VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 11   |   MARCH 16 – 22, 2011


Carefree Resort goes gay for the greater good

1in10 offers a ‘safe environment for these kids so they can develop positive self-acceptance through life-enhancing programs’

carefree resortCAREFREE – Bridlie Hospitality Management, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is managing the Carefree Resort & Conference Center.

According to a March 7, 2011 blurb in Bloomberg Businessweek, Bridlie recently reached an agreement with a private investment firm, which has made $250 million of capital available to Bridlie to pursue acquisitions of 3, 4 and 5-diamond, upscale, full service and selected premium-branded hotels and resorts in major metropolitan and urban markets throughout the United States.

Edwin W. Leslie, president and CEO of Bridlie, said, “The focus of the acquisitions will be primarily distressed assets. Our track record of delivering stellar results from the repositioning of underperforming assets in today’s market has provided us with a considerable amount of confidence from ownership and investment groups and ultimately, the opportunity for spectacular growth.”

Bridlie Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence Goldenhal was quoted in the same report as saying, “In looking at today’s economic climate in the hotel industry we feel this is a perfect time to acquire new assets. We are also thinking outside the box and looking closely at partnering with lenders that have taken properties back in the last year and providing the needed capital to turn the property around and facilitate a profitable sale and exit strategy in three to five years.”

Carefree Resort issued a press release on March 7 headlined: “The Carefree Resort kicks off its ‘Wine ‘n Dine for 1in10’ broadening its support of organizations that work for the greater good.”

The news release goes on to say, “Throughout March and April, guests to the Carefree Resort’s Lariat Restaurant can enjoy the Friday Night Seafood Buffet while helping raise critical funds that support 1in10, Arizona’s premier organization dedicated to helping young gay and lesbian teens embrace who they are, get actively engaged in their communities and become empowered to lead.”

Carefree Resort is donating $10 from every Wine ‘n Dine coupon, which costs $29.95 for adults and $12.95 for children, to 1in10 to help fund the organization’s youth-based programs.

It states Carefree Resort is joining a prestigious list of corporate sponsors “in their efforts to enhance the lives of all LGBT youth and young adults by providing empowering and social and service programs.”

The two-page news release also notes its 1in10 sponsorship effort has not gone “without its fair share of criticism” and quoted Leslie as saying, “Stepping up to the plate and helping young men and women who are learning to handle the pressures of their own sexual orientation may make some uncomfortable, but I’m OK with that. All of us at the resort are far more uncomfortable with Arizona’s children being tossed into the street and threatened simply because they have questions about their own sexual orientation.”

Although the news release quoted Nick Ray, executive director of 1in10, as saying the organization raised over $100,000 at a brunch hosted by the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix two weeks earlier, a subsequent e-mail between Ray and Leslie indicated the Sheraton brunch really only raised $60,000.

Carefree Resort claims to be “comfortable being a part of controversial events and efforts” and states, “Last May the resort played host to the Arizona Tea Party with an event at the resort that filled the Saguaro Room with a standing-room only crowd. An estimated 1,600 people showed up for the controversial political party’s event that championed fiscal responsibility by dramatically cutting government spending and supporting unprecedented immigration reform.”

Goldenthal stated, “We are hospitality professionals and we provide an exceptional meeting facility and event experience. It’s not our place to agree, disagree or show any prejudice regarding the practice and politics of people who are just trying to make the world a better place. The resort was proud to play host to the Tea Party … We are equally proud to support 1in10 as they strive to provide a safe haven for a generation of young Arizonans who are simply trying to find an honest perspective on themselves.”

The 1in10 organization takes LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) one letter further, adding a Q to the end for youth who may be “questioning” their sexuality, and states it is dedicated to serving and assisting LGBTQ youth, ranging in age from 14-22, “with tools to improve self esteem and acceptance of who they are.”

The Carefree Resort is not only contributing $10 from each Wine ‘n Dine coupon to promote gay youth programs, it also advertises in “Arizona Pride,” a guide to businesses and services that cater to the LGBT community.

Bridlie incorporated in November 2009. Prior to forming Bridlie, Leslie was a principal of British American Properties MacArthur Inn LLC, along with Thomas F. Noonan, as former franchisees of Guesthouse International, a subsidiary of ShoLodge Inc.

An August 2007 complaint filed against them by Guesthouse asserted British American defaulted on its contract by shuttering an Alexandria, La. hotel and failing to pay past due royalties and fees.

In March 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger ruled in favor of Guesthouse and ordered British American, Leslie and Noons to pay $358,708 in damages and $82,652 in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

In 2006, while operating as Leslie Hospitality Management, a managing member of LTPB, LLC, Leslie was able to obtain a $20 million tax free loan at an interest rate of 4.25 percent to build a 110-unit Homewood Suites in Lafayette, La.

The loan was one of the first approved for projects in the state of Louisiana under the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 to support rebuilding in states devastated by the hurricanes of 2005.

It’s not clear when or how the hotel changed hands, but it is currently operated by General Hotels Corporation under the Hilton flag.

In 2005, Leslie and Noons as principals of British American, filed for bankruptcy protection from their creditors after they failed to meet certain standards to remain a Holiday Inn franchise.

British American purchased the 257-room Katy Freeway hotel in Houston only two years earlier.

In order to retain the Holiday Inn name, Leslie and Noons were required to complete major property renovations. However, they ran out of funds before the renovations could be completed and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection instead.

British American changed the name of the hotel to Uptown Hotel and Suites Galleria after it was no longer able to represent itself as Holiday Inn Galleria.

According to court documents, British American claimed it had between $10 million and $50 million in assets and between $1 million and $10 million in debt, with $7.2 million owed to Central Bank of Houston as the primary lender for the hotel.

In October 2010, Governor Jan Brewer appointed Leslie to represent Maricopa County and the cities of Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Carefree on the statewide Arizona Tourism Advisory Council.

The mission of the advisory council is “to enhance the state economy and the quality of life for all Arizonans by expanding travel activity and increasing related revenues through tourism promotion and development.”

Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism, stated, “Edwin will be a great addition to the Tourism Advisory Council.”

Rachel Sacco, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau stated, “Edwin brings to the council a passion and creativity that will help propel Scottsdale, Carefree and Arizona into the global tourism marketplace.”

readers love sonoran news