Cranmore Mountain Resort's new owners are wasting no time executing the plans they brought to their new operation.
Brian Fairbank, his son, Tyler Fairbank, and Joseph O'Donnell, longtime partners at Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, are spending $7 million on major improvements to Cranmore, a venerable resort in North Conway, N.H.
Cranmore President Ben Wilcox said those improvements include installation of a fixed-grip quad chairlift to replace the South Double. The new lift, a Doppelmayr eco-Drive fixed grip quad, will double the capacity of the current South Slope lift.
"The nice thing is from the public's perspective, people heard the announcement of the sale and we went right to work with capital improvements. The deal has been in the works for a year. Brian Fairbank said, 'Get your sneakers on; you're going to be running when everything's closed'," Wilcox told OnTheSnow.com.
"The South Slope is premier beginner terrain. Upgrading the lift for this terrain will decrease lift lines and greatly enhance the experience for our guests," Wilcox said. The new lift occupies the same footprint as the current double chair, and is 2,622 ft long.
"The existing South Double chair will be moved to a new location near the Beginner Basin area, with new lift towers. Cranmore is changing some of the trail layouts in that area to accommodate the new lift and to provide additional beginner terrain in some underutilized trails including lower Lift Line, Quad Chute and Summit Alley," Wilcox said.
"These two lift moves create a really perfect transition for the person learning to ski, and the person refining their skills," he said
The tubing park will be relocated and expanded from seven to 10 lanes along with a new Sun Kid surface lift in addition to the existing handle-tow.
The tubing park is being relocated to accommodate a new Mountain Coaster, similar to the coaster at Jiminy Peak.
Other improvements include the installation of 70 new energy-efficient tower guns that will increase the quality and quantity of snowmaking, especially during early season periods.
The Arlberg Lodge at the base of the area is being converted into a state-of-the-art children's center, a new ticketing system will make for smoother transactions for guests, and many other buildings will be upgraded to improve guests' experiences.
The Fairbanks and O'Donnell acquired Cranmore from Booth Creek Resorts June 15, 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.
"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 said.
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.
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.
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