It’s official: West Virginia coal magnate Jim Justice has outmaneuvered Marriott Corp., the world’s largest hotel operator, for control of The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
A federal judge dismissed the resort’s two-month-old bankruptcy proceedings May 19, clearling the way for Justice to take ownership of the historic resort. Justice announced May 7 that he had acquired the property for $20.1 million from CSX Corp.
Marriott, which thought it had a deal in place to acquire The Greenbrier, was caught off guard by Justice. Marriott contested the sale, but according to news reports, agreed last week to cede control of the property in exchange for the right either to market the resort or receive a $7.5 million break-up fee from Justice.
Now that ownership has been decided, Justice’s immediate priorities include elevating the resort back to five-star status – which it lost in 2000 – and building a 50,000-square-foot casino at the resort. The Greenbrier had tried for at least a decade to secure gaming rights. Greenbrier County voters narrowly approved gaming at the resort in November.
According to The Charleston Gazette, Justice envisions a casino attached to the resort by an enclosed walkway. He plans to limit gaming primarily to hotel guests and members of The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a high-end residential development on the resort’s property.
Justice has an aggressive timeline. He hopes to open the casino by New Year’s Eve, according to the Gazette.