Mescalero resort fires 4 top executives

Mescalero, New Mexico (AP) 3-09

The Mescalero Apache Tribe’s Inn of the Mountain Gods has fired four top executives after filing documents indicating the resort could miss a $12 million interest payment on May 15.

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission say that unless the resort is able to refinance $200 million in bond debt, “we do not expect to have cash sufficient to pay the interest payment.”

The tribe took on notes at 12 percent interest in 2003 to complete construction of an enlarged Inn of the Mountain Gods and other projects. The $200 million in bonds mature Nov. 15, 2010.

The luxury inn, with 273 rooms and suites overlooking a lake, has struggled to operate in the black despite the makeover and grand opening in 2005.


The resort and its Casino Apache, the crown jewels of the tribe’s business enterprises, reported net losses of $28.4 million from May 2005 to the end of January 2008, and showed net income of $88,761 in the quarter that ended this Jan. 31, according to an SEC report.

In December, Moody’s Investor Service reduced the resort company’s rating from B3 to Caa2. Standard & Poor’s revised its rating outlook from B to CCC.

The terminations of chief operating officer Douglas Lentz, chief financial officer Daniel McCue, marketing director Tina Lentz and casino operations director Philip Pepple were revealed in documents filed this past week by the inn’s directors, who include four members of tribal government.

Douglas Lentz, hired last June at a $275,000 annual salary, could not be reached for comment. McCue, hired Sept. 2 at a $200,000 salary, declined to comment.

On Feb. 13, the inn hired a Warner Gaming subsidiary as a management consultant and said it planned to convert the contract into a management agreement under which Warner Gaming would actively manage all operations.

The operations include the tribe’s Casino Apache Travel Center on U.S. 70 and Ski Apache. The tribe operates about 1,400 slot machines in two casinos, one at the travel center and the other at the inn.

Tim Maland, former president of the Reno, Nev., Hilton Hotel and Casino and former chief financial officer of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, has been named the resort’s chief operating and chief financial officer in the interim.