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KSL Buys La Costa Resort & Spa

Hotels: The purchase adds a San Diego County property as the luxury operator tries to expand into major areas.

November 17, 2001|JESUS SANCHEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

KSL Recreation Corp., an expanding operator of luxury resorts and golf properties, on Friday said it had acquired the fabled La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.

The company declined to say how much it paid for the 400-acre resort known for hosting high-profile professional golf and tennis tournaments. KSL purchased La Costa from an affiliate of Sports Shinko, a Japanese owner of country clubs and resorts.

"It's a very, very high-end property," said Alan Reay, president of Atlas Hospitality Group, a hotel brokerage and consulting firm.

The acquisition is the most recent for KSL Recreation as it builds a chain of exclusive resort and golf properties nationwide. Some of the firm's other properties include the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Hawaii and La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs. The firm, based in La Quinta, was formed in 1992 in affiliation with the investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

The La Costa purchase is part of the company's strategy to operate in most major resort areas, said Scott Dalecio, president of KSL's resort division. The company plans to launch major renovations of La Costa's 479 guest rooms, spa and public areas, he said. Ted Axe, who oversees KSL's Claremont Resort & Spa in Berkeley, has been named as general manager of La Costa.

"We've been looking at the greater San Diego area for some time," Dalecio said. "La Costa is a nice property to add to our portfolio and a key destination."

Dalecio said the economic slowdown and dramatic drop in travel since the September terrorist attacks did not cause the company to reconsider its acquisition of La Costa or its expansion plan.

"We are really in it for the long term," Dalecio said.

La Costa, set in the coastal foothills in northern San Diego County, draws heavily from throughout Southern California.

The resort has drawn celebrities and notoriety since it opened in 1965. Hollywood stars Bette Davis and Barbra Streisand as well as former Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford have been pampered at La Costa.

The resort also has been the subject of numerous investigations. The probes focused on the backgrounds of the resort's founders, some of whom had been involved in Las Vegas casinos. None of the investigations resulted in any charges filed against the resort's original owners, which included builder Irwin Molasky, entertainment executive Merv Adelson and on-site manager Allard Roen.

In 1987, the original owners sold the property to Sports Shinko for an estimated $250 million.

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