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Xanterra Parks & Resorts (formerly Amfac Resorts and Amfac Parks & Resorts) is a privately owned United States park and resort management company based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, controlled by entertainment magnate Phillip Anschutz. Denver-based billionaire Anschutz, who has an extensive history of developing and operating mineral, railroad, newsmedia and entertainment enterprises, is one of the largest private promoters of live events in the world, most notably soccer.
A legacy of the 19th century Fred Harvey Company, after the death of the founder's grandson in 1965, the company became affiliated with Chicago-based JMB Realty, which acquired large Hawaii landholder Amfac in 1968 and broke it up into independent corporations including Amfac Resorts. In 1995, Amfac bought the large national parks management concession TW Recreational Services from Flagstar. In 2002, Amfac changed its corporate name to Xanterra after the bankruptcy of Amfac Hawaii. The name comes from a combination of Xanadu and terra, meaning Earth. The Anschutz Company bought Xanterra from JMB in 2008.
Xanterra specializes in tourism in U.S. National Parks, and has a presence in Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, and a number of other national and state parks. They are contracted by the US National Park Service to provide lodging and services in these parks. Accommodations and pricing vary widely and include quality hotel rooms, lodges, rustic cabins, motel-style lodging and camping.
To provide service to throngs of tourists each year, while protecting these national parks, Xanterra has developed an extensive environmental program: decreasing fossil fuel use, increasing renewable energy use, recycling, and offering sustainable cuisine with a local focus.
The most notable of the original Harvey operations is the Grand Canyon South Rim concession, including the El Tovar Hotel. The company owns the Grand Canyon Railway, which has been in the news for experimental use of used vegetable oil (from cooking French fries) to power locomotives. In July, 2010, the company announced it was acquiring the Kingsmill Resort near Williamsburg, Virginia, a world-renowned hospitality property. The Kingsmill Resort was developed beginning in the 1970s as part of Anheuser-Busch's projects of theme parks, residential, commercial and industrial developments coordinated between August Busch and Winthrop Rockefeller intended to complement Colonial Williamsburg and enhance both the region's tourism attractions and local economy.
In July 2010, it was announced that Xanterra had entered into an agreement to purchase the Kingsmill Resort, which is located near Williamsburg, Virginia. The Kingsmill Resort has 425 rooms, five restaurants, 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) of conference space, a spa and fitness center, marina, and 15-court tennis center. Three championship golf courses and an executive nine-hole course surround the resort. The location has hosted the LPGA and other premier golf events, as well as perennially hosting political conferences, such as national governors conferences and congressional caucuses.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the Kingsmill Resort was developed by Anheuser-Busch (A-B) as a portion of the brewing company's development of diversified activities in the Williamsburg area, which grew to include not only the brewery, but the Busch Gardens Williamsburg theme park, and large upscale developments of residential and office park properties. The St. Louis-based brewer invested in the area following negotiations held between August Busch, II and Winthrop Rockefeller, a son of Colonial Williamsburg's initial chief mentor, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Winthrop Rockefeller had been serving as both governor of Arkansas and chairman of Colonial Williamsburg in the 1960s and 1970s. (Water Country USA, a local water park, was acquired by A-B in the 1990s, and added to the company's theme park activities, which include a number of Sea World properties in other states as well).
Both Winthrop Rockefeller, who died in 1973, and August Busch II, who died in 1989 have been credited by some historians with helping develop the Greater Williamsburg area into one of the top tourism destinations in the world. They apparently felt that augmenting the attractions of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia (Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown) with other attractions which would help draw future families to the region, as well as help balance out the local ecomnomy. Since their respective deaths, other family members of both the Rockefeller and Busch families have carried on much of those priorities, although as a brewer, A-B found itself increasingly in tough competition in an increasingly global market.
In 2009, after initially resisting an unsolicited stock bid, A-B announced it had reached an agreement to be acquired by the even larger Belgium-based InBev, the world's largest brewing company. The newer owners announced plans to sell-off the portions of A-B activities which were not part of the core beverage business as it worked to reduce debt incurred to fund the acquisition.
As A-B had been a major employer and strong community supporter for many years, there was widespread speculation and more than a little apprehension about who might ultimately acquire and control the theme parks, the resort, and other Busch developments in the region. Since then, the Blackstone Group acquired the company's 10 theme parks, including two near Williamsburg. Some leaders and citizens of Williamsburg, as well as James City County and York County have expressed both relief and optimism at the selections of Blackstone and Xanterra to operate the theme parks and resort respectively. While the key pieces of the future ownership and management of the brewery, both theme parks, and the resort subsequent to the InBev acquisition of all of A-B's properties and enterprises in the area have now been resolved, at least for the immediate future, the disposition of management of the Kinsgmill residential development's owner association and the several office and commercial property developments at McLaw's Circle in James City County and the Busch Corporate Center, an industrial park in York County, had not yet been announced as of July 2010.
Xanterra operates the Grand Canyon Railway in Arizona on the line originally built by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Since their takeover of the operation, the line has retired its steam locomotives and historic ALCO FA diesels.
In May 2010, Xanterra announced the American Railway Explorer "cruise train" which was to operate multi-day tours in four regions: Southwest (between California and New Mexico), Northwest (between California and Jackson, Wyoming with stops in several national parks), Transcontinental (between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.) and West Coast (between northern and southern California).However, plans for the train were cancelled in August 2010.