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Could Ellison’s US$345m Lake Tahoe resort become the next Sensei?

03 Nov 2021
Tech billionaire and hotelier, Larry Ellison, has quietly acquired the lakefront Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort in Nevada through his venture firm, Lawrence Investments. He already owns property in the area, including Cal Neva Lodge – once owned by Frank Sinatra – which he bought out of bankruptcy in 2018.

According to the Washoe County Recorder's Office , the deal for the Hyatt was finalised on 3 September, with the company paying US$345m (€297.8m, £253.4m) to acquire the 422-key resort, which has luxury cottages, a casino and a 20,000sq ft, 16-treatment-room spa.

Cited as the seventh-richest person in the world, with assets exceeding US$100bn (€86.4bn, £73.2bn), Ellison has sunk large parts of his fortune into real estate and is owner of the premium Sensei wellness brand which he co-founded with Nobu and Dr David Agus, director of the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Transformative Medicine.

Industry insiders told Spa Business that longer-term, the property could be upgraded to include a Sensei element, as Ellison works to roll out the brand.

Sensei’s first wellness enclave – Sensei Lāna‘i, A Four Seasons Resort – opened in November 2019 on the Hawaiian island of Lāna‘i.

Ellison also recently announced plans to open a second location – Sensei Porcupine Creek – on his 240-acre estate in the Coachella Valley in California, with the development slated to open in Q1 2022.

The wellness element at Porcupine Creek will be integrated into an existing property which includes an 18-hole golf course and amphitheatre. Ellison acquired the assets and land in 2011 for US$43m (€37.1m, £31.5m).

A Hyatt spokesperson told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that for the time being Hyatt will continue to manage Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe under a long-term management agreement, saying: “There will be no business disruption with this transfer of ownership at this time.”

With Hyatt owning the Miraval brand, the introduction of a Sensei development on the site would likely require some kind of renegotiation, but Ellison has shown he’s willing to play the long game in the development of the Sensei portfolio.

Stay tuned to Spa Business for more updates on this story as developments occur.

Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California/Nevada border has long been an all-season holiday playground offering both winter sport and summer tourism. It has 12 major ski areas, hundreds of resorts and is served by five airports.

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