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Developer Tom Becnel Negotiating with Intrawest to Acquire
 the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Destin, Florida


By Gwen Break, Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 25, 2009--Local developer Tom Becnel says he is negotiating with Sandestin's parent company for a buyout of the resort.

Rumors have persisted for weeks about an impending sale of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, and it appears there is a possible deal in the works -- at least according to one of the parties seeking to purchase the resort giant in Walton County.

As late as last week, Laurie Hobbs, director of public relations at the resort, said "that is definitely a rumor," and denied on behalf of the parent company Intrawest and Sandestin that the resort was for sale.

However, Becnel confirmed this week that he is in negotiations with Intrawest. He declined further comment saying, "It would be premature to comment at this time as we are still in discussions."

The developer of Destin landmarks like Silver Shells and the Palms said he is "hopeful" he will be successful in his offer but that "it is a complex transaction with several challenges."

When asked about Becnel's comments, Hobbs said, "At this point it's unfortunate there has been so much misinformation in the community and it is very unfair to speculate," she said.

Hobbs would not say what misinformation she was referring to and refused further comment.

Intrawest, which also operates resorts in Canada and other U.S. states, is considering the sale of many of its assets as it negotiates with lenders to refinance and pay down a $1.7 billion loan, according to newspaper reports published last week.

The local resort giant has been a part of Intrawest since July 1998, when the Canadian based company finalized the $130 million buyout and took over ownership of the resort from the Malaysian-based Sime Darby Berhad.

Closer to home, Becnel's negotiations do not seem to be a secret within the area business community.

In an address to the Sandestin Lions Club on Monday, Peter Bos alluded to Becnel's attempt to purchase the resort when he was questioned about his intentions toward the property by a Sandestin resident.

Bos is the original developer of Sandestin but sold it in 1991.

"I was not consulted in this latest deal," Bos told the audience. "I hope he (Becnel) is the successful bidder."

Reporter Suzanne Preston also contributed to this story.

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To see more of The Walton Sun or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.waltonsun.com/.

Copyright (c) 2009, Walton Sun, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.

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