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The Villa Group Visionary
By Sylvia Mendoza
Living in Cabo San Lucas for 12 years was like a year-round vacation for resort entrepreneur, Owen Perry. He enjoyed the great outdoors there, especially deep sea fishing. It was a piece of heaven.
Then in 1995, he drove through Loreto.
“I saw this oasis,” Perry says. “The highway goes above the ocean. On the other side are mountains. It was so picturesque, it took my breath away.”
When he and his wife returned to Loreto six years ago, they stayed at a small hotel and relaxed against the gorgeous backdrop. Perry saw the promise of a luxurious resort getaway.
Through his company, The Villa Group Resorts, he was able to buy thousands of acres of secluded land. In March 2011, Phase I of Villas del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, the first 5-star resort in the area, opened. “We were there at the right place at the right time,” says Perry. In developing the project, they applauded and complied with the environmental laws. “We felt a need to respect this incredible land.” A national sea park surrounds the area. Perry lists the outdoor offerings such as deep sea fishing, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, pristine beaches, and hiking up waterfalls.
Since leaving his Rhode Island home and six siblings at the age of 19, Perry has had an eye for stunning escapes. He was grateful for his tight-knit Navy family that provided a work ethic that would take him places. “After graduation, there weren’t a lot of chances to do something spectacular there,” Perry says. “I wanted to do something spectacular.”
His journey started in Hawaii. “It actually was tough going for a while,” he says. As a street promoter for a hotel, he passed out flyers inviting tourists to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. It was his first taste of the flourishing tourism industry. “There were 70,000 hotel rooms in a square mile,” he says. “It was like tourism on steroids.”
In the early 1980s, the idea of timeshares was simmering. He learned that aspect of the business and eventually was promoted to management. Vacation Resorts International approached him to work in Mexico. “I thought, ‘Where’s Mexico?’ but couldn’t pass up the offer of a two week vacation to check it out.”
Puerto Vallarta with its cobblestone streets was quaint and more magical than he ever expected. He stayed. His interest in timeshares grew.
After two years, when he was only 27-years-old, he started his own company. With Luz Maria Torres, who already had a strong hotel background and Fernando Gonzalez, whose expertise was in concept and strategy, they would become The Villa Group Resorts. “We had fun with it. Both partners had entrepreneurial spirit. We were ready.”
Their business ventures revolved around the timeshare, resort, and tourism industries. They converted condos into 5-star resorts. Success came quickly. They have worked with more than 60,000 timeshare owners over 26 years. In Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Loreto, it has developed resorts such as Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa del Mar Beach and Spa Resort, among many others.
“Vacations are a good thing to have in life and timeshares are still a good product,” says Perry.
The Villa Group creates resort and timeshare ownership, where a client can buy a condo or a fraction of it and get a deed and title, explains Perry. “It’s a form of ownership that will only grow in the future.” A client need only call a few days ahead of arrival to ensure fine details and amenities like pool service, gourmet kitchens, spas, maid service, and activity planning, are taken care of. “They trust us to deliver.”
Along the way, Perry has invested in other tourism-related businesses like restaurants, cruise ships and charter boats. There’s The Black Pearl. Felipe’s. La Dolce. Desperados. Delicias. “They call us serial entrepreneurs.” He laughs. “I enjoy what I do. It doesn’t feel like work.”
He hopes his four children see that passion. “I want my kids to know that if you work hard enough, you can have whatever you want—but you also have to have a life.” He built a summer house in San Diego for that break and take family vacations. They visit Hawaii annually. “It’s a dream place,” he says. “Once you get that Polynesian in your blood, you can’t let go of it.”
The Villa Group will continue to develop luxury resorts and timeshares that offer a chance to de-stress through relaxation, adventure or romantic getaways. “I don’t want to be Donald Trump but I want to keep creating the kinds of vacation places people truly want,” he says.
Loreto, he believes, is such a place. A writer once described Loreto as a way to ‘get off the treadmill of life’ says Perry. “It’s true. There are so many islands here. You can find your own cove, live life and breathe.”