Feb 2010 16

Game On for Whistler Sale

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Whistler Mountains by Scott Hughes
Whistler Mountains
by Scott Hughes

If you are going to schedule a foreclosure sale you might as well do it when the world is on your doorstep - as Whistler is soon to find out.?

Three weeks before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, lenders announced they had seized the assets of Vancouver-based Intrawest ULC, which operates the Whistler mountain ski resort that is hosting a majority of the key alpine events.

New York-based Davidson Kempner Capital Management, which heads the lender group, says it plans to hold a public auction Friday, smack in the middle of the Games.

Vancouver-based Intrawest reportedly has missed payments on a $1.4 billion loan on the resort group. The company is owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a private equity firm that purchased Intrawest for $2.8 billion in cash and debt in 2006.

While the Whistler Village and ski mountain may have hit difficult financial times, individual property owners in the area are gratefully accepting $2,500 a night for their slope-side condos and single-family chalets during the Games.

Many U.S. residents invested in second homes here years ago in anticipation of the Olympics. The potential of year-round income generated by the world-famous resort was also a lure.

Skiers have access to the mountain-top glacier even in late summer, and the region is a popular playground for mountain bikers, kayakers, fishermen, hikers, rock climbers and golfers.

As with previous Olympics, some of the world?s largest corporations sought blocks of homes to accommodate their executives and guests and were willing to pay astonishing dollars to do so.

Ironically, one of the biggest financial decisions owners here have had to make is whether to accept the premium rental paid by Olympic renters, or stay put and enjoy the Games with family and friends. ?

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