Saddleback

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  • riverc0ilriverc0il advanced
    edited June 28 Posts: 244
    The wording of that announcement is quite good, it seems like they genuinely are reaching out and have a vision of keeping the stuff that was great with some enhancement. But I am a bit concerned about this wording:

    "Our hope is to create a premiere four-season resort that leverages all the region has to offer."

    That seems a bit generic, especially considering how saturated the "four-season resort" market already is. People are having fewer kids these days and the older generation of skiers that used to have the highest demographic numbers are skiing less and many are probably looking to cash out once they feel the market has rebounded enough. Saddleback is clearly not a "four-season resort" and I don't see how they could make a play for that market being so close to Sugarloaf and Sunday River that already have the overwhelming majority of the mountain resort business in Maine. And I don't like that "resort" wording at all, it doesn't fit for Saddleback. It is a ski mountain. It could be more but a "four-season resort"? Good luck to them.

    Mad River Glen was suggested as one of the only major destination ski areas in New England owned by a community. I don't know if the MRG model would be feasible if the Coop was to form today and was being sold by a family looking to recoup as much lost money as possible. And, quite frankly, the Coop is continually challenged financially and cannot sustain two or three "epic fail seasons" in a row. Not saying things are not financially well with the Coop. But what I am saying is people put MRG on this crazy pedestal as an example but it is a major exception to the rule and is no walk in the park. Saddleback replaced installed a new quad a few years ago and plans to install another quad and a surface lift... MRG refurbished a Single for far less than the cost of a new double and only did so due to donations. If MRG needed to replace any of its lifts, it would be require major contributions and donations. MRG also operates with minimal snowmaking, I don't think Saddleback could get away with that and still draw enough skiers.

    Any ways, long story short, I think these new owners are going to make a "small fortune" given their investments in new lifts and desire to make the place a year round resort. Good luck to them and the non-profit should keep its papers in order and membership ready for when it falls to them to pick up the mountain at a firesale. 
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,663
    slatham said:

    I might be reading too much into this but that email from Majella made specific note of "Timberland" when they could have easily said acreage or land or whatever. Can the timberland they refer to actually be harvested?

    I hope this works. I've never skied SB but I'd like to and I just don't like good mountains failing.

    Yes. Part of the Coop's package included the New England Forestry Foundation and there was a substantial amount of SB's acreage that was planned for tree harvesting. I assume the Aussies would find that as a good source of revenue.
  • TomWhiteTomWhite advanced
    Posts: 401
    Liftblog has a 22 min. video of today's new conference. It will be tomorrow till I get to it, but others...

  • powderstudpowderstud intermediate
    Posts: 35
    Even though we don't know exactly what Majella is/has, they seem to be a much deeper pocket than any of Saddleback's previous owners, including the Berrys.  They probably have the resources to do an awful lot in Rangeley.  But the question is, how long will they want to see endless red ink?  I agree that they will probably be out of the deal in 5-8 years.

    I am also skeptical that the co-op model could succeed long-term at Saddleback.  While I have nothing but the greatest respect for everyone involved, their sustained efforts, and their wise long-term thinking, there's one critical element that is missing here:  Few have an emotional connection to Saddleback.  I think that's the reason why MRG has worked.  For whatever reason (and count me among those who don't share it), MRG elicits an emotional response from a lot of people.  For many, it seems to be almost a shrine.  Don't get me wrong, I like Saddleback--a lot.  I think it's one of the best places to ski in New England.  But people don't do pilgrimages to Saddleback as they do to MRG.  And I suspect that pulling off a Saddleback co-op would not succeed at the end of the day.  Perhaps in the short-run it could come into formation, but at the point in time where something happens that requires some really big $$, I don't think they will be there.  For a co-op like that to work, there would need to be sustained long-term interest, and I just have my doubts that there are enough people who really care *that much* about Saddleback who would also pony up $$$.

    But if it comes to the point that the co-op gets control of Saddleback, I really have doubts it would work in anything beyond the short-term if even that.  And the consequence of that would be that Saddleback would go NELSAP because if it comes to a co-op, I believe that would be the end of the road.  That's the worst possible outcome.  And nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong here.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 768
    Looking at aerial photos, it appears that a lot of timber has been harvested from the lower slopes east of the ski area. Also note that the Berries were originally selling the 745 (?) acres of the ski area proper, but wound up selling all 6,337 acres.
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    edited June 29 Posts: 1,663

    Even though we don't know exactly what Majella is/has, they seem to be a much deeper pocket than any of Saddleback's previous owners, including the Berrys.  They probably have the resources to do an awful lot in Rangeley.  But the question is, how long will they want to see endless red ink?  I agree that they will probably be out of the deal in 5-8 years.

    I am also skeptical that the co-op model could succeed long-term at Saddleback.  While I have nothing but the greatest respect for everyone involved, their sustained efforts, and their wise long-term thinking, there's one critical element that is missing here:  Few have an emotional connection to Saddleback.  I think that's the reason why MRG has worked.  For whatever reason (and count me among those who don't share it), MRG elicits an emotional response from a lot of people.  For many, it seems to be almost a shrine.  Don't get me wrong, I like Saddleback--a lot.  I think it's one of the best places to ski in New England.  But people don't do pilgrimages to Saddleback as they do to MRG.  And I suspect that pulling off a Saddleback co-op would not succeed at the end of the day.  Perhaps in the short-run it could come into formation, but at the point in time where something happens that requires some really big $$, I don't think they will be there.  For a co-op like that to work, there would need to be sustained long-term interest, and I just have my doubts that there are enough people who really care *that much* about Saddleback who would also pony up $$$.

    But if it comes to the point that the co-op gets control of Saddleback, I really have doubts it would work in anything beyond the short-term if even that.  And the consequence of that would be that Saddleback would go NELSAP because if it comes to a co-op, I believe that would be the end of the road.  That's the worst possible outcome.  And nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong here.

    The SMF model is not exactly a co-op.  You can find out more detail at https://www.facebook.com/groups/277158955983493/.

    The plan is better thought out than most SJers appear ready to believe.  There is an old saying, I think from the Talmud, that says, "the punishment of a liar is that even when he tells the truth, nobody believes him."  My sense is that we've heard so much BS from so many sources about how to manage and run a ski area, that you guys keep second-guessing/not believing the SMF.  This is despite the facts that SMF has been in contact with all the areas that have unconventional operating arrangements to determine both what is working and what didn't work.  They have gone through operating data from the last decade.  They did due-diligence in analyzing trends - and it goes on.

    That being said, the Aussies did a good thing in keeping Jim Quimby.  He is the soul of that mountain.
  • FuryFury novice
    edited June 30 Posts: 1

    It appears that Saddleback has been sold to a group of Australian investors.  Details are sketchy, but stakes are in the ground for the Rangeley replacement.


    I think this is unfortunate for the Saddleback community.  There is every reason to believe that the Aussies will attempt to compete directly with Sugarloaf and I don't think there are enough skiers in that region to support two Sugarloaf-style areas.  I suspect those who like a lower key ski area in that part of Maine will find their way to BMOM or Mt. Abrams.


    You're just  **&&^%&^*&(  your "buddy's" group didn't get the job done in purchasing. 
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,015
    thanks for all the updates, this is good I guess.  

    comment on the fixed grips, they are fine for me, MRG, Loveland, both Blacks, Ski Cooper, all my faves.  But I'm afraid I'm really in the minority on this.

    comment on the timber, I think that's great, renewable resource, assuming they're not harvesting old growth (which is a very small percentage of Maine timber).  Has been a key part of the Maine economy glad to see it.   
  • newpylongnewpylong advanced
    edited June 29 Posts: 478


    Rangley double is what, ~4500 feet? A FGQ moving at a good clip will cover that in a manageable amount of time. It will be cheaper to install, maintain, and operate than a HSQ and be able to run more. Uphill capacity very similar. Seems like a no brainer to me.
  • mapnutmapnut expert
    Posts: 768
    I wonder if setting the capacity at 1500/hour is intended to accommodate a faster line speed, or a conveyor loader.
  • lotsoskiinglotsoskiing expert
    Posts: 624
    I have said it before, but again: the MRG model is incredibly hard to duplicate, for several reasons:

    -MRG had long-established and relatively well-heeled customer base before the co-op started. Out of state ski clubs and families that skied there for generations.
    -Snow- usually plentiful
    -Clientele wiling to buy season's passes year in and year out, regardless of snow.
    -Proximity to larger city (Burlington)
    -Sugarbush brings people to the Valley, and many try MRG and are hooked, or ski there as well.
    -A big one: Very low overhead. Little or no debt, and snowmaking costs minimal (though that may have to change; lots of talk about needing to expand capacity and coverage, though could drastically change ticket structure)

    I would love to see SB succeed, but assuming an MRG model will work is a stretch at this point, IMO. If they can duplicate some of the advantages MRG has, then it can work.
  • bubblecufferbubblecuffer advanced
    Posts: 253
    slatham said:

    I might be reading too much into this but that email from Majella made specific note of "Timberland" when they could have easily said acreage or land or whatever. Can the timberland they refer to actually be harvested?

    I hope this works. I've never skied SB but I'd like to and I just don't like good mountains failing.

    Yes, I think you are on to something here.  
  • bobbuttsbobbutts intermediate
    edited June 29 Posts: 92
    newpylong said:



    Rangley double is what, ~4500 feet? A FGQ moving at a good clip will cover that in a manageable amount of time. It will be cheaper to install, maintain, and operate than a HSQ and be able to run more. Uphill capacity very similar. Seems like a no brainer to me.

    Yeah, you are close, Google Earth estimate is 4,750'
    So if we guess about 450fpm that is roughly 11 min.

    I was reading about logging recently, seems like it's a rough time to get into that business around here.
    http://www.concordmonitor.com/logging-industry-law-future-nh-new-hampshire-10513758
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    edited June 30 Posts: 1,663
    Fury said:

    It appears that Saddleback has been sold to a group of Australian investors.  Details are sketchy, but stakes are in the ground for the Rangeley replacement.


    I think this is unfortunate for the Saddleback community.  There is every reason to believe that the Aussies will attempt to compete directly with Sugarloaf and I don't think there are enough skiers in that region to support two Sugarloaf-style areas.  I suspect those who like a lower key ski area in that part of Maine will find their way to BMOM or Mt. Abrams.


    You're just **&&^%&^*&( your "buddy's" group didn't get the job done in purchasing. 
    While I am aware of what SMF is doing, I have no skin in the game.  My opinions are just that - my opinions - but they are based on 40 years in the industry.

    Since you're new to SJ and your first posting, I welcome you.  I do caution you that SJ is a very civilized and polite forum, unlike any of the other skiing forums of which I am aware.
  • Bill29Bill29 advanced
    Posts: 225
    Welcome, Fury. Interesting first post. Are you connected in any way to Saddleback? (I suppose that's none of my business, but that's never stopped me.)
  • TomWhiteTomWhite advanced
    Posts: 401
    From News Conference:

    “Replacing the Rangeley Chair and T-Bar are at the top of our
    list, and from Mother Nature’s perspective, we are already up against the
    clock,” Mr. Monsour said. The Majella Group has engaged Doppelmayr, the world's
    leading manufacturer of ski lifts, to begin the process. The Rangeley Double
    Chair will be replaced with a new TRISTAR Fixed Grip Quad Chair Lift that can
    support 1,500 skiers per hour. The Cupsuptic T-Bar will be replaced with a new
    Wind Resistant, Higher Speed Surface Lift that can support 1,200 skiers per
    hour. When completed, Saddleback will feature one of the newest lift systems in
    all New England. 

     ------------------

    Since they’re not on federal land, I presume they’ll only
    need state permits for lift replacement. While capacity will increase,
    replacement permits should be straight forward. I’ve only skied there once
    (1973) but it appears that the Sandy double and Cupsuptic T-bar will get one
    out of the base area and high enough to ski to the Kennebgo quad. If you were
    management, with the clock ticking, what would you do? Would you go for the
    quicker replacement of the T-bar, to assure the mountain gets open by
    Christmas? Or would you go for the Rangeley chair replacement, or both? Of course, I’m
    assuming removing the old, buying, shipping and installing T-bar equipment is easier
    and faster than a chair.

  • newpylongnewpylong advanced
    Posts: 478
    I would proceed with what Doppelmayr said they feel they can do in time.
  • Posts: 1,862
    The old T-bar can still be operated if needed
    - Sam
  • pagamonypagamony advanced
    Posts: 116
    I find it pretty interesting that the new double t bar (1200sph) is nearly as effective as the new quad chair (1500sph).   Rock on with the t-bars !  

  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,663

    The old T-bar can still be operated if needed

    Not true.  The Cupsuptic T-Bar is pretty much toast.  One problem Saddleback has is wind and when I was up there about 6 or so years ago, they had to shut down completely due to wind.  One down-side to SB is that without skiing, there is truly nothing to do in the winter.  If the new T-bar is in fact wind-resistant, it will solve the problem of no-skiing for those at SB for a ski-week.
  • TomWhiteTomWhite advanced
    Posts: 401

    The
    fact that the Cupsuptic T-bar is not very operable
    , makes the Berry’s
    claim that the Rangeley double needed to be replaced makes more sense. Did we
    ever know what has been so wrong with the Rangeley lift that the resort couldn’t
    open for two seasons?

  • loafasaurloafasaur intermediate
    Posts: 25
    More specifics from Majella.  
  • JMaulJMaul advanced
    Posts: 219


    The Cupsuptic T-Bar, will be replaced with a new Wind
    Resistant, Higher-Speed Surface Lift, that can support 1,200 skiers per hour.


    Scratching my head on this one. Can someone chime in?
    You ski because even if you don't do it well, it's still a blast....
  • newpylongnewpylong advanced
    edited July 10 Posts: 478
    Just a new T-Bar running around 600 fps
  • Posts: 881
    I'm curious if it's better to replace the telescoping masts with Doppelmayr springbox t's while leaving the rest of the lift in place.
  • joshua_segaljoshua_segal expert
    Posts: 1,663

    I'm curious if it's better to replace the telescoping masts with Doppelmayr springbox t's while leaving the rest of the lift in place.

    I think it has been made clear that there are severe structural issues with a number of the towers.
  • Posts: 881

    I'm curious if it's better to replace the telescoping masts with Doppelmayr springbox t's while leaving the rest of the lift in place.

    I think it has been made clear that there are severe structural issues with a number of the towers.
    Structural issues with the t-bar's towers? Where was that elaborated on? Did I miss something in the Majella details or was that shared more at length in the press conference? I remember reading that the Rangel chair was facing tower issues but not the Cupsuptic lift.

    Not trying to be a tool here. If there are several severe structural issues with the towers then it's completely understandable that the lift needs to be replaced. I thought it was Wind issues affecting the current t-bar.
  • Posts: 1,862

    I'm curious if it's better to replace the telescoping masts with Doppelmayr springbox t's while leaving the rest of the lift in place.

    I think it has been made clear that there are severe structural issues with a number of the towers.
    Structural issues with the t-bar's towers? Where was that elaborated on? Did I miss something in the Majella details or was that shared more at length in the press conference? I remember reading that the Rangel chair was facing tower issues but not the Cupsuptic lift.

    Not trying to be a tool here. If there are several severe structural issues with the towers then it's completely understandable that the lift needs to be replaced. I thought it was Wind issues affecting the current t-bar.

    The only thing mentioned about the T-bar towers is what Joahua said, but he may know something that we don't.
    - Sam
  • Posts: 881
    That could be.
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