Playa Away in Mazatlan

t has the seaside championship golf course, boutique luxury hotel and a variety of upscale real estate options, but Estrella Del Mar, located just outside of Mazatlán, is far from your ordinary coastal golf development. What really makes the 816-acre golf and beach resort really stand out is Colorado-based developer Pat Butler’s dedication to the community and environment.

“My business philosophy is to become a part of the community,” says Butler, who supports local police departments, schools, scholarships and other charitable causes in Mexico through his Universal Golf Foundation. “I don’t just want to build something and leave. Outreach starts with us and grows into the residential part of our business. A lot of our homeowners use their own talents and funds to give back. That gives me a lot of gratification.”

Butler, who helms Colorado-based Club Acquisition Company, also developed El Dorado Ranch in San Felipe, Baja among others, is also an enthusiastic environmentalist. Estrella Del Mar’s Turtle Sanctuary, which is a homeowner and visitor favorite, is one of the resort’s most distinctive preservation initiatives. Tucked into a gap between two residential buildings, the habitat takes up a small building and a covered above ground saltwater pool where more than 30,000 baby Olive Sea Turtles are hatched, nurtured and eventually released back into the sea each year, increasing the endangered species’ survival rate.  It’s a rare opportunity for homeowners and visitors to observe and even interact with one the ocean’s exquisite–and adorable–natural wonders. Other green efforts include a 10-step on-site water purification and bottling plant and use of a patented SeaDwarf Paspalum grass hybrid that’s saltwater-tolerant.

Let’s not forget about the rest of the Estrella Del Mar’s facilities, amenities and real estate options, which are the main reasons why warm weather seekers from all over the U.S. and Canada make the development their second home.

First there’s the Robert Trent Jones Jr.-crafted golf course, which for the first time will host the Canadian Tour’s Mexican PGA Championship on May 5-8. The 7,015-yard layout features more than 20 acres of lakes and generously wide palm-lined fairways that filter into difficult green complexes with large well-placed bunkers. The putting surfaces blend crests and troughs that reflect the waves that crash along six seaside holes.

“Estrella Del Mar is a fantastic championship golf course that can hold a tournament of this caliber,” says Mexican professional golfer and Mazatlán resident Jorge Corral. “There’s no question this course is going to provide a great test for a field of some of the world’s up-and-coming professionals.”

The casual 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, which combines a fully-stocked golf shop, restaurant, bar, fitness center an expansive patio overlooking the beach, is an idyllic setting to relax post round with a margarita and some local fare. For Denver resident Chip Bromfield, relaxing is what Estrella Del Mar is all about and, to him, its appeal is in the strong sense of community, laidback atmosphere and variety of activities.

“This is not a snooty place. It’s very down-to-earth,” says Bromfield, who owns a two-bedroom condominium at Estrella Del Mar. “It’s not the Ritz, but that’s exactly what we like about it. We’ve met a lot of great people from Colorado and found lots in common. It’s a cost-effective and affordable second home destination for the average Joe.”
That’s not to say, however, you don’t get a lot of home for your money. Each four-story half-moon shaped residential building wrap around sprawling pool complexes and feature units decked out with luxurious appointments, like granite countertops, GE Profile appliances, travertine marble floors and dark hardwood cabinetry. Unobstructed views of the resorts more than three miles of private white sand beach are also standard. Current offerings range in size from about 1,000 to 3,000 square feet and in price from $325K to just shy of $1 million along with beachside and golf course lots starting at $89K.

“Compare Estrella Del Mar to similar developments in Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta,” adds Butler. “You’ll find ownership here is considerably less expensive versus other popular Mexican resort destinations.”

But you don’t have to be a homeowner to enjoy Estrella Del Mar. Opened last June, Las Villas Hotel and Spa, situated just down the beach from the golf clubhouse and residential buildings, offers 71 elegantly appointed guest rooms with features you would find at much more expensive hotels, including marble floors, granite countertops, glass enclosed rain showers and private balconies. Common areas are decorated with intricate tile mosaics and numerous water fountains enhance the hotel’s tranquil tone. And speaking of affordability, golf vacation packages at Las Villas start at only $312 per person and include three nights lodging, transportation to/from the airport, which is only 10 minutes away, daily breakfast and four rounds of golf.

Although the economic downturn has hampered its growth, Estrella Del Mar is thriving and Butler is committed to its long-term continued development. Once complete, it will include at least another nine golf holes, 715 condominiums, 1,200 homes and a 300-room hotel that could break ground by the end of 2011. It’s an investment that will provide as much gratification as Butler takes in his community and environmental efforts.

Estrella Del Mar