EAST BURKE – Friends of Burke Mountain rallied Saturday for a new beginning.

Dozens of people attended a celebration at the mountain to revel in the resort’s new direction following the legal indictments against embattled owners Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, who allegedly operated a Ponzi-like scheme that the governments says misappropriated more than $200 million in EB-5 investments. The resort was transitioned to the interim management team of Leisure Hotels & Resorts.

Stenger on Saturday made a quiet appearance at the mountain. He declined comment.

The celebration included a bicycle obstacle course for kids, food, drink, music, and tours of the massive new hotel and conference center at mid Burke. It is scheduled to open - for real - by September 1, said Steve Sherer, the vice president director of operations for Leisure Hotels & Resorts.

“We’re looking forward to getting started,” he said. “We’re glad to be here. We’re pleased to be part of the community.”

Lodging director Siobhan Shufelt led hotel tours.

“We’re going to be absolutely ready to roll by September,” she said.

The hotel, permeated by new-building smell, is almost an amusement park unto itself. It includes Willoughby’s Restaurant, The Gap Pub, the First 13 bourbon room, a coffee shop, fitness center, ski shop, ski rental shop, spacious cafeteria, and indoor storage for mountain bikes.

There’s also an arcade with lighting like a Las Vegas casino. And there’s a heated outdoor pool that will operate in the winter when temps top 32.

The hotel includes 116 rooms and can accommodate 428 guests. Every stick of furniture was crafted locally by Lyndon Furniture.

“I’m just so excited to open,” Shufelt said. “I have lived in the Northeast Kingdom all of my life and this is like a dream.”

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