Saddleback ski area in Maine is on the market for $12 million, but the family that owns the resort is also open to discussing partnership offers from developers willing to invest in transforming its rural gem into a full-blown, four-season resort.
“Our hope for a buyer is someone willing to be supportive of the local area, to be involved,” family spokeswoman Faith Berry told the Portland Press Herald last week.
The Berry family bought Saddleback nearly 10 years ago and has invested $40 million in improvements. The ski area is known for its rugged rural beauty, expert terrain, summit snowfields, and reasonable lift ticket prices. Although Saddleback doesn’t attract the crowds of in-state rivals Sugarloaf and Sunday River, the 4,120-foot mountain consistently earns high marks in national polls and rankings for character, scenery, and value.
The portion of the property up for sale encompasses 400 acres, including ski trails, lifts, and the base lodge. Since purchasing Saddleback in 2003, the Berrys have increased the number of on-mountain condominiums from 45 to 121, and have invigorated once-dormant offseason operations by transforming the facility into a spring-summer-fall mountainside wedding and banquet facility. What’s needed next, Berry told the Press Herald, is more lodging, including a hotel, but the expansion needs to be done “in a way that is sensitive to the beauty and the environment.”
The snow sports industry has done a decent job marketing January as Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month over the past few seasons, and mountains in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts have numerous promotions designed to help newcomers hit the slopes. Many resorts will be offering free or deeply discounted lessons and rentals for beginners, and an expanded “Bring a Friend Challenge” offers prizes and rewards for those who already know how to carve turns and are willing to introduce friends or family members to skiing or boarding. You can search by state or zip code to find the closest participating resort at www.skiandsnowboardmonth.org.
Snow, deals flying
Cannon has a New Year’s Day 2-for-$70 lift ticket deal . . . Cranmore will roll back ticket pricing to $9 on Jan. 4 . . . At Gunstock starting Jan. 6, members of any ski club who flash a membership ID on Sundays at the ticket window get a $20 discount . . . Root for the Patriots’ defense to do well throughout the NFL playoffs, because every Tuesday beginning Jan. 8, Waterville Valley will offer lift ticket pricing at a dollar amount equal to the number of points scored by the team’s opponent in the previous weekend’s game . . . Resorts in the Eastern Townships in Quebec are beginning to advertise in the Boston market as uncrowded alternative skiing destinations for American holidays such as Martin Luther King Day and Presidents’ Day. Owl’s Head, Mt. Sutton, Orford, and Bromont are convenient destinations just north of Vermont.