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Old 08-29-2011, 06:47 PM   #1
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Bummer at Thousand Trails Hershey

I'm a bit bummed out by Thousand Trails and ELS management, so bear with me if this seems a bit of a rant...

We were at the Thousand Trails Hershey PA park as Irene bore down on the East Coast. Planned to sat thru Spet 6. Hershey is over 100 miles from the storm's main track, so nobody in the park was much worried. We figured some rain and wind, but no serious risks.

Around 1 pm on Saturday, the park announced that "corporate management" has order all ELS/Encore parks in central and eastern PA closed. We had to be out by 4 pm. No exceptions. The only advice was to "go west". Not much notice to find a place to take a big RV, so we chose to leave the RV on our site (at our risk) and moved to a hotel while Irene did her thing. As expected, Irene didn't do much that far west of the main track.

But the park was somewhat vindicated when early Sunday a.m. a micro-burst within the hurricane tore down several trees on the highway right at the park entrance. Took two power poles with it and blocked both the highway and the TT entrance. The only damage for several miles around. No power in the park, and no power meant no water and no sewage (it's a hilly area and both water and sewage are pumped to where they need to go). We went back to the park on Monday and wanted to stay, using our generator and onboard water supply (which we had wisely filled). The park has no damage inside - the only problem was lack of power. Makes no difference - we were told we had to leave. They opened up a old park exit road (the entrance was still blocked) and told us we had to take the coach and leave. Where do we go on short notice when the Labor Day weekend is approaching? Not their problem - sorry! Not even a list of other parks that had openings. So we had to fend for ourselves and find another place, even though the sun was shining, the temperatures balmy, and our fresh tank full and waste tanks empty. So tonight we are boondocking elsewhere instead of on our already-paid-for site at TT Hershey. Bah Humbug!

We pay Thousand Trails $550 every year for camping rights. They have our money whether we stay in their parks or not, so they have no motivation to help the members when things get rough. Except, maybe, that happy campers tell other campers and maybe get more people to buy in. But I don't think that ELS (parent of TT) cares - the members are just a necessary evil in the money flow. If it doesn't add to their bottom line, it's not a consideration.

I know, this is the way business is done in modern America, but I don't have to like it. And I can tell others how little a big American business like ELS cares about the people on whom it relies for profits. And maybe put a tiny dent in their corporate well-being.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:59 PM   #2
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That's a real bummer. They rubbed me the wrong way many years ago and I did not buy in.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:05 PM   #3
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Gary, missed you when we came back from Millinocket, we're still in Maine (Wells) sunny and 75 today. are you staying around Hershey for the show? Good luck finding something there are lots of small parks around Lancaster. PS they forget they are in the hospitality industry and customers talk
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:15 PM   #4
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That was truely wrong the way you were treated, Gary. Asking you to leave without so much as the slightest help to locate an alternative CG is really low. Nothing like posting your experience on a popular RV-ing website to get the word out on their rude handling of the situation.

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Old 08-29-2011, 08:26 PM   #5
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Had a similar experience at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville NC. Nice place and they know it....turned us away no prob....sad
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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An other shining example of why we use State, County and COE parks at every available opportunity. We've never bought into any of those systems - they smell very much like the time-share condo rip-offs.

You pay your money and take your choice and those kind of places aren't attractive enough for me the get past the first part.

If we were full-timing rather than occasional travellers, maybe our perspective would change Reading Jim Jaillet's blog on seattlepi.com, I can understand his preference for Thousand Trails. It seems he got a very good deal a long time ago and , as a full-timer, is reaping the benefits.

I sure wish he could spell LaConner correctly.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:48 PM   #7
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I'll play devil's advocate here. A decision to close was made due to an act of nature which is totally understandable. While it would have been "nice" of them to provide you with a list of other campgrounds, they are not really your travel agent. You have a self-contained motorhome that can literally go anywhere and stay anywhere. I'm sorry but I don't see it as a big deal that they didn't find you a place to go as that is up to wherever you want to go. As far as not letting you stay after the campground was officially closed, well it was closed... Again, I don't see why you would be allowed to stay in a closed park. On the one hand I understand paying for membership and being entitled to certain services, but an act of nature like that is not a common occurrence and they have to do what they have to do including evacuate the park.
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Old 08-30-2011, 12:38 AM   #8
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We had similar issue at TT Williamsburg. We had decided to hunker down and stay having been thru 5 hurricanes in FL. Friday AM we were told park was closing but the manager called TT Lynchburg to get space for us and transfered reservation. Williamsburg still has no power and won't reopen till it does, but TT staff at both locations have been more than helpfull. The 'luck of the draw' I guess. Hope the rest of your stay goes well. Several of the MD state parks have reopened and have space though it's not free of course.
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Old 08-30-2011, 07:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yellowreef View Post
I'll play devil's advocate here. A decision to close was made due to an act of nature which is totally understandable. While it would have been "nice" of them to provide you with a list of other campgrounds, they are not really your travel agent. You have a self-contained motorhome that can literally go anywhere and stay anywhere. I'm sorry but I don't see it as a big deal that they didn't find you a place to go as that is up to wherever you want to go. As far as not letting you stay after the campground was officially closed, well it was closed... Again, I don't see why you would be allowed to stay in a closed park. On the one hand I understand paying for membership and being entitled to certain services, but an act of nature like that is not a common occurrence and they have to do what they have to do including evacuate the park.
Agreed.... While the hurricane was forecast to track to the east, it could have easily went further west and come right over Hershey. The park management wanted no part of the 'diehards' floating away in the resulting floods or trees falling on campers. We were in a similar situation at a State Park in SC a few years ago. A hurricane was coming north and the park was within the forecast cone. The day before they closed the park and sent everyone packing. We just packed up and headed a hundred miles to the west to wait it out. No big deal. It is all part of the adventure.
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Old 08-30-2011, 08:06 AM   #10
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Are you complaining they were too cautious? Sorry that you feel put out but nature is unpredictable. Had Irene deviated only slightly from the path there was a huge potential for disaster.

So my second question for you sir, and I ask this in the most polite manner possible: How would you react if the situation had been worse and they had done nothing? Weather forecasts are notoriously vague and are frequently inaccurate. With lawsuits and the possibility of bodily injury it is better to be safe than sorry. Compare your situation to Hurricane Katrina where we are all still paying people who claimed that they were permitted to stay in a dangerous area. There has not been a storm of this magnitude hit this area in almost a century.

We live nearby and there are still schools and roads closed because of storm damage but the biggest danger in this storm was the potential for flooding. Please reference a topographic map of Thousand Trails Hershey and notice there is a large lake in the campground. That could potentially become a problem as did so many places in Vermont.

IMHO they were just moving you through an abundance of caution and not just to annoy, inconvenience or harass you.
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:23 AM   #11
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Here in Wells ME the original track was over our heads, when I saw the forecast I went to the Township office. I looked at the flood plain maps and determined that the was absolutely NO chance of flooding. there are a lot of park models in the back I road around and helped some of the older folks batten down, flipped every picnic table over. Tied down my things, ready to go. My only option was to go west where there many unknowns. As it turned out I got lucky and Irene tracked west. No major damage in the area. lost power for a while, the CG owner did not do enough the get it restored for his seasonal's, we were ok genny and plenty of water. I went to the Township again told her that park of the park was still down, she went to the power company site which had Wells 100% up. She called the county emergency folks they got hold of the power company, hour later the park was back on. Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:04 AM   #12
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IMHO, There are wheels on your rig and an engine to turn those wheels.

Add in some common sense and reasonable intelligence and the inconvenience of this matter would not trouble you at all.

If you owned those parks, you may have made decisions that would have pissed off people also. Things are what they are. Let it go, immediately if possible, and get on with normalcy.


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Old 08-30-2011, 10:07 AM   #13
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If Thousand Trails has treated you well in the past---then I give them a pass on the hurricane----perhaps you should as well. I have found that after all is said and done many memories of the "good times" in our RV have occurred during the "bad times".

In a year or so you may be recounting over cocktails how you "survived" Irene.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:13 AM   #14
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I'm not a member.. but, I agree with Yellowreef. Could it be they were protecting themselves. What would have happened if a tree did come down on your rig. Hmm, lawsuit? Who wants a lawsuit. I wouldn't. Why didn't they trim their trees.. etc???

I understand the inconvenience.. but, safety first. Weather is so darn unpredictable.. That's why weathermen get paid even if they make big mistakes.. It's just another "OOPS".
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