Saddleback aims to open

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Comments

  • Really liking all the positive comments coming in on Saddleback. This by far is my most favorite ski area in the eastern U.S. if not the entire Western Atlantic coast!
  • I didn’t see the last two sentences (below) on Saddleback’s
    Facebook that Peter of Liftblog quotes. It would have been ambitious even if
    they began replacement of both lifts at the beginning of the summer.

     

    • Saddleback begins removal of the Rangeley double in preparation for its replacement.  The Cupsuptic T-Bar will now be repaired rather than
      replaced, providing access to the Kennebago quad until Rangeley is
      complete.  “The scope of this project is partially what drove the
      decision to repair versus replace the T-Bar,” Saddleback says.  “If
      we had replaced both, there is a chance that there would not be any skiing
      this year if early snow arrived.”

     

    https://liftblog.com/

  • newpylong said:

    TomWhite said:

    TomWhite said:

    Have we ever heard what is wrong with the Rangeley?

    Pretty much everything from towers to tower footings.  That lift dates to 1963 and these things do wear not last forever.  Even the MRG single cost more to when it was restored about a decade ago than it would have cost to replace it with a modern lift.  The Rangeley Double just doesn't have that kind of pedigree to make it worthwhile to preserve/restore.
    Thanks, that makes sense. What surprises me is that some resorts seem content with 60's chairs. Smuggs' Madonna I and Sterling come to mind.
    Smuggler's is an oddball case.  Have you ever noticed the towers on M1?  I was told that it was a particularly complex design where extra towers had to be added afterwards to deal with some unanticipated wind problems. My guess is the replacement cost for that lift would be prohibitive, both because of its length (about 9K feet) and its topography.  I'd bet on at least $8M to replace it with an FGQ.

    I hope we have a Smuggler's expert on SJ who might be able to elaborate more.
    Likely closer to $4M. Still not cheap, that is a very long lift.
    I think the complexity of the terrain will make it much more expensive - and double the price if they go HSQ.
  • Still curious as to why there is no mention of any updates regarding Saddleback on Sugarloaftoday. There are a lot of locals on that website that ski Saddleback. I think the purchase did not go through yet.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • sugarloaf said:

    Still curious as to why there is no mention of any updates regarding Saddleback on Sugarloaftoday. There are a lot of locals on that website that ski Saddleback. I think the purchase did not go through yet.

    You are right.  It has been mentioned before on this thread.  And this one you can look easily enough. Real estate transactions are a matter of public record.

    At a meet-and-greet with the SB condo owners last Sunday, the CEO said they would be closing at the end of this month (Sept. 2017).  But similar has been stated before about other months that have come and gone.
  • edited September 2017
    The other end of the spectrum is that there has been NO discussion on SugarloafToday at all, good or bad regarding Saddleback since July. One would think there would be something to talk about. Maybe the locals are tired of the waiting game for the sale to go through.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • sugarloaf said:

    The other end of the spectrum is that there has been NO discussion on SugarloafToday at all, good or bad regarding Saddleback since July. One would think there would be something to talk about. Maybe the locals are tired of the waiting game for the sale to go through.

    Lively discussion under ‘Other Maine Mountains.
    http://www.sugarloaftoday.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=8317&start=90
  • Peter said:

    sugarloaf said:

    The other end of the spectrum is that there has been NO discussion on SugarloafToday at all, good or bad regarding Saddleback since July. One would think there would be something to talk about. Maybe the locals are tired of the waiting game for the sale to go through.

    Lively discussion under ‘Other Maine Mountains.
    http://www.sugarloaftoday.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=8317&start=90
    Thanks, I did not realize the discussion had been moved.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • edited September 2017
    No new posts on SugarloafToday in a week tells me the purchase deal is likely stalled.

    Ski Conditions Report: A detailed report describing the snow conditions on the mountain the day of your visit. Skiers should become familiar with the following snow surface descriptions: Ice: Packed Powder, Slush: Packed Powder, Frozen Granular: Packed Powder , Packed Powder - A thin covering of snow over bare earth.

  • Concerns Mount at Saddleback
    Concerns Mount at Saddleback
    The previously announced sale closing and new lift installation have yet to take place.
    Friday, October 20, 2017, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
    Saddleback

    With one month of fall already in the books, concerns about Saddleback's prospective sale and reopening are growing.

    On June 28, 2017, Bill and Irene Berry announced they had reached an agreement to sell the shuttered Saddleback Mountain Resort to the Majella Group of Australia. Majella in turn announced the transaction was expected to be completed in the summer of 2017 and that it planned to install two new lifts.

    On September 17, Majella announced they were starting "physical work" at Saddleback with the first step being "taking down the existing Rangeley lift." However, despite reportedly having an agreement that allows Majella to remove the lift, as of mid October, the lift remains standing. Trails have been mowed and some lifts have received maintenance in recent months.

    The Majella Group
    The Majella Group has had no previous involvement in the ski industry. Majella's founder is Professor Frank Monsour, the son of Lebanese immigrants who became an accomplished Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon in Australia. The CEO of Majella Group is Monsour's son, Sebastian Monsour. In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed Sebastian Monsour "gained unauthorised access to City Hall, lied about a football career and now has come to the attention of the FBI in the United States."

    Majella Global Technologies was registered as a Maine business entity on May 31, 2011. In December 2011, Majella's Frank Monsour formed 32 Thomas Street, LLC as a Maine business entity, which then acquired the Williston-West Church in Portland for Majella's United States office.

    Since the acquisition, the City of Portland has twice placed tax liens on Majella's office building for failure to pay property taxes. In addition, multiple mortgages have subsequently been taken out on the property, including a $1.4 million mortgage with Camden National Bank around the time Majella reportedly placed a deposit on Saddleback.

    Back in its homeland, Majella has announced numerous large real estate developments since its formation as an Australian business entity on June 8, 2011. However, only one project has apparently been completed, in April 2014, and that construction is not taking place on any other proposed projects. According to a source, there may be mounting holding costs associated with the incomplete developments.

    There have been no posts on Saddleback's Facebook page since September and Majella's Saddleback web site still claims "transaction is expected to finalize later this summer."
  • I missed as part of the article for NewEnglandSkiIndustry:

    Majella EB-5 Page

    Majella has been advertising an "EB-5 investment opportunity" on its web site. The immigrant investor program made national headlines last year when Jay Peak and Burke Mountain were raided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission because the owners allegedly illegally used EB-5 funds to purchase the Vermont ski areas.

    Majella has not responded to multiple inquiries.

    The Maine ski resort last operated in 2015.

    Update: In an October 21, 2017 Facebook post, Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour stated, "Please do not take our silence as a lack of progress, rather a focus on the task at hand. Over the last few weeks our dedicated crew have brought snowmaking equipment online and are continuing with the process of inspecting, testing, adjusting and certifying the lifts. Our mountain operations team have been cutting, mowing and grooming trails that have grown in over the last two years.
    Reopening is a top priority and we are doing everything we can to open in some capacity for the upcoming ski season."
  • edited October 2017
    TomWhite said:

    I missed as part of the article for NewEnglandSkiIndustry:

    Majella EB-5 Page

    Majella has been advertising an "EB-5 investment opportunity" on its web site. The immigrant investor program made national headlines last year when Jay Peak and Burke Mountain were raided by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission because the owners allegedly illegally used EB-5 funds to purchase the Vermont ski areas.

    Majella has not responded to multiple inquiries.

    The Maine ski resort last operated in 2015.

    Update: In an October 21, 2017 Facebook post, Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour stated, "Please do not take our silence as a lack of progress, rather a focus on the task at hand. Over the last few weeks our dedicated crew have brought snowmaking equipment online and are continuing with the process of inspecting, testing, adjusting and certifying the lifts. Our mountain operations team have been cutting, mowing and grooming trails that have grown in over the last two years.
    Reopening is a top priority and we are doing everything we can to open in some capacity for the upcoming ski season."
    As much as I'd like to believe the above, I think Jeremy Clark's posting on  http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=610 (and shown above) is a story that is much more believable.  


  • Well shit.
  • Maybe, maybe a loading carpet, but a detachable quad would be a mistake IMHO.  One of Saddleback's most endearing features is the elbow room available on the trails, and the bottleneck created by the ol' Rangeley double saw to that.  This is Saddleback we're talking about.  Have you ever seen a "crowd" at Saddleback?  Suffice to say it doesn't take many people to make a crowd at SB.  A FGQ replacement for the Rangeley at least doubles uphill capacity and should solve the bottleneck/liftline problem.

    The Berrys were on record as saying no high-speed lifts.

    The double needs to be replaced ASAP.  Still, fond memories of that lift, especially in the spring.  The lattice-work towers were extremely cool when coated with rime ice.  The old safety bars that swung around each rider to click in place on the center pole made a handy place to hang ski poles.
  • "And now you know...the rest of the story."

    Not many threads I get to quote Yogi Berra AND Paul Harvey! :)] :D :D X_X X_X :D

  • edited October 2017
    well looks like there will be no crowds this year.  sad really.  what a nice place.
  • Here's a drone video of some of Saddlebacks lifts and trails:

  • edited November 2017
    TomWhite said:

    won't play?

  • edited November 2017
    FYI: The closing didn't happen yesterday  as it was supposed to.  The Majella Group got an extension from the Berrys.  A posting by the Majella Group on the Saddleback FB indicates a cut-back in expectations for the 2017-8 season.  The entire deal doesn't pass my "smell test".  

    While I hope for the best for Saddleback and hope that they re-open, I wouldn't get to excited by the press releases. My statement is based on http://www.newenglandskiindustry.com/viewstory.php?storyid=610 which I mentioned in an earlier posting
  • edited November 2017
    Not that I know anything about what's going on up there but take any news article from that site with a grain of salt. Actually a whole jar of salt.
  • Here is the URL of Jeremy Clark's latest article on the Saddleback situation.  Definitely worth a read:

  • And I thought the Jay Peak/Q Burke thing was a fiasco...this one is pretty suspect. Love the 'world headquaarters'. Looks like a gift shop.
  • Here's a drone video of some of Saddlebacks lifts and trails:

  • Saddleback sits idle for 3rd straight year as ski season begins

    By Deirdre Fleming

    The ski season kicks off this weekend at Sunday River and Sugarloaf, but Maine’s third-largest ski area – Saddleback – could sit idle for the third consecutive winter.

    Saddleback owners Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington announced on June 28 that they would sell the Rangeley ski area to the Australia-based Majella Group. Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour said at that time that the company would purchase Saddleback by the end of the summer and turn it into the “premier ski area in North America.”

    But the sale has not been completed. A post Thursday morning on Saddleback’s Facebook page – Majella’s preferred medium for sharing information about the ski area – offered little clarity about when a deal might be finalized.

    Monsour, who signed the Facebook post, said the Majella Group is “continuing to work to successfully finalize this sale. I am whole-heartedly committed to this deal.”

    He called it a “complex and challenging deal. It has posed numerous challenges to our investors.”

    Monsour added that replacing the Rangeley chairlift – a needed upgrade at the mountain – has been put off to next season. He said he remains committed to open the mountain in a limited capacity this winter “if possible.”

    Thursday’s Facebook post sounded similar to one Monsour posted on Oct. 21: “Majella Group’s acquisition of Saddleback is progressing. Whilst details around the acquisition are a matter of a confidentiality agreement, I can confirm we are within the original parameters of the agreement. Please do not take our silence as a lack of progress, rather a focus on the task at hand.”

    On Sept. 17, a post on Saddleback’s Facebook page by the ski area staff said the only thing that could delay the ski area reopening is Mother Nature.

    Fred LaMontagne, a retired Portland fire chief and the CEO for Majella’s Western Region, is based out of Saddleback’s lodge, which remains open and is partially staffed. LaMontagne did not respond to emails or phone calls to comment for this story. Neither did the Berrys. Leah Kidd, Majella’s media liaison in Brisbane, Australia, said in an email this week, “I will get back to you on (the sale) soon.”

    Skiers are frustrated about the lack of information from Majella about the sale and confused about whether the ski area might open this winter. Adding to the confusion: Saddleback’s trails have been mowed, and last weekend the ski area conducted a First Aid recertification class for ski patrollers.

    Ted Eames, a volunteer patroller from Oquossoc, said LaMontagne told ski patrolers last weekend that the ski area will open – but didn’t say when. Eames remains skeptical of the timetable. “I would not plan a vacation round it,” he said.

    The Berry family announced in July 2015 that the ski area would go up for sale unless it could secure $3 million in financing for a new chairlift. When they failed to secure financing, the mountain closed. It remained closed for the past two winters while the family pursued a buyer.

    Saddleback season-pass holders have their doubts about the Majella deal after two years of Facebook posts about prospective buyers who never materialized.

    “I’m not holding my breath given the way things have gone over the past two years,” said Tracy Sesselberg of Cape Elizabeth. “I hate to say it, but we’ve heard this all before. It’s a little like the boy who cried wolf.”

    Daneel Yvette Dafni of Freeport said Saddleback is her favorite Maine ski area. She and friends used to rent ski houses at Saddleback, but now they are doing so at Sunday River.

    “Unfortunately, myself and a lot of friends are just kind of assuming the season is not going to happen,” Dafni said. “We’ve all been hopeful, but with trepidation because of the lack of information. This summer and fall the lawn was mowed. But I really kind of thought, this is no way to pull it all together. It has an abandoned look and feel.”

    Saddleback skier Jamie Wright, who owns Gorham Bike and Ski in Portland, thought the ski area looks closer to reopening than it has in the past two years.

    “I do see progress,” Wright said. “All the chairs are off the lifts except the Rangeley chair. This all costs a fair amount of money so one would think they are trying to get open. Not sure why the sale has not gone through.”

    Megan Roberts of West Farmington, who grew up skiing at Saddleback and lives near the Berry family, said it all seems strange.

    “I’m a little nervous. And I like to be optimistic,” said Roberts, who retired as the manager at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington this year.

    Karen Ogulnick, the executive director of the Rangeley Region Chamber of Commerce, said her only source of information on Saddleback is its Facebook page.

    “My understanding is they have an agreement to purchase the mountain and they’re working on it,” Ogulnick said. “We’re all waiting for the announcement that that’s completed. Everyone likes to see the mountain open for obvious reasons. It’s good for tourism, it’s good for the region.”

    Before Saddleback closed in August 2015, it was the third largest employer in Franklin County during the winter.

    Greg Sweetser, the executive director at Ski Maine, also wants to be optimistic about Saddleback, but finds it hard.

    “People are disappointed. Everyone is hoping that the work taking place now will result in some kind of operation this winter,” he said. “That said, everyone can look at the calendar, with the temperatures coming, winter will be here this weekend.”

    Sunday River plans to open Saturday at 8 a.m. with at least a few trails open, said Darcy Lambert, Sunday River’s communications director. It will be open seven days a week going forward. The ski area is usually open by mid-November.

    Sugarloaf will open Sunday, a week ahead of schedule, said communications director Noelle Tuttle. It is almost two weeks ahead of last year’s opening.

    Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

    [email protected]

    Twitter: FlemingPph

  • This Facebook post gives little details as the newspaper
    article indicates. Plus there is a twist in the lift replacement
    discussion/plans. Earlier in the year Majella said they would replace the
    Rangeley with a FGQ next summer and replace the Cupsuptic with another/new
    T-bar for this season. Below they speak of a possible HSQ for the Rangeley and
    there’s no mention of a T-bar.


     

    SADDLEBACK MAINE

    · November 9 at
    6:23am

    ·

    Good-morning,

    We value your feedback and hear you are
    seeking more regular updates.

    We are continuing to work to successfully
    finalize this sale. We have encountered delays that have impacted our
    timelines. This has been on our end and not the Berry’s. We are incredibly
    thankful to the Berry family and their advisors for their ongoing patience,
    kindness and support. I am whole heartedly committed to this deal. Whilst it
    has been drawn-out and frustrating for many, we have entered and are working
    through the final stages.

    As we stated in June, this is a complex and
    challenging deal. It has posed numerous challenges to our investors. We are
    focused not just on finalizing the deal but ensuring we have the long-term,
    sustainable plan in place for the future of Saddleback and the existing
    approved development district.

    I do not take lightly the impact Saddleback
    has on the entire Rangeley region, and we need to get this economic driver
    right for the mountain and all stakeholders.

     

    Is the Rangeley chair still being replaced?

    Whilst we had hoped to replace the Rangeley
    chair this year, we have made the decision to delay its replacement until next
    season. We realize this comes as a disappointment to many and for us this
    season, but we are committed to a sustainable and long-term solution for
    Saddleback.

    We wanted the additional time to scope the
    best lift option for the mountain and will consider a detachable quad versus a
    fixed grip quad. This is pertinent as we move forward to the four-season use of
    the mountain where a detachable quad has greater appeal.

    What does this mean for re-opening this
    season?

    As I have said before, we are committed to
    opening in some capacity for the 2017/18 ski season. This will not be a full
    opening, rather a limited operation that, if possible, will allow our
    Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some
    capacity this season.

    I am extremely thankful to our incredible
    Mountain Operations team who have been hard at work with the trails groomed,
    readied and looking perfect for the ski season. I also want to thank all the
    business owners who continue to support our effort with advice and services and
    their early support will not be forgotten.

    Our Saddlebackers are our biggest
    motivation and we hear you when you say you would prefer some skiing over none.
    We are doing everything in our ability to provide an offering, albeit a limited
    one this season.

    Best regards,

    Majella Group CEO, Sebastian Monsour

     

  • Jeremy Clark has fringe political views, yes, and yes it does affect his reporting on Cannon and Sunapee.  But he is a very good source otherwise.
  • obienick said:

    Jeremy Clark has fringe political views, yes, and yes it does affect his reporting on Cannon and Sunapee.  But he is a very good source otherwise.

    I had generally defended him in the past, but I don't really know what happened around here, and I guess there was some unacceptable stuff that happened also.
  • bobbutts said:

    obienick said:

    Jeremy Clark has fringe political views, yes, and yes it does affect his reporting on Cannon and Sunapee.  But he is a very good source otherwise.

    I had generally defended him in the past, but I don't really know what happened around here, and I guess there was some unacceptable stuff that happened also.
    It's mostly irrelevant, but it basically came down to the nerd photo that he kept posting with Chris B's name on it and all the photoshopped things that he put the head on. Chris finally banned him from SJ1.0 and nothing anybody has said has been able to bring him back to SJ2.0.  Jeremy knows and understands the industry and his research is excellent.
  • edited November 2017
    However he has published articles without primary sources, trespasses for information, and uses photos without credit. Not to mention some articles are laced with politics.
  • newpylong said:

    However he has published articles without primary sources, trespasses for information, and uses photos without credit. Not to mention some articles are laced with politics.

    First of all, he is entitled to have political views.  Specifically, as a NH tax payer, he is certainly allowed and qualified to discuss his views on Cannon and Sunapee in as much they have impact on our taxes.  (Note: I don't agree with him, but I do defend his right to say what he says.  He is a smart guy and he knows the ski industry better than 95% of the participants on this forum.)  Academically and journalistically, one is entitled to use secondary sources as long as they are corroborated.  I don't know what photos he is using without credit, but legally, permission trumps credit.  I don't know what you mean by "trespasses for information".  Perhaps you could define that.
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