Ginn Brings in New Management Company for Burke Mountain

Vermont ski resort, Burke Mt., will be operated by a Montreal-based company with expertise in running ski resorts. Ginn-LA maintains ownership.

Courtesy of The Caledonian-Record
Burke Mt Lodge by Caledonian-RecordBURKE, VT – April 27, 2009 – A Montreal-based management and development firm with expertise in running ski resorts has been brought on to run Burke Mountain and continue to charter its planned expansion of housing, ski opportunities and amenities, the Ginn Companies announced Tuesday.
“Day-to-day management, operations and development planning for Burke Mountain have been transitioned to Crave Real Estate, a Northeast-based management and development firm specializing in mountain development and operations,” a statement from the Ginn Companies in Celebration, FL, stated.
Tim McGuire, Vice President of Development at Burke Mountain said employees were told of the management company stepping in this week – and other than seasonal layoffs which occur this time of year as part of normal end-of-ski-season staff reductions, no one is losing their job as a result of the change. He said plans for the development at the mountain are continuing forward – though in a 90-day holding pattern locally – as consultants review the project’s scope given the sharp economic downturn since the plans were first conceived.
McGuire said bringing the Crave company on now will help to strengthen the mountain’s position since Crave brings to the table two decades’ experience in ski resort management and development, critical to Burke moving forward.
News of changes at the mountain had already led to local rumors of another Burke Mountain owner bailing and leaving town, but McGuire said, that is not the case. “This is good news,” he stressed.
Sam Sanderson, chair of the Burke Select Board, said he personally received a call from McGuire late Monday about the management company coming in. “It’s not bad, it’s reassuring,” he said of the change as it was explained to him by McGuire – meaning the mountain will continue to operate – amid fears of late it may not given Ginn’s financial picture elsewhere and some local cuts to staff in the past year.
“It’s going to be a change of management,” said Sanderson. “They’re bringing in a group to run it,” he said.
Ryan Julison, spokesman for the Ginn Companies in Florida, said the Ginn Companies have also brought in management companies for other properties owned by the financially beleaguered resort developer with properties in the south, west and tropics as well as Burke Mountain.
“We’ve actually been doing this at several of our communities around the company in an effort to find various partners to come in and help,” said Julison.
Two of Ginn’s Florida resorts have brought in management companies to oversee hospitality, golf, club management and asset management, in a step similar, said Julison to the management at Burke being handed off to Crave Real Estate. Those two Florida resorts are Reunion Resort in Osceola County and Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast.
Ginn has been in financial trouble in multiple properties it owns including a handful of high end resorts in the south which have entered Chapter 7 bankruptcy and been turned over to creditors in several instances.
McGuire said that the move at Burke is being made to “strengthen strategic partnerships and brings a new level of mountain-specific creative development and operations to the resort.”
“The addition of Crave Real Estate will help strengthen the existing management team that is currently in place,” said McGuire. “The wealth of knowledge, passion and experience that Crave Real Estate brings to the resort are an ideal fit with the character of Burke and the surrounding community as we develop into a true four season resort.
Crave Real Estate, according to the Ginn statement, is “led by ski industry veteran Lorne Bassel…Crave Real Estate has extensive experience planning, programming and operating ski destinations both in North America and abroad. Principals with Crave Real Estate have been involved in the development and management of more than 15,000 resort homes in more than 20 ski operations around the world, including serving in senior management capacities at Intrawest, one of the leading all-season resort developers in North America.”
“In the Northeast, Bassel and his team at Crave Real Estate have been involved in the creation of Stratton Vt., Snowshoe in W.V., and Blue Mountain in Ontario. Since 1993, Bassel has been involved in the creation of Mont Tremblant in Quebec and has helped it become a four season destination resort,” the Ginn statement continues.
“We are excited to be a part of Burke Mountain and to bring our unique collection of experiences at both ski destinations and four-season resorts,” said Bassel, President and CEO, Crave Real Estate. “We hope to bring a fresh perspective to the experienced management team currently on the ground at Burke. Their ongoing insights and leadership will be critical as we move forward.”
Bassel noted that Burke Mountain Operating Company (BMOC) will continue to operate the ski area and Burke 2000 LLC will continue to maintain ownership of the property, as it has since 2000. Employees of the mountain, himself included will work for Burke 2000 LLC, said McGuire.
“Development plans, including the Act 250 permit submission, continue to be a top priority for BMOC as the financial success of the resort is intrinsically linked with the development of additional bed base and supporting amenities,” Ginn Companies stated in their release Tuesday. “BMOC anticipates moving forward with Act 250 permitting in the coming months.”
McGuire said that the mountain wrapped up this year’s ski season on April 5 and season passes for 2009/10 are already on sale.
In a conference call with The Caledonian-Record on Tuesday, Bassel said he believes the partnership with his company and Burke “is a step forward for the resort. I don’t think it’s a step back or retreating from developing something,” he said.
McGuire said Ginn’s staff have been working with the Montreal company for a few months “looking at both the operations and the development plans and getting them up to speed. They have an abundance of knowledge in the ski industry and have been involved in a number of ski areas throughout the world. It’s been a really good fit and we’re really looking forward to harnessing their knowledge both in terms of the operation here and the development,” he said.
“Crave is going to assume the management role that Ginn had been doing up until this point,” said McGuire, who said that “Burke 2000 has always been the owner of the property and Burke Mountain Operating Company operates the resort, so the employees will transition as I understand it to Burke Mountain Operating Company, including myself,” he explained.
Julison, the Ginn spokesman from the company’s headquarters in Florida, also on the conference call, said, “The ownership entity will not change.” The entire entity, he said, is owned by Ginn-LA Burski, and that will remain so. “Lauren’s being brought in to assist the management,” he said.
Bassel, head of Crave, the management company now running Burke, said that his experience has taught him that “good resorts and authentic communities get built from a local level. The idea is to build the resort from the community and you act like a local and pick up on what’s authentic…or you try to do it from a castle getting nowhere,” he said of another, distant way to accomplish a resort’s growth. He said that the Ginn staff have built a strong foundation in that principle already, networking with and becoming part of the community and demonstrating their commitment locally.
“It’s a very good foundation,” said Bassel. “There’s a history there…an operating history…a lot of the work has already been done.” He said coming into a new ski project, he and his staff try to distill the picture down to “what’s worth fighting for there, what’s precious about this place, not to bring a cookie cutter approach.”
Asked what about Burke was precious, Bassel said, “There are a lot of things, actually. First of all, I love little villages. I know there are just a couple of restaurants and a general store. The little village,” he said of East Burke village “you could get the best designers in the world together and they could not create that kind of quaint charm.” Burke itself and where the ski mountain is located he said, “the open space, out in the country, out in the farming country of Vermont as opposed to it being jarred up against the highway with buildings rising up…it’s the tranquility of the place that makes it special,” he said. Too, he said, the skiing and terrain at Burke are great, from beginner to higher skilled skiers.
Bassel said Burke has much potential as a three-season resort with its accessibility and the ample offerings here in the summer and fall. “It’s beautiful land,” he said, “and you look for the history of a place,” which he said is here, too.
The partnership, said Julison, is aimed at positioning Burke for healthy growth. “From a corporate standpoint, we’re thrilled to have an individual like Lauren and his team coming into this project with his special brand,” said Julison. Added McGuire, “This is going to strengthen the community. It’s going to strengthen what’s happening at Burke. It’s a very positive direction.”
McGuire said he will be in touch within the next month with the Burke Development Review Board about the expansion plans and hearing schedule to sit down and plan the next step. The 90 day wait on hearings for the expansion to be evaluated is not necessarily connected to the management company coming in said McGuire. “It’s a good time now to get Crave involved and bring their expertise to the table,” he said.
One other thing fueling the local rumor mill is the closing for more than a month of Burke’s Tamarack Grill, which McGuire said was also done last year. The restaurant is already accepting bookings for its reopening and will be back after it shuts down for a break during mud season, he said.
Ginn has owned Burke Mountain since late in 2005, said McGuire.
5 replies
  1. John Boy
    John Boy says:

    Ginn Management

    Another round of smoke and mirrors. No wonder we see all of these failures, nobody except for a Pilly Lawyer could begin to understand the corporate relationships, responsibilities, etc. If Bobby would simplify operations and reduce the corporate confusion maybe he would eventually have some form of success. Everyone of his projects fails because he scares the "shit" out of the public with his 100’s of companies that all continue to loss money while expanding and creating financial illusions. I for one would never buy into or even use any of his acilities simply because I could not understand who I was dealing with. How about a corporate organization chart? afraid it would look like a big bowel of spaggetti.

  2. dan rourke
    dan rourke says:

    caveat emptor

    History of Ginn in Hilton Head and Florida developments with unfulfilled promises , stolen escrow deposits and mortgage schemes to drain all the equity then file bankruptcy and leave the property owners with all the problems shows Ginn will do whatever to deceive the customer and is not to be trusted whatsoever , or his 20 related companies that will steal your dreams.

  3. Lulu
    Lulu says:

    Same Old Song and Dance

    Cobblestone continues to be managed by Linger Longer and LA, but nothing has changed other than most employees having been let go.
    Still no communication and NO club house. CP is no longer private…lots of rude jerks have invaded the course. A money generating situation for sure. If BG had not run out all the happy, dues paying members in 2005, income would not have been an issue.
    LA is not going to put any more money in this development until they can sell it to hopefully someone who is honest and has the residents/owners/members in mind when decisions are made.
    Hopefully BG and his gang of crooks are not enjoying life nowadays.

  4. karen Joyce
    karen Joyce says:

    sad, but true

    Sadly, these first two comments seem to have a lot of truth. Promises made were not kept. Residents who paid a lot of money to buy into an "exclusive" community in Hammock Beach are now faced with sharing amenties with the general public. Anyone, anywhere can now buy a temporary membership. What happened to, "if you don’t join the HB Club now, you will forever lose the opportunity." A sales pitch HB agents told prospective buyers. This after initial buyers were told they could join the HB Club years later, when they retired permanently to Hammock Beach.

  5. sam johnson
    sam johnson says:

    cant believe what i am reading toby

    i can not believe that this piece of trash julison is still talking as if there is a ginn company. these knucklheads should be and from what i am hearing around reunion they will be shortly…but how can this guy keep writing this crap as if there still is a ginn operting…the mgrs at reunion will be very busy next week getting rid of anything with the crooks name on it i have been told. this turn over will take a lot of time because of the condition of this place…the new guys cannot believe how badly this place has been run or lack of it

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