Vail Leasing Sunapee Hearing | Home | 2018-07-11
New Hampshire to Hold Sunapee Hearing in Late July

Vail Resorts is seeking state approval to acquire the ski area lease.

The State of New Hampshire will hold a public hearing for the proposed transfer of the Mt. Sunapee ski area lease on July 26 at 6PM at the Sunapee Lodge.

According to the agreement drafted by the state in 1998, the operator of Mt. Sunapee needs state approval to transfer the lease, but "such approval shall not be unreasonably withheld by the state." Vail's acquisition of Triple Peaks was announced on June 4, 2018.

By taking over Okemo and Mt. Sunapee, Vail Resorts would be operating the second most popular ski areas in New Hampshire and Vermont, trailing Powdr's Killington and Boyne's Loon in terms of skier visits.

After decades of financial and legal struggles, state owned Mt. Sunapee was leased to Okemo's Tim and Diane Mueller starting on July 1, 1998.

With the investment of millions of dollars in lifts, snowmaking, and facilities, skier visits at the area doubled after only three years. In recent years, the Mt. Sunapee ski area assets have been held by CNL Lifestyle Properties and Ski Resort Holdings. As part of the proposed transaction, Vail would acquire the ski area assets, including the privately held land in the West Bowl.

Including option years, the current lease runs through 2048. Under the terms of the lease, the operator must pay the state $150,000 per year, plus 3% of gross revenue. Since the start of the lease, all Sunapee lease payments have been used to finance debt accumulated at Cannon Mountain.

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  • Vail to Face Tough Questions Over Mount Sunapee Resort Deal
    By ASSOCIATED PRESS • JUL 22, 2018

    Vail announced early last month it planned to buy Triple Peaks, LLC, the parent company of Mount Sunapee Resort and two other properties in Vermont and Colorado for $82 million.

    Ahead of next week's meeting on Vail Resorts proposed takeover of the Mount Sunapee ski area, some concerned residents want assurances that the park will be protected.
    Vail announced June 4 that it would be acquiring the operating rights to three ski areas owned by the Mueller family: Sunapee, Okemo in Vermont and Crested Butte in Colorado. The purchase price is $82 million.
    In New Hampshire, the Attorney General's office says the deal can't proceed without state approval. Thus, a public hearing will be held Wednesday evening at the resort's Sunapee Lodge in Newbury.
    The sale has some supporters of the park worried. They are expected to call on Vail to ensure that its takeover includes plans to offer affordable outdoor recreation while protecting the park's natural resources.
    "As we move forward into the next chapter of Mount Sunapee State Park's future, it is vitally important for the proposed new operator and leaseholder, to support non-fee based and balanced public use of our park," said Steve Russell, the president of Friends of Mt. Sunapee, which advocates for the protection of Mount Sunapee State Park.
    "Providing affordable outdoor recreation and preserving our state's natural resources including Mount Sunapee's rare and ancient forests are achievable goals," he added.
    Vail's purchase of the Sunapee and Okemo ski areas would bolster the company's holdings on the East Coast following last year's $41 million deal to purchase Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont. The company currently owns 11 mountain resorts and three urban ski areas mostly in the United States.
    "In New England, where we are currently solely represented by Stowe Mountain Resort, the addition of Okemo's family-oriented programs and Mount Sunapee's unique location less than 90 minutes from Boston will create a regional hub that will greatly enhance the experience and variety of options for our guests," Liz Biebl, director of Brand Communications for Vail Resorts, said.
    Once the purchases are finalized, Biebl said the company is planning to invest $35 million over the next two years in Sunapee, Okemo, Crested Butte. The company is also buying Stevens Pass Resort in Washington.
    "Upon closing of the acquisitions, we plan to review and learn more about the specific operations at each resort, listen to key stakeholders and determine what will provide the greatest benefit to our guests," Biebl said.
  • I really don't understand the uproar over this. I didn't care for what the Muellers and CNL did with Sunapee and I really didn't care for the aggression on real estate based expansion that had nothing to do with the ski area. Sunapee hasn't been affordable or a good value in as long as I can remember. I can't understand what the state and those opposed to the Sunapee deal are about... that ship sailed a long time ago and I don't think there will be much difference with Vail coming in. If anything, it might mean cheaper passes in a play to get folks under the Vail umbrella and encourage trips to the western resorts.
  • edited July 24
    you may be right. maybe this will be the one place where prices don't skyrocket or they screw around with parking or require lengthy questions and all sorts of personal info just to get a lift ticket. And maybe they won't send lawyers after anybody who opens a business with the word "Sunapee" on it.

    Either way, I admit there's really no reason for the state to hold up the deal.

  • I guess it's due to operating in the state park, but it's annoying how every action with Sunapee has to go through endless hearings and bellyaching by residents. The ski area has been there for 65 years, I wish they'd finally embrace it.
  • Vail Reassures Locals Regarding Sunapee Takeover
    26 July 2018 | 29 Views

    SAM Magazine—Newbury, N. H., July 26, 2018—Vail Resorts representative Pat Campbell spoke to an audience of around 100 people at an information session last night regarding the proposed lease transfer of Mount Sunapee to Vail Resorts. Campbell discussed the benefits the company could provide both the resort and the community, citing Vail’s charitable work, commitment to sustainability, and strong existing roster of resorts.

    The Mueller family has held the lease on state-owned Mount Sunapee for 20 years. The Muellers announced June 4 that Vail Resorts would be acquiring the operating rights to all three of their ski areas—Sunapee, Okemo, Vt., and Crested Butte, Colo.—for $82 million.
    The New Hampshire attorney general’s office said that the transfer may not proceed without state approval. The transfer, if approved, will give Vail full control of the lease and its operation.
    Locals expressed both concern and optimism at last night’s information session. Steve Russell, president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee organization, said, “Now is the time to restore public trust, protect the park’s heritage, and permanently preserve the ecological landscape of statewide importance.”
    Campbell, president of the mountain division for Vail, assured residents that Vail was really excited to get in, understand the resort, “operate the best that we can today, and down the road, if we consider doing an expansion, we will have a very robust dialogue at that time.”
    After the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) has completed its review of Vail’s proposal, a separate public hearing will be held. Attorney general Gordon MacDonald promises “a robust and thorough process,” and the DNCR has extended the window for public comment to August 8. The DNCR is expected to make its decision by Oct. 1.
  • ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • ISNE-I Skied New England | NESAP-the New England Ski Area Project | SOSA-Saving Our Ski Areas - Location SW of Boston MA
  • “We’re really excited to get in, understand the resort, operate the best that we can today, and down the road, if we consider doing an expansion, we will have a very robust dialogue at that time.”

    is Vail-speak for

    "We're really excited to get in, understand the resort, operate the best that we can today, and shortly down the road when all the research and focus group dialogue is done, we'll expand robustly at that time."

  • Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee
    Public Information Session regarding the proposed assignment of the State’s lease of a portion of Mount Sunapee State Park to VR NE Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc.
    Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 6pm
    Sunapee Lodge, Mount Sunapee Resort located at Mount Sunapee State Park
    The Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee was established through the Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner's Office pursuant to RSA 21-G:11, to advise the Commissioner and meet with the lessee at the call of the Commissioner. Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public pursuant to RSA 91-A:2; however, such meetings do not constitute public hearings. The Committee consists of 11 members.
    Committee Roster
    Information regarding Triple Peaks, LLC potential sale to VR NE Holdings, LLC:
    Press release from Attorney General and Commissioner Sarah Stewart
    Letter to Governor from Attorney General and Commissioner
    Vail Resorts presentation, July 25, 2018
    Summary and Response to Public comments Report, dated September 17, 2018
    Public Comments on Proposed Lease Transfer to Vail spreadsheet, as of 08/08/18
    DNCR Auditor Report, dated December 12, 2017
    Photos from Vail regarding joint branding on signage

    The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources thanks everyone who attended and participated at the July 25, 2018 public information session, and those who provided written comments regarding the proposed transfer of the Mount Sunapee State Park ski area lease agreement.
  • In a quick look at the article, in addition to the approval, the West Bowl was discussed.

    State approves sale of Mount Sunapee ski resort

    Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Commissioner Sarah Stewart announces the state’s support for a deal giving Vail Resorts the lease to Mount Sunapee, Sept. 26, 2018. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWitt

    Local attendees listen to a presentation by state officials announcing the state’s support for a deal giving Vail Resorts the lease to Mount Sunapee, Sept. 26, 2018. Ethan DeWitt—Ethan DeWitt

    Monitor staff
    Thursday, September 27, 2018
    0 Print
    It’s a done deal – almost. Three months after Vail Resorts announced an ambitious deal to buy the rights to the Mount Sunapee ski area, state authorities have signed off on the lease transfer, moving the agreement past the last major hurdle ahead of the coming ski season.
    At a public information event at the resort’s Sunapee Lodge on Wednesday evening, Commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Sarah Stewart said that after a review, an audit and an extensive public input period, the department found no reason to object.
    “We have come to the conclusion that New Hampshire can be confident that Vail is a great fit for our state,” Stewart said, addressing a room of local residents to applause.
    The approval will allow Vail to take over operations at the ski area, which is built on public land but has been in private operation since 1998. But with it comes a handful of proposed amendments to the underlying lease, all of which will require approval by the Executive Council and governor next month.
    Among those: a recent provision allowing for the “West Bowl expansion” – a controversial proposal approved by the governor and council in 2016 but strongly opposed by some in the community. That proposal will likely come before the Executive Council on Oct. 17.

    For residents and resort employees, the approval caps an era of local ownership and kicks off a dramatic new phase. In 1998, Tim and Diane Mueller took over ownership and operation of the ski area from the state, eventually winning the trust of a skeptical community through local engagement and steady investment.
    Then, on June 4, Vail announced it had reached a deal to purchase the operating rights for Mount Sunapee and two other ski areas – Okemo in Vermont and Crested Butte in Colorado – also owned by Tim and Diane Mueller. The deal came unexpectedly. At that time, the ski resort behemoth had agreed to pay $82 million for the operating rights and $155 million to pay off the subleases for the three ski areas. But under the terms of the original 1998 lease agreement, any subsequent transfers must be signed off by the state. That approval, the lease states, “shall not be unreasonably withheld.”
    Last week, the department unveiled the results of its public comment period, much of which appeared positive about the transfer. Of the 101 respondents, about half expressed a definitive opinion – 82 percent of that half had positive things to say.
    The attorney general’s office also commissioned an audit, dating back to 2015, to determine whether the ski area is meeting the terms of its lease; Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said “no material issues have been identified.”
    For residents and environmental advocates, this year’s process stood in contrast to a change in ownership last year. In April 2017, the holder of the parent lease to the land rights – CNL Lifestyle Properties – sold its ownership to a hedge fund company, Och-Ziff, through a structured sale that allowed to evade state scrutiny. State officials, including MacDonald, were taken by surprise. Residents voiced outrage at the lack of transparency.
    In response, MacDonald said Wednesday, the state is seeking Executive Council approval for an amendment that would expand state oversight over all future lease transfers.
    More divisive, however, is the amendment retaining the agreement for the West Bowl expansion. In 2016, the Executive Council under former governor Maggie Hassan, approved an amendment to the lease allowing a 56-acre expansion of ski trails, over the objections of 2,500 resident signatures. That expansion never moved ahead. In an information session in July, a Vail representative said the resort has no immediate plans to follow through on the expansion, either. But the amendment, if approved, would keep the option open moving forward.
    Speaking after the meeting Wednesday, some residents called on the Executive Council to vote down the amendment next month, which would nix the expansion entirely.
    “It’s unfathomable that they approved something in 2016 that doesn't carry along with the lease, but I’m happy to hear it because it gives us another opportunity to force this new operator to be clear and honest about what their plan is,” said Tom Elliot, a former executive director of Friends of Mount Sunapee, an activist group.
    Details on the proposed amendments are likely to be released Oct. 12, MacDonald said Wednesday.

  • Vail buys Okemo, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte
    [original headline didn’t copy n paste]

    BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Sept. 27, 2018 — Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) today announced that the Company has closed on its acquisition of Triple Peaks, LLC, the parent company of Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The Company purchased Triple Peaks from the Mueller family for a final purchase price of approximately $74 million, after adjustments for certain agreed-upon terms. As part of the transaction and with funds provided by Vail Resorts, Triple Peaks paid off $155 million in leases that all three resorts had with Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate.

    Okemo Mountain Resort and Mount Sunapee Resort join Stowe Mountain Resort in Vail Resorts’ northeastern network of resorts, providing even more options for skiers and snowboarders in the region. Okemo, approximately three hours from Boston and four hours from New York City, sits just above the Vermont village of Ludlow and has developed a reputation for superior guest service, incredible snow quality, grooming, terrain parks, and family programs. Mount Sunapee, located in the Mount Sunapee State Park, is the premier ski area in southern New Hampshire and is just a short 90-minute drive from Boston. The four-season, family-focused ski area has breathtaking views overlooking Lake Sunapee and consistently receives accolades for excellence in snowmaking and grooming.

    With the addition of Crested Butte to Vail Resorts’ Colorado network, pass holders now have access to up to seven world-class resorts throughout the state, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Telluride. Crested Butte Mountain Resort is located in southwest Colorado’s Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests and is known for the colorful and historic town of Crested Butte, renowned mountain peaks, and legendary skiing and riding terrain.

    The 2018-19 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass, and Military Epic Pass now include unlimited and unrestricted access to Okemo Mountain Resort, Mount Sunapee Resort and Crested Butte Mountain Resort; the Epic 7 Day and the Epic 4 Day now offer up to seven and four unrestricted days, respectively. All 2018-19 season passes are currently on sale, with prices increasing on Sunday, Oct. 7.

    “We are thrilled to offer pass holders even more one-of-a-kind experiences in the northeast and in Colorado with the addition of Okemo, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte to our network of world-class resorts,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “Unlimited, unrestricted access to these resorts through the Epic Pass, Epic Local, and Military Epic Pass, as well as access on the Epic 4 Day and Epic 7 Day, will be a tremendous benefit to skiers and snowboarders."

    Today’s acquisition closure on Triple Peaks, LLC, is the second of two acquisitions announced in June 2018 to be finalized. In the first, separate transaction, which closed on Aug. 15, Vail Resorts announced the acquisition of Stevens Pass Resort in Washington from Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate. Less than 85 miles from Seattle and renowned for its plentiful snowfall, the resort sits on the crest of the Cascade Range within two national forests – the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest on the west side, and the Wenatchee National Forest on the east.

    Following today’s closing, Vail Resorts plans to invest $35 million over the next two years across the four resorts to continue to elevate the guest experience. In addition, annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by $7 million to support the addition of these four resorts.
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