For sale: The Lodge at Suttle Lake

By Rachael Rees The Bulletin

The Lodge at Suttle Lake, along with two other lakeside resorts in Central Oregon, is up for sale.

“Building and operating the lodge for over the past 11 years has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” Ronda Sneva, owner and operator of Suttle Lake resort, wrote in an email. “It’s difficult to let go, but the time is right for a transition.”

Located 12 miles northwest of Sisters, The Lodge at Suttle Lake has been actively marketed for two years and is currently listed for $2.9 million.

In addition, Shelter Cove Resort & Marina on Odell Lake, southwest of La Pine, is on the market for nearly $3.8 million, and Twin Lakes Resort on South Twin Lake, west of La Pine, is for sale for $1.85 million. Owners of both resorts want to retire, according to the real estate listings. The owners of Shelter Cove Resort, which operates year-round, could not be reached for comment, and an owner at Twin Lakes, which is open from late April to mid-October, declined to comment.

Mike Mansker, the listing agent for The Lodge at Suttle Lake, said increasing tourism by out-of-state visitors and Oregon residents has led to an increase in income for many resorts.

Because Suttle Lake operates as a luxury resort — with weekend rates between $293 and $347 for rooms or a suite in the lodge and a two-night minimum, according to its website — it generates income, said Mansker, owner and principal broker of Coldwell Banker Reed Bros. Realty in Sisters. But it doesn’t generate a profit because of the overhead and cost of year-round operation.

The listing price is about half the amount Sneva invested to build The Lodge at Suttle Lake, which she opened in 2005, according to Mansker and Darrell Stewart, general manager at the resort.

Located on 19 acres in the Deschutes National Forest, the resort operates under a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Along with the lodge, the resort has a marina, boathouse, 16 cabins and a restaurant. Stewart said Sneva recently dropped the price by $1 million. She wants to focus on her primary business, a catering company in Tucson, Arizona.

Resort sales bring challenges not present in other real estate sales, said Peter May, the listing agent for Twin Lakes Resort and a broker with Compass Commercial Real Estate Services in Bend.

“There’s just a lot more factors because you have a real estate play and also a business side of it,” he said. Because most resorts are seasonal, he said, the selling season is shorter.

“If you want to buy it, you want to be able to go there and see it,” May said.

And when resorts are located on Forest Service land, he said, it adds another level of complexity to the financing.

Typically, resort buyers seek a U.S. Small Business Administration loan instead of conventional financing because they would own only the structures and not the land, he said.

New owners must also obtain a permit from the Forest Service to operate on the land, he said.

“One thing about resorts is you can’t go into the national forest and build a new resort,” May said. “Any resort on Forest Service land is not replaceable.”

Kassidy Kern, Deschutes National Forest public affairs specialist, said the Forest Service will confirm a potential buyer is financially capable of operating a resort before issuing a permit.

If a resort has been open to the public, Kern said, it will continue to be operated that way when ownership changes.

“It has operated as a public service, and there are guidelines and policies we have in place to make sure the public in general is served,” she said, referring to The Lodge at Suttle Lake. “So even if a niche group purchased a resort, they would still need to serve the broader public.”

—Reporter: 541-617-7818,

rrees@bendbulletin.com

John Gottberg Anderson / The Bulletin file photo The Lodge at Suttle Lake, seen here in 2008, is the heart of the resort near Santiam Pass. The resort is for sale for $2.9 million.