Sunday, December 30, 2007

Week of Parties in Loreto, Mexico!

There were over a 130 Loreto Bay homeowners in town during the holidays. Many of the homes were occupied and poolside at the INN was full with families braving the wind to get some sunshine. It was great to see new neighbors and everyone was making friends. There were impromptu parties daily and everyone was always welcome because if you did not know the host, it was an opportunity to meet a new friend. The general comment was “Everyone is so nice!”

The first party was held by Peter and Shauna at FN136. I arrived late but there were still copious amounts of wine to be consumed. I was told there were a hundred people coming and going over the duration of the 4 hour afternoon party. Word about the open house spread like wildfire in less than the 24 hours prior that they planned it and this set the tone for the entire week. Great People, Great Party!

Richard and Lindsay, FN51, decided they were having so much fun at Peter and Shauna’s that they decided to have a continuation party the next day. So we all spread the word to anyone and everyone that “There’s a party at 51 from 3 to 6 pm”. That’s all it took to get a great gathering of delicious pot luck dishes from sushi rice, cabbage rolls, pasta, and of course cheese & crackers, guacamole and chips, cookies, fudge … a true party feast.

Christmas Eve night was spent with my Victoria friends, John Newton and his kids Taylor and Tracey, and my casa partners Carver & Marian who live in Toronto. New York steaks in Hunter sauce with fresh mixed salad and assorted vegetables was the menu. Yummy!! A quiet evening without decorated tree, gift exchange, or stockings hung by the chimney, were just fine by us.

Christmas Day I spent wandering around Loreto Bay like the ghost of Christmas Present spreading good cheer and wishes to all my friends. It was bright and sunny and the beach is a perfect backdrop for goodwill to all men. Being on the beach with brothers Charlie & Brian of FN332 is now becoming a Christmas tradition as this is our second year in the row to drink, laugh and be merry on this special day.

Darryl Jones was making his special Deep Fried Turkey for many of us who had never seen or tried such a thing. There is something very sexy about a man who knows his way around the kitchen! It was a treat to watch him prepare the bird, while I sipped wine, nibbled on the ceviche he had made and just watched. No cooking for me this year!

Bill and Laurie Doyle of TCC Loreto Construction Coach hosted Christmas dinner and put on a beautiful table with handcut crystal and all the trimmings, including real stuffing with Italian sausage. Laurie is a great cook and we laughed, drank and ate for hours. It doesn’t get much better in Loreto or anywhere than to be among friends.

Ross and Lorna Weppler of FN182 followed new tradition and had an open house at their home as well. I was there with at least 50 people and looking around it was unusual that all were Canadian. Brian and Jo Lithgow were the only Americans and they felt right at home saying “eh!” It was terrific to see another group of neighbors mingling and mixing as though they had known each other for years. Some people bought in Cluster 6 in February 2004 and are only now getting their homes. They are happy and they feel it is worth the wait!

The INN at Loreto Bay hosted a cocktail hour for homeowners on Friday night by the pool. There were approximately 150 people in attendance. It was a great time and the margaritas flowed as usual at Poolside. It was a wonderful party and we all thank the INN at Loreto Bay for their generosity. We were all surprised that they closed the bar after 2 hours, as it would have been great to have a No Host bar after the complimentary drinks so that we could support the INN and continue the party all night long. With reasonably priced drinks, simple food, and our great growing community, it is a recipe for a successful party every time.

The holidays would not be complete without a trip up to San Javier Mission on a beautiful quiet Sunday morning to pay our respects and say a little a prayer. John and I started the day by having a delicious full breakfast at Del Borracho and a leisurely drive up to the Mission. The mountains were covered with green and as we slowly made our way up the 32 km, the diversity in topography, vegetation, and views was breathtaking. It took us 1.5 hours to get there because I made John stop every few minutes so I could get photos. On the way back it was much faster of course and we went along the dry river bed road and imagined the ranging waters going through during the tropical storms.

As 2007 comes to an end, I can say that my life is full of friends, opportunities, and good experiences. It has been a fast and difficult year, filled with complexities, challenges, and self doubt, but I am not alone and that makes all the difference. I have lived fully, in the moment, and tread lightly. What is my resolution for next year? To be kinder to myself, seek balance, and continue to make a difference when and where I can. I leave you with this wish until we see you again in Loreto!

May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts.
May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet of $100 bills.
May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires!
May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy.
May the problems you had forget your home address! In simple words ...........
May 2008 be the best year of your life!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feliz Navidad and Happy Holidays from Loreto Mexico

My very good friend and partner in Velero Del Mar Charters, Scott Montell and I wish you Feliz Navidad y Un Prospero Año 2008!
Scott is the Chief Legal Counsel for Loreto Bay Company and one of the few remaining employees that started the company in November 2003. Our team reported directly to Scott and we can not remember all the countless stories of Murphy’s Law and SNAFU reports, as the legal team tried to keep up with the momentum of Loreto Bay’s success and Mexico’s multi levels of bureaucracy and differences.

I have never told the real story of how close the company came to dire consequences so many times. Nor will I because it is not important. What is important is how hard the early team worked together to make the dream a reality. There is no disputing the 90 hour work weeks that continued for years by all the teams - Legal, Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Design and Construction. It was because of Sheer Determination fueled by passion for the vision and not willing to accept anything less than success that put Loreto on the map. We were a family, somewhat dysfunctional, however part of something great and our experiences during the start up days were phenomenal – both insanely good and bad.

I have had many inquiries from homeowners recently about the liquidated damages, non-fulfillment of perceived expectations, and changes to the management structure. My answer is plain and simple. Be Happy!

If you knew how much over budget your house cost to build;
If you knew how many times you could have lost everything;
If you knew how hard the entire management team worked from the very beginning to ensure that the homeowners were always protected;
If you knew how close we could have been to being another unfinished project in Mexico;
If you compared this development to others in the USA and Canada where developers give back the original investment, rip up the contract, and sell the unit for 40% more because of increased construction costs;
If you realized how difficult it is to do business as a foreigner in Mexico and the challenges of having a joint venture with a Government Agency;
THEN you would be happy, my friend.


I recently met with the new Management Team from RePlay Inc. and am impressed by their sensibility, astute business acumen, and vision to create something even greater than originally planned. It is to be expected that they will make changes for economical, environmental, and market conditions. These will be positive and beneficial for the entire development when considering the big picture. Loreto Bay is very lucky to have attracted experienced professionals such as RePlay Inc. Everyone I have spoken with is very excited and optimistic about the changes and what 2008 will bring.

It is so wonderful to see so many homeowners here for the holidays. My passion for joining Loreto Bay was a vision of creating community. All the home owners are making this a reality, and we have so much to be thankful for! I look forward to visiting with many friends and neighbors over the next 2 weeks as I take time off for the holidays.

Happy Holidays from Lauren Farley, who owns the Danzante Hotel with her husband Michael. Danzante is a unique eco-tourism destination resort and utterly was a dream weekend when I stayed there. They have a huge international client base, excellent cuisine and the friendliest staff. It is one of my favorite get-away-spots when I need to escape business and the world at large. For more information go to www.danzante.com

Merry Christmas from Juan Carlos and Marta from Mita Gourmet Restaurant. They brought their family for breakfast at Mike’s Del Borracho and we had to get him along with Brenda from Dorado Properties Loreto in the photo and wish everyone the happiest of holiday seasons!

Christmas In Loreto

Palm trees wave, are you listenin'?
In the pool, water's glistenin'!
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight,
Livin' in a desert wonderland.

Gone away is the blizzard,
Here to stay is the lizard,
A warm sunny day, we like it that way,
Livin' in a desert wonderland.

In the desert we will have a picnic,
Cactus, sand, fishing in the sun.
Christmas dinner is an old tradition,
It's pinto beans and tacos by the ton.

Later on, we'll perspire
Temperatures rise even higher,
A warm sunny day, we like it that way,
Livin' in a desert wonderland!


Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Parties, Promotion and Promises for a Bright Future!

This whirlwind week started with me being interviewed by Ronnie Kovach for his “Fishing Ventures” show on Fox Sports Network which brings you the very best salt and freshwater fishing action. Ronnie can also be heard every Saturday morning on Radio Fishing University on KLAA AM 830 Los Angeles. Ronnie is another person who fell in love with Loreto and wants to bring a Fishing Derby to Loreto next October. We are working with Ronnie and the local Hotel Association to coordinate this tournament that will add to making this a premier tourist destination. For more information on Ronnie’s fishing adventures go to www.fishingexpeditions.com

Quite by chance some of the Sales Team for the new Villa Group project walked into my office looking for some hotel rooms. We started chatting and they were on their way to Los Cabos and decided to check out their future home and 5000 hotel room development since they have never been here. I offered to show them their development site since it is impossible to find unless you know where you are going. Caroline and Luis were so appreciative and excited about getting a head start on their team about information on the area.

Also with them was Chuck Gentile and Niki. Chuck is very interesting as he was telling me about his fight in Federal Court regarding the trademark litigation with a photograph he took of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The decision was upheld by the Appellate Court. Google Chuck Gentile and read about his case that is still used by Harvard Law today. They invited me to the Villa Group Staff party in Los Cabos on Friday but it was the same night as my staff party, so I regretfully declined. What a blast that would have been with over 1000 employees of their organization.

We had our posada party at Domingo’s Restaurant (previously El Nido) in the beautiful Courtyard. We had 13 staff there from Nellie’s Hotel and Bar, Baja BOSS, Dorado Properties Loreto, and Velero Del Mar. There were plenty of jokes going around the table and no one was safe from ridicule.

We had a gift exchange and everyone received very nice presents of shirts, jewelry, and accessories. It was quite civilized until it came time for my present which was very sexy lingerie. The true epitome of Naughty Nellie! How did they know I would love it!

We had games including a piñata which everyone took turns swinging at. It is a good employee test to see how much rage some people have and how passive others are with a stick and moving target. Andres was the first to make a break which scattered cigarettes, lighters and an assortment of other adult goodies to the ground that made everyone scramble to pick up.

My night watchman, Don Andres, was downright frightening as he relentlessly tackled the piñata. After seeing him in action, I had no fear of him protecting my premises every night against anyone that may not have good intentions. Don Andres is the oldest of my employees, but probably the most physically fit. He has been the Master in his age category for running up to San Javier Mission, which is 32 km for several years now.

My right hand and #1 business associate, Jeanny and I were reminiscing that exactly one year ago to the day we were scrambling to finish the building, hotel and bar. Baja BOSS, Dorado Properties Loreto, and Velero Del Mar were a dream away. I remember telling Jeanny a year ago that we would have 5 businesses and 14 staff in one year. Jeanny and Andres both said “Si” in kind agreement as I was the boss, but little did they believe that we would actually achieve these milestones. I congratulate and thank Jeanny immensely as none of this would have been possible without her spirit and tenacious professionalism. I told her that she doesn’t look a day older from when we started! Then I told her what my plan was for our second year anniversary and she said she needed a long vacation! I so agree!!

Jim Spano, who is an investor in the Marbella (old Whales Inn) project has a favorite charity of helping mentally and physically challenged children. This week Jim, along with partner Neil Ginsberg, had a Christmas party at the development site and invited over 100 local children, their parents and relatives, to visit and participate in an afternoon of fun. The Loreto team that attended the Special Olympics in Mexico was congratulated on their medals.

There was a nice luncheon in the old Cantina building that was fully decorated with balloons, streamers, and hats. There were clowns entertaining and a piñata for all the children to break and scramble for candy. It was a great sunny day and nice to see the involvement of foreign developers integrating with the community. This was a function strictly for the community and there was no political representation or press there. A very well organized and much appreciated gesture by all in attendance.

Jim Spano personally donated an electric wheelchair for one of the local children. It was incredibly heartfelt to see a child all of a sudden be able to become mobile in a few minutes. The chair is very sensitive to the human body and the child is quickly able to maneuver across the room. For example, if they are hungry they can now move to the refrigerator to indicate that they want food whereas before they did not have the physical or motor skills to make others understand their wants and needs. The joy on this boy’s face was infectious. The electric chair retails for about $25,000 USD and has opened his life.

Jim Spano’s charity is CAM School for the challenged children in Loreto. The developer is funding a building for this school near the downtown playground. They obtained names and ages of all the children and purchased gifts that were appropriate for the age and sex of each child. Then there were Santa, along with helpers, to give each child a gift. An instant photograph was taken and given to each child with Santa along with their gift. The whole event was a very classy act. Thank you from all of us that live here!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Loreto Hospital Needs Equipment!!

Rosalia Romero de Aguiar has assumed the charge of presidency, when Rodolfo Davis Osuna solicited permission to step down as the Mayor a few weeks ago. There are heated political campaigns going on in Loreto at the moment between the three political parties, PRI, PAN and PRD. The election for a new Presidencia Municipal de Loreto will be held in February 2008, with the handover to take place in May of 2008.

Baja BOSS met with Rosalia Romero de Aguiar last week to offer any assistance we could with the positive growth of Loreto. One of the major priorities for the Presidencia and her Council was that the hospital was completed, however, they were having difficulty obtaining equipment. I remember that there were many offers from medical practitioners and hospital administrators who were Loreto Bay homeowners wanting to offer assistance in the past.

If anyone has any leads on possible donations of good used hospital equipment, Baja BOSS will work with Dr. Ken Markel of Loreto Bay Company, the Municipal Government of Loreto, Customs for importation, and Immigration (for training technicians) to make this happen quickly and effectively as possible for the betterment of all of us who currently resident and plan to live in Loreto. Please contact me directly at Nellie@bajaboss.com and I will be happy to assist with the process.

In addition to the hospital requirements, we discussed better communications between the foreign residents and the Municipal Office. The Mayor and her Council acknowledged that they wanted to set up an office where foreigners were comfortable to come and offer their suggestions and concerns about living in Loreto. It is wonderful to see that they recognize the growth and foreign investment and want to be proactive about possible concerns of residents.

Loreto Bay had a very good sales weekend, with a conversion rate of over 55% of its POPs. We have another 15 or more neighbors who are excited to be part of the growing community. The feeling amongst visitors, homeowners, and staff, was very optimistic about the new management changes. This sales event was more focused on the product and project, rather than the party and celebrations. The financial success confirms that this is the right time for change. This is a photo of Posada Norte, which is finally taking shape and form.

We sponsored Del Borracho’s dragster, which is Mike’s latest and greatest Big Boy Toy. Local Loretanos are crazy about anything to do with racing, whether it is motorcycles, off road bikes, and pro-runners. The locals and foreigners that race here are treated like rock stars. There were several races this weekend and all week you could see young men doing wheelies and tricks on the motorbikes in downtown Loreto.

Rick and Mark who built and raced this dragster are friends of Mike’s and they stayed with the car all day when it was parked in front of our office. The local Speaker Car was roaming around the streets announcing the dragster in front of our building and about the race on Sunday. Cars would drive by 2 or 3 times for a better look, and some would just stop in front of the building and stare in appreciation. Many people came down with their kids to have their photos taken. Both locals and visitors stopped all day long to talk to Rick and Mark and ask questions. Many had their own experiences to share as well.

We figured that the photo of the dragster was on 75% of all the cell phones in Loreto. It was a big kick for all and we can’t wait to do it again. No matter what your opinion of racing is, it is unmistakably part of the Loreto history and culture. They did not start up the engine as the noise would be prohibitive to us doing any business, but I can’t wait to see the dragster in action one day soon. It was a great day to see so many people smile.

We can very much feel the business slow down for the holidays already. There is very little business conducted in Mexico from December 15 to January 8. For the week before and after these dates, only the absolute necessary work is done as everyone is dealing with emergencies and trying to finish things before the end of the year. This applies to the Notario Publicos, accountants, lawyers, government agencies and generally all business offices. Restaurants, retail, and some offices will be open with skeleton staff. My lawyer Liliana Carranza is off work at Baja BOSS during this time and running her lingerie shop called Tayli’s.

Tayli’s is located on the main street of Salvatierra just opposite Pescador Market before you get to the only 4 way stop light. Liliana has wonderful assortment of lingerie for all women. She is very busy this time of year and offers assistance in English to many men that are lost as to what to buy for their sweethearts. Drop by and say hello to Liliana and see what she does when she is not giving legal advice for BajaBOSS clients. You can also phone her at 135 1459 or email her at lilicarranza@hotmail.com for retail inquiries. Please respect her other life and don’t ask her any legal questions, such as whether the wife should get a sexier gift than the girlfriend!

For those preparing big feasts in their new homes during the holidays, Dali Deli offers great meats and specialty grocery items. They are located on Francisco I. Madero Street which is parallel to BajaBOSS on the malecon. Some samples items are below:

Smoked ham with bone $91.50 per kilo
Turkey $38.74 per kilo
Leg of pork $39.74 per kilo
Pork tenderloin $70.23 per kilo
Duck $52.30 per kilo
Leg of lamb $90.11 per kilo
Prime Rib Premium $164.98 per kilo
Dishwasher soap $49.29

Please confirm your order before December 15th, deliveries will be between the 18th and 22nd. They can be reached at 613 135 2477 or at daliloreto@prodigy.net.mx

Have a great week. See you in Loreto!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

True Community Spirit Among Friends and Neighbors

Loreto saw three days of rain this week which was highly unusual. Many of my staff brought their children to work on Friday morning. The kids are always welcome because I know how difficult daycare is in Loreto. I asked why the schools and nurseries were closed. Was this another children’s holiday that I should be aware of? It was a Rain Day!! Are you kidding me?? I could not help laughing in astonishment as it was only a sprinkling of rain in the morning, with little wind … and they had a Rain Day!! Only in Loreto!

However, it did not dampen the spirits of the visiting Loreto Bay homeowners who were happy to see the progress in Founders Neighborhood and hear from the new management team of Replay Inc. who have taken over Loreto Bay’s day to day operations and development. These executives were formerly of Canadian based Intrawest Corp. which owns and develops ski resorts in Canada and the USA.

There were over a hundred people in attendance on Thursday night to hear Michael Coyle, Partner, RePlay Inc. talk about the changes, their past experience, and some strategies for the future of Loreto Bay. The mood was positive and the general comments among the homeowners were that they were hopeful and looked forward to the upcoming changes. Most important to all was that there was now a focus to finish Founders Neighborhood as soon as possible. This represents approximately 550 units and sales over the last 4 years, so it is about time that the early supporters received some priority for their patience.

There was a strolling cocktail party among the courtyards and homes of the FN300 series. It was enchanting to see the trees lit with soft lighting and the immaculate homes open for display. The flagstone walkways were completed and there was green grass beneath our feet and flowers in permanent planters. The rest of us look forward to one day when we will have the same, which is now possibly the not so distant future.

On the Rain Day, I was surprised that the San Francisco Group of Loreto Bay Home Owners met at Nellie’s Place Bar to celebrate my last night of operations. The wind and rain had stopped and they declared that they were a hardy group and it would take more than a little inclement weather to stay away.

It was great to see people meeting old friends and making new acquaintances so easily. It was the talk around the INN that people were convening at Nellie’s Place that night, and many others joined the party to gather on the deck under the stars. This may be the last night that I “run” the bar for a while, but it certainly will not be the last time we have a party at Nellie’s Place.

You can still often find me at my office at all hours of the day and night, so drop by anytime for coffee and say hello! It is always great to see my friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, Santa Lucia Bakery next door is now closed and there is a For Rent sign in their window. It was the perfect spot to enjoy breakfast and lunch and oh so convenient for my hotel guests. We will all miss them and their wonderful baked goods.

The Home Owners Town Meeting on Saturday morning was standing room only. Mike Ravenhill explained some of the focus, ideas, changes and decisions, that the management team were exploring, and held the meeting open for an extra hour to answer the many questions. The meeting was positive and friendly and there was an optimistic acceptance of the new management team. Change is not easy and takes time, but the general theme was that we need to allow RePlay Inc. time to do what it needs to do, and not get bogged down in the weeds that have little purpose with the task of building homes and moving forward on the development side of the entire project.

Ravenhill confirmed management’s commitment to the Loreto Bay Foundation and local charities. There was a discussion for the need of having a shelter and/or adoption program for all the dogs that were running around Loreto. Bob Toubman advised that the Hospital was completed, but the biggest hurdle to it being open was getting qualified staff to move to Loreto and run it. It is too bad that foreign doctors, nurses and technicians, can not come and do a locum … I think there would be a line up to live in Loreto even for a while.

Homeowners are encouraged to visit the www.myloretobay.com website to obtain more information as it happens on the many different aspects of this developing resort. This is a private site where information is given to homeowners that sometimes should not be made public. Please respect the security of the site as information can be taken out of context and used to create a negative impact by the few who are always looking to complain about others. This is a password protected site and you can create your ID from the home page, or email info@myloretobay.com for more information.

There is a new site for Loreto Bay that is public site at: http://loretobay.ning.com/ which is a social network where members can have discussions, post photos, and create groups. It is a very positive and informative site, and a place where all people with homes in this area can join and contribute their good ideas and tips. I hope that the membership will have the ability to vote down and terminate any members who want to trash all development projects, complain about progress, and generally be obnoxious. There are plenty of other sites those people can go and have their audience.

Bill and Mia of FN311 are helping Hector Torres Ybanez get started with his new furniture business in downtown Loreto. It is called Galeria “La Media Luna” and located at Callejon El Puebito e/ Independencia y Zapata, Local #6, behind Pachamama Restaurant. Hector speaks good English and you can reach him at 613 135 0533 or send email requests to meluna@prodigy.net.mx.

Hector can custom order furniture, artwork, pots and patio furniture, as well as having a nice showroom in town. There are now a number of different options locally for furniture, blinds, artwork, and outdoor pots. I can only imagine that it will become better as time goes on, and it will be interesting to see what people do with their homes to make them authentically unique.

Even though the weather did not cooperate, I feel everyone had a great time and it renewed their faith and reasons for buying in Loreto in the first place. There was a very nice cocktail party and dinner at the INN on Saturday night and you could tell from the laughter and conversation in the air that people were anxious for their homes to be finished so they could spend more time creating community.

I had a ton of questions on the need for an FM3, which is a Residency Visa for Mexico. If you do not have an FM3 Residency Visa then you have Tourist Status. The best way I can explain the difference is that it is similar to me being a Canadian in the USA. I can own a home and live in the USA for up to 179 days a year without too many problems. However, without a “visa” I am an Illegal Alien. If I applied for a simple residency visa then I would become a Legal Alien which gives me rights and benefits as a USA resident when I go to sell my home, get bank loans, or open utility and service accounts. Things are not so different in Mexico.

A residential FM3 can cost anywhere from $50 USD to $500 USD per person depending on where you make your application. I recommend that unless you are in Loreto for a month or more, you contact your local Mexican Consulate and make the application there. There are many things you must do to have your FM3 validated if it is obtained outside of Mexico, so please ask your Consulate what these are.

If you are living in Mexico for more than a month, you can apply yourself at the local Immigration Office. The Loreto Office is between Bridgestone Tire and the University on the main road going out towards the highway.

To save time, frustration and anxiety, BajaBOSS will assist you with your FM3 in Loreto. We must charge $250 USD per person for our fees because it is very time consuming. Just ask anyone who has done it on their own because they are our best referral service!

It is not something you need until your home is near completion because you are not truly a “resident” until you have a home. However, there is a tax benefit if you have your FM3 for a certain period of years and you sell your “principal residence” in Mexico. This could save you 28% of the net proceeds, which is substantial and I believe a good enough reason to get your FM3 and become a Legal Resident. It does not matter if you only spend one week per year here, it still is your principal residence in Mexico and you still have legal residency status. It is a little confusing but there is a lot of information on the web and from tax experts regarding this topic.

The sun is shinning, the sky is blue, and it is a good day in Loreto! Have a great week!
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