Muellers to Sell Okemo, Sunapee and Crested Butte Ski Resorts

Ludlow, VT – CNL Lifestyle Properties, an Orlando, Fla.-based real estate investment trust (REIT) that has been gobbling up U.S. ski resorts and village developments for the past several years, will announce later today that it has agreed to acquire Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, all currently owned by Triple Peaks LLC, a ski and snowboard resort operator privately held by owners Tim and Diane Mueller.

The deal, said to be worth $132 million, is expected to close today. Okemo is one of Vermont’s most popular ski resorts, and is a drive-up destination for skiers from Northeastern population centers including New York City, southwestern Connecticut and the Boston metro area. The Muellers operate Mount Sunapee under an agreement with the State of New Hampshire, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort is primarily a fly-to destination resort in the remote southwest corner of Colorado. Together, the three ski resorts logged a combined a combined 1,109,000 skier visits in 2007-08.

Okemo, one of Vermont's most popular ski resorts, is being sold to CNL Lifestyle Properties, the company is expected to announce today.

Okemo, one of Vermont’s most popular ski resorts, is being sold to CNL Lifestyle Properties, the company is expected to announce today.

As with other real estate investments made by CNL, the ski resorts’ current owners will continue to operate the mountains in a lease-back arrangement. Such arrangements are currently in place in the East at Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, and Loon Mountain and Bretton Woods, both in New Hampshire. Out West, CNL has acquired the Summit-at-Snoqualmie in Washington, Utah’s Brighton Ski Resort, Cypress Mountain outside of Vancouver, B.C., and Mountain High Resort, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Sierra-at-Tahoe, all in California. CNL has acquired a majority interest in ski resort village developments at Copper Mountain (Colo.), Mammoth Mountain (Calif.), Snowshoe Mountain Resort (W.V.), Stratton Mountain (Vt.), Northstar-at-Tahoe, Blue Mountain (Ont.) and Whistler Creekside in B.C. The company also owns countless golf courses, boat marinas and two dozen amusement parks, as well as a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership.

“This transaction provides Triple Peaks the opportunity for immediate enhancement to these popular mountain destinations that will improve the overall skier experience and extend the
resorts’ offerings for all four seasons,” said Byron Carlock, president and CEO of CNL Lifestyle Properties. “Tim and Diane Mueller have positioned the properties of Triple Peaks for ongoing success. We are proud to establish a relationship with such seasoned and respected operating partners and enable them to carry out their vision for these properties over the long-term.”

The acquisition gives Triple Peaks management additional capital to build the Red Lady Lodge at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and to move forward with construction of the Okemo Mountain Resort conference center, enhancements that will extend the four-season offerings of the two resorts. It is also expected to fund improvements at Mount Sunapee.

“Our focus has been delivering outstanding service and a positive skier experience since we entered this industry with the purchase of Okemo in 1982,” said Tim Mueller, president and co-owner of Triple Peaks, LLC. “We anticipate that this new relationship with CNL Lifestyle Properties will enable us to continue to do what we do best — create a unique and memorable experience at our mountains for our visitors. With the stable capital and long-term focus of this relationship, we are in a stronger position than ever to enhance our resort operations to ensure our long term popularity.”

It wasn’t that long ago that the Muellers were on a buying spree of their own. In 2004, Triple Peaks reached a financial settlement over their failed bid to acquire Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado from the now-dissolved American Skiing Co., which ultimately sold the resort to Intrawest in 2006. Following the breakdown of negotiations with American Skiing, the Muellers instead focused their attention on Crested Butte for their Colorado skiing investment.

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