. avoid bad matches. works pretty well.
 
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Any

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when I tried looking online for lodge memberships there seemed to be none. but now after talking to several lodges it seems there are many spare memberships available around the place. many lodges have a few memberships spare in the committee's pool.
very poor advertising, poor web presence, lack of communication skills and incorrect or inactive contacts makes it difficult to track down info and appear there aren't many memberships available out there, but there are. this is to be expected; the lodges are non-profit entities, the committee are all volunteers, and the age group of most lodges is pre internet.

every lodge I have seen has a reasonable member limit to prevent flooding the rooms and disappointed membership. so I think it extremely unlikely to find a 150 member 20 bed situation. that'd be pretty stupid really, 100% of member base would be dissatisfied.
because its shared, you cant just book out the whole thing tho. ive seen different strategies, but something along the lines of where the lodge opens up a booking date for members about 2 weeks before the public, eg in mid may, but you can only book so many nights to make it fair for everyone. then after the first week, once everyone's had a chance, you can book unlimited more whatever's left. then it opens to the public.
weekends and school holidays seem to fill up fast, with midweek stuff lasting longer. imo midweek bookings should be given priority access to weekends rather than having an empty lodge. i think some lodges do this by accepting bids of what you want somehow?
both our lodges have school groups that have standard bookings to book out the whole lodge in one week of the school holidays. these are some of the most profitable times for the lodge, and are required to maintain the running costs, so you won't be able to book during this time.

lodge memberships I've seen and overheard are between $3.5k and $13k here at Hotham.
I chose a lodge further away from the local pub on purpose, and so it seemed memberships and nightly rates were cheaper, yet ironically because of davenport access trail, its more ski in ski out than some of the closer more expensive ones. priorities i guess.

I've never heard about not being able to resell them. the two lodges ms pink jacket and I are members of allow reselling your share, so does our neighboring lodge, but it requires permission and coordination with the committee/secretary. they want to vet the potential members i think, im not sure what they're looking for, but it bet its mostly just to set expectations properly beforehand to avoid disappointed members.

as you can sell the membership for the price you bought it for (or more) then its almost mute (except for tied up cash assets). makes the math heaps simpler; if you stay enough nights to make up for the ongoing membership fee ($300 ish for mine), then you're ahead in $. considering the peak season costs here, you'd only have to stay like 4 nights to break even.
many lodges waive the membership fee if you attend the work/cleaning weekends during the summer.
lodges seem to allocate beds not rooms. so if you want a private room you may need to book/pay for 2 or 3 beds instead which will effect how long itll be before you break even.

I dove right in, sight unseen, untested, at a resort id never even ski'ed at, and got a membership. and it worked out great! pretty good lodge, absolutely great people, at a great resort, with friendly people everywhere we turn.
But I just stayed at a night at a lodge in falls creek, with less friendly visitors, in a creaky aging lodge, with no hot water left after 6pm, in a ski town that seemed to be filled with snooty unfriendly punters.
So I'd recommend staying at a few lodges first and choosing your favorite. as @Annabuzzy says, the lodge will pretty much choose you.
 

Dropbear

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I would echo all the great comments above.

In our experience, lodge membership is less about a perfect holiday and more of a lifestyle. It's a shared experience to stay there, and you go back year after year. It's usually seamless, but occasionally there can be little issues. Cooking and dining together is especially great, so I recommend a place that is communal. It also helps to keep it very affordable and very good value for money too.

It appears to me as though a communal lodge living experience translates directly to a very friendly club community.

Over time, the lodge kids have grown into adults with their own families, and several of the younger generation are now serving on the board.

All in all, I couldn't recommend lodge membership more highly.
 

Young Angus

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Great great comments thank you, much of what I've experienced also leading into just about to buy into a lodge. A friend of mine I knew had a hook up at a lodge and I've just ended up staying there a bunch which has been great, and I do like the basic yet communal feel of a lot of the lodges further away down towards bus stop 7 and 8, they seem pretty chilled out with chilled out friendly members.

The Lodge Ski Club has memberships apparently but they don't allow children under 4 and we have a little tiny one. Have also heard some good things about Swindlers Valley which is a couple of doors up, although their website doesn't really tell you much haha they seem like fairly un-fancy but really nice lodges down that end and the membership prices look like they are around that 5k mark. I mean really I don't need catering, I just want a good friendly bunch of people, good rates, ability to sell again when I want to (which I can with the ones I'm looking at) and somewhere warm with hot water!

The Lodge Ski Club sounds like they have around 80 members. I think Swindlers Valley is a fair bit smaller than that. Another few around there that I'm looking into too. Everyone I've spoken to seems really friendly and for something good and reliable that's on-mountain it's a no-brainer!
 

CarveMan

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. Just don't make any assumptions about how a club operates or its financial position
Plus ensure it either has a long lease or a good plan for lease renewal.

You won’t get on with everyone in the club but also make sure that the committee isn’t a clique that steamrolls everything through together.
 

Young Angus

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The lease is the main thing I want to ask about...what happens when they run out? Are they just leasing from Parks VIC or Hotham RMB...surely isn't some kind of crown lease??
 

currawong

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to get the lease renewed you have to bring the lodge up to current standards, eg bushfire, building. there may be other requirements imposed. this can be very expensive. we had to replace all our windows, reclad and reroof and a whole lot of other stuff. there may be some aesthetic things too. not sure if hotham is the same as falls, but length of lease also considered how many beds you have for the size of the site. If they think you are "wasting capacity" the lease may not be as long.
 

CarveMan

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to get the lease renewed you have to bring the lodge up to current standards, eg bushfire, building. there may be other requirements imposed. this can be very expensive. we had to replace all our windows, reclad and reroof and a whole lot of other stuff. there may be some aesthetic things too. not sure if hotham is the same as falls, but length of lease also considered how many beds you have for the size of the site. If they think you are "wasting capacity" the lease may not be as long.
My family’s lodge fell foul of most of these things. It was a tiny little shack on the best site on Buller.
 

cqen2l

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Great great comments thank you, much of what I've experienced also leading into just about to buy into a lodge. A friend of mine I knew had a hook up at a lodge and I've just ended up staying there a bunch which has been great, and I do like the basic yet communal feel of a lot of the lodges further away down towards bus stop 7 and 8, they seem pretty chilled out with chilled out friendly members.

The Lodge Ski Club has memberships apparently but they don't allow children under 4 and we have a little tiny one. Have also heard some good things about Swindlers Valley which is a couple of doors up, although their website doesn't really tell you much haha they seem like fairly un-fancy but really nice lodges down that end and the membership prices look like they are around that 5k mark. I mean really I don't need catering, I just want a good friendly bunch of people, good rates, ability to sell again when I want to (which I can with the ones I'm looking at) and somewhere warm with hot water!

The Lodge Ski Club sounds like they have around 80 members. I think Swindlers Valley is a fair bit smaller than that. Another few around there that I'm looking into too. Everyone I've spoken to seems really friendly and for something good and reliable that's on-mountain it's a no-brainer!
You need to look at the lodge next door to The Lodge. We allow kiddies and only have 55 members. Waves @Sandy @Any
Used to have some great drinking games between our clubs. :D
 

Sandy

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Okay so what is the Hotham Club Cup haha lodge membership life sounds pretty fun!
It was a ski race between the club lodges at Hotham. Teams of 3, two runs each, lowest total time. We'd have 4-6 teams..... barracking, chanting, banners, fancy dress (well, I did anyway!!), party afterwards..... a lot of fun!!!!
 

Young Angus

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It was a ski race between the club lodges at Hotham. Teams of 3, two runs each, lowest total time. We'd have 4-6 teams..... barracking, chanting, banners, fancy dress (well, I did anyway!!), party afterwards..... a lot of fun!!!!
Sounds awesome haha
 

Sandy

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You need to look at the lodge next door to The Lodge. We allow kiddies and only have 55 members. Waves @Sandy @Any
Used to have some great drinking games between our clubs. :D
eumarellah.com.au
At the Hotham Club Cup, when the Eumarellah skiers ran, we used to call out "Human Error!!!!" ;)
Great times, and our two lodges always got along well together.
 
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Sandy

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I looked at this pretty closely a few years ago,

Most were around $20k for a self catered lodge. The annual fees varied, as did what those fees included. They were between $800 and $2000. Some included nights, others didn’t. Some gave nights in both summer and winter.

Ultimately for me it was the annual buy in plus the annual fee that turned us off. Ie if I’m
Paying $20k up front, and $1500 per year, then the payback is pretty long.

We also ended up finding a lodge that takes casual bookings, not too exy, and is generally available when we want if we book early.

We did start to look for an apartment on the basis we can then go when we want, and air bnb when we’re not there to cover the cost.
I've noticed over the years, that lodge memberships at other mountains (not Hotham) can be a lot of money.
I mean, $20k up front, and $1500 per year doesn't sound attractive at all.....

As @Any has said, the yearly fees are about $350, but it's $0 if you attend one of 4 or 5 work-parties from Jan to about May. Actually, those are good social occasions along with working as well. So effectively if you pay (let's say $5k-7k) for a membership, and attend a workparty, it's $0 per year.
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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My cousin is a member at Kalyna. It’s low Key, self catering and accepts kids. They were really welcoming of my cousins 2yo.

The costs I put above were about nsw resorts
 
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Telezacski

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Not specifically mentioned here already, but check out how the club addressed Covid requirements. I think this will give you a pretty good idea of how the club is managed and an insight into how the club may meet future challenges.
 

teleroo

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If you want an example, in my opinion, of a club that has managed the covid situation well, look at the info on the RAN Ski Club web page. Sensible, documented and well communicated COVID policies for two seasons now. Something to benchmark against. Full refund for covid cancellation too. A web search will get you there.
 

currawong

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Not specifically mentioned here already, but check out how the club addressed Covid requirements. I think this will give you a pretty good idea of how the club is managed and an insight into how the club may meet future challenges.
it is a bit complex though. clubs with paid managers vs unpaid managers vs no managers had different options. also constraints like shared bathrooms, overall no of beds, bedroom configurations, ratio of common area space to beds. a club with a paid manager, large common areas, small bedrooms and no shared bathrooms has a lot more room to move than a club with bunkrooms and no manager.

so hard to compare clubs wrt covid. but reasonable to look at how a particular club did respond, given its situation
 
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currawong

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What's the go for insurance these days, I hear it's a pretty big deal and also that some lodges forego it
insurance as an absolute effing disaster.

the number of insurers in the market has shrunk. I'm not sure but I think there is really only 1 underwriter.

some lodges cannot get insurance at any price. (some have fairly recently used cladding that was bushfire approved at the time but not any more)
some cannot get cover for the full replacement value.
the lucky ones can get cover at exorbitant prices, e.g. 100% increase in 2 years.

I don't know about nsw but in vic, insurance is a condition of the lease.

Vic gov is investigating whether there has been a market failure and if so what gov intervention is appropriate.

meanwhile, it's a ruinous fixed cost while clubs are getting a fraction of normal income
 

currawong

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Yeah not sure re requirements in NSW but from chatting to a mate in insurance he has suggested some go naked. Something to be aware of when looking at clubs OP
look at it by all means but maybe not a deciding factor.

if membership costs, say, $5k then it would be a PITA to lose it but the probability is low. there is also some chance that gov action will sort out the situation within a year or so. fingers crossed.

if paying $20k it's a bigger deal.
 

currawong

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You'd have to think club's may be better off self insuring the way things are currently, setting up a formal financial pool within their financial structure.
if a bushfire goes through a village it's unlikely that could cover all the losses.
 

teleroo

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if a bushfire goes through a village it's unlikely that could cover all the losses.
Was thinking of each club self insuring its own structure. If a lodge is worth $1m on average, start putting away $20k per year?? Dunno.
 

currawong

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I think he meant in-club?
very few clubs are going to have reserves big enough to self-insure. I really can't imagine why they would. if I was a member of one that had that much in reserves, I'd be asking why they were not reducing fees and/or improving the building

replacement cost can be 3 or 4 times market value.
 

currawong

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Was thinking of each club self insuring its own structure. If a lodge is worth $1m on average, start putting away $20k per year?? Dunno.
try $4m replacement cost on a lodge worth $1m on the market.
that's 200 years at $20k pa. I doubt that any club in vic had a surplus last year and not looking likely this year.
meanwhile you are in breach of the lease if you are not insured
 
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piolet

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very few clubs are going to have reserves big enough to self-insure. I really can't imagine why they would. if I was a member of one that had that much in reserves, I'd be asking why they were not reducing fees and/or improving the building

replacement cost can be 3 or 4 times market value.
Teleroo above is suggesting just that, a sinking fund of sorts
 
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