Four years after being shuttered by well-intentioned but frustrated owners, Maine’s Saddleback Mountain finally has new hope. Boston-based Arctaris Impact Fund agreed this week to buy the mountain and begin preparations to reopen what was once the state’s third largest resort. The 59 year-old mountain is one of New England’s best which has seen more than its fair share of setbacks having nothing to do with the quality of the skiing. “This beautiful mountain has so much potential and it looks like the buyer has a strong plan moving forward,” said Dawn Klein, real estate broker for the Berry Family. “We are excited for the acquisition to be complete for the Saddleback Resort community and the entire Rangeley area.”
Bill and Irene Berry purchased Saddleback back in 2003 and spent some $40 million to build a new base lodge, South Branch lift, Kennebago quad and more. By 2015, the family was unable to obtain financing for replacing the Rangeley double, without which the ski resort would go out of business.
The years since have been difficult for the Berrys, the Rangeley community and everyone who loves Saddleback. In June 2017, an Australian investor named Sebastian Monsour revealed plans to purchase the mountain at a base lodge press conference. His Majella Group intended to replace Rangeley with a fixed-grip quad and Cupsuptic with a T-Bar, both from Doppelmayr. Majella and the Berrys never closed and no new lifts were installed.
Arctaris came on the scene after two more years of closure, signing a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the resort. The fund specializes in providing capital to growth-oriented businesses in inner cities and under-served rural regions across the United States. This September, both sides issued statements lamenting that negotiations had stalled. So it’s fantastic news that the two sides have now reconciled and signed an agreement.
The calendar says November and significant work lies ahead, making a quick reopening unlikely. While the highest and lowest elevation lifts are modern fixed-grip quads that saw some maintenance work during the closure, three lifts loading near the main base lodge average 56 years old and may need to be replaced.
Here’s to a speedy closing and lifts spinning some time in 2020.
Update 11/8: Andy Shepard, who will be the new general manager, said in an interview that two new lifts are planned to be built next summer: a high speed quad version of Rangeley and a T-Bar replacement for Cupsuptic. Closing is scheduled for mid-December and reopening planned for between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020.