Sale of historic Rosario Resort is finalized

The sale of the historic Rosario Resort was finalized on April 8 after the transition to an unknown buyer was announced in mid-February.

“Rosario on Orcas Island is on a transformative journey as Empower Investing, a Washington Company founded by local Orcas Island residents, becomes the new steward of the iconic property with the first of several purchases closing on April 8,” according to a statement released by the realty company The Gudgell Group.

Per the company’s website, Christopher Robison is the owner of Empower Investing.

Continued the statement: “Empower will begin immediate operations of lodging, the marina, weddings and the event center with new reservations open and being accepted now. Empower is focused on plans to add many other amenities to the property and will announce them as they are ready.

“Empower was represented by Kevin Ranker, a partner in the Gudgell Group, who skillfully assisted to navigate the details of this complex sale. This marks a new chapter for both the historic estate and the picturesque Orcas Island it calls home. As a beloved landmark with roots deeply embedded in the Orcas Island community, the Rosario estate holds sentimental value for many people, both tourists and residents alike. As the torch of stewardship to this property passes from one to another, we must recognize the past 16 years of stewardship and operations by the Barto family, and express gratitude for the many wonderful accomplishments they completed to the property during their time of stewardship. Empower is committed to continuing this legacy of preservation and improvement to this rich piece of history on Orcas Island where many people will come to the property and connect and create stories and memories.”

The Barto family listed the resort in March 2023 for $15 million plus $2.5 million for water rights. 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.

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