16 Ski Areas Could Change Hands in Major Resort Sell-Off

ameliatraynor | | Industry NewsIndustry News
 A setting sun glows above the Sunday River resort in Maine as lights come on for night skiing
A setting sun glows above the Sunday River resort in Maine as lights come on for night skiing. (nytimes.com)

Over a dozen ski resorts could be changing hands as CNL Lifestyle Properties, a real estate investment trust out of Newry, Maine considers getting out of the snow business. Owning ski resorts from Maine to California, CNL’s portfolio is worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

CNL Lifestyle Properties owns 16 resorts – including Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, Okemo Mountain in Vermont, Stevens Pass in Washington, Crested Butte in Colorado, Brighton in Utah, and Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California.

If CNL sells them all to one buyer, industry officials say it would be the biggest single ski resort transaction in the history of the sport. But it’s likely skiers won’t notice any change at all.

CNL also owns  the Omni Mount Washington Resort, in Bretton Woods NH
CNL also owns the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, NH

“We’re taking a studied and careful approach,” said Steve Rice, senior managing director of CNL Financial Group. CNL will evaluate options for its remaining properties, which include ski resorts, theme parks and marinas, “in the near future,” said Rice.

CNL could also opt for a private buyout, or listing on a publicly traded exchange.

Any sale wouldn’t have any significant impact on skiers because the resort operators’ long-term leases will remain in place even if the properties change hands. “For the skier, it’s a nonevent,” said Steve Kircher, president of eastern operations for Boyne, which will remain the lease holder for Loon, Sunday River, and Sugarloaf, regardless of ski resort ownership, for several more decades.

CNL owns Crested Butte in Colorado.
Crested Butte in Colorado

In 2012, CNL Lifestyle Properties was valued at as much as $3 billion with ownership of more than 100 water parks, ski resorts, marinas and senior housing developments. The value dropped dramatically in the aftermath of a real estate downturn, and CNL began selling off its properties – they anticipate having an “exit strategy” in place by Dec. 31.

In June, CNL agreed to sell 48 golf properties for $320 million. In December, it announced an agreement to sell its senior housing for $790 million.

Northstar-at-Tahoe in California
Northstar-at-Tahoe in California

Bob Rogowsky, who skies 70 to 80 days a year at Sunday River, recently bought a retirement home in the area. He says most skiers are pleased with the investments that have been made since CNL bought the resort and Boyne began running it in 2007.

“I wouldn’t have made that kind of financial commitment and lifetime commitment if didn’t believe there was stability and a good future,” Rogowsky said.

Okemo, VT
Okemo Mountain Resort, VT

Full list of properties held by CNL:

Brighton Ski Resort Brighton, UT
Crested Butte Mountain Resort Mt. Crested Butte, CO
Cypress Mountain West Vancouver, BC, Canada
Gatlinburg Sky Lift Gatlinburg, TN
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort Hancock, MA
Loon Mountain Resort Lincoln, NH
Mount Sunapee Mountain Resort Newbury, NH
Mountain High Resort Wrightwood, CA
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort Lake Tahoe, CA
Okemo Mountain Resort Ludlow, VT
The Omni Mount Washington Resort Bretton Woods, NH
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort Twin Bridges, CA
Stevens Pass Skykomish, WA
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort Carrabassett Valley, ME
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort Snoqualmie Pass, WA
Sunday River Resort Newry, ME
The Village at Northstar Lake Tahoe, CA
Village of Baytowne Wharf* Destin, FL
Village at Blue Mountain* Collingwood, ON, Canada
Village at Copper Mountain* Copper Mountain, CO
Village at Mammoth Mountain* Mammoth Lakes, CA
Village at Stratton* Stratton, VT
Village of Snowshoe Mountain* Snowshoe, WV
Whistler Creekside* Vancouver, BC, Canada

(*Where CNL Lifestyle Properties holds majority ownership, its partners have equal voting rights and share in key decision making.)

Cypress Mountain
Cypress Mountain, British Columbia
Stevens Pass, WA
Stevens Pass, WA

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13 thoughts on “16 Ski Areas Could Change Hands in Major Resort Sell-Off

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  2. Climate change is scaring investors. Their looking for an exit strategy because they fear scientists are in fact correct…and aren’t willfully ignoring the evidence

  3. That the sports leisure industry is in trouble.

    Shrinking user visits shrinking in golf and skiing are continually projected.

    Combine drought in west, snowmaking and irrigation for golf unsustainable and there u have it.

    CNA admits profit cycle life is over, smart.
    KSL SQUAW believes otherwise, not as smart.

    We’ll see what transpires.

  4. Nothstar is leased to Vail management company to run and operate. They are actually owned by CNL.
    In 2007, CNL Lifestyle Properties acquired Northstar, which since 2010 has been operated under a triple-net lease by Vail Resorts.

  5. Vail should buy Crested Butte, Brighton, and Sierra-at-Tahoe. They would nicely complement their existing resorts.

    1. Vail owns Northstar the company, the resort, they do not own the Land. they rent from CNL Lifestyle.

    1. Oops!

      “*Where CNL Lifestyle Properties holds majority ownership, its partners have equal voting rights and share in key
      decision making.”

      I’ve edited it accordingly. Thanks for pointing that out!

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