Crested Butte and other ski areas sold in $830 million deal

Florida company selling ski resorts from Maine to California
2 min. read
A skier takes on powder tree skiing at Vail. (Snow Snow/Flickr)

A Florida-based real estate investment trust has reached an agreement to sell more than a dozen major ski resorts and other properties from Maine to California.

Under the deal, New York hedge fund manager Och-Ziff would assume ownership of 14 properties currently held by CNL Lifestyle Properties, including Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, Crested Butte in Colorado, Brighton in Utah and Sierra-at-Tahoe in California.

Missouri-based EPR Properties would retain the rest of CNL's holdings, including Northstar California ski resort and 15 waterparks and amusement parks.

CNL would receive about $830 million in cash and stock under the purchase and sale agreement. When the deal closes, it would be the largest ski resort transaction in the history of the sport.

Skiers won't see a big impact. Long-term leases will remain in place, so mountain operators will remain unchanged after the properties changes hands.

CNL and EPR are real estate investment trusts, which are investment vehicles for a variety of properties including hotels, office buildings and malls. They own the property and make money through leases with other companies that manage and operate them.

CNL Lifestyle Properties was valued at as much as $3 billion in 2012 with ownership of more than 100 water parks, ski resorts, marinas and senior housing developments. As part of its anticipated exit strategy, CNL has been selling off assets in the real estate investment trust.

Under the deal, an Och-Ziff subsidiary will assume ownership of its share through cash and a $244 million loan.

Steve Kircher, an executive from Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, which has leases to operate seven of the ski resorts, said it's his understanding that Och-Ziff was brought into the transaction to diversify EPR's exposure to ski holdings.

Other ski resorts are Cypress Mountain in British Columbia; Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts; Loon Mountain and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire; Okemo Mountain in Vermont; Mountain High in California; and Summit-at-Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass in Washington state along with Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Tennessee.

Kircher said skiers shouldn't be alarmed. The current lease holders will continue to operate the resorts as they have in the past, he said.

From a skier's perspective, it's akin to a home mortgage being sold between banks, he said.

"It's not an event from a skier's perspective," he said.

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