Yeah, it's a pain. It feels like it wouldn't have been the end of the world for them to do something just a tiny bit more complex and make Bluetooth Mesh really amazing, but it's really just a dumb implementation of meshing (using flooding). I think they had a very specific use case in mind (Bluetooth LE lighting) and just designed it for that.
Noah at Baronbrew did something really cool for their Espruino-based repeater though: http://www.espruino.com/Tilt+Repeater
Basically a device listens for advertisements and then 'syncs' with the beacon, so it's only listening for a short period of time. You can't make it too small as some randomisation is built into the BLE spec, but you can still save a lot of power that way.
I had plans for a module that did it for you for multiple beacons, but haven't got around to finishing that yet.
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