Twenty nine years ago, in 1986, Suzanne Poulsen, decided that she was tired of the cold weather in Lake Tahoe, and talked her husband into coming to Mexico and buying land. “We drove from Mazatlán to Manzanillo and drove down every road that went to the beach. When we drove into Sayulita, I knew this was where I wanted to be. It had an amazing energy. It was like a vortex,” exclaimed Suzanne.
At the time, there was very little development in Sayulita and only a handful of gringos called Sayulita home. Horses, chickens, and cattle roamed the area and what is currently Villa Amor, was called Cow Palace, due to the immense number of cattle in the area. The only accommodation in town was the Sayulita Trailer Park & Bungalows, and the B&B, Tia Adriana (currently Hotel Sayulita Central), which at that time did not allow children. Restaurants were also sparse, with Costenos being the only option, aside from an elderly woman who prepared chili rellenos given a day’s notice.
When Suzanne’s husband returned to the states, Suzanne stayed behind to purchase land. She didn’t speak a lick of Spanish, but managed to find a lot, and purchased it via check for $2,200 USD. She had the land cleared, fenced it, and for the next 17 years, built her dream home little by little, even hauling rocks from the beach in Litibu.“I worked very hard, starting at zero. I had a dream. I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to give up. If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be tenacious,” Suzanne confided.
In 1999, after many years of going back and forth between the United States and Sayulita, Suzanne and her children, Taylor, age 4, and Nicholas, age 9, moved here full time. (Her children Summer and Cash were both attending college in the states.)
“At that time, I had nothing going on. There was no work for me. But, I can do design. It’s my passion. So, I decided I needed to open a business,” stated Suzanne. In 2004, Summer, who was an independent designer for Dolce and Gabbana, moved to Sayulita to open a store, Buddha Gallery & Spa, with her mother.
“When we first opened the store, we had nothing to put in it. We got furniture, painted it, and made things,” said Suzanne. “We were happy if we made 200 pesos a day,” she added.
They worked hard and remained positive, living on fish, rice, and beans, and over the years, their hard work and optimistic attitudes has paid off. Buddha Gallery & Spa is now a very successful boutique and spa, stocked with bohemian style clothing and accessories from over the world, as well as a line of clothing they design themselves.
In 2007, they expanded on their business, opening Buddha Lounge, and at this time, the only other bars in Sayulita were Tigre's and Red Dragon. Last year, they changed the concept of Buddha Lounge and renamed it Zen Garden. This rooftop space overlooks the ocean and has an elegant, yet relaxed ambiance. The Mediterranean/Asian cuisine is high quality and the live music adds to the magic of this restaurant and lounge.
“I love Sayulita. I’ve traveled all over the world. There really is no other place that I want to live. Sayulita is my home,” exclaimed Suzanne.