As I write this message, I’m looking out over my second-story balcony at a spectacular sight. As far as I can see, there is nothing but waves smashing on pink-sand beaches . . . steep, breathtaking cliffs . . . and rolling green hills. Sitting here in my second home, I can’t think of any place I’ve ever been — in Canada, in Europe, in Russia, or in Asia — that’s more impressive than this. And we are doing everything we can think of to preserve this natural beauty.
But what we’ve undertaken at Rancho Santana is enormous. I am one of the primary people involved in its development . . . and yet I can’t imagine the eventual outcome.
In a few minutes, I’ll be attending a meeting of the security committee for the ranch. We’ll be talking about how we can continue to upgrade the already-very-good security that we enjoy here. (I leave my doors unlocked at night with no worries.)
Tomorrow, I’ll be at a lunch meeting, where we’ll be talking about our newest projects, including the town-center complex we are building, the 15 “casitas” going up on the hill across from the clubhouse, the poolside bar, the health spa, and the administration complex.
There is so much going on here. It’s like watching a city being built in a few short years. I’m excited and proud to be a part of it. And I’m also 100% sure that if BB and I had any idea as to what we were getting into when we began this thing, we never would have attempted it.
We wouldn’t have gotten involved, because, after all, we are publishers, not builders. And if there’s one thing we’ve both learned from our combined 60 years of business experience, it is this: Stick to what you know.
In this case, we thought (foolishly) that we could buy a big piece of land, sell a few lots to pay for it, and then keep the bulk of it to use personally sometime in the future.
What happened was very different. As the roads between the ranch and its several stunning beaches were being cut, a thought occurred to us: This could become something really special — a sort of first-class seaside resort in a spectacular natural setting.
We had, at that time, a single guy working on this. Five years later, we employ about 250 people as office and construction workers, executives, cooks, Spanish teachers — you name it. The little, neighboring towns of Limon Uno and Limon Dos are growing up along with us. New homes are going up there, additions are being made to old houses, and two nightclubs are being built.
Progress is not possible without problems, and we’ve had our share. When I think about what we’ve survived — the shoddy workmanship, the thieving partners, the impenetrable local legal system, and the impossibility of getting anything done on time — I’m amazed we didn’t pack up and leave a long time ago.
After years of our scoring minor victories in the midst of overwhelming chaos, things are finally starting to take shape in Rancho Santana. Thanks in part to the efforts our lot owners’ association has put into keeping standards high, property values have more than tripled — and promise to keep heading skyward.
And just as things are starting to settle down and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, what do you think BB does? He sends out a memo suggesting that we do the same thing further south . . . on a scale that will dwarf this one. The big idea is that Rancho Santana is simply the tail end of a leviathan (see “Word to the Wise,” below) of a real-estate and resort development project that will stretch from where we are all the way down to San Juan del Sur. “A Riviera on the Pacific” is what BB calls it.
It’s a crazy idea — way too big for the likes of us. Yet if we could do it . . . that would be pretty wonderful.