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By Phil Villarreal, The Arizona Daily Star, TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 26, 2009 - Responding to a Southern Arizona industrywide dip in business, the Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico is trying to spark its revenue with a layaway program.

With a program launched Thursday dubbed "Summer Playcation," guests pay a third of their lodging costs at checkout and are billed the rest in monthly installments over the next 60 days. The offer is good through Labor Day, Sept. 7.

The deal, which is good for stays lasting from two to seven days, seems to be unique in the area. Kimberly Schmitz, public relations director at the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, said she hasn't heard of any other local resort offering such a deal.

"This is strictly a response to the current economic situation," said Esplendor spokesman Joseph Wetzel, who estimated the resort's revenue is down between 15 percent and 30 percent from a typical year, in which the resort is 50 percent to 80 percent full. "We want to get people to come down and enjoy their stay and make it affordable for them."

Nightly rates at the 179-room resort are $128, a figure that includes a $10 resort fee. Those who pay the full amount at checkout get 20 percent off the room rate. The resort is about a 40-minute drive south of Tucson via Interstate 19.

"We're trying to think outside the box in this one, in terms of how we can work with people in new situations they weren't in before," Wetzel said. "People who don't have credit available but do have cash available and are not really a credit risk. These are people who are still going to make their payments and need a vacation, some time away."

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal a 573-4130 or


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