While Boyne Resorts officials weren’t talking the day after announcing plans to buy Sunday River and Sugarloaf, the head of the Ski Maine Association called it good news for Maine.
Boyne, which has long managed Maine’s two largest ski resorts, announced an agreement on Monday with Ski Resort Holdings LLC to buy six resorts and a chairlift attraction for an undisclosed amount before the start of the next ski season.
Greg Sweetser, executive director of the Ski Maine Association, called the Kircher family behind Boyne “passionate about skiing.”
“The company has a history of innovations that will continue to keep these Maine ski areas at the forefront of our industry,” said Sweetser. “I expect strong growth ahead for Sunday River (and) Sugarloaf to the benefit of Maine’s rural economy and the entire tourism community.”
Boyne has managed both Sunday River in Newry and Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley since 2007. In advance of the current ski season, it invested $4.7 million at Sunday River in a new Spruce Peak Triple chairlift, new beginners trail and a massive restaurant deck expansion.
It invested another $250,000 at Sugarloaf on a “cat skiing” project to open up backcountry skiing. The two cats are large versions of snow grooming machines that hold up to 12 passengers each.
Asked if Boyne had any immediate plans for either resort or if skiers would notice any changes, a corporate spokeswoman on Tuesday declined comment.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to answer related questions or provide additional comment until the transaction is completed,” said Julie Ard.
In addition to the Maine resorts, the deal between Boyne and Ski Resort Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate, includes Brighton Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah; Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, B.C.; Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; and The Summit at Snoqualmie near Seattle, Washington, according to a press release.
Boyne Resorts was founded in 1947 and is the third largest mountain resort company in North America.
“We are pleased to see this come to fruition and also really proud of our long-term achievements and diligence that primed us for this acquisition,” Stephen Kircher, president and chief executive officer of Boyne Resorts, said in the press release. “Boyne Resorts has been a long-term operator of these assets — some for decades. This transaction therefore poses no business interruption or integration risk.”
Steven E. Orbuch, founder and president of Oz Real Estate, added that “we have enjoyed our association with them during our ownership of these properties and wish them continued success in the future. We look forward to the consummation of this mutually beneficial transaction as it allows for Boyne Resorts to again fully control these resorts while resulting in a positive outcome for our investors.”
New York hedge fund manager Och-Ziff Capital Management bought Sunday River and Sugarloaf two years ago in a package deal with 12 other ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada.
Brian Corcoran, CEO and founder of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment in Portland who has worked within NASCAR and the Boston Red Sox, said in his experience with venues and development, the acquisition allows Boyne “to raise the bar of experiences and related commercial growth.”
“Both continue to diversify the customer experience, making both resorts a destination for all seasons,” Corcoran said.
“The best is yet to come for Sunday River and Sugarloaf with new innovation and experiences for casual and avid outdoor enthusiasts. It may sound cliche, but if you look outside your window,” Corcoran said Tuesday afternoon, as blizzard Skylar struck the Northeast, “they sure know how to throw one heck of a celebration.”
Sunday River Resort opened its $2.2 million Spruce Peak triple chairlift in December 2017. It was the ski area’s first new lift in nine years. (Photo courtesy Sunday River)