Intrawest goes 'gulfing' Intrawest took its first step into the warm-weather resort business this week with the announcement it has purchased Sandestin Resort on the Gulf Coast of north-western Florida. The sale price of $130 million (U.S.) includes management of 700 rental units (100 owned by the company), 63 holes of golf, a tennis centre, conference facilities and a 37,000-square-foot retail market. Also included in the sale are two restaurants next to two resort swimming pools, a new sports bar, a full-service marina, a health club and a "members only" beach club. The deal is expected to close in July. The 2,400-acre resort is in the Florida "panhandle" close to Pensacola and the state's border with Alabama. It is said to be the largest resort in the region and the only resort with water frontage on both the Gulf of Mexico (a kilometre) and Choctawhatchee Bay (10.4 km), a largish body of water just inland from the Gulf. "Sandestin is a very important first step in our move to develop warm-weather destinations and further take advantage of the opportunities that come with controlling a network of resorts," says Joe Houssian, Intrawest president and CEO. "Our original strategy was to assemble a geographically diversified network of mountain resorts and increase our expertise in lodging, food and beverage, attractions etc.," Houssian said. "We’re already well underway with that aspect of our strategy and are now in a position to be able to apply that expertise to other leisure areas so that we can add another dimension to our growth picture." Intrawest is looking at cross-marketing opportunities with its mountain resorts. As usual with any Intrawest purchase, there is develop-able real estate. About 2,300 residential units are planned, as is 200,000 square feet of commercial space. Intrawest hopes to build a resort village at the Baytowne Marina on the Intercoastal Waterway. Following on the April announcement of the purchase of the Raven Golf Group in Phoenix, New Mexico, the newest Intrawest purchase will bring Raven's golf course expertise to Sandestin. Intrawest plans to use Raven to reposition the existing golf courses at Sandestin and begin construction of a high-end championship course: "The Raven at Sandestin."