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Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa of Borrego Springs, formerly called La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort and owned by Copley Press, is back on the market again, and draining funds. Copley, which had owned it since 1960, put it on the market in December of 2007, and it was bought by GH Capital of Sherman Oaks at a reportedly very low price. GH at that time was trying to rehabilitate the long-troubled Rams Hill development, including golf course and homes, adjacent to the resort. GH remodeled the Casa resort and reopened it in the summer of last year under the new name of Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa. The name of Rams Hill, which has been through bankruptcy twice, was changed to Montesoro Golf & Social Club. But the financial partners backing Montesoro have listed the assets for sale and are alternatively trying to recruit new investors, says the Borrego Sun newspaper, which was also sold by Copley in its liquidation phase. Operating partner Greg Perlman told the paper that while the ranch and Montesoro are separate entities, any potential buyer or investor would "inevitably see the potential in keeping the two properties linked. The hotel will be a driver for the success of Montesoro down the road, but not in this [bad real estate] market." Perlman said, "Hotel occupancy is not covering the costs but that seems to be picking up." Montesoro is having difficulty selling homes.

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Comments

Visduh Aug. 25, 2009 @ 5:01 p.m.

This is no surprise. Last February, on a weekend in Borrego Springs, the former Casa was nearly deserted. If they can't get business in there at that time of year (the high season for desert resorts), pray tell when they will ever do enough business to support that high-maintenance operation? We had inquired about staying there, and the best deal offered was a package (double occupancy) for almost $600 for two nights. That included spa treatments "worth", I recall, $200 per hour! Then there was a gift shop credit but, oops, the gift shop wasn't open "yet." Yeah, right.

Dining there one evening, we found the dining room likewise nearly deserted, with only two other tables occupied, one when we arrived and another shortly before we left. A total of six diners in about an hour and a half. But the prices are still like those of Mr. A's.

For the past several years we've made a winter getaway to Borrego and have found the Casa to be mostly empty. For a time, we actually stayed there, but the pricing got so high, we found we can lodge elsewhere. Yet, against that backdrop, in the past decade the Casa added a world class exercise/health/spa facility that had to have cost millions, including an Olympic-size lap pool and a second smaller pool. One time we had the whole facility to ourselves for over an hour.

This winter they undoubtedly suffered from the economic downturn, but there had to be more. Lack of publicity? Too high prices? If that operation is ever to prosper they need to start filling it up. And realistic room rates would be a very good first step in that direction.

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2009 @ 5:18 p.m.

Response to post #1: It sounds like these entrepreneurs need some education on price points. Borrego Springs, after all, is not super-upscale. The houses are not selling, either. That could be a result of poor pricing. There is another problem in Borrego: water. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Aug. 25, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

I do agree with Perlman about taking the two operations together. The BRR (formerly Casa del Zorro) has no golf course of its own, and needs the Montesoro course to offer golf to its (so far nonexistent) guests. A resort without a golf course is not much of a resort in these times. They need to succeed or fail together, and probably will.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 25, 2009 @ 6:08 p.m.

If the St. Regis and Monarch in South Orange County are foreclosed upon and going under, then I think it is safe to say that the high end hotel/spa market is dead.

Those are two of the highest end hotels in the country.

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2009 @ 8:56 p.m.

Response to post #3: According to the Borrego Sun, the Montesoro Golf & Social Club has 55 to 60 members paying dues of $635 a month. Perlman says there have to be 200 members to break even and the company really would like 375. So there is a long way to go. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2009 @ 8:58 p.m.

Response to post #4: Yes, the upscale hotel/spas are closing in many places. And golf courses were overbuilt more than a decade ago. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 25, 2009 @ 9 p.m.

Response to post #5: Yes, that bad. Corporations are cutting back on meetings, expense accounts, even freebies that executives can take. The upscale places are taking it in the shorts. So is tourism. San Diego is a prime example. Best, Don Bauder

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SanDiegoParrothead Aug. 26, 2009 @ 11:40 a.m.

Hey Borrego Ranch Resort - lower the f&%&ing price!!!

$179 for a night - in the summer! $295 for a night in the winter.

Who the hell can afford that?

Make it reasonable ($70 summer, $130 winter) and I bet they'd get a lot more business.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2009 @ 1:38 p.m.

Response to post #9: I think you have fingered the problem. How do those Borrego prices compare with upscale places in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Orange, and San Diego counties? Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 26, 2009 @ 3:55 p.m.

I can stay at a 4 star hotel in San Diego in SUMMER (the season) for less than $125 a night-off of hotwire.com

For $300 I could be get 2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC (and I have).

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2009 @ 5:44 p.m.

Response to post #11: At the Waldorf-Astoria, you wouldn't have access to a golf course right next door -- one that few people play. Nobody honking your horn behind you. On the other hand, there are lots of things to do in New York. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 26, 2009 @ 6:16 p.m.

I'll take the Waldorf over the golf course-I HATE golf (it is a finesse sport and Im not finesse).

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Visduh Aug. 26, 2009 @ 7:55 p.m.

Face facts: Borrego, as much as I enjoy it, has never caught on. Today, if you're looking for a low pressure desert resort atmosphere, it has just that. It competes with the Palm Springs/Desert, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta complex, which is closer to LA, on a major freeway (I-10) and well known. But those places really offer little beyond heat, pool, and the ever-present golf. If anything, Borrego Springs is now sleepier than it was fifteen or twenty years ago.

To really take hold, Borrego needs to get a hard core of several hundred snowbirds who can't imagine being anywhere else during the winter. Fill up Montesoro and BRR will do better, and the Borrego business district might start to resemble that of Indian Wells. So far that hard core doesn't exist. What I describe will be a long time coming, if ever.

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Burwell Aug. 26, 2009 @ 9:19 p.m.

Borrego really should be a haven for trailer parks that cater to elderly retirees who can only afford to pay $100 per month for a space to park their $50,000 double wide trailers. GH Capital's scheme to turn this area into a luxury resort for the well-heeled is a lunatic scheme. The place is a hellhole.

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2009 @ 9:57 p.m.

Response to post #13: You can't play golf next to the Waldorf-Astoria, but there are a lot of honking horns around there. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 26, 2009 @ 10 p.m.

Response to post #14: Those homes in Montesoro are pretty high-priced for most snowbirds. Incidentally, another big housing development is on the drawing board for Borrego, despite the constant financial woes of Rams Hill/Montesoro. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 27, 2009 @ 11:57 a.m.

Incidentally, another big housing development is on the drawing board for Borrego

Don, there will be no residential buiilding for the next 3-5 years, at least, and that is if the capital markets have money flowing again for the construction financing.

Our entire country is now at a point it has never been in our entire history with regard to debt. The national debt is $12 Trillion, virtually 90% of the states are in the same boat, and I would imgaine that the vast majority of state subdivisions are in the same boat as the states are.

There may be plans on the drawing board-and that is where they are going to stay for many, many years.

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Don Bauder Aug. 27, 2009 @ 2 p.m.

Response to post #18: You may well be right. Best, Don Bauder

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GlennS1 Oct. 9, 2009 @ 8:37 p.m.

Rams Hill, founded in the 1970's by DiGiorgio, was then expensive. Modest homes for $200,000. Borrego Springs, the town, while small and unpretentious, has just enough services to make it modestly livable. A nice new County Library, elementary, middle, and high school, senior center, private plane auto-night-lighted airport, no stop lights, and only 1 elevator in town. If you are looking for La Quinta, Palm Desert or La Costa life style, go there. If you want a slower paced simpler life, Borrego Springs, and all the residential developments and custom homes won't disappoint. Surrounded by a 600,000+ State Park, in the middle of an official Dark Sky Community and only 1 hour from Ramona, 1 hour from Indio, and 2 hours from San Diego downtown, you are not all that far away from civilization even though it almost seems like you are on another planet. Water? It is being managed more efficiently than in the cities and the whole community supports drought thriving plants. Hot? Yes, June thru Sept, which is why they invented Canada for Frequent Fryers. Expensive? Not now. There are deals a plenty. For someone with a new vision, like DiGiorgio had, Borrego Springs, and Montesoro and Borrego Ranch and the remainder of Borrego Springs are a rare opportunity that have not yet reached their potential. Hope springs eternal. Someday, not soon, people will be saying, boy, if I had only bought property back in 2009 when things were on the skids.

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psyflyjohn Aug. 29, 2010 @ 5:28 p.m.

Borrego Springs seems a lot like Baja Mexico in the respect that it's a nice place to stay, but don't buy property unless you are willing to put your investment at risk.

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David Dodd Aug. 29, 2010 @ 6:26 p.m.

Borrego Springs and Baja Mexico are apples and oranges. Unlike in the U.S., most property is sold as plots of land. Rarely is any developed property put on the market here (there are some exceptions). Most Mexicans become home owners one of two ways. They either buy an existing house sold privately or more commonly they purchase a plot of land and build their own home on it, mostly a little at a time as money permits. There is also a program here called Infonavit, where the government has cheap housing built and then sells it to the working class folks that qualify.

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