Development

Warner Springs Ranch in San Diego County Purchased at Auction By Pacific Hospitality Group

San Diego-based Firm to Invest $50 million in Upgrades, Refurbishments to Landmark Property

Pacific Hospitality Group Poised to rejuvenate a longtime San Diego County destination, Pacific Hospitality Group, Inc. (PHG) has acquired the historic Warner Springs Ranch – an iconic San Diego County destination long known for its healing natural hot springs. The nearly 2,400-acre property was purchased at auction by PHG, who will have $15 to $18 million invested in the acquisition, with plans to invest up to $50 million in the renovation and redevelopment of all facilities. 

PHG is scheduled to take over operations on April 1.

CBRE was the broker on the deal. According to Jeff Woolson, managing director of CBRE, “Pacific Hospitality Group’s bid was selected by the Warner Springs Ranch board of directors and confirmed at auction.”

The property, which was founded as a working ranch in the mid-1800s and opened as a resort in the 1920s, currently encompasses a 27,000-square-foot main lodge, 250 casita units, a 144-acre golf course and club house, four tennis courts, equestrian facilities, two restaurants, a spa, campgrounds, three swimming pools, a private airport and meeting facilities. Known as a health resort as well as a recreational destination, Warner Springs Ranch has gained considerable fame over the years for its therapeutic natural hot springs and quiet rural location.

According to PHG’s Chairman, William H. McWethy, Jr., an extensive renovation will be completed in phases, with the first phase – a completely upgraded and renovated golf course – slated for completion in the Spring of 2014. PHG has also announced plans to incorporate a new winery/tasting room; a state-of-the-art gym and fitness facility, a beach and tennis club, expanded meeting facilities, cattle and horse grazing, a spa/wellness center, cultural center, luxury RV park, hunting and fishing opportunities, and a variety of food and beverage options. In addition, the existing 250 casita units and main lodge will be upgraded and renovated.  

McWethy emphasized that his company is keenly focused on respecting the local natural habitat as well as the property’s rich history – observing important conservation, tribal and historic issues: “A valley wide conservation zone is an integral part of the plan,” McWethy said. “We are eager to embark on the enhancement of all the facilities at Warner Springs Ranch and are committed to transforming it into one of the region’s top golf/equestrian resort and spa facilities.”  

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Founded by Chairman McWethy in 1986, PHG has a long history in the hotel industry and was instrumental in renovating such historic San Diego properties as Old Town’s Hacienda Hotel and Heritage Park.

Community and civic leaders have expressed their support for the new ownership and the planned refurbishment, which is expected to bring back hundreds of area jobs and fuel the local economy. 

Michael Menghini, president of the Julian Chamber of Commerce stated in a supportive letter: “After researching PHG’s other projects, we believe they will be sensitive to local tribes’ history, as well as the community's needs,” he said. “Their plan to open the ranch to the public will be beneficial in making Julian, Santa Ysabel and Warner Springs even more attractive to visitors.”

Before gaining popularity as a resort, Warner Hot Springs operated for many years as a cattle ranch and trading post. It was declared a California Historical Landmark in 1939, and a National Historic Landmark  in 1961. From the 1980s until 2012, the ranch operated as a recreation-oriented fractional ownership resort. 

According to McWethy, when complete, the ranch and all of its facilities will be open to the public. The resort will continue to offer memberships, including “legacy memberships” – at 50 percent of the standard price – to those who were original owners. 

About Pacific Hospitality Group, Inc. 

Founded in 1986 by William H. McWethy, Jr., Pacific Hospitality Group, Inc. (PHG) has been successfully developing and managing hotel and resort properties in San Diego County and beyond for more than two decades. 

Projects include the Hacienda Hotel in Old Town, a 200-room property overlooking San Diego’s historic district. In Palm Springs, PHG has owned and operated the Palm Mountain Resort & Spa, a World Hotel, in the heart of the downtown village since 1992 and is an integral member of the business and resort community.

 

PHG’s principals have been associated with world renowned golf resorts and have assembled a team of experts with vast experience building and operating PGA rated courses, both public and private, in resort destinations such as San Diego, Palm Springs, Scottsdale and Los Cabos, Mexico. In south San Diego County PHG’s principals, through Highlands Links Golf Group, recently acquired and renovated the highly acclaimed Salt Creek Golf Club.

 

Pacific Hospitality Group works successfully alongside municipalities and municipal agencies. In 2000, PHG constructed 28 hotel suites and other improvements on San Diego County park land and most recently, entered into a partnership with the County of San Diego that included a $4 million investment in renovations in the County owned Victorian buildings in Heritage Park.



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