ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A real-estate financier and ski enthusiast from Utah has agreed to buy the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.

John Byrne III said he'll be the principal owner of Alyeska and plans to make several changes and upgrades after the purchase from Seibu Holdings Inc., the Japanese company that has owned Alyeska since 1980.

For one thing, he wants to make the resort more family-friendly. He said possibilities include increasing the square footage of easier ski terrain and developing a "kids camp" for ski instruction.

"I want to have more of a kids' facility," said Byrne, who has two daughters, aged 7 and 9. "That will enhance the experience for both the parents and the children."

Byrne, who lives in Alta, Utah, also said he wants to improve snowmaking as well as the resort's day-skier amenities.

The resort opened in 1959 and has become the linchpin of the tourist economy in Girdwood, 38 miles south of Anchorage.

The resort includes a ski area on Mount Alyeska, and a large hotel called the Alyeska Prince.

Last summer Seibu put Alyeska up for sale as part of a large sell-off of its resort properties.

Chris Von Imhof, Alyeska's chief executive, who has managed the Alyeska resort for much of the last 30 years, said he'll step down as chief executive after the purchase, but has agreed to serve as an executive consultant.

"My home base will be here and I will still be involved in the resort," he said.

Von Imhof said he is glad a developer with a personal passion for skiing will take over the resort.

"He loves the mountain, he loves skiing and he's an expert in real estate development," he said of Byrne. "He's going to be a great asset for Alyeska."

Byrne is the principal owner and president of Cirque Property, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Utah.

Byrne will also take over the city-owned O'Malley Golf Course, which Alyeska runs under a lease agreement.