This article was recently featured in the local Central Oregon press. Good news for Pronghorn, Bend and Central Oregon.
Setting the Stage for Premier Auberge Resort Status & Long Term Future Development
Exciting new changes for Pronghorn are coming to fruition as The Resort Groups new ownership has cleared the list of past problems that haunted the premier destination resort since the recent economic downturn.
Pronghorn is now an Auberge Resort and is emerging strongly from its past with a fresh list of new owners, resort and golf course managers that have a game plan to build a successful premier luxury five star destination resort and residential golf community.
Pronghorn burst on the scene about a decade ago with a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course on 640 acres with up to four hundred home sites a residence club, restaurants, spas and other resort amenities. The Nicklaus course was built in 2004 and later the Fazio members course was added in 2006.
At one point in Central Oregon's high desert, approving destination resorts was the business at hand with county commissioners approving eight resorts, totaling 11,000 acres and nearly 7,500 home sites for Deschutes County. Out of 18 resorts either built or in the planning stages in Oregon, 12 were in or to be built in Deschutes or Crook County. Unfortunately as the housing collapse gloom spread on the nation with the added negatives of the recession mixed with developer's bad timing, poor planning, overbuilding and speculation, most of the state's destination resorts experienced distress, slowed sales and in some cases foreclosures and bankruptcy.
Pronghorn has emerged strongly from the darkest of economic times when it was taken over by The Resort Group after acquiring debt and ownership on the property held by a European Bank in February of 2012, said a spokesperson for the Resort Group. The first order of business for the new Pronghorn owners was, "To do the right thing," says General Manager Spencer Schaub. "I am happy to share that as of February 2012, Pronghorn is owned free and clear of any debt or encumbrances." Doing the right thing also included resolving the legal battle and issues from the previous owners and the Pronghorn members that were caught in the middle of the changing economics, ownership and their golf course memberships. Schaub explains, "During the transition of ownership, we engaged the membership to enter into a new agreement. The agreement provided for exceptional benefits, including vertical membership privileges, and most members did enter into those agreements at that time. A select group did participate in a lawsuit relating to promises made by the previous owner, but that suit was dismissed by the court. As a goodwill gesture, we again offered membership to those in this group and the majority have decided to continue as members at Pronghorn."
Many times over the past years Central Oregonians have been made aware that the Pronghorn development didn't meet Deschutes County zoning requirements regarding overnight units, the development schedule or the past due taxes owing to the county. "We have moved quickly to set the property in compliance and good standing with Deschutes County," offers Schaub. We have settled $3.2 million in back taxes and have also entered into a new improvement agreement with the county that is fully finalized and approved – bringing us into complete compliance with all county development requirements and ordinances." Regarding future development that is compliant with Deschutes County Schaub states, "We are extremely excited about the next phase of development at Pronghorn. SB Architects – a leading architecture firm specializing in the design of luxury hospitality destinations and mixed-use communities – has been retained to comm-ence conceptual design and planning for future development."The direction of the development is fluid and open at this time, but it will certainly meet our objective of enriching the resort amenities and services that will be available to both our members and resort guests. We have an exceptional opportunity here and all parties are confident that we are on a clear path to establishing Pronghorn as the premiere residential community and resort in the Pacific Northwest."
According to the new owner's website, "The Resort Group bills itself as a master developer, having redesigned or rebranded resorts in Hawaii, California and the Bahamas. In keeping with their plans for excellence Schaub says, "They selected Auberge Resorts as the management company to make Pronghorn one of their premier destination resort locations. "Pronghorn joins other Auberge Resorts that are a diverse collection of exceptional properties in some of the world's finest and most inspiring locations. Auberge Resorts was recently named the #5 hotel brand in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine and portfolio properties include Auberge du Soleil and Calistoga Ranch in the Napa Valley and Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. "It's all about the experience. By providing authentic experiences that are passionately delivered, each resort expresses the best of each unique locale and gives each guest a meaningful and memorable experience." "We are delighted to take over the helm of this stunning golf resort and community and honored to help create what will be the premier luxury resort in the Pacific Northwest," said Mark Harmon, principal and chief executive officer of Auberge Resorts. "We are also pleased to expand our portfolio of private residence clubs to six and offer members additional choices for family vacations and romantic getaways."
Within their plans for added features there are new facilities, amenities and guest services reports Schaub. "We have upgraded the exercise equipment in our Fitness Center, purchasing seven new LifeFitness treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles to complement our existing free weights and LifeFitness equipment. In addition, we have expanded our fitness center to include a stand-alone movement studio to provide the ideal location for spin, yoga and pilates classes."Pronghorn has added extended guest and transportation services so visitors and guests can enjoy the year around recreational activities. We have upgraded our member and guest transportation fleet by purchasing three new Chevrolet Suburbans, allowing us to provide exceptional service and luxury to our members and guests. We offer complimentary airport transfers and daily roundtrip service to Mt. Bachelor during the ski season for our members and resort guests. "Pronghorn Adventures allows our members and resort guests direct and seamless access to the myriad of recreational opportunities available throughout Central Oregon. We have partnered with the leading outdoor guides and operators in the region to provide our guests exceptional experiences while here at Pronghorn.
"Being involved in the community is important to Auberge Resorts. One of the brand pillars of Auberge Resorts is caring for our planet. This is exhibited by our Planet Auberge initiatives where we work to minimize our environmental footprint and to make positive and meaningful contributions to our local community. We are excited to be able to support great causes within our local community and look forward to continued involvement in the future." This past year 15 Pronghorn employees spent time in the spring working on a section of the Tyler's Traverse Trail and cleared over a quarter mile of single track for the area's mountain bike community, Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). Pronghorn has renewed its commitment to the community through its past and present involvement with several important events for families and children. "One such program is for Devin's Destiny, a non-profit organization that provides birthday parties to our area's homeless children," says Schaub. "Central Oregon has over 1,100 reported homeless kids. Pronghorn donated golf, golf instruction and employee support as we welcomed professional golfer and Oregon native Peter Jacobsen this July for a round of golf and clinic with supporters of Devin's Destiny. Over 110 area residents attended the day's events and over $20,000 was raised – enough to provide 270 birthday parties to our area's homeless youth." Pronghorn also supported Bend's Kids Center Cork and Barrel event by hosting a fundraising Wine Dinner by Executive Chef Kevin Linde.
Edward Jackman, director of Pronghorn Sales says, "Pronghorn is open to area residents for golf. We welcome public and resort play on our Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course - rated top 40 you can play by both Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine - #28 on Golf Digest's America's Greatest Public Golf Courses and #38 on GOLF Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play. "Area residents are also welcome to stay overnight in our Residence Club units or simply come out to enjoy a meal at Chanterelle, Cascada or the Trailhead Grill." Pronghorn is planning a series of culinary events featuring our popular Guest Chef Series. Each event in the series features the unique talents and regional specialties of a Guest Chef from within the Auberge Resorts portfolio. Our fifth event in the series will feature Executive Chef Robert Curry of Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, California. As part of the two-day event, Chef Curry will present his award-winning cuisine style over a multi-course Chef's Dinner on Friday evening, September 27. Chef Curry will then demonstrate his signature techniques during the Chef's Demo/Reception on Saturday afternoon, September 28.
There are exciting new additions with Troon Golf, the managing company for the courses as they have added Tim Mahoney to be on site for summer season exclusive golf lessons. Mahoney is the international director of education for the golf management company. Mahoney is listed as one of the top 50 teachers of the game nationally. He travels and teaches extensively working with golf teachers and clients. Another golf change is that Pronghorn has made the previously exclusive Fazio course available for public play for the first time. The Nicklaus course is available to the public on a daily-fee basis. To play the Fazio there must be an overnight booking. Jackman reports, "There has been an uptick in the 300+ memberships at Pronghorn with 20 new members joining in 2013."
While the resort is operational and stable the long range plan for real estate at Pronghorn includes lot sales, residential development and fractional sales. The Pronghorn sales office is led by Jackman and is in cooperation with Cascade Sotheby's Realty of Bend. Jackman says, "Real estate sales have been on the increase this past year with 10 lots and five homes sold with three new homes now under construction. Currently Pronghorn owns the following real estate: 66 available lots in Tesana, 45 available lots in the Estates, with six three and four-bedroom wholly-owned residences, and 27 three and four-bedroom fractional Residence Club units."
Regarding the future development of Pronghorn Schaub says, "We expect The Resort Group to take 60 to 90 days to analyze the market before announcing any plans for the development's future." However he does expect some new plans and announcements in the coming months regarding the real estate at Pronghorn.
"We'll probably have more things to be able to say in the future," Schaub concludes. "But the most important thing for everybody locally or even in the Pacific Northwest is that Pronghorn is on very stable ground with new ownership.
"The Resort Group's new ownership with the management of Auberge Resorts is a great thing for Pronghorn. We've got a very knowledgeable company who sees a long-term future and is looking at this as a long-term development plan. It's great for Pronghorn."
For real estate information at Pronghorn, please contact Cascade Sotheby's International Realty at 541.383.7600