Brian Fairbank, co-founder of Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and two partners have acquired Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, N.H., from Booth Creek Resorts, with cooperation from CNL Lifestyle Properties LLC.
Fairbank explained the complex deal worked out after a year of negotiations: CMR Properties LLC acquired the assets of Cranmore Mountain Resort from Booth Creek subject to an $8.8 million loan Booth Creek had from CNL; CNL agreed to commit another $7 million in new loans for capital improvements at Cranmore, most to be spent in 2010 and 2011.
"CNL is into the deal for just under $16 million, and obviously has the confidence that our business model is sustainable to justify that investment," Fairbank told OnTheSnow.
CMR Properties LLC has three principals: Fairbank, Joseph O'Donnell, his longtime partner in operations at Jiminy, and his son, Tyler Fairbank, who each own one-third of the company.
O'Donnell and the Fairbanks operate Jiminy Peak under a long-term lease from CNL that has 38.5 years to run.
Fairbank envisions ramping up programs for children, and using that as the foundation for steady expansion and increase in business, summer and winter.
"Everything that took a long time to create at Jiminy is now going to get a jump start. We can really do a lot to transform Cranmore into being a viable, sustainable asset for that community for years to come," Fairbank said.
"We have a model that will allow that to happen. Taking it into a summer mountain adventure park model similar to Jiminy is essential, because there are so many tourists in that valley in the summer.
"If we can make something where mom and dad say, ‘This is somewhere I want to take my kids,' and create an environment that's upper scale, people are going to look and say, ‘We want to go back again.'"
Fairbank said the two resorts will fit well together, allowing sharing of ideas, without competing for the same market share of skiers. Jiminy draws its skiers and riders from the New York Metropolitan area, while Cranmore's come from Boston and environs.
Stephen K. Rice, senior vice president and managing director of CNL, said, "Now that the deal is done, I'm really celebrating this one for Cranmore, Herbert (Schneider) and his legacy, the North Conway area, and the ski industry in general. We are injecting new capital in a historic resort, and set it on a course for continued growth, and contribution to the region. In Brian Fairbank, we have an industry leader and superb operator to take the reins, with Ben Wilcox staying on at Cranmore as a highly capable GM."
Fairbank expanded: "Ben Wilcox and the team of people that he's pulled together to make Cranmore what it is today is one of the primary reasons we continued to lean in and explore this deal over the past year. He's a wonderful individual, and our confidence in him and in the business model is what encouraged us to keep pursuing this. Ben made all the difference."