Wed. vote will determine new ownership for Balsams

The current owners of The Balsams Grand Resort are scheduled to vote on a new ownership group Wednesday, according to a member of a North Country investor group that’s interested in purchasing the landmark property.Dan Dagesse of Colebrook and Boca Raton, Fla., told NHBR that he has heard the trustees of Tillotson Corp. will be making a decision on whether to sell the historic property to a group of local investors – which includes him – or Ocean Properties Ltd., a hospitality franchising company that also owns the Wentworth by the Sea hotel in Portsmouth, the Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn in Portsmouth and the Holiday Inn in Nashua.Other members of the North Country investor group include Jeff McIver, the hotel’s current general manager, and Dan Hebert of Colebrook, a general contractor.Rick Tillotson was a fourth member, but withdrew from the group this week.”He had been a trustee and didn’t want any conflict of interest to hurt the group,” said Dagesse.Tillotson Corp., a diversified holding company based in Lexington, Mass., holds the deed to The Balsams and has daily management of the Neil and Louise Tillotson Charitable Trust. The corporation, itself an asset of the trust, is expecting to turn over all of the trust’s assets — including the Balsams – to charity or to be sold off.On the eve of the vote, Dagesse said he wasn’t sure which investor group’s proposal would be accepted, although other sources familiar with the situation and speaking on the condition of anonymity — felt that Ocean Properties might be favored.Several calls to Ocean Properties were not returned.”I can’t tell you what Ocean is going to do, but I can tell you we weren’t going to close it down in the winter,” said Dagesse. “We were planning to put in a biomass heating system, cutting operating costs by as much as $1.3 million. Without that system, the hotel is doomed.”He also said if the North Country group’s offer is selected, “we wouldn’t allow gambling. Let somebody else have it. We want no part of it.”Although Dagesse did not disclose details of his group’s offer, he did say that at least he and Hebert didn’t personally need any money the hotel would generate.”We told the trustees, for the first 10 years, we wouldn’t take a salary or a profit. All of the profits would go back into the hotel,” said Dagesse.The local investors also worked on a collaboration between the hotel and Plymouth State University for a culinary arts program and a hotel management program. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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