What’s Delaying the Sale of 14 Ski Areas Worth Hundreds of Millions?

March 1, 2016

CNL Lifestyle Properties has been trying to find buyers since March 2015

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When CNL Lifestyle Properties announced it was putting its entire portfolio of mountain properties— including 15 ski resorts, a sightseeing tram and multiple ski area villages — up for sale, it was heralded as potentially being the largest ever ski industry transaction if they went to the same buyer. But the exit strategy that was supposed to be in place by the end of 2015 never materialized, and instead, CNL announced it would update investors some time during the first quarter of 2016 about what its plans are now.

So with the self-imposed deadline having come and gone, Curbed Ski decided to investigate what is standing between these resorts and new owners.

The first problem are the long-term operating leases in place at CNL’s resorts. CNL Lifestyle Properties is a real estate trust; it makes money off rents from the operators of its properties. So when CNL was buying resorts, it either leased them right back to the operators that sold them or found someone else to come in and run the ski area. In many cases, those leases have years, even decades, left. That presents a challenge to any resort operators that would like to buy the property: they’d either have to wait out the lease, which could be decades, or negotiate terminating the lease, an expensive proposition if even possible.
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Steve Siepak
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