|By Eric Eyre, The Charleston Gazette,
W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 08, 2011--CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier resort, dismissed speculation Monday that he was interested in purchasing The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va.
Last week's media reports about The Homestead's potential sale fueled rumors that Justice might make an offer.
However, Justice said The Homestead's owner, Denver-based KSL Capital Partners, hasn't approached him about the property. Nor does he plan to contact the private equity firm, he said.
"This is silliness," Justice said Monday of the rampant speculation. "I haven't had any conversation with them whatsoever. I love Virginia in a lot of ways, but my real passion is West Virginia and doing stuff in our state."
The Greenbrier and The Homestead are about 40 miles apart.
KSL Capital purchased The Homestead resort in 2007. A KSL spokesman said Monday the company had no comment on The Homestead's possible sale.
Last week, Roanoke, Va., television station WVLS reported that The Homestead's management sent an e-mail to employees, saying KSL Capital was exploring the possibility of selling The Homestead. The report identified Justice as a potential buyer, though The Homestead isn't officially on the market.
Justice said Monday he has played golf at The Homestead but never stayed at the historic hotel overnight.
"The Homestead is a beautiful place, but I've never had a conversation with any of them about purchasing it," he said. "No, I haven't thought in any way about purchasing The Homestead."
However, Justice said he would never totally rule out purchasing The Homestead -- or any other property -- provided the deal was too good to pass up.
"I don't want to ever say, 'No, I would not be interested in
Justice purchased The Greenbrier in May 2009, rescuing the historic White Sulphur Springs resort from bankruptcy. Last year, he bought The Resort at Glade Springs, in Raleigh County.
Since the acquisitions, Justice has spent millions of dollars of his personal fortune upgrading both resorts.
"I've already got my hands full with The Greenbrier and Glade," Justice said.
Built in 1892, The Homestead has 485 rooms, three golf courses, 11 restaurants, a spa and 72,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort also has a ski area, shooting club and indoor pools that feature naturally heated water. The Homestead has about 900 employees.
The Homestead's general manager, Peter Faraone, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Formed in 2005, KSL Capital Partners is a private equity firm that also owns the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, in Phoenix; La Costa Resort, in Carlsbad, Calif.; Hotel del Coronado, in San Diego; Wailea Resort Hotel, in Hawaii; Squaw Valley Resort, in Olympic Valley, Calif.; and Doral Golf Resort, in Florida.
Reach Eric Eyre at email@example.com or 304-348-4869.
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