Xanterra Parks & Resorts Agrees to Acquire CW Adventures, the Latest in Recent Series of Active Travel Company Acquisitions
Xanterra Parks & Resorts has agreed to acquire international walking tour operator CW Adventures, expanding further the company’s fast-growing portfolio of active travel offerings. The transaction is expected to be completed in May 2014.
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. Trips include guided and self-guided walking and biking adventures, safaris, family adventures and private vacations.
Long known as the largest concessioner in national parks, Xanterra has greatly expanded its offerings in recent years, including the acquisitions within the last 15 months of two other active travel companies, VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations and Austin Adventures. Xanterra’s acquisition of CW Adventures will be through Vermont-based VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. VBT will operate CW Adventures as a division of VBT under CW Adventures’ current management.
“With the acquisition of CW Adventures, we have added yet another way for travelers to actively and fully immerse themselves within the rich culture and natural beauty of some of the world’s most beautiful places,” said Gregg Marston, president of VBT. “Like many of Xanterra’s offerings, CW Adventures’ trips allow guests to savor their travel experience in a memorable, meaningful way.”
Recently a division of PEAK Adventure Travel Group, an Australian organization comprised of global and independently managed adventure travel companies, CW Adventures’ itineraries provide insider access to choice destinations around the world. All trips offer immersive adventures that highlight local leaders, superb cuisine and upscale yet authentic accommodations.
“CW Adventures is delighted to be partnering with another iconic adventure travel brand in VBT — also located in Vermont — and becoming part of the Xanterra family of companies,” said Timo Shaw, president of CW Adventures. “Through a shared vision of providing remarkable active travel experiences around the world, we will now be able to offer an unparalleled level of service, diversity of experiences and value to our guests.”
CW Adventures is frequently ranked in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards” and was called one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.
Xanterra added VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations in December 2012 and Austin Adventures in November 2013. Other recent acquisitions include three motorized all-suite yachts in February 2013, which Xanterra wrapped into its Windstar Cruises fleet. In December 2012, Xanterra also acquired The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., complementing its other Grand Canyon area offerings including the primary lodging and hospitality facilities in the park as well as the historic Grand Canyon Railway, which it acquired in 2007. Windstar Cruises was added to the Xanterra portfolio in 2011, and AAA Four Diamond Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va. was acquired in 2010. The company continues to actively focus on its national park offerings as well. Last year Xanterra was awarded the contract to operate National Park Service lodging and other hospitality facilities in Glacier National Park for 16 years. The company was also awarded the contract to operate concessions in Yellowstone National Park for another 20 years.
“We are excited to add CW Adventures to our portfolio of adventure travel offerings, and we will continue to seek opportunities to grow our leisure travel business,” said Andrew N. Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra Parks & Resorts. “We also will continue to emphasize sustainability by embracing a variety of programs and initiatives that ensure a soft footprint on the parts of the world we touch.”
A Brief History of Xanterra
Like many companies with a long and significant history, Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ corporate family tree has many branches. Visionary and company founder Fred Harvey partnered in 1876 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, at the time a subsidiary of Amfac, Inc., 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.
The company will continue to establish synergies within its operations, including developing across-the-board environmental management practices and continually enhancing its health and wellness initiatives that encourage employees and guests to enjoy the great outdoors in these unique and spectacular destinations.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ other operations include lodges, restaurants, gift shops, tours and activities in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Zion, Crater Lake, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina in Ohio’s Geneva State Park.