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Xanterra Parks and Resorts expands its leisure and travel portfolio

Oklahoman Modified: February 21, 2013 at 10:43 am •  Published: February 21, 2013

Windstar’s shore-side operations will continue to run out of the company’s Seattle headquarters. Additional details, including itineraries, onboard experiences and renovation details will be released in the coming months.

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations

Founded in 1971 by a Middlebury College professor and originally known as Vermont Bicycle Touring, VBT offers deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, river barge and cross-country skiing tours worldwide at unsurpassed value with destinations in Europe, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, Peru, Argentina, Canada and the U.S. VBT focuses on creating life-changing vacations featuring all accommodations, meals, two expert local trip leaders, unique sightseeing and cultural activities and full vehicle support.

VBT is consistently in the top rankings by Travel + Leisure readers in the “World’s Best Tour Operator” category, was named by National Geographic Adventure as one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” and recognized as one of Bicycling Magazine‘s “15 Trips We Love” for its Vermont: Champlain Valley & Islands vacation. Based in Bristol, VT, VBT also operates offices in Europe and other destinations. VBT has been named “Most Active Partner” by the French Government Tourist Office and was honored by Vermont’s governor for “Contributions to the State of Vermont.”

“We are excited to expand into the adventure tour operator segment and believe that there are important synergies not only across our portfolio of properties but also properties owned by our sister companies in exceptional destinations that will now become part of VBT’s offerings,” added Todd.

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz. was built in 1998 and features 121 rooms, spacious lobby, timber construction, rustically elegant furniture and artwork, multiple dining options, an indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center. The hotel offers an alternative lodging option immediately adjacent to the park for those who want to visit the Grand Canyon during peak visitation periods when in-park lodging is near capacity, or for travelers who prefer to be close to Tusayan’s restaurants, shopping, tours and IMAX theater.

“This is a great addition to the six lodges we already operate at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Canyon as well as Grand Canyon Railway and the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, Ariz. some 60 miles south. No matter how you choose to see the Canyon, you have many optaions with us,” commented Todd.

For more information about Xanterra Parks & Resorts, links to individual properties and reservations numbers, visit

A Brief History of Xanterra

Like many U.S. companies with a long and significant history, Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ corporate family tree has many branches. Visionary and company founder Fred Harvey partnered in 1876 with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to fill the need for high-quality food for rail travelers. Harvey Houses built at stops along the railroad provided good food served quickly, a new experience for train passengers who had previously had only poor-quality food available during their trips to destinations in the American West. In the early part of the 20th century, the Fred Harvey Company began expanding its operations to include concessions in national parks as well as other tourism businesses nationwide. Xanterra purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968, and in 1995 Xanterra acquired TW Recreational Services, making the company the largest national and state park operator in the U.S. In 2008 Xanterra was acquired by the Denver-based Anschutz Company.

“Although Xanterra’s reach now extends to all seven continents, the company has remained true to Harvey’s fundamental commitment to providing authentic, local travel experiences, said Todd. “All of our operations today, no matter how remote, strive to present local culture and cuisine, and preserve the environment. It is a practice that we will continue to emphasize as we develop new and better ways to serve the needs of today’s traveler.”

Xanterra has continued to develop or acquire operations that fit its mission to provide legendary hospitality with a softer footprint. For example, following the 2007 acquisition of the 112-year-old Grand Canyon Railway (GCR), Xanterra converted the train to an all-diesel fleet for environmental reasons. But in a nod to the historic appeal of the steam train, GCR developed a way to power an occasional steam train run to the park using recycled vegetable oil from the company’s restaurant kitchens.

The Future

Xanterra will continue to seek acquisition opportunities that complement its growing portfolio. The company will also seek to establish synergies within its operations, including developing across-the-board environmental management practices and launching health and wellness initiatives that encourage employees and guests to enjoy the great outdoors in these unique and spectacular destinations.

Other Operations

Xanterra Parks & Resorts’ other operations include lodges, restaurants, gift shops, tours and activities in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion, Crater Lake, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina in Ohio’s Geneva State Park. In addition, Xanterra owns and operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va.; Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel; The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz.; VBT, a global adventure travel company; and the upscale cruise ships of Windstar Cruises.


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