Sporting Club Partially to Blame?
Readers: Another person who watches The Greenbrier closely takes a different view of the resort’s losses.
I recently read a post “Unions the Problem at The Greenbrier” that attempted to blame all of the problems The Greenbrier resort is currently facing on what else — the union employees. I don’t know when bashing the working class became a hobby in America, but alas, that is beyond the point at this moment. The real reason for my post is to dispel several of the more the erroneous points the previous poster made in their supposedly informed post.
First, the poster claims to be a local and therefore have firsthand knowledge of the resort; however, based on the fallacious claims made in the post I tend to believe that the poster is either not a local, or if he/she is has received very bad information. I feel qualified to make this claim based on the fact that I lived five minutes from the front gates of the resort for twenty two years. Furthermore, practically every member of my family–myself included–has worked at the resort at one time or another.
Secondly, the previous poster makes the assertion that “bread girls” at the resort make $60,000 a year. This claim is beyond absurd. I have an uncle who has worked at the resort for over 20 seven years in various capacities including main dining room service. He currently holds what is considered the creme de la creme of service jobs at the resort–server at exclusive events and dinners and room service attendant at the premier suites and cottages. And in a year when business is extremely good he is lucky to make $40,000 a year including tips.
Thirdly, the poster claims that the employees get free reign over the services and amenities at the resort. Again, this is not what I have experienced. Yes it is true that the employees often get a discount–the last I heard it was ten percent–at the shops located on the grounds of the hotel. It might the case that this discount has now been extended to the various other services and amenities that the resort has added in recent years as well, but I can’t say for certain. However, once you see the prices for the items in the shops, spas, etc., you will realize that even with this discount someone making $40,000 a year is not going to get much out of this perk. Furthermore, it is true that employees do have the opportunity to use the sports facilities–golf courses, tennis courts, pools, etc.–during off peak hours for free. Yet, as grand as this sounds, it was explained to me that the reason for this perk was that it made the facilities look busy even during off peak times, which supposedly made them more desirable to the paying guests.
Fourth, the poster alleges that the unions threatened to strike over a slight increase in their health insurance coverage. If only it were that simple. One of my cousins who works at the resort as an attendant at the golf course told me that his out of pocket expenses for his health insurance plan were expected to go from approximately $300 a month to over $750 a month under the contract the resort proposed. While some might think this is still a good deal, keep in mind that this “grand union job” at the golf course pays about $28,000 a year with tips.
Sporting Club a Factor
Finally, while I admit that the resort’s unions are probably at least somewhat responsible for the current state of affairs, they by no means deserve all of the blame. In my opinion the resort’s management have made a series of blunders and miscalculations over that past decade or so that have led to the current state of affairs. First, management spent more or less the entire decade of the 1990’s trying to convince the state and county residents to allow the resort to be transformed into a casino. When this fell through it was decided that turning the hotel into what amounted to a catering service for the sub-division (The Sporting Club) located on the grounds was a good idea. It was also during this period that the management added many new amenities and services–numerous spas, restaurants, clubs, etc.– in an attempt to attract the nouveau riche that were supposedly sprouting up all over the country.
However, by attempting to be all things to all people management alienated the resort’s traditional client base. I witnessed this first hand when my wife and I stayed at the resort last year. Everything at the resort is now basically segregated between the traditional guests and the newer non-traditional guest, and from what I observed, neither group seemed to be having a very good time.
Editor’s note: Read our first BrandlandUSA post on solutions for The Greenbrier.