The numbers failed to make it work

Point Lookout hospitality/event center to shutter in December

Owners unsure of what follows next for former corporate retreat
Wed, 06/05/2019 - 8:00am

NORTHPORT — Just 10 weeks after announcing its acquisition of the 387-acre Point Lookout Conference Center, in Northport, and stating that the event and hospitality business there would continue, word arrived June 4 that the owners would be closing operations there by mid-December.

A negative financial outlook has lead to the decision, said Matthew Arrants, executive vice president of Pinnacle Advisory Group, on behalf of Point Lookout’s owner, Deep Creek Grazing Association, of Montana. David and Tami Hirschfeld, of Camden and Montana, are principals of Deep Creek Grazing Association. 

Arrants, whose hotel assets management office is in Portland, said June 4 that following a closer business analysis, his clients have chosen to close the event hosting and hospitality (106 cabins) operations. Point Lookout also has a large gym, a bowling center and artificial turf soccer fields.

The Hirschfelds acquired Point Lookout in March, with the Pinnacle Advisory Group as consultants. Pinnacle had commissioned Olympia Hotel Management to assume management of the business.

Point Lookout currently has 30 employees, said Arrant. They will continue operating the facility until December.

The details of how Point Lookout will close have yet to be specified, said Arrants.

He said Olympia and Pinnacle tried to “figure out how to make a go of this,” but after analysis, they concluded the 20-year-old Point Lookout campus needed a major capital investment, including new roofs and heating and ventilation systems.

Until mid-march, Athenahealth, based in Watertown, Mass., and with offices in Belfast, owned the property, which occupies the southeastern side and top of Ducktrap Mountain, all overlooking Penobscot Bay. 

Athenahealth had acquired Point Lookout from the Maryland-based Erickson Foundation, which had, in turn, acquired its Maine real estate from Bank of America, which had acquired its Maine properties from MBNA, the credit card bank that originally developed the mountainside land as a corporate retreat, beginning in 1997.

The permit processing and eventual development of the side of Ducktrap Mountain was protracted, as the MBNA corporation spent months in meetings with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and then hearings before the Maine Board of Environmental Protection. A deer yard earned protection during the process and the BEP scrutinized cumulative impacts of the large scale project on the land.

Point Lookout had been used as a corporate retreat, and then evolved into an enterprise open to the general public. One event center sits at the top of the Ducktrap Mountain, while another is tucked down beside Route 1. Both have been popular venues for a variety of events, from chamber of commerce meetings to independent school auctions and banquets, to monthly gatherings of the Midcoast Forum on Foreign Relations.

Pop Tech, the annual conference held in downtown Camden, had moved its October function to Point Lookout last year.

Arrants said the financial picture got clearer after the Hirschfelds acquired the property in March, and the books indicated “how much of a driver Athena Health is,” said Arrants, referencing the fiscal role that the parent corporation had in the business itself, and by using the property as a intermittent corporate retreat.

“It is a different operation when owned by a large user,” said Arrants.

The Hirschfelds have yet to decide what to do with the property after it closes operations there, said Arrants.

“Right now, they don’t know what their plans are,” he said.

In 2018, the Point Lookout real estate had been the subject of a federal court decision, a judicial appeal by the Hirschfelds, and their eventual acquisition of the property.

In March, the real estate closing announcement said its new owners are, according to a March 19 news release, “proud to take the helm of such a majestic property, one that offers guests, wedding couples and corporate clients an authentic Maine experience.”

“The Hirschfelds look forward to welcoming new and returning guests to Point Lookout,” said Arrants, in March, on behalf of Deep Creek Grazing Association. “They are devoted to the region and deeply committed to the resort’s employees. As Maine residents, they intend to be good stewards of this remarkable property. It’s why they reached out to a Maine-based company like Olympia Hotel Management for their hospitality and operational expertise.”

How Point Lookout has been described by Olympia Hotel Management:

Meetings & Weddings

Point Lookout offers more than 40,000 square feet of conference space spread among three different buildings, designed for corporate meeting, team-building retreat, family reunion, or weddings. The largest event facility, Hedges Hall, is a 20,000 square-foot conference center with an ornate lobby, sunlit wrap-around verandas, and elegant ballroom sub-dividable into three rooms. Attached is also a 10,000 square-foot open-air pavilion with retractable sides, 12 wood fired grills, and two 50-pound lobster cookers for festive barbeques or lobster feasts.

The premier conference space is The Summit, a mountaintop executive retreat, which commands one of the most spectacular panoramic views in the entire state. It features 18,900 square feet spread over seven break-out rooms, a private dining room and great room, a formal lobby & lounge area, and a scenic wrap around deck and lawn overlooking Penobscot Bay.

A Base Camp for Coastal Adventures

Point Lookout is an ideal base for exploring nearby Maine coastal towns, such as the yachting center of Camden, the gallery-filled town of Rockland, and Belfast. Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are just an hour’s drive away. Local summer activities include golfing, sailing, whale watching while during the winter, there’s downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, toboggan sledding, ice fishing, and ice skating.

Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center, 67 Atlantic Highway, Northport, Maine 1-800-515-3611  https://www.visitpointlookout.com/

Olympia Hotel Management is a division of The Olympia Companies, a leader in high profile real estate development, equity investment and hospitality management projects in the U.S. Currently working with a portfolio of 23 properties nationwide, OHM is known for managing a new breed of customized campus hotels such as The Alfond Inn at Rollins; independently-owned luxury boutique hotels like The Glen House, SOPHY Hyde Park and Inn by the Sea; and receiving multiple best-in-class awards for its work with such select-service brands as Wyndham, Hyatt Place, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn. For more information, visit https://theolympiacompanies.com/services/hotel-management/


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