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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.)