Vail Daily’s View: Anger surges when savior falls short | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily’s View: Anger surges when savior falls short

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO, Colorado

So, the previous owner of the Club at Cordillera – that’s the golf courses, country club, recreation and practice facilities and restaurants – lost $3 million to $4 million a year before selling last year to the current owner. Members were furious.

Now comes word that the current owner is losing $3 million to $4 million this year. Members are furious, maybe even more furious than they were before.

Well, OK. No doubt we’d be furious too. But in the big picture, what exactly has changed?

The golf course community was in trouble then and hasn’t pulled out of trouble yet. Welcome to the wide world of such communities across the country.

The simple math is also cruel. Only about half of Cordillera’s property owners are members of the club. The club doesn’t have enough members to pay the bills at the dues charged. That’s around $11,000 a year each.

The situation is especially vexing because the Wilhelm Family Partnership came in with a splash last summer.

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Hopes ran high to downright giddy. These guys had a plan to link Cordillera to similar clubs the family owned in other states, offer some new perks for memberships, and they hoped buying fervor would spread quickly. So far, it hasn’t worked as well as planned, and millions are owed. Just like the previous owners’ predicament.

And so it goes. The downturn has not let go of his grip. Luxury memberships are, well, luxuries that more folks have gone without.

It probably doesn’t help that developers overbuilt golf course communities in this valley, golfing as a sport has been waning in recent years, and confidence in the economic recovery has yet to bloom.

So, the Wilhelms saved Cordillera from bankruptcy, at least temporarily, and may yet pull their giant rabbit out the hat.

Meantime, what to do now? Raise dues? Sell memberships outside the subdivision? Introductory discounts for membership? Individual bailouts from current members? Close some of the courses and facilities? All of the above?

There’s a reason the previous owner was flailing, and the current one is in the same position. This appears to have been inevitable, with no easy path forward.

Anger certainly is an appropriate reaction. But it ain’t going to solve much. Individual homes lose value if the golf courses and amenities don’t survive somehow.

The furious members will only cut their own throats by quitting. That means working with the Wilhelms – whether buying them out or helping make the club work.

They were in trouble before, and they’re in trouble now. Only the owners’ names have changed.

There was no savior after all.