BURKE - Steve Olson is the CEO of Leisure Hotels and Resorts, the company in charge of the receivership of Burke Mountain and Jay Peak Resorts.
The company started back in 1984 with a specialty in “distressed asset management." The companies office is located in Prairie Village, Kansas
The takeover happened back in April of this year, and since then Olson and his team have been working to bring about positive change to the mountain whether its rebuilding relationships in the community or snowmaking.
Olson and his team have done many of receiverships similar to the one that occurred at Burke Mountain, also for says that in this case the SEC came in because they believe there was fraud and hired a receiver who in turn hired leisure hotels and resorts. The contract started in April, Showed up on over a weekend and were getting to work at the resort that following Monday. Since they were on the ground ready to start, receiver Michael Goldberg decided to keep them aboard.
According to Olson, if a hotel fails, it can be for a number of reasons. He mentions some such as; lack of capital, competition, or conditions. "There’s lots of things that would cause a hotel or a resort to fail," said Olson. "That’s when the bank would step in or in this case the SEC step in and take control in through a receivership, some type of court order, or foreclosure and then in that case they would hire a receiver and that persons job is to control the assets and step into the shoes of the previous owner and function on behalf of the court." In Burke Mountain’s case, their problems were financial.
Experience is one strength that makes a company like Leisure Hotels successful at hospitality management, Olson has personally functioned as a receiver for over thirty years. Leisure Hotels & Resorts background has been receiverships management. According to Olson he says the reason resorts have the problem they are running into was finding someone that had the experience. Resorts lack the experience his company has; golf, condominium, hotel, ski, and retail. Olson says, “we’ve done all those things.” Which he says was very helpful when it came time for the company being chosen to help out Burke Mountain Resort and Jay Peak.
According to Olson, Burke Mountain and Jay Peak are no different than the other properties Leisure Hotels and Resorts have. When faced with a failing resort, the company comes ready to fix some of the issues that caused the failure. “Really the problem you run into is solving the immediate issues of putting a team together, getting the hotel open, sorting through all the operational issues, and primarily it is just doing the investigative process and finding out what went wrong and what you have to do to fix it and get it back into place quickly,” Olson said. Thats what the company did at Burke realizing that the hotel wasn’t open and the property was failing financially. Olson says some quick decisions needed to be made to get the property up and running. “What I always tell my team is, we have to go in there and make a subtenant change within eight weeks. People have to see that something different is taking place and get the confidence back in the operation.”
“Another thing we’ve had very good success with is meeting the people in the community solving the immediate issues that they were dealing with there.” Olson says that the company established connections with organizations like the Friends of Burke Mountain Facebook page, Burke Mountain Academy, and the Burke Chamber of Commerce to establish connections that were lost while the mountain was under previous ownership. They have kept in contact with the owners of the Friends of Burke mountain Facebook page, Olson says they communicate with them on a regular basis and has good connections with them. Olson says the communication path between the resort and the community was one thing members of the Burke area were upset with.
According to Olson the previous owners of Burke Mountain Resort did not have good relations with Burke Mountain Academy. Since Burke Mountain Academy's curriculum revolves around skiing, snow on the mountain is essential to them. Burke was supposed to make snow on November first of last year and have it down by thanksgiving, Olson says they haven't met that requirement in several years. The mountain not having any snow makes it difficult for Burke Mountain Academy to run their school. The first thing Olson did was went over to the school as well as other surrounding establishments in the town.The first thing Olson said he did was started meeting the people, then he says the second thing he did was get ready to make snow.
Olson says that his team was out there making snow on November fourth. "And thats not happened in I believe the last four or five years.” He says there needed to be some maintenance to some of the snow making equipment to get it running adequately.