Sand Canyon resort plans reach city officials

Steve Kim, CEO of Sand Canyon Country Club, stands next to the golf course in Canyon Country on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

The plush resort with 200-plus rooms isn’t there yet. Nor the luxurious spa and bustling wellness center.

Neither are the picturesque trails zig-zagging the foothills of the Angeles National Forest.

But Steve Kim sees it all in his vision.

“This will be the best destination in Los Angeles County,” Kim proclaimed. “Everybody will say, ‘Wow!’”

Nearly two years after purchasing the former Robinson Ranch Golf Club – Kim was part of an investment group that owned a 20-percent stake in the 200-acre property before he bought outright in April 2016 – the South Korean tech entrepreneur has officially submitted plans to the City of Santa Clarita to build what would be a first-of-its-kind regional retreat.

The proposed Sand Canyon Hotel & Resort, modeled by Kim in the likeness of Ojai Valley Inn, a five-diamond AAA getaway on the outskirts of the Los Padres National Forest east of Santa Barbara, would add hotel and villa accommodations, multiple dining options and recreational facilities for swimming, tennis and pickleball to an existing 27-hole golf course.

The plans for Kim’s imagined masterpiece are “in the process of review” but “a little more complicated” because of his request for a zone change, said Jason Crawford, the city’s manager for planning, marketing and economic development. The land is designated now as open space.

The proposed layout for the revamped Sand Canyon Hotel & Resort. Submitted photo

The project, ultimately, would require approval from both the planning commission and city council, Crawford said, adding that such a process could take up to three years.

The project’s plans across 75 acres include, among other things:

– A three-story hotel with 217 rooms across four buildings – highlighted by a president’s suite.

– A grand ballroom that would accommodate 500 guests, plus a junior ballroom and eight meeting rooms.

– A 24,440-square-foot spa and sauna facility with 12 treatment rooms, a beauty salon, and wellness center for yoga and other activities.

– A variety of outdoor features counting four miles of walking trails, a nine-hole executive golf course, a natural oak garden, four pickleball courts, two swimming pools and two tennis courts.

“There is nothing like this in Los Angeles County,” Kim said, adding that he believed Sand Canyon would join Six Flags Magic Mountain as a “landmark” in the SCV.

Kim is convinced, too, that Sand Canyon would be an attractive option to Ojai, which, he said, is typically booked out up to three months in advance.

Soon, Kim said he plans to host a series of community presentations to introduce the project and share potential benefits – including job creation.

“Everybody wants this,” Kim said. “The city wants this.”

Crawford offered a more measured assessment: “I’ve talked to some people who are really excited about it and some who have a bunch of questions,” he said.

After moving to the United States in 1976 and later graduating from Cal State Los Angeles, Kim launched a fiber-optic data networking company called Fibermux Corp. Seven years later, when Kim sold in 1991 to ADC Corp., Fibermux had revenues of $50 million.

Kim’s second venture, Xylan Corp., was another triumph, selling for $2 billion in 1999 to French telecom giant Alcatel.

The fledgling SCV resort project is Kim’s next ambition. He told The Signal he is working seven days a week, even joking that he feels as if he’s living in his office, as he works to make his dream of a Los Angeles County getaway into reality.

Asked if he was 100-percent committed to success, Kim smiled and said, “Two-hundred percent.”

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