Crested Butte Mountain Resort ‘bucking the trend’

Crested Butte Mountain Resort long has built its reputation on the lifestyle offered by the ski resort and the funky little town at the mountain’s foot.

Now, that lifestyle claim has become official.

Friday, officials from CNL Properties of Orlando, Fla., a real estate investment trust focused on lifestyle properties, announced its acquisition of Crested Butte along with Okemo Resort in Vermont and Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire.

CNL paid $132 million to purchase the resorts from Tim and Diane Mueller of Triple Peaks, LLC. The Muellers have owned Crested Butte since 2004.

The sale is being called a lease-back agreement, and according to Crested Butte spokesman Todd Walton, the agreement will allow the Muellers to continue to manage the resorts under a 40-year lease.

It also provides Crested Butte with more resources, Walton said.

“It means Crested Butte now has the resources and the advantage of being a little more aggressive in doing some things at the resort we’ve wanted to do,” Walton said.

Among the 115 properties owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties are 13 ski areas, including Bretton Woods in New Hampshire and two resorts at Lake Tahoe, Calif.

During their tenure, the Muellers have emphasized the “branding” of the ski resort and “enhancing guest experiences,” Walton said, in what is an increasingly competitive market.

Instead of downsizing and cutting back, the Muellers have tried to boost the exposure of Crested Butte, both the town and the resort, Walton said.

“Over the past four years, the Muellers have been incredibly focused about the whole thing, and CNL sees Crested Butte as bucking the trend” of a shrinking market, Walton said.

“CNL has seen this place as a really good investment, and now we have the resources to do a lot of the things we put on hold,” he said.

Crested Butte this year ranked No. 20 in the 2008 SKI Magazine readers’ poll of the best North American resorts, based on factors such as snow, grooming and variety of terrain.

Last season, the ski area set a record at the resort with 421 inches of snow.


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