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Don't wait. Find the neighborhood you love and do not worry about the cost. I have had many friends say that they wish the prices were like they were 10 years ago. They are not and never will be. We have seen property values continue to climb as fewer and fewer properties become available. On a rather amusing note, when coming to Sayulita 17 years ago and after buying a villa at Villa Amor, I went to a psychic I had known for years. She has since passed, but she was truly extraordinary. Over our 20-year friendship, she had made predictions in my life that turned out to be extremely accurate. I asked her about Sayulita's future prospects back in 2004. She said that she saw growth here for the next 40 years. Well, we are not even halfway there yet, so I think this town will continue to boom.Can you please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
I am Dennis Duff. I live in the northern tip of the California wine country, just above Napa Valley, with my intimate partner, Ellen. I am an entrepreneur, who sold my internet marketing company before making investments in Sayulita.
What is it about Sayulita that made you want to buy a vacation rental here?
Seventeen years ago my daughter told me she wanted to have a destination wedding and heard that Sayulita was a special place. So, my ex-wife, Joan, my daughter, her fiance and I headed south to Sayulita for Thanksgiving in 2004 to determine if this would be a good place for her wedding. We instantly fell in love with this very special town and booked her wedding for March 2005. And I immediately started looking for property.
How long after your first visit to Sayulita did you purchase your house/lot?
Well, as crazy as this may seem, I came back to Sayulita two weeks after our Thanksgiving visit and bought our first property. I bought a villa at Villa Amor, where my daughter was to be married the following year. And then about a year later, I sold the villa in order to buy Casa Paloma, so Joan and I could accommodate our growing family and create the privacy and comfort we desired.
Did you build or remodel your home? If so, please tell us one of the classic "you won't believe this" stories.
Casa Paloma was an older house and required a major remodel. I asked our neighbors, LaRue and Caroline Schock, who had owned property in Sayulita for over 40 years, who they recommended as an architect and they suggested Miguel Valverde. I met Miguel, who spoke excellent English, and asked him for his qualifications. He said he had done Cancun. I said, "Oh, you built some houses in Cancun before moving to Sayulita?" "No," he said, "Cancun - I designed much of Cancun, the hotels, the airport, the roads, restaurants, etc." He then told me he also designed and built a house for the president of Mexico. OK, he definitely is qualified to do our remodel. So Miguel did the design and ended up becoming a great friend. On recommendation, I also hired Juan Chavez, who also became a dear friend and awesome foreman. He spoke no English and I spoke no Spanish, so it was quite a challenge as I was constantly looking up words in my pocket dictionary and making numerous hand gestures. The final results of the remodel were simply amazing!
How long have you owned your home in Sayulita?
The first property was purchased in 2004, then Casa Paloma in 2006.
Can you share with us some of the changes you have seen around town?
Wow, there are too many to mention. In 2004 there were only dirt roads. There was no internet, no cell phone service, and only a couple of houses in the Nanzal area. It was primarily a fishing village with a few tourists. It never felt crowded. During the low season - May to November - there were only locals in town. Almost all the restaurants were closed and you had the beach to yourself. Now it is a year-round vacation destination for people from all over the world.
What in particular made you decide on this house rather than other listings available at the time?
Great question. When we decided to buy Casa Paloma, Joan and I had already spent 3 months looking at everything available in Sayulita and other more distant properties from Bucerias to San Blas. We ended up narrowing it down to about 6 houses in Sayulita. Casa Paloma was our least favorite house, but we loved the location and it definitely had the best views of the surf break, ocean, and Nayarit coastline and it was a quick, easy walk to the beach and town center. So, we decided that it was best to go with the great location and do a remodel. We are so glad we did.
How would you describe the neighborhood your vacation rental is in?
I like to refer to our neighborhood as Pacific Heights. It kind of reminds me of that neighborhood in San Francisco, the city I was born in because it is on a hill overlooking the Pacific, has the best views in the city, and it has many beautiful homes there too. People also call our neighborhood the Central-South Hill area. Our neighborhood was the first developed by the ex-pats that came to Sayulita over 50 years ago. It has truly gorgeous ocean views and it is less than 2 blocks to the main beach and town plaza. The small hill gets nice ocean breezes, and you get to town and the beach by walking a block-long pathway that meanders through a landscaped garden and you do not need a car. All the restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance. As a matter of fact, when Joan and I decided to buy more vacation rental properties over the years, we again looked all over Sayulita and always came back to our neighborhood.
What is the most interesting guest you have hosted at your home?
Gosh, there have been so many wonderful and interesting guests. It is really impossible to single one out. It is a joy to share their excitement and enthusiasm for Sayulita and hear of their desire to return again and again with more family and friends. There is one Swiss gentleman that now lives in Alberta, Canada, that does stand out because he drives down in his small camper with his wife from Banff to stay at Casa Paloma for 2 weeks in the winter, while the rest of his large family flies into PV. He is approaching 80 but still is super active and full of life and loves stopping at Casa Paloma.
What are your favorite things to recommend your guests do while in Sayulita?
There are so many. Besides all the great and varied things to do in town and at the beach, it’s wonderful spending time just relaxing at the pool and letting the views restore you. Another favorite thing is to have Dora, our housekeeper, cook a wonderful authentic Mexican meal at the house. There’s also walking through the local graveyard on the way to Playa Los Muertos beach, taking a trip with Chica Locca to the Marietas Islands for great snorkeling, going whale watching, deep sea fishing, horseback riding or zip lining.
What do you feel sets your house apart from other vacation rentals in Sayulita?
The incredible location and unobstructed panoramic views, I think, are unsurpassed. The heated pool with awesome ocean views, the rooftop palapa area with 360-degree views of the Nayarit coast, the town, and Monkey Mountain are all very special. You can even watch the surfers right below the house and decide when is the best time to hit the beach. But, what is also unique about Casa Paloma is that Joan and I traveled throughout Mexico and purchased rare and interesting art and artifacts from all over. We took great pride and enjoyment in filling Casa Paloma with beautiful Mexican art. With the help of our friend and architect, Miguel, we have been able to preserve the feeling of old Mexico with modern comfort and conveniences.
What advice do you have for someone searching for a home/land in Sayulita?
Don't wait. Find the neighborhood you love and do not worry about the cost. I have had many friends say that they wish the prices were like they were 10 years ago. They are not and never will be. We have seen property values continue to climb as fewer and fewer properties become available. On a rather amusing note, when coming to Sayulita 17 years ago and after buying a villa at Villa Amor, I went to a psychic I had known for years. She has since passed, but she was truly extraordinary. Over our 20-year friendship, she had made predictions in my life that turned out to be extremely accurate. I asked her about Sayulita's future prospects back in 2004. She said that she saw growth here for the next 40 years. Well, we are not even halfway there yet, so I think this town will continue to boom.