The Belfry hotel and golf resort is being targeted by a US private equity firm which specialises in travel and leisure – after more than six months on the market.
Colorado and New York-based KSL Capital Partners are said to be in discussions to buy the North Warwickshire complex, four times home of the Ryder Cup.
The private equity group is thought to be negotiating over a £70 million purchase of the 550-acre resort, and talks are understood to be at an advanced stage.
The Belfry has made no official comment on the negotiations.
General manager Nigel Gray could not be contacted and a spokeswoman said: “The Belfry is up for sale and everything else is sheer speculation.”
The Birmingham Post revealed before Christmas that the Belfry was being put up for sale despite a reported £105 million debt pile and commercial property agent Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels had been appointed to market the complex.
The sale was announced in the aftermath of a financial crisis engulfing the complex’s Irish owners, the Quinn Group.
The Quinns bought the business in February 2005 but financial turmoil hit the group last year, forcing the Belfry into the hands of Anglo-Irish Bank and US insurance firm Liberty Mutual.
Sean Quinn, who led the Quinn Group, had seen his multi-billion euro empire collapse over a two-year period after massive stock market gambles on the share price of the Anglo-Irish Bank failed.
Dubbed the Mighty Quinn at the height of his success when he was worth £3.7 billion, he lost control of his business over a year ago and voluntarily filed for bankruptcy in Belfast last November.
The complex’s lenders brought in business advisers Ernst and Young to examine potential options for the site, including a debt restructuring and sale.
The Quinn Group originally bought the complex for £186 million but the recession has seen its value decline dramatically.
KSL is a private equity firm specialising in travel and leisure in a number of sectors, including hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services.
The group owns a string of resorts with spa, golf, tennis and ski facilities across the US, with sites in California, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and North Carolina.
A successful sale of the Belfry to KSL would raise hopes that a change of ownership could see renewed efforts to bring the Ryder Cup back to the West Midlands after a 20-year absence.
The Belfry is one of the world’s most prestigious golf resorts, after an old Warwickshire hotel was turned into the headquarters of the Professional Golfers’ Association in 1977.
Its farmland became a luxury golf resort, with the famous Brabazon course drawing thousands of visitors every year.
Its distinguished history has seen it host the biennial blue riband Ryder Cup four times and in spring 2010 Mr Gray told the Post: “We would love to host the Ryder Cup again; that is one of our aspirations.
“Probably the earliest date would be 2022. For 2018 it is probably going to mainland Europe.
‘‘We have such a heritage here, we like to call ourselves the spiritual home of the tournament.”
In June 2007 a massive £200 million revamp of the Belfry was unveiled, including plans for a new hotel to be built behind the current premises and new PGA national headquarters, training academy and clubhouse.
But the five-year scheme, which included replacing the existing Belfry with a new five-star hotel with 500 luxury bedrooms and a new leisure complex with swimming pool, gym spa and treatment facilities, hit the rocks due to the recession.