Sunday, October 28, 2007

What’s New In Loreto?
Parties, Dog Walkers, and Insurance


We get many questions about insurance in Mexico. Many people do not realize that their health benefits in the USA and Canada do not cover Air Evacuation back home.

A few years ago, I was involved in handling an air evacuation in Loreto. The Canadian man had heart difficulties and it was best to have him air evacuated. The insurance company, doctors, and local clinic were all excellent and very helpful. From the time the order was given it was 2 hours and a fully staffed air ambulance was standing by at Guadalajara Airport and ready to take off for Loreto. They landed at Loreto at 11:45 pm, drove to the clinic, and by 12:30 am had the patient in the plane ready to take off.

When an unexpected critical illness or injury occurs, while you are many miles from home, your safest alternative is to be transported home in a medically equipped and staffed air ambulance jet to the care of your personal health care provider in the USA and Canada. Without adequate insurance, air evaculation can cost between $15,000 and $20,000 USD depending upon destinations.

Barbara Vandenberg has lived in Loreto for many years and now represents SkyMed offering air evacuation insurance. If you live in Mexico for less than 6 months a year, then the Traditional Basic SkyMed membership is designed for you as a vacationer. It gives you coverage for 6 months of the year. You must notify SkyMed of the 6 months you want to be covered. They do not have to be consecutive. Plans are $180 USD for a single; and $360 USD per year for the Family Plan.

If you live in Mexico for more than 6 months a year, then you must have the NATO plan. North American Transport Option that gives you coverage for the full year. Single is $480 USD; Family $780 per year.

SkyMed covers Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, Costa Rica, Belize and the USA including Alaska and Hawaii. For more information contact Barbara Vandenberg at skymedloreto@gmail.com or apply online at www.SkyMed.com/Loreto

Also offering full insurance packages for Homeowners, Auto, Aviation, Watercraft, Commercial, Construction, Life, and International Medical Coverage is West Coat Insurance Services. Their website is www.InsureBaja.com

I have used their services and can highly recommend Jason Wagner as a knowledgeable professional who is thorough and offers great customer service. You can reach Jason at his office (818) 788-5353 or by email at Jason@WestCoastRI.com

I have seen many friends in town this week and I am recruiting guest writers for my blog. Everyone seems to have such great ideas that I have decided to have guest writers share their thoughts, opinions, and photographs. If you would like to share your experience among friends, write me an article and send it together with supporting photographs.

My friend Susan Hill told me that they had the First Annual Dog Walkers Event in Loreto last week, and gave me this photograph. I expect it will be triple in size by next year! Many of these people did not have dogs when they arrived but could not resist helping the strays that are so appreciative of their new owners and life.

There are many visitors in town this week. Staying at Nellie’s Place was Bill Thompson of AV90 and his sons. They had a great time seeing the town, fishing, and enjoying all the best Loreto has to offer! I am sure they will be visiting often and bringing their friends from the Pacific Northwest.

It was very busy in town this weekend as the Baja 1000 Pre-Runners are arriving to check out the course for the 40th Anniversary of the race November 10 to 16. This year it will be from Ensenada to Los Cabos and a huge event. For more information check out: http://www.score-international.com/baja1000/index.ihtml

The Day of the Dead is observed in Mexico and other Latin American countries on November 2, although in some regions it is observed on November 1. In Spanish, it is known as El Día de los Muertos.It coincides with the All Souls' Day, a holiday of the Roman Catholic Church to commemorate the deceased so they might “rest in peace.” This celebration is closely linked to Halloween.

Nellie’s Place Bar is having Loreto Bay Homeowner Gathering on Thursday, November 1st from 6 pm to 8 pm. Come on down to the malecon and meet your neighbors, say hello and enjoy the views of Carmen Island. This will be an casual get together among friends and we can plan together as a community how we want it to evolve. Mi casa, Su casa!

One of my favorite things to do in Loreto on a Sunday morning is have a late breakfast and a Bloody Mary at Del Barracho Saloon on the road to San Javier. Here you find an eclectic group of locals, new residents, visitors, racers, all chatting about what is new in Loreto. It has a relaxed ambience, great food, and fun atmosphere to always guarantee a great experience. My friends from Montana, David, Mike and Andrew, are thoroughly enjoying the food as they replenish the alcohol in their bloodstream. It is deceiving that you have to learn to pace yourself in this sleepy little town because a party can happen at any moment if you are aware. As I say, You Never Meet Anyone Sitting At Home!

Next Sunday, November 4th will be the One Year Anniversary Party of Del Barracho Saloon. Owners Mike and Andrea will have their regular breakfast in the mornings, and then at 1 pm the Party starts. There will be a big BBQ out back, live band music, and cold beer. It will be an all day party until the sun sets! The weather will be wonderfully temperate as it is 80 degrees these days, the humidity and wind has decreased and it is the best time of the year. Bring your dancing shoes!

See you there!!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Party Time - Too Much Fun in Loreto!

As I sit and write this article, I have no idea what happened this week. Was it Good? Bad? Indifferent? I was racing and multi-tasking 20 different things at once and have no idea what I accomplished except that I broke a lot of ground uphill and only slid back halfway. That is pretty good when doing business in Loreto considering that each day generally means 3 steps forward and 2 back.

Yolanda’s house is progressing nicely. Contributions continue to roll in slowly. This picture is showing her kitchen and dining room enclosed, which used to be outside. Yolanda is very excited about the arched windows and ceiling and hopes to be finished in a few months. What a difference a few thousand make!

This week was One Year since I took over the building. I remember clearly what a mess the renovation was and how many times I had to drive to Los Cabos to buy lights, fixtures and all our supplies. I told Jeanny when we started that we would have 5 businesses and 14 staff in one year, and sure enough we made it happen. No wonder we are so tired!! It is still a struggle, but everyone doing business here feels the same.

Tropical Storm Kiko blew in tonight which caused havoc with my Nellie’s Hotel and Bar sign again. The 35 mph winds tore it from the building and it was hanging by a single post. Luckily I had Mike, Andrew and David, staying at the hotel who knew how to handle securing the sign before it blew off again. Having the hotel is a great meeting place and my guests certainly are made to feel part of the family.

The cruise ships are starting to visit again for the season. There are rumors that the City is looking at plans to dredge the marina to create a port for a Cruise Ship Dock. This will increase Loreto’s exposure and change the current quaintness of coming to shore and seeing the many pangas with pelicans waiting to feed. When will this happen? … Quien Sabe!

Holland America Cruise Line was here this week and on a beautiful bright sunny morning the taxis were all washed and lined up ready to take the hordes of tourists the few blocks to the Mission and town square. Many strolled up and down the malecon and we had many visitors drop by our offices wondering why all the shops were closed for siesta between 1 and 5 pm when the ship was in? Quien Sabe!!

There are many people in town this week, and I met many more friends and neighbors who came to visit me at Nellie’s Place. It was Ariel Klein and Peter Boddy’s (FN44) one year wedding anniversary and they had many friends join them celebrate. Congratulations! Bob and Rose Rourke (FN130) dropped by tonight after arriving by way of an adventure from Los Cabo. Like many people, the first thing they did was visit Nellie’s to say hello.

Here are Gaby and Ana before we went out on the town. From Nellie’s Bar, we walked up to Mike’s Bar to say hello and check out Chaco who is amazing on the guitar. Mike’s is always fun and entertaining after 11:30 pm. Jarros & Tarros is a new bar that opened up next to Blazers Sports on the main street just up from Mike’s Bar. This is owned by Fernando who works at Loreto Bay Property Management. It has a nice atmosphere with music and lots of Loreto Bay staff and local people.

After staying at Jarros & Tarros past 1 am, it was time to go dancing at Black & White. Alison, Rodolfo, me and Doug were getting down to techno pop music along with many friends from Loreto Bay and the local crowd until closing at 4 am. It was crowded and everyone was having a great time. There was lots of good energy.

Another great bar is Salon Baja next to Nellie’s Place on the malecon. It is located where Macaws used to be. It has been newly renovated with large oval bar, couches, and nice atmosphere under the stars. The music is more what I am accustomed to as an “older” person and this is one of my favorite late night spots.

My friend Alison from Victoria and I had a lot of fun going a little too crazy in this sleepy town. Not too many beautiful blondes in Loreto and it was fun to get all the attention! What can I say except … “This is Loreto!”

Have a great week!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

THE BAJA EXPERIENCE Coming to Loreto!

This has been a whirlwind week and without my photos I am sure that I would not remember where in the world I was?

My friends Alejandro and Yolanda were visiting from Mexico City and we spent 3 days touring them around Loreto. This was their first time to Baja California Sur and when we called to invite them, they had to go buy a map of Baja to figure out where we were and they still could not find Loreto! They did not realize that there was so much beauty and development here as in Mexico City they only hear about La Paz and Tijuana. This photo was taken at the Marbella project in Nopolo.

Sherry and Dave of AV80 brought in some of their fresh fish catch for us to cook up. Yolanda made a wonderful meal by lightly sautéing the fish in butter and garlic with a simple salad on the side. I do not charge for this service, but simply say Please Tip Yolanda directly to contribute to her home renovation. She has started construction and now she has walls enclosing her kitchen. She is very excited and proud of the progress and I will be showing photos soon.

Larry and Kara from San Diego dropped by to say hello. They are friends of Loreto Bay homeowners Jane and Sharon of FN203, and had to come and check out what their friends were so excited about. We had a great visit talking about the wildlife here and thinking of new ideas for Public Station television. This is Larry’s business and I don’t think it will take much for them to visit again soon.

Max is a regular at Nellie’s Bar. It is a dog’s life at Loreto Bay and well behaved canines are always welcome at Nellie’s Place. The same rules apply that we do not accept obnoxious, noisy, or butt sniffing behavior in our establishment by any animals – 2 or 4 legged. We don’t have many rules, but have to draw the line somewhere?!

Many of my girlfriends were here from Scottsdale last weekend and it was great to see them again. When I worked there the young people would call me their “cool mom” and I miss their spirit very much. From left to right there is Jennifer, Heather, me, Cynthia, Keysha, and Laurie. There is no doubt that Loreto Bay has the most beautiful girls on their team.

The golf course greens on the Back 9 are coming in nicely and being watered daily. The weather has finally turned cool, with temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s during the day. It is amazing how different the place looks and feels when it is not a dust bowl or giant sand pit. I have been told that it seems that things are getting done a little faster now that Citigroup is in charge, or perhaps it is that people are paying more attention.

Dorado Properties Loreto is pleased to welcome Brenda Calger to our Sales Team. We congratulate Brenda on becoming a Mexican Citizen! Brenda has been living in Loreto for 10 years and joins our Loretano Sales Agents who provide the most knowledgeable customer service about this area and its history. Come by and say hello to Brenda in our offices or email her at Brenda@DoradoLoreto.com

Baja BOSS’s newest client is THE BAJA EXPERIENCE. At The Baja Experience, YOU get behind the wheel and drive the unrivaled Baja Champ Truck. Strap on your helmet, cinch up your gloves, tighten your safety belts and take one last gaze over the calm panorama of ocean, desert and mountains that surround the Baja Peninsula. Your pulse quickens as the fire-breathing engine of the Baja Champ Truck roars to life.

Crucial instructions from the Expert Staff at The Baja Experience race through your mind one last time as you put the throttle down, tearing across the desert landscape, devouring ruts, jumps and rocks that would incapacitate lesser vehicles. It takes only a moment to realize that this is a rare experience normally reserved for the racing legends of Baja.

Baja BOSS is helping with choosing their location, importation, legal, tax and immigration requirements, permitting, and local introductions to hospitality and services. We are very excited about working with THE BAJA EXPERIENCE and it will be a wild ride! Check them out at www.thebajaexp.com

This will be a niche tourism market and very exciting to have their operations run out of Loreto. The Baja 1000 pre-runners will be in town over the next 3 weeks checking out the routes and having some fun. Here is Don Andres my night watchman taking his job very seriously. Last spring I had many Harley bikes parked in front of my office and hotel, and now we have moved up a few notches to the Pro Truck category. All I can say is WOW!! Living La Vida Loca in Loreto!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Baja California Meeting Point Convention

This week I had my first trip to Tijuana for the Meeting Point 2007 convention. This is one of the largest gathering and informational seminars for Developers, Real Estate Brokers, Financers and Investors focusing on the Tourism Industry in Mexico. It was a Who’s Who among the sponsors, guest speakers, and attendees.

Most booths focused on Baja California Norte and we were pleased that Dorado Properties was the only sponsor and booth focusing primarily on Baja California Sur. My partner John Anderson and I, together with agents Cuco, Alberto, Victor, Samuel, and Ameyali made quite an impression as everyone recognized we were the Dorado Dream Team.

One of the most important meetings we had was with the Federal Secretary of Tourism, when he was perusing our Listings Book and meeting our team. We hope the book makes it back to Mexico City, but in any event, I am sure he will remember us. The secret is the Red Dress! Same one I wore for the President of Mexico and HE certainly noticed.

I gave a presentation on the area of Loreto, its beauty and the emerging mega projects here which included Loreto Bay Company and the following:

• The Fadesa Group from Spain who are building 6,500 units plus amenities and investing Billions of Dollars into this area. They are developing 4 major resorts in Mexico and the one in Loreto will be their largest.

• Omen Hotels is among the Worlds Most Exclusive Boutique Hotels and is investing $20 Million Dollars into this area for its luxury seeking clients.

• The Villa Group of Mexico will be starting to break ground on its 5000 hotel rooms in the Ensenada Blanca area just 15 minutes south of Loreto. They are projecting to have 2000 rooms open for business by 2009.

The speech was well received and we had many inquiries and interested investors, potential buyers, and realtors all wanting more information and visited the booth afterwards.

John was on a panel discussing the Buyer’s Profile for the Sea of Cortez Region. He was joined by Brendan Mann from Trump Realty Baja, William Signet, President of Land America Services of Mexico, Alonzo Stell, AMPI President of La Paz, and Luis Bustamante APIT president. The moderator was Michael Condon of Prudential Baja. This was attended by hundreds of real estate brokers and developers and was well worthwhile.

We made many valuable contacts and substantially increased the visibility of Baja California Sur and our services. John has created a full service real estate brokerage firm in La Paz over the past 5 years and we are already well on our way to replicating the same in Loreto. What makes us different from all others in Baja California Sur is that we are a one stop solution for land purchase and development. Dorado Properties specializes in entitlements for federal concessions, environmental impact, water rights and all other necessary permits.

We have over 30 employees in both our Dorado Properties La Paz and Loreto offices, and have solid relationships with many notarios, lawyers, accountants, and government agencies. We have listings from $7500 to $750 Million Dollars and cover the entire state of Baja California Sur. Currently, we have over $1.5 Billion Dollars in listings inventory and just getting started to taking Baja California Sur by storm.

Here are John, myself, Samuel and Victor, enjoying the black tie event. It is quite curious that many people do not know the definition of black tie anymore. These days a suit and tie are acceptable. There were over 250 people in attendance, and we saw one tuxedo. Most men were in the same suits they were wearing during the day, but all the women were dressed up in cocktail dresses. It was a nice event to award the Developer of the Year who had the vision and foresight to develop a much needed product less than one hour from the border.

The first night we all decided that we wanted to go across the street to Carl’s Jr. What can I say except that when you live in Loreto … you appreciate what everyone else takes for granted...the $6 Burger and onion rings. The second night we went to Fonda Argentina Restaurant with its enormous steaks and salads. I don’t know what the Argentineans do to their meat, but it is so incredibly delicious and tender. Very yummy and we had lots of laughs as we were so deliriously tired and the cervezas were going down very easily.

From left to right here are Cuco, Alberto, Ameyali and John Anderson. I drove from Loreto to La Paz early Tuesday morning and took the flight to Tijuana with Aero California. The flight cost from Loreto to Tijuana with Aero Mexico was over $800 USD return, and in comparison it was $370 USD return from La Paz. Coming back on Saturday, it was a long exhausting week of nonstop meeting and greeting, networking, and too much free tequila as one of the sponsors was Jose Cuervo the tequila company. Good news is that I was able to drive from La Paz airport to my Loreto Bay home in 3 hours because the bridges and road work have been completed. That was a record for me! It is good to be back in Loreto, which I missed after 5 long days.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Changes at Loreto Bay Management

Loreto Bay has made an announcement to homeowners that I received second hand. Apparently I am no longer on their mailing list, but no matter as I still receive the information. Many homeowners have shared their private comments with me and their thoughts, as well as asking me what I really know. Basically all are very optimistic about the prospect of the largest financial institution in the world taking over the project. What happens long term is still to be seen, but word is that the Posadas and the Beach Club are being built soon. There is much due diligence still going on, and maverick ways will soon be curtailed. This is all good and I have not talked to anyone who feels it is a negative. The time is now for change to move forward efficiently and effectively.

Personally I am of mixed emotions. It is time for change and I welcome and embrace the new era of corporate discipline and bottom line figures. From my days at IBM, this is a familiar place of security and stability. However, it can also be void of vision, free thinking and taking risks based on gut and intuition. I was lucky enough to work for the IBM Pacific Development Center, which was one of six research labs in the world given the reign and freedom to explore new territory and think outside the box. Hopefully, CitiGroup will have a similar division for this acquisition.

I am still very proud to have been involved with Loreto Bay Company in the early days, as an investor, homeowner, and employee. It was not without its faults and trials, but they are what have provided me the opportunity to do what I do today. It is also what gave many homeowners the added comfort of taking the plunge and chance to invest in an unknown company in a foreign country, with little more than the promise of an opportunity to be part of a better community lifestyle. Loreto Bay was a great marketing machine, and through the vision of David Butterfield, Jim Grogan, Ayrie Cunliffe, and the early settlers that included extraordinary people leading loyal teams, faithful investors, and willing homeowners, we forged ahead to create something extraordinary.

I have never actually met a face to the infamous “Citigroup” but I can only imagine that they will have the foresight to recognize what a jewel they have inherited. I hope they recognize and acknowledge the many faithful people that have endured the frustrations and delays, because it is this spirit that this project and place will be different and like no other resort area.

Loreto Bay did many things wrong, but hindsight is always 50/50. They should have had more Mexican management, focused on delivery and not just sales, and managed operations with an iron fist rather than by Dream Team. However, they put Loreto on the world stage, created opportunities for many Mexican people and foreigners alike. They introduced many strangers who became lifelong friends, and the community created will continue through sheer determination and passion against all odds.

Because of Loreto Bay, the area is attracting multi millionaires worldwide. They are no longer the only game in town, and others have benefited from their vision as well as their mistakes. Every week Dorado Properties Loreto is contacted from large investors who have unlimited cash to invest in development projects. They come from Spain, Mexico, USA, Canada and the United Kingdom.

This is an example of how NOT to sell real estate in Loreto. We had some of the richest representatives in Mexico out looking at land, and while touring the Fadesa project of San Bruno, we get stuck in an arroyo of sand. Normally, we have 4 wheel drive vehicles, but as there were 7 of us, we rented a van which was not equipped for the soft sand. On a very tight time schedule the last thing that we needed was to be stuck and have these VIP clients forging around the area for loose rocks and brush to try to get traction to move the van the 100 feet back onto hard surface. After taking 40 minutes in 90+ degree heat with 70% humidity, we went back to town and took a ponga to the listed beach property, not taking a risk to get stuck again. As I sat on the bow of the ponga for an hour feeling my brain become loose in my skull every time the aluminum boat came crashing down on a wave, my bones took a beating. Never again, I am so very thankful that I have my 34’ Luhrs, which can cruise at 20 knots per hour in comfort.

That night I needed to unwind and found myself among friends at Patti’s Bar in the Posada Del Flores Hotel. Our friends were incredible on the guitar and we had spontaneous dancing and singing for over an hour. It was a surprise to see Leo and Kathy of FN 370 and other visitors who made their way for liquid refreshment. These spontaneous times are the best and what makes living in Loreto so absolutely enjoyable. They do not happen all the time, but if you are open to opportunities and making new friends, these are a regular occurrence. "You will never meet anyone staying at home” which is what my friend Jesse from the No Name Saloon in Park City wants to clone for his T-Shirts.

Don Miguel is a mariachi player since the 60’s and has had a very interesting life. He now makes a living playing songs by request for 50 pesos each. It is a very traditional way of music and not something the younger people appreciate, but we have him sing for us and it makes us feel good that we are keeping some traditions alive. Here is Edgard and Luis from Padilla Castaneda Constructors singing along to entertain us.

This has been a quiet week. The streets downtown are still torn up, but they are making slow and steady progress on the main street with the stamped concrete roads. Today it rained unexpectedly and the roads were 3 or 4 inches high with water. There is much new construction around town for smaller stores and projects, but still too early to make announcements about what is coming.

We are involved with several new developers and businesses in the area, but can not divulge much about their activities yet, except to say … this area will definitively prosper. I see a little more caution by some people who wanted to invest 6 months ago, but I also see the flip side where I have a few investors who want to take advantage of this down turn market, and Canadians who wish to take advantage of the US dollar at par to buy now while the speculation is low.

Sometimes I feel it is a poker match based on wit, skill, luck, but most importantly staying in the game until the payoff. I intend to do this, and thank all my friends who are with me for the same goals. It is a good time to get involved early in projects. Buy low and plan, build and develop soon while there is little or no competition.

Have a great week and hope to see you in Loreto soon!
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