Young snowboarders ride a quad lift at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton. Ben McCanna/Staff file photo

Shawnee Peak in Bridgton has been sold to Boyne Resorts, giving the Michigan-based company four New England resorts in an extensive portfolio that includes Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine.

Shawnee Peak owner Chet Homer posted on the Shawnee Peak Facebook page Friday that his family recently completed a transaction with Stephen Kircher, president and chief executive officer of Boyne Resorts.

A news release on the Boyne Resorts website stated that the purchase was finalized Thursday, and that the terms of the transaction are confidential.

“I know they will maintain the special family vibe of Shawnee Peak,” Homer posted, noting his family owned the Pleasant Mountain ski area for 27 years.

With the addition of Shawnee Peak, Boyne Resorts now owns and operates 10 ski and snowsport areas and a total of 12 resorts across North America, including Loon Mountain in New Hampshire.

Boyne didn’t say what changes and upgrades it might make at Shawnee Peak in the years ahead.

All ski passes for the 2021-22 season will be honored, and there will be no changes made to skier passes or products at the ski area this winter, Julie Ard, Boyne’s senior vice president for corporate communications, said in an email.

“Over the coming months we will be working on plans for how and where to include Shawnee Peak on our multiresort season passes and other products in the future,” Ard wrote. “Future plans have not yet been established and it is unknown at this time if terrain expansion or a move to redefine Shawnee Peak as a four-season resort will be considered.”

Shawnee Peak – located within an hour of Portland – offers access to 225 acres of terrain serviced by four chairlifts and two surface lifts.

Founded in 1938, Shawnee Peak – which was originally called Pleasant Mountain – is one of the oldest continually running ski areas in New England. It has the largest night skiing terrain of any New England Alpine area, making it a huge draw for skiers in greater Portland.

Reaction among former and current Shawnee Peak skiers and snowboarders was mostly positive on social media.

“Shawnee Peak will always have a special place in my heart – both my boys (ages 21 and 25) learned to ski at the mountain,” Terra Crocker, who splits her time between Harrison and Florida, said in an email.

“They also spent many weekend evenings and nights there while I volunteered for the ski patrol in the First Aid room, as a nurse and retired EMT. Chet has done wonderful things to the mountain and for the Lake Region community. That mountain has always had a family feel.”

Jon Morrill of Portland learned to ski at Shawnee Peak back in the 1950s, and saw his two sons learn there as well. Now a regular at Sugarloaf, Morrill said the sale to Boyne is nothing but positive.

“The mountain has been very affordable for children and families. It’s a feeder mountain,” Morrill said. “I think it’s a very positive move. Boyne runs class resorts. I think it’ll be great to get that horsepower and ownership to expand Shawnee Peak. It’s a prime resort to have Boyne involved. Its location is ideal.”

Not all Shawnee Peak skiers were happy about the sale to a larger company.

Chad Kilmartin bought his house in Casco to be closer to the mountain to ski, and this winter he was looking forward to night skiing with his son, who will be 5. He worries the entire “small hill vibe” and family friendly community feel at Shawnee Peak will be lost.

Kilmartin said while more trails would be great, he fears the “big conglomerate” eventually will price out the locals with higher-priced lift tickets.

“People say bigger is better, but not always. The lifts will go faster, but people need to slow down. That time on the lifts is time to talk to your friends and family,” Kilmartin said. “When a small mountain loses its independence, it loses its soul. When the price goes up, it loses that simple, raw-mountain feel.”

With the sale of Shawnee Peak, there are now just two ski areas in Maine owned by families – Lost Valley in Auburn and Hermon Mountain outside Bangor.

While family-run ski areas were once the norm, they now are becoming a thing of the past, said Dirk Gouwens, the executive director of Ski Maine. Gouwens noted, however, that the Kircher family started Boyne Resorts in 1947 and continues to run it today.

“It will be a good thing for Maine skiing in the long run. I don’t see any way it could possibly hurt it,” Gouwens said. “I think the Kirchers understand where Shawnee Peak fits in the market. I don’t think they will move to change that a whole lot. They’ll just add more resources to expand the programs Shawnee Peak already has. The ski area will be in great hands.”

The two other Boyne Resorts in Maine – Sunday River and Sugarloaf – average about 500,000 and 300,000 skier visits each winter, respectively, according to the resorts.

Shawnee Peak does not make skier-visit numbers public, said Rachael Wilkinson, the ski area’s director of skier services.

All told, Alpine skiing in Maine has an estimated economic impact of $1 billion annually, according to Ski Maine. That figure is based on an estimated 1.3 million skiers and snowboarders annually.


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