A private home is under construction Monday in the Merrill Hill slopeside development at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

NEWRY — Every year the area in and around Sunday River Ski Resort attracts more and more people looking to buy or build the home of their dreams. Most are from Massachusetts, according to the designated broker at Sunday River Real Estate, Julia Young. Others hail from Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.

Young describes the real estate market in the greater Bethel area as healthy, due to the strong draw of Sunday River. The only problem is, there’s just not much inventory and what is available has shot up in price.

For example, out of just under 800 condominium units on the mountain, two are listed for sale this week. A typical chalet-style house that used to sell for around $380,000 is $480,000. When they do come on the market, they don’t last long, Young confirmed, especially units with direct ski access.

She knows the market and her customers well and they are a different type of real estate buyer. For most of them, buying or building a home in the area is a vacation or second home and they can afford it. Some are deciding to move full time to the area and a few have opened businesses in the community.

It’s a boon for the area and is reflected in how the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce describes the area: “All year round, Bethel offers lodging and dining for all tastes, and a small but wonderful and walkable downtown with everything you need and nothing you don’t.”

Sunday River Golf Club is one of the amenities that attract visitors to the Newry resort. Christopher Wheelock/Sun Journal

“We are growing in a sustainable way and meeting the needs of our visitors,” Young said. “I think the increased access to vacation rentals beyond our quaint inns and B&Bs is bringing people to our community year round and not just in the winter. The summer is a beautiful time to visit Bethel and Sunday River with hiking, paddling, mountain biking and our weekend events attract people from all over the country.”


Sunday River resort owns thousands of acres of undeveloped land and has its eyes on expansion in what it calls the Western Reserve, one of the reasons it’s installing a revolutionary 8-person chairlift to service the Jordan and Oz Bowl peaks.

Resort General Manager Brian Heon said he is awed by the views every day. “The views are awesome, there aren’t many other ski areas in all of New England that can offer that. This is the closest thing to being out West.”

When it comes to vacation homes at a ski resort, view and access command top dollar. So, with inventory as tight as it is, Sunday River responded by offering 23 lots at the top of a peak between the resort’s South Ridge base area and Aurora Peak. Lots are about two acres each. Only nine remain available and pricing ranges from the high $500,000s to $1 million. The development will be serviced by a new chairlift, which is being installed this year, meaning people can ski out of their house in the morning and return via chairlift at the end of the day.

Young added that the Bethel area offers a wide range of properties to fit everyone’s desires and budgets beyond Sunday River, and she and her team service a 30-mile radius around the resort. She emphasized that Bethel is really thriving, allowing new businesses to open and remain open, which is key to sustaining the area’s growth.

One of the private homes under construction Monday is framed by one of several giant ski bridges in the Merrill Hill Mountain Top Ski Home development at Sunday River in Newry. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

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