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The Borrego Springs Resort & Country Club is on the market for $10 million, according to real estate salesman Rick Vesci, who has the listing. "It was never really successful," says Jerry Morrison, San Diego County hotel guru. "It was marginally successful," says San Diego hotelier Jack Giacomini. Both Morrison and Giacomini question current management's marketing strategy. Vesci believes the property can be a winner, of course, but that depends greatly on whether Borrego Springs itself will blossom into a tourist destination of note. Morrison questions that, although Giacomini believes Borrego has a good resort future.

Two other prominent properties are in escrow. One is Rams Hill, the big housing development with golf course and other amenities. It has long been troubled and in and out of bankruptcy. The Borrego Water District and bondholders are demanding back payments. The third property is Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa, formerly Casa del Zorro. Nobody will say who the potential buyers are for Rams Hill and the former Casa resort, but it's a safe bet to assume that the resort's buyers are a group headed by former San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory, realtor Casey Brown, and Giacomini. Their deal fell out of escrow some time ago but is apparently back in.

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Visduh Jan. 14, 2013 @ 7:52 p.m.

With that Borrego Springs Resort and Spa (which is what it now calls itself) about the only game in town, it should be able to make a go of it. I do know that its room rates are much higher then they were four to five years ago, and that suggests that it has a higher occupancy rate. The history of the operation is not clear to me, but I do recollect that in the mid-70's it was new and promoting itself. But that was at a time when folks laughed at the notion that Borrego Springs was a resort destination. I think that operation failed, sat unused for a time, and then reopened after being refurbished. And it isn't a bad place. It is just that management seems to lack inspiration and at times common sense. A shot of personality at the front desk could do a lot for the place, yet the usual interaction is about the same as at Taco Bell.

This addition of a "spa" is more recent, and I just doubt that the usual clientele is willing to shell out spa treatment rates like those of Palm Springs. Some common sense would have said that costly spa sessions were not likely to be bought by the usual guests, and that those would likely not attract a group of big spenders. Is the spread worth $10 million? Well, in ways it looks like a million, but the reality isn't so kind.

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Don Bauder Jan. 15, 2013 @ 7:25 a.m.

Visduh: Again, so much depends on the future of Borrego as a resort destination. Many believe it won't make it, partly because it is not close to freeways. Others say it could be a great destination, and the distance from freeways could be an advantage of sorts, providing respite from California's auto-centric society. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Jan. 16, 2013 @ 8:59 a.m.

Don't forget about the Palm Canyon Resort--it just closed recently, apparently due to the inability to get out from under a large debt load. It also had a fairly large RV park as part of the facility.

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Don Bauder Jan. 16, 2013 @ 11:41 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, Palm Canyon went into foreclosure recently, but stayed open. Perhaps it has finally closed; I just don't know. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark Jan. 16, 2013 @ 9:07 p.m.

According to a Manchester U-T article, it closed in September. I checked their website, and it was not accepting any reservations. I know it used to be a nice place, but I had not been there for a number of years.

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Don Bauder Jan. 17, 2013 @ 7:10 a.m.

aardvark: I guess I will have to check, but I have a lot on my plate right now. Best, Don Bauder

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REMAN Jan. 16, 2013 @ 5:14 p.m.

There are 22M people within a 3-HR drive of Borrego Springs. There are 80M baby boomers in the US alone, not to mention the internationals i.e. Canadians, who are seeking 2nd or vacation homes or a place for retirement within close proximity to their home place. Borrego will never be a Palm Springs but it is what PS used to be. It presents a unique opportunity for people in search of a warm, beautiful, quiet and safe place to enjoy their leisure time or retirement, all within a reasonably easy reach of major metropolitan areas.

The last economic cycle saw a run-up in real estate and business values and some of these establishments suffered from over-leverage and carrying costs and could not meet these obligations when things turned down. New owners will have the benefit of acquiring these properties at a greatly discounted basis with lower taxes and operating costs resulting in greater profitability as the economy and the real estate market improves.

As long as there are opportunities, there will always be risk takers and people with vision who will take on a challenge. Thank GOD for these people!

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Don Bauder Jan. 16, 2013 @ 6:07 p.m.

REMAN: You are expressing the view of those who believe Borrego has a good future as a resort destination. Others feel it does not. That's what make markets. I think it is a good place for full-time or part-time residential living, with prices quite reasonable. But that doesn't make it a great tourist destination. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Jan. 16, 2013 @ 8:23 p.m.

Water, water, nowhere, and not a drop to think.

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Don Bauder Jan. 17, 2013 @ 7:12 a.m.

Twister: Water availability is definitely a long term problem of Borrego. I have written a lot on this. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Jan. 18, 2013 @ 6:44 p.m.

It's a finite supply of geologic (an ancient deposit) water; when it's gone, it's GONE FOREVER. The recharge rate is a tiny fraction of the consumption rate. That's, to use a(n) (un)fashionable term, UNsustainable.

The studies have been ignored, and Borrego Springs (insane laughter) is whistling past it's own graveyard. Nobody can predict the EXACT date when it will be all gone, but it's like the farmer who won the lottery said when asked what he would do now that he had all that money. "Oh, I reckon I'll just keep farmin' 'til it's all gone," he said.

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Don Bauder Jan. 18, 2013 @ 7:52 p.m.

Twister: Good metaphor. Best, Don Bauder

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