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22 April 2024

Leisurecorp lifestyle ready to go global

By Joy Chakravarty



Leisurecorp already had Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, now it has added ice to its portfolio.


The fast-growing and ambitious Dubai World company, specialising in investments and projects in the leisure sector, recently acquired a stake in a premier ski resort near Aspen, Colorado, and promises to expand its portfolio significantly over the next 24 months.


In the 18 short months of its existence, Leisurecorp has established an impressive range of properties, which includes Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai’s premier golf residential community; Pearl Valley Golf Estates in South Africa, and the Aspen Snowmass.


It has also made strategic investments in GPS Industries, Troon Golf and Island Global Yachting.


And towards the end of last year, Leisurecorp announced a major strategic partnership with the European Tour, which will see the launch of The Race to Dubai – a season-long ranking – and the richest golf tournament in the world, the $10 million (Dh36.7m) Dubai World Championship.


Outlining Leisurecorp’s plans of becoming one of the foremost players in leisure industry, Alan Rogers, Group Chief Executive said:


“Over the next two years, we have aggressive expansion plans internationally. We will consolidate and develop our existing investments – and look for new opportunities in other leisure-related business sectors.


“You will see further investments in golf, which is the powerhouse sector within the leisure industry and forms a significant component of our business, but you will also see us reaching into other target sectors. We have already made a foray in marine and alpine leisure business, and we are looking at equestrian, tennis and spa-related activities.”


In line with its expansion plans, Leisurecorp has divided its business in two – golf and other signature investment. David Spencer heads the golf leisure business, while Richard


McLauchlan has recently taken over as CEO – signature investments.


Explaining Leisurecorp’s golf invetsment strategy, Spencer said:


“We’ve got a three-phase strategy in relation to our investments.


“First, we only focus on investments in assets that have the potential to stand out on the world stage.


For example, our residential golf communities are based around courses that host major international tournaments.


We are not interested in second-level assets.


“Second, we identify and invest in strategic relationships with partners who will help the development of those assets.


“That might mean strategic shareholdings in major leisure sector companies such as Troon Golf or GPS Industries. Or it might mean more strategic partnerships of the type that we created withThe European Tour.


“And third, we have our ‘legends’. JGE was launched with the tag-line ‘Come home to a legend’, reflecting the involvement of Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Pete Dye.  Since then, we have extended our relationship with Norman and we announced a strategic partnership with Chris Evert, who is creating Chris Evert Tennis Centers at our developments in Dubai and South Africa. These global sporting superstars have incredible appeal and they bring real value to our investments.”


Spencer is gung-ho about the future of Jumeirah Golf Estates, and revealed Leisurecorp is already eyeing investment opportunities in the ailing US market.


“Dubai immediately needs at least five golf courses to meet the growing demand. At a very conservative estimate, we are about 150,000 rounds short, and the demand is growing almost on a daily basis.


Two of our courses – Earth and Fire – will be ready for play early next year. We take delivery of the Earth in April this year and Fire in August, but then our agronomy team takes over.


“Only 30 per cent of our customers play golf, but they like the concept of golf course living. Already, JGE has set a record for land and villa prices in Dubai. And with our announcement of European Tour partnership, the interest is only growing.


“What we have now is an incredible team, and the confidence that we can replicate this concept anywhere in the world.


“One market we are looking at very seriously is the US. There are some excellent opportunities there right now. The situation there is almost like the Dubai Shopping Festival. You see all these things and say I should have it. And come DSF, you get some great discounts, which makes it even more worthwhile. There are some outstanding golf courses in the US that are facing distress because of the current credit crunch. We are looking at several such properties at the moment and should be making a decision soon.”


While golf remains the driving force for Leisurecorp, McLauchlan said there are several non-golf investment under different levels of consideration.


He said: “My job at Leisurecorp is to balance our portfolio of investments – geographically, and also the type of leisure – and build a matrix of non-golf investment.


“We are now looking closely at a range of investments and we hope to see even greater momentum developing over 2008 and into 2009.
At any one time, we have a long list of investments under consideration, but we only make the final commitment when we are satisfied that the investment is right for Leisurecorp, and right for Dubai World.


“We are in a unique position as we do not have to worry about the performance of stock markets, or issues like credit crunch. We are really very lucky to have great support from Dubai World, and from Dubai itself.


“The leisure sector remains buoyant – particularly at the higher-end in which we operate – and we see a positive future.”



Pearl of Africa


Pearl Valley Golf Estates, which hosted the South African Open in December, received rave reviews.


In January, it bagged two  international awards – PMR Diamond Arrow Award by PMR.africa, a leading benchmarking organisation that evaluates businesses based upon interviews with 30,000 top decision-makers annually, and the ‘Best of the Best’ award for General Manager Ken Kosak at the 2008 Troon Golf  Management Conference.



Hit the Slopes


Snowmass, just minutes from Aspen, is one of North America’s premier resorts, noted for its vast and diversified skiing terrain and its array of cultural activities.


Snowmass, one of four peaks in the Roaring Fork Valley – the others being Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk – offers skiers a range of runs including cruisers, steeps, glades, off-site, terrain parks, super pipe and the longest lift-served vertical rise in the US.

Leisurecorp and JER Partners, together with their development partner Related Westpac, are engaged in a development programme that will see the resort revitalised and reborn as a world-class resort and residential community.


The developments will feature a new hotel, condominiums, restaurants and a myriad of shops and entertainment options.

The ecologically sensitive development will transform the 80-acre location with 2.2 million square feet of new development.