Construction is expected to begin next month on a project that aims
to convert the region just north of Loreto on the Baja California
Sur into a major tourist destination over the next 15 years.
To be named the Villages at Loreto Bay, the $2 billion
development will include 5,000 residences organized in a series of
pedestrian-friendly, planned villages. The creation of a town
center is also planned, as well as adding more hotels, a beach
club, spas, golf courses, a marina, cultural and recreational
facilities, a nature preserve and a solar farm.
The project is a partnership between Mexico’s National Trust for
Tourism Development (Fonatur) and a Canadian non-profit
organization called The Trust for Sustainable Development.
In the 1970s, Fonatur selected five locations for development as
tourist destinations, including Cancun, Los Cabos, Ixtapa and
Huatulco. Loreto Bay, which is on the Sea of Cortez about 700 miles
south of San Diego, is the last of the five, and the closest to the
United States and Canada.
Two hotels built by Fonatur, the Camino Real and the Whales Inn,
currently exist on the property, and there is a tennis center and
golf course. Roads, sewer service and electricity are also in place
for construction of the homes.
One goal of the project is to draw Mexicans, Americans and
Canadians looking for an affordable coastal vacation home. Prices
for homes at Loreto Bay range from under $200,000 to $2 million.
When the project began in January, officials were already reporting
an estimated $30 million in sales. And recent changes in Mexican
real estate law are expected to make it easier for foreigners to
own property there.
Home sales have “gone way beyond our wildest expectations,” said
James Grogan, president and chief executive officer of the Loreto
Bay Co. developing the site and former chair of the Arizona Tourism
and Sports Authority.
The goal is not to create a “walled, wealthy gringo compound”
with “high-rises choking off the beach,” said Grogan. The
courtyard-style single-family homes will be designed for
indoor/outdoor living, and all will be within walking distance of
stores, restaurants and nightlife.
There will be no timeshare, said Grogan. But homeowners will
have the option of putting their homes into a rental program.
Emphasizing the protection of the region’s environment, the
Loreto Bay project is planned as a “sustainable community,” meaning
it will create more water and energy than the community consumes
using solar and wind power. About 5,000 of the project’s 8,000
acres will be maintained as a nature preserve. And Grogan said
conservation groups have asked the development group to rebuild the
natural estuaries that have been damaged by the Baja highway that
runs through the area.
“We will create more habitat than we found when we arrived,”
said Grogan. Loreto Bay is a federally protected marine park and
commercial fishing is outlawed, but sport-fishing is allowed.
“It’s a wonderful area for enthusiasts who want to enjoy the
water,” said Grogan.
One percent of all revenues from the project will go to a
foundation that will assist villagers with job training, housing
and business development, added Grogan.
Loreto, the 300-year-old village nearby, has a population of
about 12,000, and it is home to the first Jesuit mission in the
The region is served by an international airport, which may be
developed further to bring in more international carriers as the
destination grows in popularity.
The Loreto Bay Co. is planning fam trips for travel agents and