Sugarloaf Resort May Reopen for 2010/2011 Winter

Recently the MI Ski Report blog got in touch with investor and real-estate speculator Liko Smith whose previous projects include the now kaput “The Block” hotel chain, and who currently has his sights set on Michigan’s Sugarloaf Resort, with the extra-ambitious plans to open the resort this summer and to have an operational ski resort for the 2010/2011 winter season (source).

A press release included a preview of the development plans for Sugarloaf Resort which includes a biergarten featuring local Leelenau County brews, a wine and espresso bar showcasing Leelenau County’s local vinyards, a new exterior, four-season courtyard with fire pits for après, 100 ‘chic’ rooms and 50 dormitory-style rooms.

The local communities in Northern Michigan are understandably skeptical: Sugarloaf has been shuttered for a decade. I can’t imagine that a chairlift left unmaintained and exposed to the elements for that long has any useful life left — it’s likely that everything from the inside-out would need to be completely overhauled to make the project viable: linens, plumbing, wiring, carpet, windows, computers, chairlifts, etc., etc., etc.  In addition to the overwhelming magnitude of the project, in recent years several other bids have fallen through, and Smith has, for lack of better terms, a checkered past, including allegations of grand theft and embezzlement, and previous business associations with some unsavory characters.

I’m reserving judgment for the time being. As far as I’m aware, a purchase agreement has not been finalized or accepted, and even then, I will be very cautiously pessimistic until I see some serious development, like putting up a few million dollars worth of new chairlifts.

I love the idea of more places to shred, especially since the few resorts we do have are often quite crowded. But in this economy, ski/snowboard resorts are not exactly a growing business opportunity, the only way to get skiers and riders on the slopes at a new resort like Sugarloaf, is to take them away from other resorts like Crystal Mountain, Nubs Nob, and the two Boyne Resorts.

On a positive note, though, I really do hope they’re able to get this resort open, and that it works out to everyone’s benefit.

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5 Comments
  1. What we need in MI is a Snowflex hill man! Or powderpak, Either one. I wonder who we can talk to, to make that happen. It would be best if it was in lower MI!! This would make them different from everyone else!! One other idea is to have a hill that is all park. This could be a perfect chance for that!! Just thinking. Jon T

  2. Im with Jonathan ..I really cant believe the total lack of snowflex and dryslope in the U.S. .. youd think some resort would take the plunge on one … as far as SugarLoaf I dont know if it would happen simply due to the parties involved. Liko has a pretty dubious business reputation and I dont think anyone would be willing to habd over millions to him.

  3. Burritos, there is one snowflex slope in the US that I know of, at Liberty University (I think in West Virginia).

    I’d give you both a more detailed response here, but you just gave me an idea for another blog post.

    Jon, we need to find is someone with money (not many of those folks around anymore) to help make this happen. There are plenty of people like you and me who’d be more than willing to handle the operational side of things.

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