The death of La Casa del Zorro

A postcard, from 1999, of La Casa del Zorro in Anza-Borrego.

A postcard, from 1999, of La Casa del Zorro in Anza-Borrego.

From Tucson I drove west, out of the Sonoran Desert and into the Mojave, the smallest desert in the West, and then south to Anza-Borrego, two hours east of San Diego. There was a time, back in the mid- to late-90s, when Anza-Borrego was considered the new secret desert hideaway in California, during a time when Palm Springs was on the outs and nobody went to Death Valley anymore. In a period of about five years—from 1996 to, say, 2001—I was asked by a number of publications, including National Geographic, Los Angeles Magazine, Sunset, Westways, and the Los Angeles Times magazine, to write about this hot (literally) new getaway. And I’d always stay at La Casa del Zorro, partially because there weren’t a lot of options but also because I liked the desert glamour of the place.

It was relatively small (44 poolside rooms and 19 one-to-four bedroom casitas) and quiet and had a certain desert elegance to it (which was reflected in four-star, four-diamond rankings). Some very memorable things happened to me while staying at La Casa del Zorro. Some I wrote about; some I did not.

I had not stayed at the resort for ten years so I when I got in to Borrego Springs late yesterday afternoon, I was anxious to go out and see how the ol’ gal was doing.

Not very well, I’m afraid.

The entrance was blocked off by a chain-link fence with a No Trespassing sign hanging on it. Seems in the intervening decade La Casa had died.

Back at my hotel, the classic Palms at Indian Head, I had a beer at their restaurant, the Krazy Coyote, and asked the bartender what the hell had happened to La Casa del Zorro. Seems I’d missed a lot since I was last there. About four or five years ago, the Copley family, which had bought the resort (then unimaginably called The Desert Lodge) in 1960, sold the troubled property for something like $2.5 million to a developer who owned a golf course with upscale homes on it just down the road. He renamed it Borrego Springs Ranch.

The guy put another $7 million into the property in a major renovation effort. Bad timing. The economy tanked and the resort was closed in January 2010. And it’s been closed ever since. Supposedly the whole 38-acre resort, including the freshly renovated rooms, many of which were never opened after the renovation, is on the market for $3.3 million, which seems like a bargain to me. If I was a Gordon Gecko-type I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Not to restore it as a resort but just to use as an incredibly secluded desert hideaway. A place where I could float alone in the resort pool late at night, watching falling stars streak across the inky sky.

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  1. ron weller’s avatar

    do you have any investers wonder if we could get a few people together i loved that place used take the family there every easter ron 619 414 40 22

  2. John Smith’s avatar

    Ya, right. Investment, what a laugh, hahahaha

  3. Gary Flinn’s avatar

    La Casa Del Zorro is one of the most unique, laid-back, luxury hotels I’ve ever stayed in. I have nothing but fond memories of the resort in its heyday. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some investor, or group of investors, snap it up and return it to its former glory (and make a tidy little profit for their effort).

  4. Jennifer Caulfield Piche’s avatar

    I have warm memories as well (very warm!) – blues band playing poolside in the 108 degree heat of summer, as we all lounged on the pool on our (provided) floaties, having margaritas delivered by friendly young men – right in the pool!

    It was unique, and I loved it a lot.

  5. Julia’s avatar

    La Casa del Zorro has recently been sold and is expecting to open May/June 2013. Thought you’d like to know. We are looking forward to being able to go back there for our anniversary as we were married in one of the casitas.

  6. David’s avatar

    Very interesting, Julia, thanks for the update. Sounds like the new owners got a hell of a deal on it (reportedly $2.4 million), although if it continues to lose money as it has it won’t be such a great bargain. Let me know if you visit after they reopen.

  7. Betty’s avatar

    How exciting — my grandsons have been asking when we can go back — stayed there every year in one of the casitas………..hope they will allow kids………..they were not welcome when the previous owner purchased from Copley!

  8. Patrick’s avatar

    La Casa del Zorro IS coming back! I am the newly installed General Manager. We plan on a soft opening (Rooms and Casitas only) in May 2013, adding Food and Beverage Services in September. We are busy clearing the overgrown landscape and cleaning up the rooms and casitas. Yes; kids welcome along with the friendly locals! Patrick.

  9. Richard’s avatar

    to Patrick

    I have been staying with my family about 8 times in the La Casa del Zorro.

    Please let me know your e-mail adress and your new web page.

    Kind regards



  10. Wayne D. Chandler’s avatar

    I have fabulous memories of the resort. Some I can talk about, some I can’t. I loved sitting at the bar and listening to Sinatra music, etc. I love the adult only pool just outside my deluxe room—oh my. Tennis, a swim, jacuzzi, etc., followed by a great dinner and wine.

    Please send me a phone number/website so I can begin reliving those fabulous weekends.

  11. Mike’s avatar

    Patrick, my family has been going to LCDZ since the mid-1960s and we look forward to its re-opening. We hope to return to LCDZ in May!


  12. Cindy’s avatar

    Awesome! How can I make a reservation for June?

  13. Laura C.’s avatar

    Very happy La Casa is coming back, stayed there in the past. Would like to know how I can make a reservation.

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