We’d heard about The Wisconsin Dells, and the reviews of the Sky High RV Resort in Portage made it sound like a great place to spend a couple of nights, recoup from the thousand miles or so of driving we’d done in the last few days, fill our fresh water, and relax.
The traffic through The Dells was horrible — usually we avoid tourist areas on Fridays and weekdays, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way, you know? And on this early August day, the traffic was about to be the least of our worries.
The GPS and signs got us wound around through the countryside and up the huge hill to the RV resort, and by the time we arrived at the office we were ready to relax. The park was busy but not packed — many sites still seemed to be open. The pool was jumping with kids and the office and store crowded with all kinds of things to see and stuff to eat.
It was also manned by teenagers.
Let me say right here that we both had our first jobs even younger than teenagers, and love to see kids willing to earn some money. They were friendly and said they had a full-hookup site where we could stay for two nights, no problem.
We paid in cash, unhitched the truck, and drove the Winnebago through the parks narrow, curving dirtor gravel roads to the site.
We checked. Double-checked. Triple checked. The site with the big, well-planted Class A (bus) RV was definitely sitting in the spot we’d been assigned. So we drove the twisting, hilly road between the trees and under low branches back to the office.
No problem, the kids said. We’ve got another one you can go to.
Off we drove in the Winnie down a different road, in a different direction into a part of the resort that looked like it housed long-time lessees. If you RV a lot, you know the neighborhood: park models or other RVs that have been in the same spot for so long they’ve sprouted decks, hard-plastic sewer pipes, plants in huge pots, and barbeques with covers on them.
Though overgrown, this spot was at least empty. With just 31′ of RV, the site looked plenty long enough, but when I looked overhead, I could see low-hanging branches that could do serious damage to the top of our three-month-old rig. I held up the sign for Bob to stop backing. We were going to have to think this through.
Despite our fatigue and frustration, we had the presence of mind to check the site out before asking if we could cut limbs from a tree just to get in. Turned out to be a good thing, too: even though the site looked as though it had housed a long-term RV, we couldn’t find a sewer hook-up.
We were done. We got in the RV, drove back to the office, and demanded a refund. This is where it got weird. A few of the kids seemed panicked — what if Dad finds out we screwed this up?!? A couple of the others seemed as though they just didn’t care.
While Bob went out to re-hitch the truck, I stayed in the office with my hand out for the refund. Of course, the owner or manager — an adult, anyway — showed up, apologies falling from his lips as fast as our confidence in the place had. “They really shouldn’t have sent you to that site,” he said, “it wasn’t ready.”
He swore he could find us a spot, get the people on the wrong site moved, even told us we could fill our fresh water before leaving etc. etc., but — as I said — we were done. He pleaded with us not to give the resort a bad review, but it was too late. Sometimes things happen that just can’t be undone.
We climbed into the Winnebago, did our last-minute cockpit checks, and started the engine. I told Bob we had permission to fill our fresh water tank before we left if we wanted, but we couldn’t find any easy-to-access water, and the idea of trying to find an empty site where we could get to the water without unhitching the truck again was frustrating beyond words.
On up the highway another 60 miles we found a Walmart where we could sit out the night. Our fresh water indicator went to red, and we hoped that the next place we stopped would be a better experience than the one we’d left.
If the Sky High folks are reading this, let me say that we hoped to stay at your resort. As a professional trainer, I can tell you that you need to spend more time with your employees — teenagers or not — so they’ll know your reservation system, site availability method, and learn some customer service skills.
It’s like this: whoever stands behind the counter on your behalf should be another version of *you.*
Maybe in this case the resort doesn’t have to worry about losing RVers — maybe they do so much repeat business, work with so many families desperate for a place to stay in The Dells, that they don’t have to sweat the loss of one frustrated full-time RV couple.
But mark my words: We’ve seen plenty of restaurants and campgrounds/RV parks come and go over the years, and the most common reason for it seems to be when the owners/managers hand over key aspects of the business to others who just don’t care as much.
Don’t let this happen to you.
And to fellow RVers, be cautious about this particular place. Hopefully your experience will be much more positive than ours!