Signage for Lawrence Welk Resort north of Escondido off Interstate 15. Image via YouTube

Locally owned Welk Hospitality Group has entered into an agreement to sell the Welk portfolio of vacation resorts, programs and property management contracts to Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. for about $430 million, it was announced Tuesday.

“It is bittersweet after 57 wonderful years of memories and accomplishments to be welcoming a new owner for Welk Resorts,” said Jon Fredricks, Welk Resorts president, CEO and grandson of the late television bandleader Lawrence Welk, who started the Welk hospitality business when he bought a motel and nine-hole golf course north of San Diego in 1964.

“We are confident in MVW and its shared commitment to excellence. Our board and family recognized that its vision, resources and globally recognized brand ensure the best long-term future for our valued team members and Owners,” Fredricks said.

Marriott intends to rebrand the Welk resorts in California, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as Hyatt Residence Club properties, bringing the HRC portfolio to 24 resorts and complement existing locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico and Texas.

The pending sale, which include around 1.4 million Marriott common shares, is expected to close early in the second quarter of this year.

The original Escondido resort location has expanded over the years. It sits on 450 acres with two 18-hole golf courses, seven swimming pools, a fitness center, five recreation centers, two waterslides, two “escape rooms,” a spa, theater and restaurants. There are seven more Welk Resorts in the western U.S. and Mexico. Fredricks has led the company since 1999.

“We appreciate that Welk Resorts’ leadership has entrusted MVW to build on the solid foundation laid by generations of the Welk family and the company’s team members,” said MVW CEO Stephen Weisz. “We have been in the vacation ownership industry for decades and have deep respect for the strength of the Welk name, operation and legacy.”

Lawrence Welk’s son, Larry Welk, is chairman of Welk Resorts’ board and his great-grandson, Robert Segall, also works as a sales and marketing director for the business.

Larry Welk launched Welk Resorts’ vacation ownership business in 1985 with Lawrence Welk Resort Villas in Escondido and is also CEO and chairman of a sister Welk company in the real estate and entertainment business, which is not a part of this acquisition.

Also not included in the transaction is The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation, which funds nonprofit organizations serving families in need and is managed by its president, and Welk’s granddaughter, Lisa Parker. Welk Hospitality Group is majority-owned by members of the Welk family, with a 12% share owned by its employees through an employee stock ownership plan.

–City News Service

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