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Minnesota Resort Sold Near Biggest Midwest Alpine Ski Area

Canadian Mother-Son Team Add Lake Superior Property, Oldest of Its Kind in State, to Hotel Portfolio
September 5, 2018
The 43-acre Lutsen Resort in Lutsen, Minnesota, was sold to Canadian investors.

Canadian investors have purchased the historic Northern Minnesota resort once owned by the family of an Olympic skier located within minutes of one of the biggest Alpine skiing areas in the Midwest.

The full-service, four-season Lutsen Resort was founded in 1885 and is the oldest active property of its kind in the state. The property went on the market in June 2017 with an $8.5 million price tag and sold to North Shore Land Co. on Aug. 15, according to Cameron Peterson, a broker with Minneapolis-based Northco Real Estate Services who represented the sellers, Nancy Burns and Scott Harrison.

Peterson and his colleague, Ned Rupp, would not disclose the total purchase price but said it was "more than $6 million" and about twice the amount that appeared on a sales document, which showed a purchase price of $3.35 million.

The buyers are Bryce Campbell and Sheila Campbell, a mother-son team from Reston, a town in Canada’s Manitoba province. The Campbells own hotels in Canada including Copper River Inn in Fort Frances, a town just north of the border with Minnesota.

Lutsen Resort sits 90 minutes north of Duluth, on the shore of Lake Superior within the 30-mile Sawtooth Mountain range. According to the Lutsen Mountains website, the nearby ski area is "Mid-America's largest and tallest," offering 95 runs spread over 1,000 acres and four interconnected mountains, one with a vertical peak of 1,088 feet.

The 43-acre property is in a town also named Lutsen. It was founded by a Swedish immigrant, Charles Axel Nelson, and was owned by the family, which includes Olympic skier Cindy Nelson, until Burns and Harrison bought the resort in 1988. Cindy Nelson was the bronze medalist in the downhill at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

The Nelson family also owned the ski area until 1980, according to the Lutsen Mountains website.

Lutsen Resort can sleep 700 between its cabins, condominiums, townhomes, sea villas and 32 rooms in the 66-year-old lodge, which was designed by well-known St. Paul architect Edwin Lundie.

It also has a restaurant overlooking the lake, a pub and swimming pools. Most units have Jacuzzis and fireplaces. During warm months, guests are treated to guided hikes through the boreal forest, sea kayaking and beach campfires. In winter, Lutsen Resort has easy access to a 1,000-acre ski area, with miles of cross-country trails and four peaks.

Neither the sellers, nor the buyers could be reached for comment. Peterson said Nancy Burns and Scott Harrison were motivated to sell by their impending retirement.

"They were looking for an owner-operator type of group to carry on the Lutsen legacy," Peterson said. "This specific buyer loves historic lodges, so they felt it was a good fit."

Peterson said Northco fielded hundreds of inquiries about Lutsen Resort while it was on the market.

It is the latest notable property in Cook County that has sold over the past three years, said Linda Jurek, executive director of the tourism group there, Visit Cook County. The last comparable transaction was the June 2016 sale of Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais, which dates to the 1920s and was long-held by the founding family. Gunflint Lodge sold for a figure in the "low $6 millions," according to reports at the time.

Jurek said Lutsen Resort’s selling price is probably higher than that, though she had not heard definitively what it traded for.

Rupp said the Campbells have already taken possession of the resort and are now operating it.

Clare Kennedy, Minneapolis / St. Paul Market Reporter  CoStar Group   
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