Vail Resorts buys Okemo among other properties Sale of operating company spells end of Mueller era at resort

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Triple Peaks, the operating company for Okemo and two other resorts is being sold to Vail Resorts. Photos provided

Vail Resorts, which last spring bought the Stowe Mountain Resort, has ventured further into the Vermont ski industry with agreements to purchase both the assets of the Okemo Mountain Resort and the rights to operate it. With this deal, the Mueller era at the Ludlow mountain which began in 1982, comes to a close.

Triple Peaks LLC, the company owned by Tim and Diane Mueller that operates Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire and Crested Butte in Colorado and that owns several properties including golf courses, announced on Monday June 4 it has entered into a purchase agreement  with Vail Resorts Inc.

According to Vail’s website, the deal is valued at $82 million. The sale includes the operating leases for the three ski resort operations, as well as Okemo Valley Golf Club in Ludlow and Tater Hill Golf Club in Windham.

At the same time that Vail is purchasing Okemo mountain’s assets it is also buying Mount Sunapee  and Crested Butte resorts from Oz Real Estate for $155 million.  In 2016, the resorts were sold to EPR Properties with an investment from Och Ziff which owns Oz Real Estate. According to its website, as of March 31, 2018, EPR held 25 ski resorts in 14 states.

“Diane and I are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished at the three resorts for the last 36 years,” said Tim Mueller in a press release from Okemo Mountain Resort. “We have had the great privilege of working with a lot of smart, hardworking, dedicated team members, as well as many other people in the local communities where the resorts are located.”

“Over the years, we have honored each resort’s distinctive attributes, thus establishing a culture and brand at each resort which has translated into visitation by millions of loyal guests, ” said Diane Mueller in the same press release.

In addition to the ski resorts, the Okemo and Tater Hill golf courses are included in the deal

According to the press release, Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail resorts said, “We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Crested Butte, Okemo and Mount Sunapee to our family of resorts, and each of their teams into our company these three resorts … will truly enhance the variety of options for all our guests.”

A Vail press release quotes Oz Real Estate founder Steven Orbuch as saying, “Triple Peaks, LLC and the Mueller family … have been outstanding operators of these resorts and we have valued our association with them. We are excited for the opportunities that these transactions create for Vail Resorts … while providing a beneficial outcome for our investors.”

According to Vail’s press release, the company plans make capital investments of $35 million in the resorts over  the next two years.

The deal will require Vail to assume property leases and will require review by the states of Vermont and New Hampshire as well as the U.S. Forest Service for the Crested Butte resort. The sale is anticipated to close later this summer, after which Vail Resorts will take over the operation. Vail Resorts purchased the Stowe Mountain Resort for a reported $41 million last spring.

The Muellers have not owned Okemo or the other mountains since 2008, when they sold the resorts to CNL Lifestyle Properties. That $132 million transaction included a 40-year lease-back to the Muellers’ company.

In a deal reported to be worth $830 million, CNL sold the three resorts to a real estate investment trust associated with Oz Real Estate EPR Properties in 2016 and Triple Peaks continued to operate them. With the latest deal, that era comes to a close.

In addition to the three resorts operated by Triple Peaks, Vail is also purchasing Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State from Oz Real Estate for $67 million.

According to the Okemo press release, Vail Resorts will honor any previously purchased Okemo, Mount Sunapee or Crested Butte season passes for the 2018-19 winter season. For details, visit www.epicpass.com.

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  1. DNathan says:

    Kinda sad, kinda glad.

    I started my first real job in 1982, at a place that did some work for the new owners of Okemo. While I feel that they did an awesome job bringing Okemo into the forefront of NE skiing, I think they now deserve to take a break and enjoy the fruit of their labors.

    Kudos Tim and Diane, not not just for making a good mountain great, but for bringing skiing to the children of the area with your school program. And probably lots more that I don’t even know about. If the new owners do half what you did, not only will they be successful, but the community will benefit as well.

    Cheers!

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