By Steve Hubrecht

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The provincial and national news media were abuzz last week with reports about Fairmont Hot Springs Resort being for sale. This created a small flurry of local gossip in the Columbia Valley;  multiple residents contacted the Pioneer, asking if the newspaper had heard the news.

While the basic fact of the matter is true —the resort is indeed up for sale — the reports (perhaps unintentionally) missed the mark by omitting a key detail: the resort has actually been for sale, on and off now, for a couple years.

Senior staff with the resort, the real estate agent doing the current listing, and the Regional District of East Kooteney (RDEK) Area F director, Susan Clovechok, all confirmed as much to the Pioneer, and resort staff and the real estate agent both explained that it’s strange that it is gaining a national-level spotlight just now.

“It has been on and off the market for some time now,” Colliers International senior vice president, Mark Lester, clarified to the Pioneer, adding it had been listed with other real estate companies in the past, but began listing with Colliers International’s Unique Properties division this past summer.

Lester, and the Unique Properties division, have plenty of experience in high-end, large-scale real estate, having been involved in the listing and sale of multiple ski resorts, large marinas, and even entire islands (some in British Columbia, but also 5,400 acre Mago Island in Fiji, bought by actor Mel Gibson in 2004). Fairmont Hot Springs is not the first sale pertaining to the Columbia Valley Lester has worked on, having previously been involved with the sale of K2 Ranch, and with the sale of Tembec’s forest lands portfolio.

Lester did not want to comment in detail about the listing, noting only that the resort “is a significant property”.

Part of the reason that the news stories created a stir in the Columbia Valley may be the importance of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in the local economy.

“It is an important business in the Fairmont community, obviously, but also in the valley as a whole. In part, that’s because of the number of the employees and in part, that’s because of the big role the resort plays in the tourism industry here,” said Clovechok. 

She added that the RDEK has worked closely with Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s senior leadership on flood mitigation on both Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek, and will continue to keep up that relationship with whoever becomes the resort’s new owners.

CBC News and Vancouver Is Awesome both reported that the resort is selling for in the range of $50 million, with CBC reporting that it attracts around 500,000 visitors a year.