Mike Shannon

Founder and Managing Director / KSL Capital

A relaxing investment

MIKE SHANNON ’83 takes an innovative approach to funding the hospitality industry

Mike Shannon loves spending money on unique vacations — other people’s money, that is.

Founder and managing director of KSL Capital Partners, Shannon oversees the largest private equity firm specializing in the hospitality industry. Launched in 2004, the $3.9 billion private equity firm invests in iconic hotels and resorts, including Squaw Valley in California, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

How did the company grow during the recent economic downturn? The leisure and travel sector has proven recession-resistant thanks, in part, to “staycation” trends, says Shannon. “People are willing to drop the exotic overseas trips and allocate a larger share of their wallets to family vacations closer to home.”

He should know. In 1986, Shannon became president and CEO of Vail Associates. Then the youngest top executive of a major ski company at age 27, Shannon quickly turned the ski resort community on its head by rebranding the traditional day ski resort as a family-welcoming environment, complete with nonski activities and child-care services. He credits Kellogg with honing his hospitality skills.

“The school taught me the essence of hospitality,” says Shannon, whose son Tim just started his first year at Kellogg. “At Kellogg, I learned to work in a positive, friendly, aggressive way to create innovative products that delight people.”

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