Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cruise news and more...

Travel, a nasty cold and family visiting over the holidays sidelined this blog for the month of December but it's a new year and time for a new start. So here goes...

Our cruise to the Sea of Cortez was a resounding success on every level, particularly the comfort level. The air was warm, the seas were calm and the food and service onboard the MS Ryndam were excellent. But best of all, we got to experience Loreto from an entirely new perspective.

We arrived in Loreto early on the morning of Dec. 17 to cloudy skies and mild temperatures. A tender ferried us the short distance from the ship to the marina, which was busy with fishermen and pelicans on alert for a taste of the catch of the day.

For the first time I felt a sense of coming home as George and I walked along the Malecon... a bit premature, I know, but the feeling was there nonetheless. And it felt good.

Right away we noticed that the new hotel - La Mision - is almost a mission accomplished. It looks to be a beautiful hotel, but we didn't try for a closer look as our time in Loreto was very limited. We did notice that the upper floors appeared to be finished as many of the rooms had draperies. The pool also looked to be near completion. It certainly does add an elegant look to that section of the Malecon.

Our first stop was the rental car shop on Paseo Miguel Hidalgo, where we were greeted first by a salesman for The Villa Group and not the Budget Rental guy as we expected. That was a surprise, but not really an annoyance because we were so happy to be back in Loreto. Eddie, as he insisted we call him, was full of information about how he could save us money on our rental, as well as a new home. He was actually pretty nice, but it's a little worrisome that this particular group of salespeople seems to have taken over the streets of Loreto. During our visit in October we were accosted by this sales group several times as we walked through town.

Speaking of streets, the city did a wonderful job in repaving Miguel Hidalgo. It's now a lovely brick (OK, faux brick) street with wide flagstone sidewalks that lead into town. It would have been nice to take a leisurely stroll along those much improved sidewalks, but we were in a hurry to get to Loreto Bay!

As we were driving toward Nopolo, we decided to take the new south entrance, Vialidad, into the development, as we'd read it was now open though not finished. It was obvious that a good deal of progress had been made on the street and the Paseo since our visit in October, but there is still a lot of work remaining. The walkways along the main Paseo are coming along nicely and will make for an even lovelier stroll than the one previously mentioned. But for now, the entire area still looks like a construction site.

After taking some quick photos (posted to the right) we made our way into Agua Viva where our casa is located. We could see from the Paseo that no work had been done on our Encantada and I'd be lying if I said that didn't bother us. But there were still workmen about in our cluster and throughout the area. After almost four months of seeing no progress on our home it's hard to stay upbeat, but we were able to take photos for our cluster neighbors showing progress and that helped - at least a little. We did get some great photos from our tower showing the views we'll have from every direction. Spectacular!

After spending time taking photos and engaging in too much speculation about why nothing has been done on our home, George and I headed toward the new Marriott Discovery Center and lunch with our former sales associate, Laurie Sanborn, a Loreto Bay home owner who now works for Marriott.

In an earlier post, I made an off-the-cuff comment indicating exasperation with the new project. The comment was ill-advised because I didn't know enough then to make an informed judgment. And it turns out I was wrong in thinking the project will be a detriment to Loreto Bay. My initial concern - and George's too - was that the buildings will be six stories high. But the buildings and layout are so beautiful, I can't see how the height of the structures will take away from the landscape and skyline of Nopolo in any way.

The Discovery Center is housed in the main building of what was once The Whale's Inn - talk about a nice piece of real estate. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, which Laurie said will be a feature of the development, along with several pools, a spa, restaurants and other amenities. We were impressed with the entire project and although the condo concept isn't for us, it seems obvious (now) that the project will only enhance our investment. For more information and photos, go to - it's definitely worth a look.

After a wonderful lunch on the terrace with Laurie and her charming friend, Ed, we headed back for a meeting with LB's Hector Morales. Or rather, we headed back for George's meeting with Hector. I was determined to take it easy by the hotel pool. Sorry, George!

According to George, Hector was optimistic that the first phase (ours!) of Agua Viva will be completed by June. Insistent on that subject, as a matter of fact. He also said that homes in default won't be completed, which isn't good news for home owners who aren't in default. Having a partially completed home - or empty lot - next door isn't a pleasant prospect for anyone.

Both Hector and Jesus Gonzalez offered words of encouragement about the project and our casa. They're both so charming and friendly it's hard not to believe them. But, ultimately, it's Re:play calling the shots, and, as we all know, they are not nearly as open, friendly and forthcoming.

We'll be posting more on our trip - and any other noteworthy news - in the coming days...

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