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Historic Benbow Hotel and Golf Course Near Eureka, California
 Listed for Sale at $13.25 million
By Donna Tam, Times-Standard, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 21, 2008 - After 14 years of managing the historic Benbow Inn properties, the current managers are ready to sell the business in order to spend more time with family.

John E. Porter, managing partner of the Benbow Hotel and Resort, announced Monday that he and his partner, Jack Macdonald, have signed an agreement to look for a buyer for the historic property.

"We just kind of came to the conclusion one day that it's time for us to move on," Porter said. He and his wife, Teresa, have had to live apart since 2005, when they enrolled their daughter in school in Eureka. Porter said the commute and time apart is taking a toll on the family.

"The company is very solid financially. The business is good," he said. "I think for Teresa and I, it's more of a personal thing. We don't like living apart."

According to a press release, Porter and Macdonald purchased the Benbow Inn from Chuck and Patsy Watts in 1994, and Porter, along with his wife, has managed the inn over the past 14 years.

Porter and Macdonald have signed an agreement with the Passport Hotel Group, a hotel broker based in Napa Valley, that will sell the properties.

The group's Managing Director Jeff Durham said he is confident the property can be sold.

The resort, which includes the golf course, the RV park, the inn and restaurant, and some undeveloped property, will be listed for $13.25 million. Durham said they plan to start marketing the properties this week, first in Northern California, and then, if needed, outside of the area.

"We know the area very well,"

he said, adding that company has sold 15 properties in Humboldt County in the last few years, and has a large database of people who are interested in purchasing hotel properties along the U.S. Highway 101 corridor.

Porter said while some are saying it is not a good time to sell with such a poor market, he is not deterred.

"Our business is healthy and it's a good business," he said. According to Porter, the resort rents between 10,000 to 12,000 rooms a year, and more than 60 percent of their guests are repeat clientele.

Over the years many famous guests have stayed and dined at Benbow, including Clark Gable, Eleanor Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. This July, Benbow hosted the king of Jordan.

Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Tony Smithers said the resort is an integral part of Humboldt's tourism.

"Since the Eureka Inn's been closed, they've been the flag ship -- no question," he said, adding that the four-star property has won awards for its hospitality.

Smithers said the bureau monitors consumer remarks for local attractions, and the Benbow Inn gets the highest remarks from guests.

"John Porter and Teresa are such fantastic inn keepers," he said.

Smithers said he is confident the Hotel Passport Group will be able to find the right buyer for the properties.

"The Humboldt County tourism business is actually really healthy, too, and that will be very attractive to a buyer," he said. "While most of California is hurting right now and occupancy rates have been down, and even some room rates, we've been very steady here."

Porter said he doesn't really have an ideal person in mind for a new owner, but knows that they will be satisfied with their purchase.

"Whoever the new owners are, they will be blessed with some wonderful, loyal Benbow employees," he said in the release.

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or dtam@times-standard.com.

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To see more of Times-Standard, Eureka, Calif., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.times-standard.com

Copyright (c) 2008, Times-Standard, Calif.

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