Can you please tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Tom McElhenney (owner of Villa PCaso), and I am on my 3rd 15-year adventure in my life. For the first, I became a psychologist, and I worked with emotionally disturbed, dependent, neglected youth in various government agencies around Houston, TX, while getting my degree. After that, I took a three-year sabbatical, bought a home in Austin, TX, remodeled it, and won a design excellence award. I went back to work in Austin, managing a dropout prevention program in a middle school. After two years of counseling the principal, teachers, and counselors, I was toast! For the next one and a half years, my parrot and I traveled the west coast and desert areas of Arizona in a 34 ½’ Airstream motorhome, dragging a perfect VW Thing behind. It was awesome! I’d pick friends up at one airport and drop them off at the next. Then it was time to get to work again, so I sold the motorhome and started a high-end retail plant nursery. I did this because if I had my own nursery, I could buy palm trees and cycads cheaper. True. Park Place Gardens was a roaring success. (My business card looked like a deed from Monopoly and was the same size and finish).
So, what brought you to Sayulita?
After disaster struck on 9/11, I decided to go south of the border. I’ve been coming to Mexico off and on my whole life, and lived in San Miguel de Allende one summer at 15 years old. I had driven young surfers up and down the Pacific coast in the 80’s, so I knew most of the beach from pueblos, but somehow we missed Sayulita. One week after Hurricane Kenna ravaged the area, I drove into Sayulita with a friend, got to ChocoBanana, looked towards the beach down the dirt road, and I knew this was the coolest pueblo on the coast, yet only 25 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport! But what actually brought me to Sayulita? Palm trees and cycads. Yes. Palm trees strike again!
What is it about Sayulita that made you want to buy a vacation rental here?
My first morning in Sayulita, I was enjoying a cup o’ java on the porch and a Military Macaw flew by… and BAM! Ok, I am here! Did I say I love parrots? That day, Ian (now of Sayulita Life), showed me three properties at lunchtime. We met again to write a contract on one house while sitting on the beach! I slept in it the next two nights! That house never closed.
How long after your first visit to Sayulita did you purchase your house/lot?
I spent two months the summer of 2003 housesitting cats for Ian and Kerry, hiking up hills, and looking for property. I had to have the north coast view with the marine layers, which is why I fell in love with the house that never closed. However, the next tall hill over had a huge ugly, crazy, house on it, with not even one stick of plant on the property. A true eye sore if there ever was one. But out of every window was a spectacular view… 360 degrees from the roof top areas. Nothing else in Sayulita had that. That "escombro” (ruins in English) house became Villa PCaso and was closed on two days before Christmas in 2003.
How long have you owned your home in Sayulita?
Fourteen years in October.
Did you build or remodel your home? If so, please tell us one of the classic "you won't believe this" stories?
Advice, and this should be a law, do not attempt to remodel a huge concrete house. After three different contractors, all my money, and 3.5 years, Villa PCaso was finally finished for the first renter.
Who is the most interesting guest you have hosted at your home?
Elton John and K.D.Lang’s record producer and his family were the first guests that stayed in Villa PCaso. Further speaking on a celebrity level that have stayed at Villa PCaso, due to it’s secure privacy, are the head designer of NIKE shoes, a famous writer, a British comic television star, and a U.S. television star.
What advice do you have for someone searching for a home/land in Sayulita?
I am happy to give advice to anyone that may be interested in learning what not to do when buying in Sayulita. I could write a book, if that was my profession. Maybe that will be in the next 15 years of my life. Things are certainly different now for sure! But, anyone looking for property now, I would say: 1.) Rent for a minimum of one year 2.) Don’t buy in “paradise” if you want to always “LIVE" the “paradise” feeling when you are here. Living carefree here while renting is living in paradise. Once ownership responsibilities are added to the mix, it no longer has the same carefree feeling! (In my humble opinion).
How would you describe the neighborhood your vacation rental is in?
I love it. I am in the most quiet, secret, little unknown area of town, where there is always peace. (Well, when the house across the street is finished or the huge projects down the road are done… Ack!)
Can you share with us some of the changes you have seen around town?
The changes in Sayulita, for the most part, have been positive. However, I fear the infrastructure is not keeping up with the developments and that is not a good thing. But, as I have learned the hard way over many years, somehow it always works out for the better! Also, somehow the friends I have made here have a much more genuine quality than those I have back home. They are way more interesting and full of life! Most have lived in many different areas of the world, but they all live here now. Ask yourself, “Why is that?” My answer: There is a magic energy in Sayulita. And who doesn’t love magic?
To see a video of Villa PCaso, click here.
Before Remodel and After Remodel Photos Below: