Growth Spurt: Xanterra Parks & Resorts Reflects on Recent Expansion and Looks Ahead to Future Growth
For Immediate Release
DENVER, May 2, 2014 – In just over a year, Xanterra Parks & Resorts® has completed a series of acquisitions that have greatly expanded the company’s experiential leisure offerings globally, positioning the company for additional growth.
The most recent addition is CW Adventures, an international walking tour operator based in Waterbury, Vt. Acquisition of that company is expected to be completed in May. In December 2012 Xanterra acquired VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. In 2013, Xanterra purchased adventure tour company Austin Adventures, The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz. and three all-suite luxury motorized cruise ships to become part of Windstar Cruises. The company also landed a 16-year contract to operate a variety of concessions in Glacier National Park, and was awarded a 20-year contract to continue operating concessions in Yellowstone National Park.
These acquisitions are on the heels of several other additions including Windstar Cruises in 2011, Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va. in 2010 and the historic Grand Canyon Railway in 2007.
Additionally, the company has invested heavily in improvements in a variety of locations. In Yellowstone, the company embarked on the first phase of a major renovation at Lake Yellowstone Hotel, and the second phase will be completed this year. The company has also begun a $70 million redevelopment project at Canyon Lodge & Cabins. That project will be completed by 2016. Additionally, major renovations were completed at the historic El Tovar at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. And Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park, Xanterra added a campground and RV park.
“In a relatively short time Xanterra has transitioned from a company primarily known as a national park concessions operator into a diversified global hospitality company with an array of experiential leisure offerings,” said Andrew N. Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra. “While we are extremely proud of our history as the country’s largest operator of concessions in national parks, we eagerly look to the future as we provide experiences on land, rail and sea.”
With a much-lauded reputation for sustainable operations, Xanterra has developed aggressive programs to bring new acquisitions to its standards in all sustainability areas, including historic preservation. For example, the company is making numerous improvements to the historic lodges in Glacier National Park, and enhancing sustainable menu items and rehabilitating the park’s famous White Motor Company Red Buses as it has with its Historic Yellow Buses in Yellowstone National Park.
Xanterra is actively seeking companies to acquire that fit into its growing portfolio of diverse leisure travel companies, Todd said.
Xanterra’s operations include:
National Park Concessions
The company operates 24 lodges as well as restaurants, gift shops, tours and activities in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Crater Lake, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park.
State Park Lodges
Xanterra manages five lodges in Ohio State Parks, located within an easy drive of major cities throughout Ohio and other Midwestern cities. These lodges are Salt Fork Lodge , Mohican Lodge, Punderson Manor Lodge, Maumee Bay Lodge and Deer Creek Lodge. Xanterra also operates Geneva Marina in Ohio’s Geneva State Park.
Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Railway opened in 1901 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway opened a spur from Williams, Ariz. to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Xanterra purchased the train as well as the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and RV park in 2007.
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations
Founded in 1971 by a Middlebury College professor, VBT offers deluxe, small-group bicycling and walking vacations worldwide with destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Peru and the U.S. VBT focuses on creating life-changing vacations featuring all accommodations, many meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities and full vehicle support. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes roundtrip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Based in Bristol, Vt., VBT also operates offices in Europe and other destinations.
Formerly known as Country Walkers and based in Waterbury, Vt., 35-year-old CW Adventures provides more than 130 active, immersive travel vacations on five continents. CW Adventures is frequently ranked in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” and was named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.
Formerly called Austin-Lehman Adventures, this Billings, Mont.-based tour company offers upscale, active adventures in more than 30 countries. The company’s guided adventures include biking, hiking, paddling, safaris, horseback, small ships and snorkeling/swimming while focusing on themes such as culture, gourmet food and wellness. Austin Adventures offers many trips within the Xanterra Parks & Resorts family including Windstar Cruises and tours to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Glacier National Parks.
Located in Williamsburg, Va., Kingsmill Resort has embarked upon a long-term expansion and upgrade program featuring construction of a two-story restaurant at the marina, a luxurious family-oriented swimming pool complex and redesign of its fitness center and swimming pool. In 2012 Kingsmill welcomed back a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tournament after a four-year absence. Kingsmill is an AAA Four-Diamond property and a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide – a global association of the world’s finest independent luxury hotels.
Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of small luxury cruise ships known for its intimate yacht-style experience and unique voyages to the world’s best small ports and hidden harbors. Its three recently renovated sailing yachts carry up to 310 guests. In May of 2014, Windstar will launch Star Pride, followed by Star Breeze and Star Legend in May of 2015. These power yachts, with a capacity of 212 guests each, will double the size of Windstar’s fleet, making the company the market leader in small ship cruising. Windstar ships are known for “five star” elegant accommodations, multiple dining venues and water sports platform among other fine shipboard facilities.
The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel in the Grand Canyon National Park gateway community of Tusayan, Ariz. offers an alternative lodging option immediately adjacent to the park for those who want to visit the Grand Canyon during peak visitation periods when in-park lodging is near capacity, or for travelers who prefer to be close to Tusayan’s restaurants, shopping, tours and IMAX theater.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts traces its roots back to 1876 when famed restaurateur Fred Harvey partnered with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to fill the need for high-quality food for rail travelers. Harvey Houses built at stops along the railroad provided good food served quickly, a new experience for train passengers who had previously had only poor-quality food available during their trips to destinations in the American West. In the early part of the 20th century, the Fred Harvey Company began expanding its operations to include concessions in national parks as well as other tourism businesses nationwide. Xanterra purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968, and in 1995 Xanterra acquired TW Recreational Services, making the company the largest national and state park operator in the U.S. In 2008 Xanterra was acquired by the Denver-based Anschutz Company.