As the largest concessioner in America’s national parks, Xanterra Parks & Resorts has long taken an aggressive and innovative approach to excellence in national park concessions operations. And this emphasis on excellence has allowed the company to successfully position itself as a diversified global hospitality company with an array of experiential leisure offerings.
“The company has rapidly expanded and repositioned itself. We now have travel offerings on land, rails and sea. This is an exciting time to be associated with Xanterra Parks & Resorts,” said Betsy O’Rourke, vice president of sales and marketing for Xanterra
Xanterra recently completed a series of acquisitions of experiential travel companies including: CW Adventures (2014), an international walking tour operator based in Waterbury, VT; In Austin Adventures and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, AZ. (2013); and three all-suite luxury motorized cruise ships to become part of Windstar Cruises. Additionally, Xanterra landed a 16-year contract to operate a variety of concessions in Glacier National Park and a 20-year contract to continue its operations in Yellowstone. From 2007 through 2012 Xanterra acquired VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations, Windstar Cruises, Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, and the historic Grand Canyon Railway in 2007.
That commitment to preservation is clearly reflected in the massive projects Xanterra has undertaken in Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Death Valley National Parks.
Here is a look at some of those projects:
- Glacier National Park – The 16-year contract includes continuous maintenance and renovation of the historic Red Buses, introduction of healthy and sustainable foods and upgrades to lodges.
- Yellowstone National Park – As part of the new 20-year contract, Xanterra is investing some $70 million in a massive redevelopment of Canyon Lodge & Cabins. Xanterra is also nearing completion of a $28.5 million renovation at Lake Yellowstone Hotel.
- Grand Canyon National Park – Xanterra is renovating the foundation and roof of the historic El Tovar.
- Death Valley National Park – Xanterra’s Furnace Creek Resort recently added 26 full-hookup RV sites and created a new 35-site campground adjacent to the Furnace Creek Golf Course.
“While we are extremely proud of our history as the country’s largest operator of concessions in national parks, we continue to look ahead with an eye toward acquisition of companies that complement our growing portfolio,” said O’Rourke. “We will not ever forget the importance of our corporate roots, though. And we take very seriously our responsibility to preserve the natural and man-made features in these parks so that they will thrill future generations as much as they excite us.”
Here is an overview of all of Xanterra’s operations:
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 & Hotel
Grand Canyon Railway opened in 1901 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway opened a spur from Williams, AZ 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 with 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 spa. 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 Windstar launched 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, AZ. 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.