Sea Island Company Files Chapter 11, Plans Sale
Since 2008 we've been chronicling Sea Island's financial troubles. The Georgia resort, which once hosted the G8 Summit and has been visited by presidents, celebrities and dignitaries of all sorts, has now filed for bankruptcy, unable to pay back more than $600 million in debt. The company has been owned for six decades by the family of William "Bill" Jones III but is now planning to sell its luxury resorts.The sale includes the Cloister at Sea Island, shown above, which won three Mobil five-star awards in 2009 for the hotel, the Cloister Spa and its restaurant, the Georgian Room.
The economic downturn has meant empty hotel rooms for the luxury enclave which has been struggling with debt since a massive redevelopment and expansion of the resort that cost more than $400 million. The plan calls for the Sea Island Company to sell its four resorts, three golf courses and two private clubs for a total of $197.5 million to a group of investors represented by two private firms. The AP reports that the new owners would be investment managers Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles and Avenue Capital Group of New York. Company CEO Bill Jones III will stay in place as top executive but will lose his controlling interest in the resort. The resorts will remain open, keeping around 1,400 workers employed. The Atlanta Journal Constitution stated that the official auction will take place in October with closing by November. The article mentions that some locals are concerned over the the takeover, worried that new owners could change part of the Sea Island magic that has kept people coming to the resort since the late 1920s.