By Henry Dubroff and Marlize van Romburgh on February 20, 2012
Bacara Resort & Spa, the luxury resort in Goleta that was snapped up by Ohana Resorts for a bargain price in July 2011, is close to having a new owner.
Sources familiar with the transaction said Pacific Hospitality Group of Irvine is in the final stages of closing on the purchase of the 360-room hotel and resort, which is rumored to have been on the market for a number of months.
Several people with knowledge of the deal told the Business Times the transaction was in the final stages as of Feb. 20. A formal announcement is expected in the next few days, they said. The price was not disclosed.
There were unconfirmed reports that several dozen Bacara staff had been let go, but one knowledgeable source said no other major changes were planned as part of the sale.
Pacific Hospitality is an experienced investor in California coastal properties. The Orange County-based firm’s portfolio includes the Meritage Resort, Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa and Balboa Bay Resort. It also owns properties under the Crowne Plaza and DoubleTree flag.
In July 2011, Ohana, a California-based company described as being owned by a wealthy Silicon Valley family, purchased Bacara from New York-based developer ADCO Group for an estimated $104 million — less than half the cost of the original construction. The Ohana team brought in a new management team, re-established ties with the South Coast community, and rode a resurgent wave of tourism and business travel to mount what appeared to be a successful turnaround.
Reports of a possible buyer for Bacara surfaced more than a year ago, but talk had quieted down until recent weeks, when Pacific Hospitality was identified as a potential buyer.
After it opened in 2000, Bacara quickly drew a star-studded guest list, with Oprah, Michael Jordan and Britney Spears among the more famous celebrity spottings.
Ben Bernanke has hosted Federal Reserves conferences at the resort, which also is the site of the Wall Street Journal’s annual “Eco:nomics” conference on energy and environmental issues. Bacara also has been the host location for billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s annual conclave on wealth and philanthropy.
At 360 rooms, Bacara is tied with Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort in Santa Barbara as the largest hotel and resort in the Tri-Counties.