As of November 2, 2016, CNL Lifestyle Properties has agreed to sell its portfolio of real estate backed lifestyle properties to EPR Properties; a Kansas City based Real Estate Investment Trust. Simultaneously with the closing of the sale to EPR Properties, EPR Properties will sell most of the ski related assets in the portfolio to an asset management group, New York City based Och-Ziff. Those ski related assets include Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Loon, Sunapee, Okemo, Boyne, Boyne Highlands, Crested Butte, Brighton (Utah), Summit at Snoqualmie, Stevens Pass, Mountain High and Cypress. Also included is the Gatlinburg Skyride. The question I was asked by journalists and resort operators as a result of the announcement is, “what does this mean?”

The 2016 National Ski Areas Association end of season conference & convention is about to take place in Nashville, TN. It kicks off on May 18 th and runs through the 21st. I have been chosen to sit on a panel with other industry professionals to discuss opportunities available to finance projects at ski resorts. This is a departure from my usual focus of “ski areas for sale” in North America. The invitation to participate and share information on this topic has given me an opportunity to research sources of capital available to ski area operators for growth, cash flow and maintenance projects.

I share an observation with you:   In my professional life, I am often asked to  raise capital for resort development opportunities.  Always, the requests come from very intelligent, committed, passionate people who are determined to keep skiing and riding alive and thriving, by creating or re-creating ski areas that are ripe for development.  In almost every case, these passionate, creative people  seek capital after they have exhausted their own capital supply, that of  their friends and families, or they never had any capital to begin with.  In almost every case, the people that find me had no idea of the magnitude of the project they were undertaking, either in dollars or in time.  By the time they get to me, they are of limited cash and have exhausted many likely sources of funding by trying to sell their passion rather than by offering an investment opportunity that does what any investor demands, providing a desired return on investment for the level of investment risk involved.

This part of the adventure of life started about four and a half years ago. An introduction by a former colleague at a networking event to an investment banker whose family owned a ski area led to the formation of Mirus Resort Capital. In those for and a half years, Mirus Resort Capital has received multiple calls to invest in resort, recreation or hospitality opportunities. Similarly, Mirus Resort Capital has been approached to raise equity from investors and debt from lenders. Candidly, that is not what Mirus Resort Capital did well. These experiences prompted me to rethink “Mirus Branding”, to define what Mirus does and does well and go about communicating that to the market place Mirus operates in.

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