CNL Still Looking to Sell Off Ski Resorts

First Tracks!! has reported that CNL Lifestyle Properties, the Orlando-based REIT that over the past few years has quietly become the largest ski resort owner in the U.S., is still looking to sell off its ski areas, but won’t be able to do so in time to meet a self-imposed deadline. Skiers visiting destinations like Crested Butte, Okemo, Sugarloaf and Brighton are likely unaware that the mountain they’re skiing is owned by CNL. That’s because CNL has typically leased its resorts back to their previous owners, who continue to operate them following the infusion of CNL’s cash. CNL makes money for its investors via the operators’ lease payments.

But CNL, which also operates amusement parks, marinas, water parks and other attractions, is looking to get out of the ski resort business. It now admits, however, that it won’t be able to do so in time to meet its own Dec. 31, 2015 deadline. Thus CNL has sold only one resort, Bretton Woods in New Hampshire. Fifteen others, including Loon Mountain, Mt. Sunapee, Sierra-at-Tahoe and Sunday River, remain on the market.

Willard Mountain stockholders get $5 a share in bankruptcy deal

The TimesUnion reports that stockholders of Willard Mountain will get $5 per share in a deal reached with the ski area’s creditors.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan clears the way for Willard Mountain owner Chic Wilson and his wife to have 100 percent ownership of the business so they can seek a buyer in the next few years.

The family that owns the land at Willard Mountain had sued Wilson over unpaid lease obligations, and under the bankruptcy plan, that money will be paid over time.

Wilson and his wife have owned the ski area since 1994. They put the business into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June in order to freeze litigation brought by its landlord but have continued to operate and have been profitable.

Willard Mountain has 14 trails and is popular with families. A season pass runs for between $300 and $400. Like most other small mountains in the state, Willard Mountain has not been able to open for the season due to the unseasonably warm weather. Even Whiteface Mountain outside Lake Placid only has 6 trails open so far.

There are about 50 shareholders, although Wilson and his wife already own 58 percent of the stock, but the couple will not receive any money for their shares. About $15,000 will go to the remaining shareholders.

Willard Mountain’s bankruptcy lawyer Richard Weisz said he did not know how much the shareholders originally paid for their stock. However, he noted that shareholders with at least 100 shares will receive a season pass for five years, and shareholders with at least 200 shares will received a family pass for five years. About 12 shareholders fall under that category.

The margins are extremely thin in the downhill ski business. For instance, even though Willard Mountain makes about $900,000 in sales every winter, it is only projected to earn $40,000 to $50,000 in “profit” in the next few years, according to an analysis included in the bankruptcy plan.

Peak Resorts 2Q Loss Widens

The St. Louis Dispatch has reported that Peak Resorts’ second quarter loss widened as food and beverage and lodging revenue declined during the summer season.  The operator of 13 ski resorts reported a $6.9 million loss for the quarter that ended October 31, or 49 cents a share, compared to a $6.7 million loss, or $1.69 a share last year.  Revenue slipped 1.2% to $6.2 million.  The company’s first acquisition as a publicly traded company is on track to finalize before the end of the year.  The company announced last month that it is buying Hunter Mountain in New York for $36.8 million.