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New owner for Dixie, Zephyr Cove Resort

The M.S. Dixie II is tooting its horn to the rhythm of ARAMARK this week following the sale Thursday of its parent company, Travel System, Ltd.

TSL holdings Zephyr Cove Resort and Zephyr Cove Snowmobile are also part of the transaction. The TSL holding Lake Mead Cruises in Southern Nevada was not sold. The price of the sale was not disclosed.

“We understand that we have acquired, particularly in the case of the Dixie II, a very visible symbol of tourism in Lake Tahoe and Northern Nevada and we intend to continue their long tradition of hospitality and excellence,” said Gib Johnson, ARAMARK’s executive vice president for parks and resorts.



Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK is a managed services organization that provides things such as food and support services at resorts and stadiums, uniform and career apparel, as well as child care and early education programs.

Many of its venues are located on public land such as Denali and Shenandoah national parks. This history of interaction with the U.S. Forest Service will give ARAMARK special insight into Zephyr Cove Resorts, which operates under contract with the U.S. Forest Service.




“This (sale) is an ideal fit for Bob and Don Kimball, the majority owners of TSL,” said Bill Chernock, director of marketing. “It’s a fitting reward for decades of hard work and, for the management and staff. It’s an opportunity to benefit from the expertise and financial strengths of an outstanding company that truly understands the business of providing recreation on public lands.”

Along with Rod Fair, president of Lake Mead Cruises, the Kimball brothers will continue to operate that business. The Kimballs are currently vacationing in Fiji and were not available Monday for comment, but Chernock said he expects them to do a lot more traveling, too.

Other than the absence of the Kimballs, major changes for the Zephyr Cove operations are not expected, he said.

“(ARAMARK officials) have indicated to us that no one is going to be transferred here,” he said. “The people who have been running operations will continue to do so.

“The big thing is to get into their corporate flow. It’s a learning process that should take a year.”

ARAMARK’s Johnson emphasized the company’s commitment to continuity.

“TSL has been a very well-managed company, which is evident when you look at their revenue growth, particularly in the last three years,” Johnson said. “The senior management group will remain in place.”

ARAMARK, with $7 billion in assets, operates venues in 15 countries, serving 15 million people a day. It has 150,000 employees for its 500,000 venues, which include automated vending and industrial sites.

Besides resort locations, ARAMARK operates fan concessions and cleaning services for 25 professional sports stadiums and arenas, including the Colosseum, Coors Field and the recenyly built Pepsi Center in Denver.

The company’s vast resources should be a boost for Lake Tahoe, Chernock said.

“In terms of the community, suddenly we have a $7-billion-per-year company that’s going to be very interested in what goes on in Tahoe,” he said. “That’s a vote of confidence that the community’s been doing good things and has good things planned.

“(As far as Zephyr Cove Resort), it will allow the resort to do things it never could do before.”

Travel Systems Ltd. was founded in 1973 as a tour operator, arranging transportation and activities for large groups.

In 1979, it received its first special-use permit to operate at Zephyr Cove and purchased the first M.S. Dixie, moving it from the Timber Cove Marina to Zephyr Cove.


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