The joke among friends, when you say you are going to visit David and Nancy, is “Oh you're going to The Poor House”. Well, the Poor House never looked so good. We all have images in our mind of what the age-old expression of the poor house might be but, for Akumalians, it is an incredible place.
The Casa Romero Compound includes a grand main house, a casita, and duplexes Casa Blue Tang and Casa French Angel. More, on the other side of the entrance to Yal Ku Lagoon is their other home, Casa Delfin.
The Poors are one of the nicest couples you will ever meet. Sitting down and interviewing them was a pure joy. And at the end of the evening we all laughed that we had just spent a good portion of time after, brainstorming business ideas. Does that make us workaholics or just lucky people who can honestly say we love what we do?
Casa Romero is one of the oldest homes in Akumal, making it also one of the oldest along the Riviera Maya. It was built in 1975 by Escobar Romero. Escobar ran the dives that Don Pablo Bush, founder of Akumal, went on while diving the Mantecero ship wreck. The two men were both from Mexico City, where Romero was a developer.
As the story goes, Escobar Romero had a lover from Merida and he, according to local legend, built this house for her. He was so fascinated by this woman that it is said that there was a nude portrait of her in the stairwell and that she was the model for the sculpture of the mermaid. It is also rumored that she had supernatural powers which she honed while spending her hours on this incredible point in Yal Ku Lagoon; very possibly in the tower which was also where many of Romero's famous poker games were held.
When Escobar died it is told that his wife, and mother of his 5 children, tossed the mistress out on her ear. Apparently, the mistress' supernatural powers couldn't hold a candle to the wife's powers. Interestingly enough, SRA Romero would not move into the main house, and chose instead to stay in the casita, or bodega. She was often seen dressed in black with her rosaries. Being a religious, proud woman, SRA Romero prayed that the new owners would not be drug dealers. Her prayers were answered and the house was sold to David and Nancy Poor in May of 2007.
David and Nancy first became owners of Casa Delfin. They took possession of it the summer of Hurricane Emily. They worked hard to make many repairs and improvements, always with sustainability as their choice in upgrades and improvements. After all, they understand that you don't want to kill the golden goose. They are huge supporters of the environment and are involved on many levels in seeing that Yal Ku lagoon is protected. It took them a year and a half to get Casa Delfin to the place where it was rentable.
One evening, when the renovations on Casa Delfin were finally completed, David and Nancy found themselves in their rooftop pool, enjoying a cocktail along with their lovely view. Their backs were to Casa Romero and the conversation went something like this - “That was really fun” “It sure was, what are we going to do next?” and at the same moment they both turned and saw Casa Romero...2 weeks later they had an agreement of sale.
Casa Romero had been empty for many, many years and much of it had never been completed, so this project was indeed going to be an intense undertaking. They figured most local contractors would have guestimated the work to take about 2-3 years. The Poors closed on the property in May, had their daughter's wedding in June and then Nancy's father passed away.
David came alone to start the construction. He played the role of general contractor. He certainly had his work cut out for him, remember it was built in 1975, and built with no right angles, making renovations interesting - but also, come to find out, helping protect the structure from hurricanes. There had been absolutely no work, upgrades or replacements over all those years. Only one of the 4 townhouses had been finished, the rest were left as raw concrete shells with rusted metal, wires hanging, and a small mountain of broken glass. It took 34 truck loads of trash just to get started. With all the negative images, David and Nancy could see that at one time the place was “it” for its time. It had a huge bar in the living room. There were kitchen and maids quarters, and a marble bathroom with an octagon shower and view of the lagoon.
As general contractor, David made it clear to the workers that if they did a good job that week there would be be more work for them the following week. He had as many as 50+ people on the property at any given day. Gates opened at 7 AM and closed at 9 PM, Saturdays they might knock off as early at 3 PM. David says he could not have done it without Rene and Lucy Bote Gil. Rene spoke English to David, spoke Spanish to the Bosses and Maya to the workers. Work was going amazingly well until in August there was a 3 week set back due to Hurricane Dean, which pushed water up to the stairs and sand up into the pool. Work was finally completed and by November 1st they had their first renters. What was supposed to take years took from July 1 – November 1.
What sets these properties apart from others is the attention to detail. They have it all, WiFi, Satellite TV, pools on the roof, private entrances into the lagoon, gorgeous artwork. But it really is Nancy's creativity that jumps out at you. She has stenciled every room. We talked about how she gets her inspirations and she explained that she starts with a special piece. In the bedrooms that might be the quilt and then she pulls the colors and chooses the stencils to accent that quilt. Each living room has a theme and it is followed right up to the plates, one is jungle, another lagoon and so forth.
Nancy's creativity and artistic abilities do not stop with her interior design work, she also makes jewelry. She has literally designed hundreds of necklaces and, recently, earrings to match. She donates all her hours and material to causes in Akumal such as the Frida Khalo Library, and SPAY's free vet clinics. You can purchase these items locally at Turtle Bay Cafe and Ixchel Boutique. This writer is the proud wearer of several of her necklaces and has been known to give them as gifts to my favorite people.
David and Nancy first came to Akumal in 1992. Nancy's brother was the first to come in 1990 and stayed at Casa Delfin. When Nancy's parents decided to take the entire family on a big vacation they chose Akumal. Nancy's brother, was a big Grateful Dead fan, so they chose Casa del Sol. Their memories were typical of times back before there was a Riviera Maya. There was NO hot water, every day they heard that the part was on its way from Merida, and every day they took cold showers. But that didn't stop them from falling in love. Every year following they would take their family vacations to some place new: Cabo, Jamaica, Cozumel, St. Thomas... .And every year they commented that it was not quite as nice as Akumal. Eventually they found their way home! And we are glad to have them here.
To learn more about these properties please visit their website.