A Boston investment firm has made an offer to buy Saddleback Mountain, pledging to invest $25 million to $30 million after the sale to help restart the Rangeley ski resort, which has been closed for four years.
New owner Sebastian Monsour, chief executive officer of the Majella Group, accepts the traditional wooden ski from former owner Bill Berry. (Saddleback/Facebook)
Australian company Majella Group has signed an agreement to purchase Maine’s Saddleback Mountain Resort from Bill and Irene Berry. The purchase includes all holdings of the resort, including the resort, base lodge, ski lifts and surrounding timberland, totaling 6,337 acres.
Skiing at the Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain. (Hermitage Club/Facebook)
From Maine to Utah, wherever aficionados love a mountain, ski area revivals are trending.
Many are returning as nonprofit community areas that teach all ages to ski or ride. As affordable “feeder areas” they are significant contributors to the sustainability of the ski industry and help support local economies.
Larger resorts have been and continue to be revived, too, which is good for vacation homeowners, the industry, and towns that have lost millions in revenues due to (former) closings.
Revivals as Nonprofits
Hidden Valley Ski Area is now the National Winter Activity Center, a place where you and I can’t ski — unless we volunteer.
The center is a nonprofit serving youth through partnerships with groups from within a 70-mile radius of the Vernon, N.J., ski hill — YMCAs, Boys and Girls clubs, school and church groups.
Chris Nyberg, a 40-year ski-industry veteran serves on the board and assists with planning. He notes that volunteers not only get youth outdoors in winter, they also help to improve their lives by addressing health, diet, and fitness.
Ski, snowboard, cross-country, and snowshoeing are offered through the Ted Ligety Learn-to-Ski and Nordic Rocks programs. Goals are to serve 6,000 youth annually via multiple lessons that provide for skill development from ‘never-ever’ through competition levels.
Fundraising, grants, and volunteers returned Vermont’s Ascutney Mountain to its roots, offering a warm-up yurt, rope tow runs, and night skiing for free (donations accepted). The nonprofit Ascutney Outdoors is working to replace the base lodge and hopes to eventually offer more downhill trails and lifts. Cross-country, snowshoeing, “fat-tire” mountain biking, and backcountry skiing are also offered.
The Friends of Squaw Mountain reopened Maine’s Big Squaw February 2013. Donations and volunteer labor made improvements possible, and the nonprofit area continues to operate as an affordable family mountain.
Saddleback Mountain Foundation is seeking to revive Maine's third largest resort as a nonprofit. It’s a work in progress.
Ditto for the Antelope Butte Foundation, now fundraising to reopen Wyoming’s Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area. Having purchased the area and secured permits, hopes are to open for next winter, offering 25 trails with three lifts.
From public to private and vice versa
Want 28 trails with a 1,300-foot vertical to yourself? Try Vermont’s Plymouth Notch, the former public Round Top which is now a private club.
“We loved the area and didn’t want to see it close,” Dave Panagrossi said of the 2010 purchase that now offers “an alternative experience with a comfortable feeling in the clubhouse, uncrowded trails, and quality snow.”
Non-members may try the area by reservations only — lift ticket and lunch, $105.
Begun as an exclusive private club (1941), Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountain, became a state park in 1963. From a thriving public area it ran into difficult years and closed. After extensive upgrades, Laurel reopened December 2016 thanks to being operated by Seven Springs.
Coast to coast revivals work
Elk Meadows shut down (2002) and was almost resurrected as the private Mt. Holly Club. That failed so it was 2010 before the mountain reopened as Eagle Point, said spokesman Lane Tucker. Upgrades have made the Utah resort (5 lifts, 40 runs, 600 acres plus backcountry) a “best-kept secret”.
Want a private mountain that has come roaring back with a heated bubble six-pack, clubhouse with spa, golf course and other amenities? Check out the Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain. Can’t afford $85,000 entry fee, $8,500 annual dues? Stay at a Hermitage property to access skiing for a day.
Mt. Shasta, California reopened 10 years ago and is among the successful revival stories that bode well for the rebirth of the Balsams Resort and other iconic mountains.
Snow flying Wednesday at Whistler Blackcomb. Good base making snow on the way here with opening date set for late November (Whistler Blackcomb/Facebook)
As we jump deeper into November, many ski areas are prepping to open! While it doesn't look like a great pattern for big snow to start out November, there will be some small windows of snowy-opportunity.
Saddleback, Maine's third largest resort, overlooks the Rangeley Lakes. (Saddelabck/Facebook)
After an idle 2015-16 season, Maine’s Saddleback may have new owners in its future.
In the latest update from Maine’s Saddleback, the resort has posted on their website that “prospective new owner and the Berry Family feel confident that we will complete a transaction - opening by late January.”
Saddleback Mountain in Maine says it won’t open this winter if it's not able to secure $3 milllion in financing by early August to replace a 51-year old double lift.
Saddleback, Maine is certainly a big mountain, with a 2,000-foot vertical drop and a top lift elevation over 4,000 feet, one of only seven ski mountains in New England that high. But it's prices are comparable to those of a small mountain.
Nirvana continues for skiers and riders up and down the east coast as the seemingly never-ending winter forges on toward a supposed conclusion. The irony is that most resorts will have ample snow when they quiet their lifts for the season.
A number of Northeast resorts have been able to fire up their snowguns to carry the season well into April, even as numerous others have either closed for the season or significantly reduced their amount of open terrain. All of this is the result of last week’s unprecedented meltdown,