Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Point’s Parent Company Overextended?

Everlands, owner of luxury resort the Point on Upper Saranac Lake, is said to have suspended operations.

Everlands is a fledgling collective of exclusive nature-oriented estates around the world, but its members-only concept has not gotten off the ground.

The Point, a former Rockefeller great camp, was the first lodging Everlands bought, in 2007. Since then the company has acquired five more properties in the United States and New Zealand and has options of four others, according to its Web site.

Much of Everlands’ capital came from Lehman Brothers investment bank, which was liquidated last fall after buying deep into the subprime mortgage market. According to NewWest.net, an online Montana news source, Lehman committed $55 million in backing. One of Everlands’ properties was historic Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT.

Everlands advertised that a one-time fee of $475,000 plus annual dues of $40,000 would provide members with “all amenities, such as world-class dining, fine beverages, local transportation, and a broad array of sports instruction, equipment and outdoor adventures” at — eventually — 45 properties around the world.

“So far, ‘approximately 60’ of a projected 900 (readjusted recently from the original target of 1,800) members have bought into Everlands,” the London Times reported in February.

A telephone call to the Point Sunday was directed to the voice mail of its management company, Garret Hotel Group, based in Vermont. A call to Everlands’ public relations firm was not returned.

The Point has continued to accept non-member guests since it changed hands two years ago. Julian Hutton, who heads hotel operations for Lifestyle Development, the parent company of Everlands, told NewWest that Everlands’ properties will remain open — to all guests, or at least to those who can afford at minimum $1,350 for a night at the Point.

As for those who purchased memberships, “a 15 percent deposit is required by each Member at the time of commitment, which will be returned with interest if initial Membership goals are not achieved,” the Everlands Web site states.

The defunct Lehman Brothers is said to have lost $40 million on a different Adirondack resort whose ownership fell to the lender in 2008: Whiteface Lodge. The four-year-old, 85-suite property in Lake Placid has a complicated fractional ownership structure. According to the Lake Placid News, Whiteface Lodge is contesting its assessed value, trying to get it reduced from $109 million to just $2 million. Despite reported slow timeshare sales, the lodge continues to operate as a hotel and is open to the public.

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Mary Thill

Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.




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