LAJITAS, Texas – There are two good reasons not to put off a trip to this spectacular, 20,000-acre resort in the Big Bend country.
One is you want to get there before Kelcy Warren, the Dallas pipeline billionaire owner, gets tired of underwriting the losses and pulls the plug; or, two, the resort fills up and you can’t get in.
At this point the second reason appears most likely.
Scott Beasley, whose company WSB Resorts and Clubs manages Lajitas among other businesses and properties, said he is committed to having the resort show a profit in 2017 – if not sooner.
When former El Pasoan Steve Smith put the resort into bankruptcy in 2007, it was said to be losing $500,000 a month.
Warren bought the resort and town of Lajitas out of bankruptcy for $13.5 million in January 2008. Shortly after, flooding on the Rio Grande and its tributaries tore up the golf course.
So the new owner spent big time to carve another golf course and cart paths out of the rugged mountains and tan mesas overlooking the Rio Grande – a course that would not be affected by flooding.
He built it, but the people did not come.
“The resort was losing large amounts of money and going in the wrong direction despite the golf course,” Beasley said.
So on Feb. 1, 2012, Warren turned management over to Beasley, whose company had been involved in building the golf course.
“I presented Kelcy with a budget but it wasn’t pretty. He was disappointed,” Beasley said. He added that Warren was ready to “close the resort and keep his house and the golf course – just use it for friends as he does with some of his other non-revenue producing properties.”
“He gave me one year,” Beasley said, adding that he delivered the numbers and Warren let him continue running the resort.
This year, he said, the resort should gross around $8 million.
“The facility is still not profitable but it is on track to break even by 2017. We had a fabulous 2015 and we might get there in 2016,” he added.
So how much has Warren invested in Lajitas?
“I really don’t feel comfortable revealing that,” Beasley said. “Besides, I don’t know the exact number. But it is a big number.”
Meantime, the golf course with its emerald green paspalum grass is stunning – and it stays green all year long. The resort’s 92 deluxe rooms are top flight.
Amenities include horseback riding lessons and trail rides, Jeep rentals, hiking, a spa, a large pool and patio area, an excellent restaurant and bar, and all manner of shooting activities from sporting clays to combat and cowboy action shooting.
A zip line was expected to be operating by the end of September.
The resort also owns a 400-acre hunting lodge about 25 miles upriver on the Rio Grande. The lodge includes a commercial kitchen, a large bar and bunk rooms that can be rented for corporate outings and hunting parties.
“We have a group flying in from Dallas tomorrow. They’re going to play golf in the morning and shoot in the afternoon,” Beasley said.
Lajitas 7,500-foot runway is capable of handling jet aircraft.
New business plan
Warren’s strategy for the resort represents a sharp departure from the vision Steve Smith had when he bought it for $4.2 million in 1999.
At that time Lajitas was a scruffy, Old West-style resort best known for its beer-swilling mayor, a goat named Clay Henry. The goat is long gone but its memory lives on in “The Thirsty Goat Saloon.”
After he bought the resort, Smith became enamored with Lajitas. It’s been reported that he poured $100 million into it before filing for bankruptcy in 2007.
“Steve wanted it to be an exclusive membership-type facility – one where you came in your own jet,” said Beasley. “We’d love to have those customers … but we want locals and people from the area to be able to use the facilities, too.”
Which brings us to today’s rates. Off season rates are as low as $175 a night for a deluxe room, $275 in the high season, which ranges from October to June.
(It do get hot there in the summer.)
“Before the year is out we will have a master plan for development, including corporate villas and lots. We expect new construction. The value of real estate has gone up five-fold in three years,” Beasley said.
He said Warren visits the resort three or four times a year. In fact, he was due in Labor Day with a group of friends.
For availability and prices, the resort can be reached at (432) 424-5000.
Don’t forget the resort is on Central Time.
Lajitas Golf Resort