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Denver firm acquires historic resort once owned by Frank Sinatra

The Cal Neva Resort has been closed for 10 years but has a rich Hollywood history. The new owner plans to modernize while keeping the original character.
Credit: AP
FILE - The Cal Neva Lodge and Casino in Crystal Bay, Nev., is pictured in this July 1997 photo. (David B Parker/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — A Denver-based real estate firm has acquired the Cal Neva Resort & Casino at Lake Tahoe, a historic hotel-casino built along the California-Nevada line in 1926 and once owned by Frank Sinatra but has been shuttered for 10 years.

McWhinney, which owns properties in a half-dozen states including Texas and Massachusetts, announced the deal as part of a partnership with The Kor Group and luxury boutique operator Proper Hospitality.

Chad McWhinney, co-founder, chairman and CEO of McWhinney, said the company is “thrilled for the opportunity to craft the next iteration of this one-of-a-kind resort.”

“Our vision is to reimagine and revitalize this iconic resort with deep historic roots into an exceptional experience for guests and the local community to enjoy for years to come," he said in a statement Friday.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Reno Gazette Journal reported the sale price was estimated to be about $58 million.

Sinatra bought the property in 1960. Sammy Davis Jr. and Tony Bennett were among the frequent visitors, and Marilyn Monroe stayed there shortly before her death in 1962.

A group that included Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison bought the Cal Neva in 2018 for $35.8 million after it closed in 2013 and the previous owner filed for bankruptcy in the midst of a remodel. It has remained closed ever since.

McWhinney said on its website it plans to offer a world-class spa and wellness retreat on the 13-acre site, with plans to modernize the existing hotel tower “while retaining some of the original character of public spaces like the historic Indian Room and Frank Sinatra Showroom.”

“We believe the approach Proper Hospitality takes with each of our distinctive projects is the perfect fit for such a rare property,” said Brad Korzen, CEO of Proper Hospitality and The Kor Group. “We strive to create an experience that is anchored to its location and creates long-term lasting value that supports the local community.”

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