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Kinsgmill Resort is premier vacation, conference and golf resort which located in James City County, Virginia. It is located on a portion of the Kingsmill Plantation first established in the late 17th century. The original plantation structures and their successors have long been in ruins. Founded beginning in the 1970s by Anheuser-Busch as part of related developments near Colonial Williamsburg, in 2010, Kingsmill Resort, which sits within a large residential planned community of the same name, was slated to become a key piece of the entertainment and hospitality system operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, one of many enterprises owned by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz. Anschutz bought Xanterra in 2008 after it enjoyed a long heritage as a Fred Harvey hospitality company dating to 1876.
With facilities overlooking the historic James River a few miles east of Jamestown, the world-renowned 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 and are nestled within a large planned community (management of which is not part of the Kingsmill Resort). The resort has hosted a total of 29 professional golf tournaments from 1981 until 2009, notably among them LPGA and PGA Tour events. The resort has also been a perennial favorite for political conferences, such as national governors conferences and congressional caucuses.
The Kingsmill Resort is seen by local civic leaders as a key attraction to one of the world's most popular destination regions. The area also features the three main sites of the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia which are linked by the Colonial Parkway (Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown), as well as the Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA theme parks, joined by dozens of smaller attractions, hotels, time-sharing developments, restaurants, retirement complexes, and other venues.
Beginning in the early 1970s, largely on a 2,900-acre (12 km2) tract of property which was formerly part of the Kingsmill Plantation, 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 such as that at McLaws Circle.
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 SeaWorld 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 economy. Since their respective deaths, other family members of both the Rockefeller and Busch families have carried on much of those priorities. Related entities from the Rockefeller-Busch development plan became the source of the area's largest employment base, surpassing both Colonial Williamsburg and the local military bases.
Divestiture by A-B, InBev
In the last part of the 20th and early into the 21st century, 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.
New owners, future
In July 2010, it was announced that Xanterra had entered into an agreement, brokered by Jeff Woolson of CBRE Golf & Resort Properties, to purchase and operate the Kingsmill Resort. In 1968, Xanterra became the successor to the Fred Harvey Company initially established by entrepreneur Fred Harvey beginning in 1875. One of Xanterra's more famous locations is located at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Xanterra (owned by Anschutz since 2008) has traditionally operated in national and state parks across the United States, especially in the Western regions. Other high profile operations include Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Owned by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz since, 2008, prior to the Kingsmill announcement, Xanterra was operating about three dozen hotels and lodges with more than 5,000 guest rooms combined, with over 8,000 employees.