Blackstone is buying a 65 percent controlling interest in Great Wolf Resorts from its current private equity owner, Centerbridge Partners. The firms will form a new $2.9bn joint venture to own the company.
Great Wolf is the largest operator of indoor water parks in North America. It has 18 resorts in the US and Canada, with more planned.
Murray Hennessy, CEO of Great Wolf Resorts, said: “We are pleased to welcome Blackstone as a new member of the Great Wolf pack and excited to begin the next chapter for our rapidly expanding company.”
Hennessy said Great Wolf will “benefit greatly” from Blackstone’s insights and expertise and said the company “values Centerbridge’s continued involvement”.
Great Wolf has 18 resorts in the US and Canada
He added that the company is looking to “further expand the Great Wolf brand with the development of new resorts and enhancements to our renowned immersive family experiences”.
Great Wolf has a history of ownership by buyout firms. In 2012, Apollo Global Management took the company private for more than $700 million, including debt.
Centerbridge, a private investment management firm, later agreed to buy Great Wolf for $1.35 billion, including debt.
Tyler Henritze, Head of US Acquisitions for Blackstone Real Estate, said: “We have been very impressed by the evolution and growth of the company under Centerbridge’s ownership.
The company is looking to expand with new resorts
“With the leadership of its talented management team, Great Wolf has enriched the guest experience and opened seven new lodges since 2015.
“We look forward to investing in these properties to further deliver for guests and grow the company.”
William D Rahm, Senior MD and Global Head of Real Estate at Centerbridge, said: “We are enthusiastic about partnering with Blackstone to continue accelerating the growth of the company.
“Blackstone is one of the most experienced and successful investors in the hospitality and leisure industries, and is highly supportive of Great Wolf’s growth potential and each lodge’s ability to provide unparalleled experiences for families.”
Goldman Sachs & Co and Citigroup Global Markets are serving as financial advisors to Great Wolf, with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett serving as legal counsel.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson is serving as legal counsel to Blackstone.
Earlier this year, Great Wolf revealed plans to build a new resort in the UK. The attraction in Oxfordshire will have a water park, hotel, and adventure park.
Images: Great Wolf Resorts