With an ideal location on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, services to rival the world’s top five–star resorts and an array of activities to keep the entire family busy, Villas Del Mar has become a popular real estate and rental land spot for elite travelers. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief visited President/Developer Ron Hatfield to find out how he has sold over a half billion dollars in luxury real estate.
ET: Let’s start with your background. How did you get into the real estate business?
Ron Hatfield: I was a real estate developer in Houston, Texas, in the early 1970s and built office buildings, shopping centers and apartments until I came down to Cabo. Villas Del Mar began 16 years ago when my partner Ken Schnitzer and I came down here to play golf and got interested in beachfront real estate. We bought a small piece of land and built five houses. Our property was located next to the One&Ony Palmilla so our customers came out of the hotel and purchased those homes and that’s how we got started. Now we have over 200 homes. We have sold probably somewhere around $500 million worth of houses in the past 16 years and it has become very successful. I’m even a Mexican citizen now.
ET: What are the homes like? What can customers expect from the units themselves?
Ron Hatfield: When we started here we brought American building standards with us—central air conditioning, better electrical wiring and plumbing systems—so our homes took the character of the best homes in the United States. The designs are Mexican but the look is very Monterrey and Santa Barbara. The homes are similar to what you see in the States only with great Mexican influences and high-quality finishes.
ET: What are some of facilities and amenities that owners and renters can expect to enjoy at Villas Del Mar?
Ron Hatfield: The best thing we have is the great weather in Cabo San Lucas. We have a 50-mile radius of the world’s best weather down on the tip of Baja. Besides that we have the Sea of Cortez and three miles of private beach that our development is located on. We have a beautiful beach club, Club 96—for home owners only—we have an extensive fitness facility, a sailing catamaran, beach activities, a kids club, tennis courts and a concierge department that can provide a full entertainment schedule throughout the Baja area. The fitness center alone is 10,000 square feet and we try to design everything to the standards of our homes. We have a beautiful lap pool. It’s like walking into your living room only with a full array of equipment – its one of the best clubs I’ve ever been into. Club 96 also has a great chef and a staff of thirty people. We think our food compares with anything in Cabo San Lucas. It’s an extensive menu with a lot of great seafood and we change our menus twice every two months. We get lots of complements on our food and I think it competes with the finest hotels in terms of quality and taste.
ET: You have a former General Manager with a background at multiple five-star hotels. How does that fit in with the property’s service philosophy?
Ron Hatfield: When we came down here we knew we were going to have to provide a high level of service in order to interest people in buying expensive resort homes in Mexico. We put in a resort-style service facility with concierge service. We will turn down your beds, fill your car with gas and even put license plates on it. We do everything to make sure that you have to do nothing when you come to your home except just sit and enjoy it. Top tier property management and service is our highest goal.
ET: With such accommodating service, what are some of the strangest requests you have gotten from owners and guests?
Ron Hatfield: I think our requests are typical of any five-star hotel. And when you throw in the amenities we have—deep sea fishing and more—our requests truly go across the board in terms what our guests want to do to entertain themselves.
ET: What would you say your geographic and demographic home owner profile is?
Ron Hatfield: Our homeowners basically come from the west—California, Texas, Arizona, Western Canada, Colorado. We have some presence in Midwest and New York and so on but our lowest participation comes from the U.S. Southeast. Given the price of our homes, our owners have to have net-worth in excess of $10 to $15 million to afford the expenses, which puts our owners in the top 1% of American wealth. Our clientele is also getting younger all the time. We went from selling homes to 65-year-old individuals to people in their 40s and 50s who still have young kids. It’s a completely different set of buyers now than it was five or six years ago.
ET: For our readers who haven’t bought in Mexico before, are there any tips you can provide?
Ron Hatfield: I don’t think buying Mexico is any different than buying in the States. You need to be represented by a legitimate realtor, have an attorney involved and, if you’re within 30 miles of the coast, you have to buy your home through what is called fideicomiso, which essentially means you have to have a bank act as a trustee to purchase your home. You then become the beneficiary of that trust and can do anything you want to do with it from there—mortgage it, give it to your children and so on. Titled insurance is also available through U.S. title companies so your title is protected but other than it is not difficult.
ET: How does your Villa rental program work?
Ron Hatfield: We have a very high-level rental program, with rates running from $2,500 to $10,000 per night. We participate in resort-style rentals in that, out of over 200 homes, we can only have 20 homes rented (at one time) in order to keep the exclusivity of the community in check. It’s a very successful program and full service as well; maids, turndown and more. Whatever you would expect from a five-star hotel, we provide in our homes, plus chef and butler.
ET: What are your plans for future development?
Ron Hatfield: We plan to continue to build and sell homes. We still have room to build around 100 homes in the community. The shape and size are designed to fit the existing market, which is trending toward larger homes. People are seeing them as family gathering spots now and so instead of a two-bed vacation home they are looking for a five-bed house that their family and children can enjoy. We change based on the market, building what it tells us to build. What we build in the future—whether larger in size or higher in density—depends on that.
ET: You also have a Colorado Ranch you rent out. What are the details of that property?
Ron Hatfield: I have a great ranch called the Rawah ranch. It’s an Orvis fishing ranch that occupies 250 wilderness-surrounded acres in northern Colorado. It boasts two and a half miles of the Laramie River and we have cabins and horses and a beautiful lodge, as well as great food. It’s open from May to the middle of September. We can handle around 30 guests at any time in our great cabins with beautiful furnishings. It’s a special place with a great atmosphere. The weekly rate for an adult is $2,450, children under 12 are $1,750 a week. We have a two-night, all-inclusive getaway package for $675 per person. People rent the whole ranch out for weddings and corporate events, all of which is negotiable, though the approximate rate is about $20,000-$25,000 for a weekly takeover. You can fly privately right into Laramie, which is about a 45-minute drive.
ET: Do you any closing thoughts?
Ron Hatfield: What we have created here is a world-class community and I think that part of our philosophy is, when you buy a home from us, you get something of real value that doesn’t necessarily relate to price. It relates to what it means to you and I think the community we created gives you the opportunity to meet people in a way you never would have before. You can make friends and take them back to the States and continue to expand your circle of friends. It’s a valuable life experience to be a part of this community because the relationships you build here will carry you through the rest of your life.