Wow, Saddleback is on the move (remember that ole Maine slogan from the Angus King years?). This year, paid visits are up 22 percent, with season-pass sales up 23 percent, and real estate sales totalling $4 million. No wonder its bullish on the future. With an eye toward four-season operation, the resort has signed a lease-purchase for Oquossoc Cove Marina. It’s also announced its plans for on-mountain improvements and developments. Let’s start there.
On-mountain: This summer the emphasis is on planning. This includes:
• design and pre-selling of an 80-room condominium hotel adjacent to the base lodge;
• designing a 1,000-seat expansion of the base lodge (thank you, thank you);
• planning the replacement of the Rangeley double with a quad (Big woohoo for this!);
• planning the installation of a new quad in the Magalloway area of the mountain to serve an existing and two new real estate areas.
Planning and funding is expected to be completed by the spring of 2010, with construction beginning that summer.
The marina: The 60-slip marina has the potential to expand to 120 slips. This gives the mountain access to Rangeley Lake, a big plus for visitors during nonski months. The resort plans to open a real estate office in town and offer “vacationers tours of the lake, the mountain and the area, introducing people to the history, culture, and outdoor recreational opportunities.” Current marina owner Larry Koob will continue as manager.
In anticipation of its growth, Saddleback is helping fund and participaing in the Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust’s affordable housing study and studying alternative energy solutions to support housing expansions as well as the resort’s overall energy needs. Currently, the resort
employs 40 staff members year round; during the winter season staffing increases to around 180. Saddleback anticipates its staffing needs will increase 15 percent next year, and another 15 percent when the hotel is completed.
Nice to hear that Saddleback is thinking big picture here and realizing that the Rangeley region is pricey for service-wage workers. Also good to hear it’s thinking green. This should all benefit Rangeley big-time in the long term.