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November 10, 2017

Mixed signals on whether Saddleback will reopen this ski season

Courtesy / Saddleback Mountain Resort
Courtesy / Saddleback Mountain Resort
Majella Group, an Australian company that signed an asset purchase agreement to secure ownership of the Saddleback Mountain Resort in late June, announced on its Facebook page that its plans to replace the ski resort's chairlift this season have been delayed.

As Sunday River and Sugarloaf take advantage of cold temperatures for an early launch of the ski season this weekend, there are mixed signals about whether Saddleback Mountain Resort in Rangeley will be able to open as well this season.

Sebastian Monsour, CEO of the Majella Group, an Australian company that signed an asset purchase agreement to secure ownership of the Rangeley resort in late June, reported on the Saddleback website Thursday that the sale had not been finalized and that plans to replace the resort's chairlift this year have been delayed.

"We are continuing to work to successfully finalize this sale. We have encountered delays that have impacted our timelines," Monsour wrote, stating that the delays have been on his company's end and not on the part the sellers, Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington. "I am whole heartedly committed to this deal. Whilst it has been drawn-out and frustrating for many, we have entered and are working through the final stages. As we stated in June, this is a complex and challenging deal. It has posed numerous challenges to our investors. We are focused not just on finalizing the deal but ensuring we have the long-term, sustainable plan in place for the future of Saddleback and the existing approved development district."

Majella Group, which has diversified holdings and an office in Portland, previously announced it had signed an asset purchase agreement for an undisclosed amount to purchase all holdings of Saddleback Mountain Resort, including the resort, base lodge, ski lifts and surrounding timberland, totaling 6,337 acres.

In Thursday's Facebook post, Monsour continued: "Whilst we had hoped to replace the Rangeley chair this year, we have made the decision to delay its replacement until next season. We realize this comes as a disappointment to many and for us this season, but we are committed to a sustainable and long-term solution for Saddleback.

"We wanted the additional time to scope the best lift option for the mountain and will consider a detachable quad versus a fixed grip quad. This is pertinent as we move forward to the four-season use of the mountain where a detachable quad has greater appeal. I do not take lightly the impact Saddleback has on the entire Rangeley region, and we need to get this economic driver right for the mountain and all stakeholders."

He concluded: "We are committed to opening in some capacity for the 2017/18 ski season. This will not be a full opening, rather a limited operation that, if possible, will allow our Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some capacity this season."

The Portland Press Herald reported that some Saddleback patrons, after waiting two years for the ski resort to reopen, have doubts about prospects of the resort being open in some fashion this season.

"I'm not holding my breath, given the way things have gone over the past two years," Tracy Sesselberg of Cape Elizabeth told the newspaper. "I hate to say it, but we've heard this all before. It's a little like the boy who cried wolf."

Meanwhile, the Press Herald reported, Sunday River plans to open at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sugarloaf on Sunday. Both resorts told the newspaper they're opening earlier than usual this season due to favorable conditions.

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