Tim and Diane Mueller sell Okemo Mountain Resort

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(Host) Okemo Mountain Resort has been sold to a Florida company that operates eleven other resorts in North America.

As VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports, the resort says no major changes should be expected.

(Sneyd) For almost two decades, the ski hill above Ludlow was pretty much like dozens of other small ski areas around Vermont. A quiet place, popular with the locals.

Then, in 1982, Tim and Diane Mueller bought Okemo and transformed it. Today, by one measure, it’s the second largest resort in the East.

Along the way, the Muellers formed the company Triple Peaks, which owns Crested Butte in Colorado, and leases and operates Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire.

So it came as a surprise even to staff when news broke of the company’s sale for $132 million. Bonnie MacPherson is spokeswoman.

(MacPherson) “There was an announcement to staff yesterday talking about the impending sale of Okemo and Crested Butte and Mount Sunapee’s lease to CNL properties. It’s a leaseback agreement so that operationally nothing will change at all. It will be exactly all engines go, full steam ahead.”

(Sneyd) So MacPherson says the Muellers will still be in charge of operating Okemo and the other two resorts.

But CNL Lifestyle Properties of Orlando will own them.

The Muellers weren’t available for an interview. But in a statement, they noted that CNL has stable capital that should enhance Okemo and the other resorts.

Triple Peaks has a couple of big developments in the works, including a new lodge at Crested Butte and a new conference center at Okemo.

Mary McKhann of the Snow Industry Letter says those kinds of developments require a lot of money.

(McKahnn) “It’s a very capital intensive business and it’s hard to maintain. So I just think that maybe they found that operating three resorts and owning two of them outright was more than they wanted to deal with.”

(Sneyd) CNL is frequently in the credit markets to fund its developments.

It’s a real estate investment trust and owns 115 of what it describes as “lifestyle” properties. Skiing is part of the lifestyle.

Some of New England’s best-known resorts are under CNL ownership … among them, Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, and Bretton Woods and Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd

Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

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