Aussie developer buys North American ski field

The Brisbane based Majella Group has purchased Saddleback Ski Area, Maine’s third largest ski resort with plans to create ‘the premier ski resort in North America’.

A press release distributed by Majella reveals the company signed an asset purchase agreement to secure ownership of Saddleback Mountain Resort in Rangeley, Maine. The purchase includes all holdings of Saddleback Mountain Resort, including the resort, base lodge, ski lifts and surrounding timberland, totaling 6,337 acres.

The historic deal was struck between Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington, Maine, and Majella Group CEO Sebastian Monsour of Brisbane, Australia, and is expected to finalize later this summer. Mr. Monsour made the announcement at a press conference at Saddleback Lodge on June 28.

The sale price has not yet been disclosed and the mountain has not operated for the past two years. Mr. Monsour said the Majella Group and its local management team recognizes that re-opening the mountain is a top priority for the Rangeley community and its loyal constituents, including the many property owners on the mountain.

“Replacing the Rangeley Chair and T-Bar are at the top of our list, and from Mother Nature’s perspective, we are already up against the clock,” Mr. Monsour said.

The Majella Group has engaged Doppelmayr, the world’s leading manufacturer of ski lifts, to begin the process. The Rangeley Double Chair will be replaced with a new TRISTAR Fixed Grip Quad Chair Lift that can support 1,500 skiers per hour. The Cupsuptic T-Bar will be replaced with a new Wind Resistant, Higher- Speed Surface Lift that can support 1,200 skiers per hour. When completed, Saddleback will feature one of the newest lift systems in all New England.

Officials would not disclose the sale price (though they could have purchased this resort for under a $1million or this one in Montana for $3.5million) but the company’s purchase of the resort is expected to be finalized this summer, representatives said. Though an opening date is yet to be set for the northern season.

According to the Portland Press Herald, ‘Monsour said he first visited Saddleback in 2011 while searching for a location for his company’s U.S. headquarters. He recounted how he and his family fell in love with Maine’s beauty and the warmth of its people, and he decided to base their company in the state because it “felt like home.”’

Locals may or may not embrace the new ownership. A community led foundation, the Saddleback Mountain Foundation, had set a goal of raising $4million to purchase the resort before Majella made the offer.

The Majella Group has hopes of transforming Saddleback into a premiere four-season resort that can become a destination for visitors from all over the U.S., Canada, and abroad. The Brisbane based business specialists in property development, project management, design, technology, consulting and financial services.

“We believe Saddleback requires a plan to create more lodging, more restaurants, and additional on-mountain opportunities,” Mr. Monsour said.  “We want to attract significantly more visitors to Rangeley in all four seasons and create a mountain experience that complements and energizes the Rangeley business community.”

The Majella Group, that has not worked in the ski industry prior to this purchase, plans to retain a local mountain operations management team. Long-time Saddleback manager Jim Quimby will head up Mountain Operations. Rangeley residents Greg Andrews and Perry Williams will complete the management team, along with Majella CEO – Western Region Fred LaMontagne, who will serve as the resort’s Chief Executive Officer and focus on long-range planning and strategic operations. Retired Maj. Gen. John W. Libby will continue to advise Majella with regards to the mountain.

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017, a former columnist for Mountainwatch and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.


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