Sunday, September 27, 2009

Good Signs for Loreto, Mexico … The INN is OPEN!!

The Inn at Loreto Bay opened in Loreto, Nopolo, yesterday without much fanfare or fuss. I believe only the Snack Shack is open at this time and there will be 30 hotel rooms available in October. The pools are filled with water and the lounge chairs available for use of Loreto Bay homeowners and guests.

It was great to drop by and see a few familiar faces of our waiters and friends. This group of diehard homeowners who braved the summer heat and lack of restaurant, gift shop or amenities, were out to share a meal and some laughs. We toasted to each other and all our friends for good times ahead.

People have wondered Where In the World Is Nellie as I vacated my Loreto office earlier this year and been taking a well deserved rest since the media frenzy of Swine Flu destroyed our tourism. I will be opening my new office in the Loreto Plaza in the next few weeks and more to come about that later.

In the meantime, Alan Axelrod and Michael Bartlett were in here last week and I am reserving one of their commercial spaces on the paseo in Loreto Bay for our Baja BOSS Property Management and Dorado Properties Loreto Real Estate businesses. It was a coincidence that we happen to be discussing this in my old malecon office which is now a quaint little breakfast and lunch spot! Great food, low prices, friendly service. Check it out!

There is still much positive energy and good news in this tranquil little town. The Villa Group’s new Santa Fe Hotel is nearing completion next to Domingo’s Steak House at the entrance to Loreto and scheduled to open in November. It will be their business hotel for guests interested in their newest resort Villa Del Palmar Loreto located 30 minutes south of Loreto in Ensenada Blanca.

The Villa Group, with its solid reputation for delivering vacation experiences to its thousands of clients in several Mexican destinations describes its newest resort the Villa Del Palmar Loreto as follows:

Loreto: Untouched. Unspoiled. Unbelievable.

You may have seen the color aqua before. But never like this.

The water is untouched. This earth is unspoiled. And this aqua is uncommonly brilliant. Bay of Loreto is one of the few remaining places on earth worthy of its most common description, pristine. The bay is blessed with enormous amounts of natural beauty, yet is is largely undeveloped. It seems the world is just now discovering how magical this setting really is. In the distance, the five islands that float on the horizon of the Sea of Cortez have formed an ecological barrier creating an underwater concentration of every spectacular sea animal one can imagine. And with the mountains reaching into the brilliant, sun-soaked skies, it is not only hard to believe it is real, it is nearly impossible to endure the moments before you arrive.


I completely agree as the magic of Ensenada Blanca takes my breath away each time I visit, and I get swept up to think "YES, I want a vacation place here". The Villa Group concept is a simple one. Build a resort of uncommon beauty and world class luxury on Mexico’s most dramatic beachside locations. Their master plan for Loreto will feature 1,800 acres of remarkable beauty, including restaurants, a Rees Jones golf course, up-scale timeshares, various ownerships, and grand hotels.

My friend and Loreto Bay neighbor, Brant Roshinsky is the Sales Manager for the Villa Group. Brant gave me a personal tour of the development this week and I was awed by the progress as they only seemed to break ground late last year. The site is very secure and access is only provided by invitation.

There are 3 large buildings under construction at the same time including Building 4 and 7 which are residential time share units and the Commercial Building that will house 41,000 sq ft of spas, retail shops and restaurants. They have a viewing platform which shows the views from a first floor unit and I can only imagine how spectacular the 5th floor would be!!

The master plan includes 165 time share units similar to the luxurious quality of the Estancia in Cabo San Lucas. I have stayed often at the Villa Del Palmar, Villa Del Arco, and Villa La Estancia and each new resort property is better than the last. I appreciate the tasteful furnishings, large open spaces, natural stone floors and countertops. There are plenty of large windows everywhere to enjoy the breathtaking view.

The Villa Group is offering some fabulous preconstruction incentives at this time which make it very attractive to get in early to enjoy the amenities and benefits that will be available as early as next year. Even for those local Loreto homeowners, this is a great place to have a unit for your extra guests or romantic weekend getaways. Brant tells me that they will allow owners to covert their full value into fractional ownership or custom golf course lots in the future when those become available.

The Villa Group has 25 years experience building resort properties in Mexico, and this project is fully funded. There is no risk involved in buying here. I was impressed by the clean and expansive worker housing and food service on site. They have their own construction company and cement batch plant.

The first floor you see is the underground parking and they are already working on the second floor of the buildings. Breaking ground and putting in the mechanical infrastructure is always the most time consuming and I am excited to see the progress from here on in.

Brant is a fellow Canadian and very friendly. If you see him by the Community Pool, say hello and tell him Nellie says hi! For more information on the Villa Group visit www.villagroupresorts.com or email brantb11@gmail.com

Have a great week!

Miss Nellie

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Loreto Nellie expands Dorado Properties and Baja BOSS

It is September in Loreto, which means the quietest month of the year. Many residents leave to escape the storms, heat and humidity; and the tourists are far away at home busy with their regular family routines of work and school. Many Loreto business owners take this month to close and vacation as well. All has gone quiet in the rumor mill and there is little discussion of what will happen to Loreto Bay.

We continue to have raining days … grey skies, slightly overcast and the occasional thunder clap, followed by a torrent 5 minutes of rain. If you blink, you just may miss it! However, even a few moments of rain can cause the homes to become saunas in just a few hours. Our Property Inspectors are all busy ventilating and airing out homes to avoid mold and mildew.

Loreto has certainly had its challenges in the last 6 months. First there was the media frenzy of Swine Flu in April; and just when people were realizing that it was not in Baja Sur ... Loreto Bay collapsed all its companies and closed the INN and Golf Course. These facilities remain closed today; however, Fonatur is maintaining both at bare minimum standards until a new buyer can be confirmed.

So many of our friends and business colleagues have left the area, and many have started new businesses. It can be overwhelming to understand all the different players, their roles and responsibilities.

As the owner of Baja BOSS (acronym for Business One Stop Solutions) we offer Property Management Services. There are several good Property Managers available and each differs in their value added services. What we offer that many do not, is that we are an independent company that will pay your Condo Regime Monthly Fees and actively participate in Annual General Meetings and decisions affecting the homeowners. We have no conflicts with other Construction Companies or Rental or Management Companies, so we can wholly act in your best interests. I live in this community and can make a difference.

Our mandate is to provide quick, responsive communication and expedient solutions. We have a program for unfinished Custom and AV Homes for only 600 pesos ($45 USD) per month. We will pay your Condo fees, property taxes, bank trust fees, utility bills, and more importantly you have access to me for all your miscellaneous queries about IRS Form 3520, Mexican Capital Gain taxes, Immigration and Customs, suppliers, vendors, and our concierge services. Visit our new Baja Boss Loreto Newsletter at www.bajaboss.com and see what we do for our clients on a regular basis. We thank all 80 of our clients for supporting us since July 1st, 2009.

Loreto Bay Realty terminated all its employees and closed its doors in June 2009 making Dorado Properties Loreto the ONLY real estate company handling Loreto Bay Resales. So, since I am not one to let an opportunity pass it’s time to get back on the treadmill, set the speed dial, and get ready to hang on! Hope you will join me. It will prove interesting, that I can assure you.

Dorado Properties Loreto Real Estate specializes in Loreto Bay and handles many different projects and individual properties. We are in negotiation with Gerardo Prieto Trevino, owner of Turistica Advisors, to establish a joint venture which will make us the largest broker north of La Paz in Baja California Sur.

Gerardo Prieto Trevino has served as Vice President-Tourism Division since April 2007. Mr. Prieto joined Homex from Grupo Questro, where he served as Sales and Marketing Director. He was also Sales Director at Fonatur from 2000 to 2004.

I am very excited about this new avenue as I have been friends with Gerardo Prieto for many years now. I admire his energy, enthusiasm, management style and am personally in awe of his skill and experience. Be the first to visit our beta site at www.turisticaadvisors.com/ and have a look around.

If you are thinking of selling or buying at the bottom of the market, contact me at Nellie@Doradoloreto.com and I will put you in touch with our experienced sales staff that resides in Loreto Bay. We are a team focused on supporting our community.

In the meantime, watch for our new pricing and announcements October 1st, 2009.

Have a great week!
Miss Nellie

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nellie’s Back in Loreto, Baja California Sur

Time flies when you are having fun … and what a nice summer this has been. I spent much time away from Loreto visiting friends in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax. I had vacations in Seattle, San Diego and New York and now feeling rested and with some semblance of balance in a place where time seems to stand still … Loreto.

I brought a 1998 Dodge Durango from my friend Albert Basil, who owns AJ Motors in Los Angeles. I gave the specifications of what I wanted (model, year, color, fabric type, a/c, 4x, miles, and other options) and he found the car at the auction. He drove the car for a month and replaced all the parts that he thought would be necessary so I could have a good safe Baja car. This included a new axle, tires, brakes, steam cleaning the engine, and a brand new radio for my long drive down Baja. The price was great and I feel very confident that the car is in good condition to last me a couple of years of hard off road driving.

I left San Diego about noon on Sunday, Sept 6, and decided to take the Tecate border. It was not that far from where I was staying and it was worth the extra hour drive to bypass Tijuana on a holiday weekend. The border crossing was very fast with no line up at all, and although I got the red light, the Customs Officer was very pleasant and did not search the vehicle too thoroughly, although I had brought very few things other than some food and gifts.

Driving from Tecate to Ensenada is a lovely drive along wine country. I was traveling on my own, so did not stop and visit L.A. Cetto and Santa Tomas vineyards but I always think “next time”. Ensenada is growing with a lot of construction on the main roads. It took much longer than expected to get through the town than I remembered, but I was not in any hurry. Most of the drive from Ensenada to Catavina is not very interesting. There are many small local towns, with as many topes (speed bumps) to slow speeding tourists passing through.

There is plenty of gas along the way, with the exception between El Rosario and Guerro Negro. This is 314 km and only a very small sign to warn you that there is no fuel in between. El Rosario has Mama Espinosa’s Restaurant famous for its lobster burritos and is a good place to fill up your tank and tummy. There is a makeshift gasoline station in Catavina where they will siphon fuel out of barrels into your car, but it is understandably twice the price of Pemex.

When buying gas in Baja it is best to have pesos as Pemex usually gives lousy exchange rates. Also, get out of the car and watch them start the fuel pump at $0.00. A common scam is to place the nozzle in the tank and wait for a few minutes. Then the attendant will ask you for 100 pesos and point to the meter. Many times, he never put any fuel in at all. You will say “no, I want it full”, so he will then start the pump and add the 100 pesos to the total bill. What can you do if you did not watch him from the start?? It’s not worth the altercation for 100 pesos, just remember caveat emptor – buyer beware.

I always am happy to get to Catavina as I know I am approaching Baja Sur which is very different in topography and socially from Baja California (norte). Catavina has the spectacular mountains of large boulders with forests of cactus scattered among them, and then flat plains in the distance. It makes one wonder “how did those giant boulders get there?” Quien Sabe?

I took my time from Tecate to Guerro Negro as I did not know the car well, and it was almost 9 hours. My usual place to stay is Malarrimo Motel because the rooms are clean and the restaurant is decent. For 350 pesos a night, it is all I need.

The next morning I headed off for Loreto, unsure what I would encounter along the way with the hurricane damage. Again, fuel is scarce between Guerro Negro and Santa Rosalia which is about 230 km, so it is recommended that you do not go below half a tank of gas when traveling along Baja.

We learn to amuse easily living la vida loca in Loreto. As I passed this single cow munching happily by the side of the road; I wonder – Why is the most succulent morsels of life always associated with the greatest risk? You can see from the prior photo that the surrounding area is covered with fresh greenery for miles, yet this cow makes his way to the dangerous road to enjoy his feed, totally oblivious to the cars that speed past at 100+ km per hour.

When approaching Santa Rosalia there were road crews working and many flag men directing traffic. It was reassuring to see the heavy equipment, bull dozers, and dump trucks making endless runs to move dirt and rock back to where it came from. I imagine that Road Crews, the Military, and CFE Electrical crews have been working non stop for the past 5 days to make the roads passable and safe.

It was slow going but everyone was in good spirits and very friendly. I had a cooler of water bottles in my car and was passing them out to those that looked a little parched in the hot sun. It’s the least I could do for safe passage thanks to their tireless efforts at minimal wages.

To see how Hurricane Jimena decimated the main square in Santa Rosalia was very sad indeed. Many parts of the town on higher ground seemed intact, but near the old railroad station and main square, there was an obvious mud slide and raging river of water that had left much destruction it its path.

Moving along to Mulege the damage was much worse. These photos were taken from the car as I was driving down the main highway through town. It was shocking just how much damage the storm caused. Luckily very few were hurt and anyone living in Mulege must know the risks involved with tropical storms of any magnitude.

I turned into town to take some better photos however, the roads were so backed up and there was still a lot of cleanup going on, so I backed up and decided not to be a curious tourist and let the crew do their job.

The homes along the river in the middle of town were the hardest hit. Many were just remnant walls of their former self and people were scattered around picking up the pieces. Every few years Mulege gets hit hard and yet the people rebuild and stay until the next bad one. There must be a magic in Mulege that I do not see? However, many people probably say the same about Loreto.

From the bridge you can see all the flatten palm trees and washed out roads. The famous octagon shaped home that was in the center of town under the bridge appeared as though it had been completely overtaken by the water current and although I could not get close enough to see, most windows had been blown out and there appeared to be little furniture inside.

Onto a lighter note, it was nice to get to Bahia Concepcion and see the beautiful Sea of Cortez again. With the Sierra Mountains as protection from the East, there was no damage or rock slides in this area as I drove south. The contrast of the lush green mangroves and hillside landscape compared to the rocky peninsula and still blue water is always amazing to me. It is like a breath of fresh air every time I drive this road.

For miles and miles there are no residences or commercial buildings. It is pure unadulterated natural beauty. The beaches are white sand and pristine. The road is good and curves the mountains like a rollercoaster ride. Only an hour away from Loreto, it is a great day trip to pack a picnic, swimsuit, and visit an undiscovered place that is new to you.

Along the way there are more cows, goats and horses feeding along the side of the road. When I pull over with my music blasting and roll down the window, they curiously look at me the same way I must be looking at them. I snap my camera and move on, before this guy decides to chase me away from his young herd.

Anyways, that was my third drive down in the past three years, and I would recommend it to anyone. There are about 6 military stops, but they are mostly checking cars for drugs heading north. As long as you are respectful and patient, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Stay tuned next week and see what I have been up to this summer when not vacationing. It’s a whole new chapter in Where In the World is Nellie? Soon to be a mini-series I am sure!

Have a great week!
Miss Nellie
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