Intrawest sells Mountain Creek Resort 

Intrawest continues to offload assets, despite reaching an agreement with creditors last month.

The Vancouver-based parent company of resorts including Whistler Blackcomb, Blue Mountain, Tremblant and Winter Park, announced last week that it has sold Mountain Creek Resort to Crystal Springs Resort. Both are located in Vernon, New Jersey.

Crystal Springs President Andrew Mulvihill said in a news release that he's inheriting a "financially healthy and vibrant resort entity."

"This newly formed mega-resort is unparalleled given the breadth, uniqueness and quality of its combined offerings to residents, day visitors and overnight guests," he said.

"From this platform, we have major expansion plans to create a first-class tourist destination on par with New England and the Carolinas, but with convenient proximity to the New York Metro area."

Mountain Creek is a ski resort located an hour north of New York City. It's a four-peak resort with 170 acres of skiable terrain. It has a vertical elevation of 1,040 feet and its summit sits at 1,480 feet (about 5,500 feet lower than the peak of Whistler Mountain).

With the resort in its pocket, Crystal Springs has plans for a rainforest-themed indoor water park hotel, as well as a base area village with dining, retail and artisan food makers such as a winery, bakery, chocolaterie and more.

The new owners are also contemplating a series of internationally-branded resort hotels, as well as a mountain luge, zip line, lift-accessed water slides and annual festivals.

The sale comes just over a month after Intrawest settled its debt, an estimated $524 million that it owed to lenders including Davidson Kempner, Bear Stearns, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers.

Prior to that the company offloaded a plethora of resort properties including Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado last November; Panorama Mountain Resort and the Village at Squaw Valley in January; and Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in February. Earlier in 2009 the company sold its stake in a French ski area.

Ian Galbraith, spokesman for Intrawest, said in an email that the company has not issued a press release on the sale and is "not conducting any media interviews at this time."

He went on to say Intrawest acquired Mountain Creek in 1998 but that the resort no longer fits into its "long-term strategy" to focus on a core group of resort properties and businesses. The sale of Mountain Creek was completed May 27 and terms of the sale have not been disclosed.

The sale also marks a distinctive trend in the sale of Intrawest assets, where many have been sold to local owners and operators. Panorama, for example, was sold to a group of owners from the Kootenays headed up by Rick Jensen, founder of the Cranbrook-based company New Dawn Developments and a former three-term mayor of the Kootenay community.

Sandestin, meanwhile, was sold to the Becnel family of Destin, Florida, while the Village at Squaw Valley was sold to the Squaw Valley Resort that the development accompanies.

Mulvihill, the son of one of Mountain Creek's early investors and an employee at its waterpark as a young man, said that's because local owners are best suited to find value in the developments.

"I think Intrawest was challenged in trying to navigate the workings of New Jersey," he said. "In a politically and regulatory environment I think it was a real challenge for them, so I think that the local guys are better suited for advancing the assets. Also there are not a lot of buyers out there right now."

He, too, wouldn't disclose how much he bought it for.



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