The De Vere Group has announced that it has secured the management contract to operate iconic Ryder Cup host venue, The Belfry.
Previously owned by De Vere prior to its sale in 2005, The Belfry is set in 550 acres of Warwickshire countryside and currently comprises a 324-bedroom resort and two championship golf courses, The PGA National – England’s only PGA-branded golf course, and The Brabazon – the world’s only four-time host of The Ryder Cup having held the tournament in 1985, 1989, 1993 and 2002. Additionally, The Belfry is home to the PGA National Golf Academy and a further 18-hole course, The Derby.
The management contract follows the acquisition of The Belfry by an affiliate of KSL Capital Partners LLC, an American investment firm that specialises in travel and leisure businesses and has a long history of investing in golf resorts and businesses, including ClubCorp, one of the world’s largest owners of private golf and business clubs.
The resort will go through a comprehensive renovation, including the public areas, guest rooms, dining outlets and meeting spaces in order to enhance the overall guest experience and reposition the resort as one of Europe’s leading deluxe hotel, conference, golf and spa destinations. Given the unique and expansive nature of the resort campus with multiple guest room buildings, conference locations and food and beverage outlets, works will be phased and the club will remain open during the refurbishment.
The Belfry management contract will undoubtedly further enhance De Vere’s golfing facilities, currently comprised of 11 golf resorts and 16 championship golf courses. “The Belfry” will sit within the De Vere Hotels portfolio.
“The Belfry has a proud heritage and is widely known as the ‘spiritual home of The Ryder Cup,’ and we are honoured to be the next stewards of this great property,” said Richard Weissmann, one of KSL’s partners. “Given KSL’s experience owning and operating large scale golf and spa resorts across the United States, The Belfry is the perfect opportunity for our first resort investment in Europe. We believe De Vere’s familiarity with today’s European travellers combined with our planned renovations will provide guests of The Belfry a new level of luxury, service and amenities.”
Andrew Coppel, Group Chief Executive of De Vere commented, “We are delighted to have secured the management contract at The Belfry. De Vere and The Belfry have a proud history together and share a golfing heritage. The De Vere name became synonymous with the game after hosting the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry which the Group then owned: the year Tony Jacklin’s European team ended the USA’s 28 year winning streak!
“The PGA is wholly supportive of these new arrangements, again further consolidating our strong relationship with them at this location. We look forward to working with KSL Capital Partners and re-establishing The Belfry as one of Europe’s premier destinations.”
Backing from Golf’s biggest names
Some of golf’s biggest Ryder Cup names and governing body Chief Executives have backed KSL’s decision to appoint De Vere, including European Tour Chief Executive, George O’Grady, “The Belfry and De Vere brands share great heritage in European golf and are synonymous with four outstanding Ryder Cup matches. I am sure this renewed partnership will prove a successful one for all parties.”
Similarly, Sandy Jones, PGA Chief Executive noted, “De Vere and the PGA have enjoyed a very special relationship for many years. We are therefore delighted that De Vere will once again be managing The Belfry, which has been the home of the Association for over three decades, ensuring that our already strong partnership will continue for many years to come.”
2010 European Ryder Cup Captain, Colin Montgomerie, was a member of two victorious European Ryder Cup teams at The Belfry, “I am delighted that De Vere are once again associated with what is an iconic venue and a host to some magical moments in golf, particularly the Ryder Cup.”
De Vere has a long-standing tradition in hosting leading golf tournaments throughout its impressive portfolio of golf resorts. Slaley Hall in Northumberland held the 2012 ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship, following on from successfully hosting the same tournament in 2008-2011, and will host the PGA Cup in 2013. The Carrick at Cameron House on Loch Lomond hosted the 2008 Ladies Scottish Open and in September 2009 hosted the PGA Cup. Additionally, The Group has made a significant investment in the development of the game, highlighted by two PGA Golf Academies.
“De Vere has been a great supporter of the Seniors Tour and as players we enjoy some tremendous facilities at the PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall. It is a great move by the new owners to bring De Vere back to manage The Belfry again as I am sure they will raise the standard of both the hotel and the courses,” noted former Masters Champion, Ryder Cup Captain and 3-time Ryder Cup competitor at The Belfry, Ian Woosnam.
Bernard Gallacher, who captained the 1993 European Team which included both Montgomerie and Woosnam, was another to praise the return of De Vere, “The Belfry is a truly iconic venue in European golf. I had some fantastic experiences both on and off the course back in the 80’s and 90’s. De Vere’s involvement can only be a positive step and I wish the new owners well.”
Daniel Hodson, De Vere’s Director of Golf, is excited about the strategic impact of De Vere’s new agreement with KSL and The Belfry. “Adding The Belfry to the De Vere portfolio will undoubtedly strengthen our leadership position in the UK golf market. Our pioneering De Vere Club flexible membership continues to flourish with over 11,000 current members and to add such a centrally located, prestigious venue to the group will add considerable momentum to our golf and leisure proposition.”
About KSL Capital Partners
KSL is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services. KSL has offices in Denver, Colorado and New York.
KSL’s current portfolio includes some of the premier properties in travel and leisure, including The Grove Park Inn, The Homestead, Montelucia Resort & Spa, Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, The Royal Palm, La Costa Resort and Spa, and ClubCorp, one of the world’s largest owners of private golf and business clubs. KSL also owns other premier recreation businesses, including Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, two of the leading ski resorts in North America; Western Athletic Clubs, the owner and operator of luxury fitness clubs on the West Coast of the United States; and Orion Expedition Cruises, a luxury expedition cruise operator based in Sydney, Australia.
About The De Vere Group
De Vere Group is one of the United Kingdom’s largest independent leisure and hospitality businesses consisting of 62 properties across two principal hotel brands, De Vere Hotels and De Vere Village Urban Resorts, and the United Kingdom’s largest residential conference and training company, De Vere Venues. De Vere serves more than 7,000 guestrooms, 460,000 square feet of meeting space, 16 golf courses, 47 fitness centers and 25 spas. De Vere Hotels consists of 11 resorts across the United Kingdom, including Cameron House, on the shores of Loch Lomond, The Grand in Brighton, Oulton Hall, Leeds and Mottram Hall near Manchester, England. De Vere Village Urban Resorts combine the best of modern hotels with cutting edge food and beverage all combined with a full service fitness centre that offer fully equipped gyms, fitness classes, pools and spas that are available to both members and hotel guests.
For more information on the De Vere Group, please visit www.devere.co.uk
For more information on KSL, please visit www.kslcapital.com
To learn more about The Belfry, please visit www.thebelfry.co.uk