Sunday, January 18, 2009

Re:Play re:jected

At long last news... When we got up this morning we discovered a letter on the official home owner site relaying the news that Re:Play is definitely out of the picture. The letter (which can be found at states: "The purpose of this initial message is to inform you that as of December 31st 2008 the management contract of Replay Resorts has expired. We have now engaged Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate Advisory Services, LLC to serve as the interim asset manager of the project."

This news comes from Embree C. “Chuck” Bedsole, the interim president of Loreto Bay Company. As stated on the Alvarez and Marsal Web site, Bedsole is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate Advisory Services in Dallas. He advises companies from the United States, Latin America, and Europe on hospitality, tourism and real estate projects in the Americas.

Bedsole's qualifications are lengthy and impressive. He is a member of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Land Institute. He is fluent in Spanish and is a frequent speaker at key industry conferences on lodging and real estate development in the U.S. and Latin America.

It's a relief to finally know - officially - what's going on with Loreto Bay. And to know that a firm like Alvarez and Marsal has taken over management.

It seems at least somewhat appropriate to do a mini-postmortem on Re:Play and its performance over the past year.

To be honest, the only real benefit we saw with Re:Play was that the contracting firm, Beck, came on board early last year to oversee construction in Loreto Bay. That company's presence was felt almost immediately with an increase in construction throughout the development. But was that Re:Play at work or Citigroup's backing and infusion of capital?

On the downside, the flow of communication tanked under Re:Play and left home owners frustrated and uncertain about the future of Loreto Bay. Promises of more open communication were made and broken by Re:Play from the get-go, which led to online speculation by unhappy home owners. The way Re:Play handled all this was horribly counterproductive. Home owners have always been the best marketing arm for Loreto Bay, but Re:Play didn't seem to understand that basic marketing premise.

And many of the management decisions made by Re:Play just didn't make sense. Case in point was the new Web site unveiled by Re:Play early last year. The site remains cumbersome and incredibly lacking in information about Loreto Bay and the homes offered for sale.

When he first saw the site, George immediately noticed several glaring errors regarding the homes offered in LB. No matter which floor plan you clicked on you got the floor plan for the Nueva Chica. He notified Re:Play right away about the errors and got an embarrassed "Oops! We'd better fix that." Why was this site launched with so little information and so many errors?

In addition to a lack of information, the new site also lacked the appeal of the old one. A generic blue whale logo replaced the old Inn tower logo which reflected the warmth and charm of the area.

We hope that among the new management team's first priorities will be a revamping of that Web site. The old site drew people to Loreto Bay. And we should know because it was that very site that led us to visit, and subsequently buy our Casa Encantada.

Our hopes are high for the future of Loreto Bay now and we're happy to welcome Bedsole and company on board. We're also hopeful that the vision of Loreto Bay as a sustainable and earth-friendly development will remain under the new owners - whoever they might be.

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