Last updated: 07:31 AM ET, Mon March 16 2015

Report: Major Ski Resort Sell-Off May be in the Works, Tourism Would Not be Affected

Destination & Tourism | Michael Isenbek | March 14, 2015

Report: Major Ski Resort Sell-Off May be in the Works, Tourism Would Not be Affected

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock/Digital Vision.

CNL Lifestyle Properties, a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), is considering selling off its portfolio of 16 ski resorts collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the Associated Press via ABC News announced. If sold to a single buyer, it would be the biggest ski resort purchase in history, but winter sports tourists can still schuss to their heart’s content.

The 16 properties include Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, Okemo Mountain in Vermont, Crested Butte in Colorado, Brighton in Utah, and Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California.

CNL will be assessing its options "in the near future," said Steve Rice, senior managing director of CNL Financial Group. Other options besides an outright sale are a private buyout or listing on a publicly traded exchange. "We're taking a studied and careful approach," Rice said.

CNL Lifestyle Properties was worth as much as $3 billion in 2012, owning more than 100 water parks, ski resorts, marinas, and senior housing developments before a real estate downturn caused the numbers to plummet. Nearing the end of its projected lifespan, with an "exit strategy" deadline set Dec. 31, CNL has already begun selling off its holdings. Last June saw 48 golf properties sold for $320 million, and this December, CNL agreed to sell its senior housing for $790 million.

Even if the ski resorts change hands, tourism will be unaffected, because the resort operators' long-term leases will still be valid. "For the skier, it's a nonevent," said Steve Kircher, president of eastern operations for Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, which holds leases for Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Loon Mountain that will last for several decades.

Bob Rogowsky, who skis 70 to 80 days a year at Sunday River, said most winter sports enthusiasts are pleased with the investments that have been made since CNL bought the resort and Boyne began running it in 2007. He's confident enough in the stability of the resort that he’s moving to the area for his retirement. "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.

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