Xanterra Parks & Resorts Backgrounder
Xanterra Parks & Resorts has grown from a company solely focused on acquiring and executing concessioner contracts in national and state parks to a multi-faceted travel and leisure company with a presence on land, sea and the rails. Since the Anschutz Company purchased Xanterra Parks & Resorts in 2008, Xanterra has significantly expanded its operations, maintaining its stature as the largest National Park concessioner with some of the country’s most beautiful destinations, but growing into complementary businesses.
Under the leadership of its president and CEO, Andrew Todd, Xanterra has expanded its revenue base by more than 50 percent in the last three years, diversifying from a park hospitality company into a vibrant and fast-growing travel and leisure company. Since 2007, Xanterra has acquired Grand Canyon Railway, an historic railroad; Kingsmill Resort, a renowned golf and tennis resort on the St. James River in historic Williamsburg, Va.; Windstar Cruises, three luxury sailing yachts; and now VBT, an adventure travel company, in addition to three new cruise ships from the Seabourn fleet, and The Grand Hotel at the South Rim to complement the company’s existing national and state park operations.
In addition to this expansion, Xanterra has long been a leader with its sustainability programs. The company has been recognized for a wide variety of environmental accomplishments such as installing a six-acre solar photovoltaic system at Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley, converting steam locomotives at Grand Canyon Railway to run on used vegetable oil, dramatically increasing the amount of wind power purchases in multiple locations, developing sustainable cuisine programs throughout the company and simply reducing the environmental impacts of guests and operations. Xanterra was the first hospitality company and the eighth company worldwide to commit to a target for the absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Saver Program. Xanterra supports the Rainforest Alliance whose goals are to help farmers, forest managers and tourism businesses realize greater economic benefits by ensuring ecosystems within and around their operations are protected, and that their workers are well-trained and enjoy safe conditions, proper sanitation, health care and housing.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts is a unique and fast-growing company in the leisure and travel industries with a footprint in multiple destinations and diverse businesses.
History of Xanterra
Like many U.S. 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 (ATSF) 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. In 1901 the ATSF added a 60-mile-long spur from Williams, Ariz. to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, thus opening one of the most famous tourist destinations to the world.
Xanterra – then known as Amfac Parks & Resorts – purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968. In 1995 Amfac acquired TW Recreational Services, making the company the largest national and state park concessioner in the United States. Amfac changed its name to Xanterra Parks & Resorts in 2002, and the Denver-based Anschutz Company purchased Xanterra in 2008.
In 2007 Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) came full circle when Xanterra purchased it from an entrepreneurial couple that had revived the train in 1989 after it sat idle for 20 years. Today GCR carries more than 200,000 passengers to the Grand Canyon each year.
In 2010 Xanterra purchased Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va ideally located on the St. James River minutes away from historic Williamsburg and Busch Gardens theme park. Kingsmill was owned by Anheuser Busch and was the site of both PGA and LPGA tour events, including the highly popular Michelob Ultra Open. Shortly after this purchase, Xanterra began discussing the return of a golf tournament with the LPGA, and last year the Kingsmill Championship made a triumphant return to the club. The resort is also in the midst of major improvements with a new restaurant, water park and real estate development through the recently opened Kingsmill Realty office.
In 2011 Xanterra Parks & Resorts purchased Windstar Cruises based in Seattle. Windstar Cruises operates a three-ship fleet of luxury yachts that explores the hidden harbors and secluded coves of some of the world’s most sought-after destinations. These luxurious and intimate ships cruise to nearly 50 nations, calling at 100 ports throughout Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. The company sails two ships that carry just 148 guests each and a third ship that carries 312 guests.
On February 15, 2013 Xanterra purchased three luxury ships from Seabourn Cruises – the Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Spirit and Seabourn Legend. These 104-suite ships will be integrated into the Windstar Cruises fleet over a two-year period beginning April 2014 to create the largest and one of the finest small-ship cruise lines in the industry.
Also in February 2013, Xanterra was awarded the contract to operate concessions in Yellowstone National Park for another 20 years. And in August 2013, the National Park Service awarded Xanterra the contract to operation concessions in Montana’s Glacier National Park.
Xanterra’s experiential leisure offerings have grown with the addition of VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations. The company is now in the business of offering deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking and cross-country skiing tours worldwide with destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Argentina, Canada and the U.S.
Complementing the seven lodging operations inside Grand Canyon National Park as well as Grand Canyon Railway, Xanterra purchased and is operating The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz. The hotel offers an alternative lodging option 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.
Additionally, Xanterra has long enjoyed operating lodges in America’s Heartland, with five Ohio State Park Lodges in that state’s scenic central and northern regions. Located within an easy drive of major cities in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the lodges are popular for meetings as well as family getaways. The lodges are Salt Fork State Park Lodge in central Ohio near Cambridge, Mohican State Park Lodge in north central Ohio near Loudonville, Punderson Manor State Park Lodge in northeastern Ohio near Newbury, Maumee Bay State Park Lodge in northwestern Ohio near Toledo and Deer Creek State Park Lodge near Columbus.
And as a major employer with 7,700 full and part-time employees worldwide, Xanterra is also focused on the overall health and well-being of all employees and guests. Xanterra’s wellness program developed in partnership with the Anschutz Medical Center, embraces a positive, healthy lifestyle for employees as well as guests.
Andrew N. Todd
Prior to becoming president and CEO of Amfac Parks & Resorts in 1994, Andy Todd was senior vice president of portfolio management for Chicago-based JMB Realty Corporation, where he orchestrated the acquisition of TW Recreational Services, Inc., the concessioner at Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Zion and other prominent national parks and memorials. The merger of TW Recreational Services with JMB’s Parks & Resorts Division resulted in Amfac becoming the largest park concessions management company in the United States.
Todd has a strong personal commitment to the environment. Through his leadership, Xanterra Parks & Resorts has become widely recognized for its progressive environmental stewardship and related innovations in the hospitality industry. Xanterra was the first company in the tourism industry to create and utilize measurable environmental performance metrics specific to the hospitality industry. Todd’s vision and his establishment of company-wide environmental standards, including the implementation of ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems, have led to numerous awards for Xanterra, including the National Park Service’s Environmental Achievement Award (2011), the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Good Earthkeeping Award (2010), the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Environmental Achievement Award (2009), the Global Hospitality and Design Award (2008), the Sustainable Hotel of the Year Award from HotelWorld (2007) and the coveted Performance Track Corporate Leader Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (2006).
A native of Indiana, Todd began his career at KPMG in 1979 soon after obtaining his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Indiana University. He is a certified public accountant, a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the World Presidents’ Organization. Todd chaired the Washington, D.C.–based National Park Hospitality Association for a period of five years and in 2008 was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of Real Estate, Hospitality & Engineering.
Andy Todd resides in Greenwood Village, CO, with his wife, Sara. He has two children, Andy and Jackie. His interests include golf, skiing, hiking, bicycling and off-road motorcycling.