The future of Rosario Resort

Little is known about what’s next for Rosario Resort and Spa after the sale of the 82-acre property was announced this week.

After 16 years of ownership, the Barto family listed the resort in March 2023 for $15 million plus $2.5 million for water rights. Its sale will close at the end of February to an undisclosed buyer. All current employees have been laid off.

“The new owner is an Orcas Islander, who I am sure the community will embrace,” said General Manager Christopher Peacock.

The Bartos released the following statement on Feb. 12:

“The new owner plans a substantial upgrade beginning with the historic Moran Mansion. The Mansion, including the Mansion Restaurant, Moran Lounge, Spa, Museum and other facilities within the Mansion itself, will be closed as of February 20, 2024 for a period to accommodate the extensive renovations. The marina and grounds will remain open. However, overnight lodging will briefly close from February 20, 2024 through March 31, 2024 for the transition, reopening on April 1. Our apologies, but existing reservations during this time will be canceled.

“If you would like to cancel a reservation on or after April 1, 2024, you can do so through Rosario Resort & Spa until February 22, 2024, and your deposit will be refunded. After February 22, your reservation and deposit will be handled by the new resort operator. We will provide contact information shortly for the new resort operator. New Reservations for April 1 and beyond are also currently paused for the brief transition period and will reopen shortly.

“The Barto family thanks you and the residents of Orcas Island for your patronage and support of the Rosario Resort and Spa through the years.”

The estate is centered around the 116-year-old Rosario mansion built by shipbuilder Robert Moran. The property officially opened as a resort on April 1, 1960 and has undergone several expansions.

Peacock has been an employee and historian of the resort since 1980. He began as a young college graduate with a summer job, working the front desk, doing the night audits and playing piano on the regular musician’s night off. Over the years, his responsibilities grew, and his passion for the property’s history remained steadfast.

“I have been through every ownership change of the resort and each has been positive for Rosario,” Peacock said. “Even though I will not be involved, I am optimistic for the future of the historic property.”

The resort is listed on the Historic National Register. In 2007 the San Juan County Council approved Rosario Resort’s Master Plan for future development. It can be viewed at

It states: “The magnitude of long-term growth for the Resort was determined by several factors, including operational efficiencies, historical and natural integrity, the scenic capacity of the site, the volume of available treated water, anticipated market demand, and ratio of projected revenues to redevelopment costs.”

In late 2008, the Anacortes-based Barto family purchased the resort from Olympus Real Estate Partners of Dallas, Texas during an auction. At the time, the council expressed concern about the sale and temporary closure of the business. As an Orcas landmark and one of the island’s largest employers that also provides staff housing, its presence is an integral part of the local economy.