Estrella del Mar: Stone’s Throw

By Nancy Clark

Halfway through the Denver-to-Mazatlan flight, you become saturated with anticipation. The winter-wear you left Denver bundled in comfortably to fend off below-freezing weather is suddenly constricting. You order “una cerveza, por favor” just because. And a few sips into it you begin to notice a rhythmic lapping. That’s not the cola on ice the guy next to you has poised on his seat tray. It’s the ocean motion in your memory. It’s all coming back to you…just like riding a bike, they say

There’s nothing like disembarking an aircraft and then having to queue up for a 2-hour bus ride to your reward: the beach. In truth, nothing resembles that in the minimal quarter hour distance between Mazatlan’s airport and Estrella del Mar. It’s almost too easy.

Arrival at the master-planned Estrella del Mar Golf & Beach Resort is like, well, it is supposed to be. A nano-second from the airport to sunscreen. If you thought looking good was half the battle in life; being close-in is even better.

Situated on Isla de la Piedra (Stone Island), the 816-acres-large Estrella del Mar is nestled into a perfect peninsula. With a nearly prescient wave of the hand, the guard at the gate flags you and your grin on through security and you slather on the SPF 30 as you wind past the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed championship golf course, inhaling the sea-level air with purpose. You have business to do here and that objective is largely about recovering your vacation self. Remember him? Remember her?

J. Patrick Butler knows exactly how you feel. In part, because he’s a visionary. When Butler’s Club Acquistion Company (CAC) and Paladin Realty bought into Estrella del Mar in 2004, it marked his second venture into Mexican resort development. In May of 1994, CAC had acquired a 35,000,-acre retirement and vacation property known as El Dorado Ranch just north of San Felipe, a small coastal fishing village on the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California Norte, Mexico. That move proved to be a sound investment for snowbirds retreating from Colorado and popular markets of Arizona and California.

Endless beaches, some 3.5 miles of beachfront in total, were far more appealing to Butler and to the droves of visitors who easily find their way to Estrella del Mar’s oceanfront hotel that boasts amenities like tennis courts and an 8,000 square-foot clubhouse, the domain of the free-at-last vacationing businessman and woman. For those who yearn to get back to nature, the turtle preserve does wonders for grown-ups and children alike.

Best yet, the country-club lifestyle of Estrella del Mar affords the wanna-stays the opportunity to buy into permanent residence. Eight hundred condos and 1,200 homes are incorporated into the overall master plan totaling 45 acres worth $500 million in sales in lot value only, not including the price of the individual homes.

Despite the global downturn in the economy, Estrella del Mar continues to enjoy the attention of buyers who are recession-proof. New projects in 2009 include progress on the 3rd phase of the condominium complex and enlargement of the Hotel Las Villas. The 47-room addition to the hotel including a restaurant, spa, gym, business center, library and special events center is 90% done projected to open this May. And work continues on the La Lagunita Condos with the delivery of 40 new Phase III units in February. Estrella del Mar has spent almost 2 million dollars on the project’s own water purification Plus, negotiations are under way to sign up an international brand hotel to be built on site.

The 11-year-old Estrella del Mar Turtle Sanctuary is symbolic of the progress. Created with the single goal of protecting and conserving the sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea species), the project is eons more sophisticated than other sanctuaries dotting the coastline. Every summer without fail, the Olive Sea Turtles return to their native beaches from hundreds of miles away to lay their eggs. Serious about protecting this endangered species, Estrella del Mar affords residents and guests the opportunity to view the creatures up-close-and-personal in an architecturally stunning viewing center adjacent to the turtle boardwalk, beachfront set aside for the newborns to make their way back to the ocean—the cycle of life repeats.

Somehow just observing this prehistoric ritual is enough to make you silence your cell phone for the duration. Everything you need to connect with is suddenly within touching distance. The people you care most about are enjoying the same sense of retreat from the ordinary that you are…removed from your daily grind, absent emails (albeit they will reach you here if you want). The only thing that matters from this vantage point is what’s within reach…the best-seller you’ve been meaning to read, the fact that you don’t have to dash anywhere, the conversation with your spouse about nothing and never about the repairs waiting for you back at home. The repairs can wait. The SPF 30 can’t.

For information on Estrella del Mar, contact Ralph Destito 303 731 2629.

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