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Can you please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
I am Dennis Duff. My wife and I live in the northern tip of the California wine country, just above Napa Valley. I am an entrepreneur, who sold my internet marketing company before making our major investments in Sayulita, which we now call Dreamer Circle Properties. My wife, Joan, is an artist and designer. We have two daughters and three granddaughters who are the delights of our lives.
What is it about Sayulita that made you want to buy a vacation rental here?
Twelve years ago our youngest daughter told us she wanted to have a destination wedding and heard that Sayulita was a special place. So, we 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 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. We bought a villa at Villa Amor, where our daughter was to be married the following year. And then about a year later, we sold our villa in order to buy our own house and land so we 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.
We bought an older house and did a major remodel of it. We 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 perfect 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 my best friend in Mexico. 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?
We bought our first property in 2004 and now own 4 vacation rental properties all next to each other.
Can you share with us some of the changes you have seen around town?
Wow, there are too many to mention. When we first came to Sayulita, 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, we 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 an easy walk to the beach and town. 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 expats that came to Sayulita over 50 years ago. It has 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 we decided to buy more vacation rental properties over the years, we again looked all over Sayulita and always came back to our neighborhood. We have built or remodeled 4 houses, called Dreamer Circle Properties, now all in a one-block area.
What is the most interesting guest you have hosted at your home?
Gosh, we have had so many wonderful and interesting guests. It is really impossible to single one out. We love to meet new people. It is a joy for us 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 gentlemen that now lives in Alberta, Canada, that does stand out because he drives down from Banff to stay with us for 2 weeks in the winter in his small camper with his wife, while the rest of his large family flies into PV. He is approaching 80 but still is super active and full of life.
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, we recommend spending time just relaxing at the pool and letting the views restore you. We recommend having Dora, our housekeeper, cook a wonderful authentic Mexican meal at the house. We suggest walking through the local grave yard 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 great location and unobstructed panoramic views, I think, are unsurpassed. The heated pool with awesome ocean views, our 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 our properties is that my wife and I have traveled throughout Mexico and have purchased rare and interesting art and artifacts from all over. We take great pride and enjoyment in filling our houses 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 we came to Sayulita 12 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 there for the next 40 years. Well, we are not even halfway there yet.