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Sheri’s Palm Springs Area Blog

Whether it be real estate updates, restaurant reviews, events, or highlights of unique homes in Palm Springs, follow Sheri as she covers all that Palm Springs and the surrounding area has to offer.

Dining Around the Desert: Flora Farms in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Since there hasn't been a lot of new restaurant openings in the Valley lately, I decided to review a fabulous place in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Michael and I were down there at the end of April for my birthday, and Flora Farms was the number one place on my list to go.

Flora Farms is a 25-acre organic working farm in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Home to Flora’s Field Kitchen, The Farm Bar, Flora Farms Grocery, and Flora Farms Celebrations. The farm is also home to the Shoppes at Flora Farms, the Culinary Cottages & The Haylofts, (their hand-built, straw bale luxury homes for the culinary-inclined), as well as The Farm Spa, an intimate spa and wellness experience achieved through nature-based spa services, in a supremely peaceful setting.

Flora’s Field kitchen is about handmade food using their farm-fresh ingredients. Their goal is to create a healthy family meal with a sense of place.

The original Flora Restaurant was in San Jose del Cabo. After 5 years in town, and the farm serving as the main provider for the restaurant, the owner decided she would rather bring the restaurant to the farm instead of the other way around. Flora’s Field Kitchen strives to only serve what they make, raise and grow.

Their menu is seasonal, with some permanent classics. All meats served at Flora’s Field Kitchen come from their nearby 150-acre ranch where animals are humanely raised on diets that do not include hormones or antibiotics - and they do not offer beef on the menu as it is not sustainable as there is not enough water in Baja.

We started out with a couple of the house specialty margaritas. Michael had the Citrus, while I had the Hibiscus. Both were simply wonderful.

To start, Michael and I shared the Burratta bruschetta, beet salad with goat cheese, and tuna stack in a mango sauce. I cannot give a full description of all the ingredients as I don't fully remember, and they don't have their menu online since it changes all the time.

For our entrees, Michael had the pork shoulder and I continued to work on the starters. We followed it up with key lime pie and carrot cake.

Suffice it to say that I could easily run out of adjectives to describe how delightful not only the food was, but the entire experience. From wandering through the farm ahead of time to just the whole vibe of the property, Flora Farms is a place that will always be one of my stops when I'm in Cabo.

 

 

For more on Flora Farms, click here.

Flora Farms

Animas Bajas, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mx.

Mexico Phone # (+52.624) 142.1000 / 142.1458

US Phone #: 949.200.7342

Email: reservations@flora-farms.com


OPERATING HOURS

Tuesday thru Saturday:

Breakfast 9:00 to 10:30 am

Lunch 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Dinner 5:00 - 9:00 pm

Sunday Brunch

From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

The Big Swing

With the latest influx of homebuyers, the desert’s country clubs have a younger look.

JUDD SPICERCURRENT PSL, HOME & DESIGN, REAL ESTATE

 

Todd Hewlin and Lo-Ping Yeh, new owners and members at The Reserve Club in Indian Wells look perfectly at ease seated on their broad patio as the breeze ripples the water in the infinity pool situated between the house and the 12th hole, framed by the dramatic Santa Rosa Mountains. The couple, who moved here from the Bay Area and run a tech consulting firm, reflects a growing demographic of desert residents that are more youthful and working from wherever they want.

Before the pandemic, country clubs were trying to appeal to younger buyers by renovating clubhouses, retooling tennis courts for pickleball, and introducing an extensive variety of programming to keep members engaged on and off the golf course. Now, it appears those investments are paying off.

Although Hewlin and Yeh first experienced the desert in earnest during the winter rainstorms of 2019, a return visit a year later gave them a different impression. “We found it incredible,” Yeh says. “So, we went back to Los Gatos and signed a contract to put our house on the market a week later. Then, the pandemic hit.”

When the Bay Area shelter-in-place order lifted in the summer, she and Hewlin hunted for their ideal concept in indoor-outdoor living. Another visit led them to a spec home still in construction.

reserveclubindianwellsmembership

Lo-Ping Yeh and Todd Hewlin

“When we saw the view, it was, ‘Oh my God,’” says Yeh, who was also thinking about how the residence might accommodate their home office. “A lot of people are feeling this way now — that they can live in a place like this and still work in an effective and efficient manner.”

As they moved into The Reserve in fall 2020, their new neighbors changed the couple’s idea of who exactly lives in the desert. “When we first came here, to be honest, Todd said he thought the area might be too old for us,” she says, smiling toward her husband. (Hewlin and Yeh are 55 and 57, respectively, and active in couples golf.)

vintageclubindianwellscalifornia

The Vintage Club in Indian Wells

“I was completely wrong,” Hewlin replies. “Maybe I had that perception from movies or how the area has been written about by people who don’t live here. But after getting to know people at The Reserve, I started feeling like this is the valley of Benjamin Button: People get all that Vitamin D, are active, physically fit, they eat better. People come here and get younger.”

THE PANDEMIC HAS seen golf’s natural social distancing turn days of lemon into lemonade. As city dwellers look for elbow room in the Coachella Valley, the spike in the number of golf rounds being played reflects the surge in new club memberships. Americans played approximately 60 million more rounds in 2020 than they did in 2019, a 14 percent increase, according to the National Golf Foundation and Golf Datatech. Meanwhile, the nation’s private clubs reported a 19.9 percent rise in play compared to 2019.

andalusiacountryclublaquinta

Andalusia Country Club in La Quinta

Desert residents only need to swivel their collared shirts to see new golf members flocking largely from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and the Pacific Northwest.

As Palm Springs Life reported last fall, the first seven months of the pandemic saw single-family home sales in the Coachella Valley rise 56 percent over the same period a year earlier. Subsequently, end-of-year statistics from the California Desert Association of Realtors showed all of the valley’s nine cities with year-over-year increases in home sales.

“The Coachella Valley has become a haven to those who want to escape the cities and have a place where they can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle,” says Julie Bloom, senior vice president of operations for the Sunrise Company, which operates Toscana and Andalusia country clubs. “In addition, since travel is not as easy, people want to have a place to go that feels like a resort and where they can gather their families together.” With the spike in sales and memberships comes a rush of new residents and golfers. A Palm Springs Life survey of 13 luxury country clubs conducted early this year revealed uniform growth when comparing March 2019–January 2020 with the period a year later.

bighorngolfclubpalmdesert

Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert

In La Quinta, the 36 holes at The Hideaway Golf Club experienced a 103 percent rise in new members, with a spike from June to December 2020, fueling a record-breaking year in terms of home and membership sales. At the Tradition Golf Club, a 150 percent rise in club tours resulted in a record number of new members, and golf membership sales doubled. “Approximately 80 percent of our new member spouses are beginner golfers,” says Tesha Vann, membership director at Tradition. “Our short course is getting more use than ever, as it’s the perfect venue to learn the game.”

At nearby Rancho La Quinta, the two-course spread saw a 30 percent increase in golf memberships, with home sales jumping 60 percent, and Andalusia Country Club had an 87 percent increase in golf memberships with a jaw-dropping 300 percent increase in home sales.

In Indian Wells, The Vintage Club experienced a 145 percent increase in home sales and a 100 percent gain in new golf memberships. Toscana Country Club gained 34 percent in home sales and its 36 holes drew a 77 percent rise in golf memberships. At The Reserve, Todd Hewlin and Lo-Ping Yeh were among 24 new golf members representing a 120 percent increase in home sales.

bighorngolfclubmembership

Mike Kirby and Sandi Marino

“The trend is more couples,” says Denise Adams, membership director at The Reserve Club. “Both the member and spouse, or significant other, play golf, as do their high school- and college-age children.”

Likewise, at Bighorn Golf Club, “We’re seeing quite a few of our current golf members’ spouses taking up the game through lessons, afternoon play as a couple, and our 9-holer group,” says Kirstin Fossey of Bighorn Properties.

In Palm Desert, the two-course Bighorn Golf Club had a 44 percent increase in new golf memberships and a 28 percent increase in home sales, while Stone Eagle Golf Club reported a 62 percent increase in memberships.

traditiongolfclublaquinta

Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta

In Rancho Mirage, the three-course spread of Mission Hills Country Club has seen an 8 percent uptick in new golf memberships and a 60 percent increase in home sales. And at Tamarisk Country Club, a 9 percent boost in golf members has contributed to a 12 percent rise in overall memberships.

“In many ways, our club has become more important in our members’ lives,” Brett Draper says of Thunderbird Country Club, where he’s general manager. During the pandemic, “activity around the club, namely golf, is up to levels we have not seen in the past 15 years.”

FOR MIKE KIRBY, the desert has always been a home away from home. Long familiar with the valley’s east end by virtue of visiting his parents at La Quinta Country Club and his siblings now in the area, Kirby always figured that, someday, he too would have a desert home.

Someday came a bit sooner than Kirby and his fiancé Sandi Marino expected.

“In the last three or four years, we’ve been thinking we should land someplace out here,” he says. “Now, working from home during COVID [has] been a catalyst for us to make the move.”

Last September, the prime-of-life couple purchased a spec house at Tradition Golf Club, the longtime West Coast base for Arnold Palmer. Kirby is an avid player, and Marino is a beginner who’s refining her game on the club’s nine-hole short course. Their home overlooks the top-handicapped hole 3 on the Palmer-designed course, carved in the bosom of the Santa Rosas. The view also includes the scene-setting stone wall and iron gate, Tradition’s original entrance, marking the end of what is now Washington Street.

Splitting time between La Quinta and Newport Beach, Kirby seamlessly runs his real estate research and analysis firm. “I can work just as well here as I can from Newport,” Kirby says. “I’m not so sure we would’ve pulled the trigger on the purchase this early, but once we had this epiphany that I could still be very effective in my job in the home office I have in our new home, we went for it.”

Marino, who mixes charity and interior design work, believes the club’s on-site marketplace for groceries and take-out and home delivery services offer comfort during the pandemic. “Tradition is low-key and genuine,” she says. “And the amenities are amazing; the club makes it easy to stay.”

Therein lies the prevailing appeal of the Coachella Valley. The weather and lifestyle sell the location, and the ability to work from anywhere seals the deal.

PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRACY NGUYEN

Bitcoin Basics in 2021

Bitcoin Basics in 2021

Bitcoin Basics for Real Estate Agents in 2021 ( + Expert Predictions)

At Sheri Dettman & Associates, we have always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve. Bitcoin, and blockchain, although they have been around for a few years, are still something that is not yet widely understood in the Real Estate world. This article makes it easy to understand! We look forward to using blockchain tech and being your go-to agents with, as always, the latest, and best technology along with the best personal service.

February 4, 2021/Courtesy of Emile L'Eplattenier

One of the most common questions we get from real estate agents these days is when, or even if, bitcoin will finally make its way into real estate transactions.

Of course, if agents are asking us that, it means their buyers and sellers are probably asking them. So it’s only a matter of time before understanding how this technology works will be necessary for any agent who doesn’t want to get left in the dust of yet another disruptive technology for real estate.

The only problem is that bitcoin is—and there’s no other way to say it—confusing. Don’t worry, though. Even people who are so-called experts in the field can have a hard time explaining it.

That’s why we put together this quick explainer on bitcoin for real estate agents and also talked to a few agents and brokers who have already taken the leap to get their take on how they think bitcoin will transform the real estate industry in 2021 and beyond.

Can My Buyers Purchase a Home With Bitcoin Yet?

Coding

Kind of. However, almost all real estate transactions using bitcoin have used a service called BitPay to convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars (USD) to transfer funds to the seller.

As far as “bitcoin-to-bitcoin” transactions go, where title changes hands and the bitcoin is never converted into USD—they still remain very rare. The sticking point is generally title companies and lawyers, both of whom are still somewhat reluctant to use the digital currency.

Douglas Elliman’s Stephan Burke and Carol Cassis sold the first property using bitcoin wallets in 2017, as well as a $6 million transaction after that, the largest fully bitcoin translation to date. Since then, they have closed more than $34 million in volume using cryptocurrency converted to cash.

However, while it has been slow going here, where bitcoin and blockchain show the most promise is for overseas transactions.

Over at the always-excellent Mansion Global, EminGun Sirer, associate professor of computer science and co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts at Cornell University, weighed in on why cryptocurrencies are ideal for foreign buyers:

EminGun Sirer Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts

“Cryptocurrencies enable the quick, frictionless transfer of value across the globe. This enables someone in Russia to be able to easily send bitcoins to purchase land in Belize.”

Should I Advise My Sellers to Accept Bitcoin?

In today’s market, bitcoin may not be ready for prime time, but there is one thing that is undeniable. Offering your listing for sale in bitcoin will get you instant free press. Remember the first listings that had drone videos? Imagine that times 10. Here’s Seattle Realtor, Sam Debord:

Sam Debord Seattle Realtor“I’ll sell my house for bitcoin” is the latest marketing tactic, and it’s working … at least for publicity.”

In order to accept bitcoin, you can either have the seller transfer into USD, work with a title company that will accept bitcoin, or have a lawyer write up a contract that covers all risks from bitcoin. At this point, most people will avoid actually paying in bitcoin, but the free press might be a good trade-off.

Can My Buyers Get a Loan With Bitcoin?

Yes. Startups like Unchained Capital allow people who hold bitcoin to borrow up to $1 million with no credit check and interest rates between 10% and 14%. However, these are not long-term loans; Unchained offers loan lengths ranging from three months to three years.

While not for everyone, hardcore bitcoin owners use services like this to get quick liquidity without cashing in their bitcoin portfolios. Think down payments, or maybe even bridge loans.

There Must Be a Catch … Is There Capital Gains Tax for Transferring Bitcoin to USD?

Yes. As of January 1, 2018, the federal government considers cryptocurrency as property and anyone selling (or trading bitcoin for U.S. dollars) will be hit with capital gains tax on the amount their bitcoins appreciated since they purchased or mined them.

Are Bitcoin & Blockchain the Same Thing?

No. While bitcoin is a digital currency that you can exchange for goods and services, blockchain is the underlying technology that stores bitcoin or other cryptocurrency transactions in a digital ledger.

Bitcoin

Okay, Then What Is Bitcoin Exactly?

Bitcoin is a fully digital currency created in 2009 by an anonymous person who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto online.

Like any other currency, bitcoin can be used to pay for goods and services, transfer funds, or as an investment. Currently, over 15,000 vendors accept bitcoin, from Microsoft to small businesses.

The main difference between bitcoin and say, an ACH transfer through a traditional bank is that there is no middleman in the transaction. The entire transaction from buyer to seller takes place on the Bitcoin network. Since a bitcoin transaction bypasses the different bank policies, or different regional banking laws that are part of any other transaction, transfers are much faster.

Since there is no bank or government to get in the way, bitcoin can be a great way to transfer money or make purchases overseas. Foreign buyers may find bitcoin’s speed and simplicity ideal for buying property in the United States.

Bitcoin is an example of a fiat currency; its value is not backed up by gold or other tangible assets. Instead, bitcoin relies on something called blockchain to verify transactions.

Got It. So What’s Blockchain?

Although blockchain is very complex, the best way to describe it to your clients is to compare it to ACH, the technology that lets you “wire” money from one bank to another. The main difference is that blockchain does not rely on banks to verify transactions have been completed. Instead, once a transaction is completed, it is stored in an encrypted digital ledger that is distributed among everyone on the blockchain.

This means that instead of relying on trusted institutions like banks to verify transactions, the verification is done very quickly by algorithms that check the stored transaction data on the millions of users on the blockchain.

What makes blockchain so powerful is that the ledger is stored on every single computer (node) in the system. This makes faking a transaction virtually impossible. Since the blockchain is extremely secure, it has many applications beyond verifying and storing bitcoin transactions. Everything from contracts to voting records can theoretically be stored on blockchain.

Which Technology Will Have a Bigger Impact in the Real Estate Market, Bitcoin or Blockchain?

According to most experts, blockchain will have a bigger impact on real estate than bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Here’s why: Transaction speed is not a very pressing problem for real estate transactions, but record-keeping and middlemen are. Here’s Jason Shepherd, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group, on why he thinks blockchain technology, particularly smart contracts and other applications built on Ethereum, an alternative to bitcoin, will change the real estate market:

Jason Shepherd Atlas Real Estate Group

“It is important to separate the cryptocurrency from the underlying blockchain technology when discussing real estate disruption. The disruption in real estate will come from the blockchain technology (distributed ledger) and smart contracts like those found on the Ethereum platform.”

So What Are Smart Contracts?

Smart contracts are contracts between two parties that are verified and stored on the blockchain. Today, most smart contracts are built with the blockchain protocol behind Ethereum, another cryptocurrency.

The main benefit behind smart contracts is that there is no need for a middleman in the transaction. Everything is verified and stored on the blockchain.

In the future, blockchain can be used to store records of a transaction all the way from a blockchain-enabled MLS, to escrow, inspections, title, and sales contracts. Leases and other commercial real estate contracts could also be on the blockchain.

While smart contracts haven’t yet hit the mainstream for real estate, startups like Propy and Ubiquity.io are changing that.

To learn more about smart contracts, check out this excellent guide over on Block Geeks.

What Is This ‘Mining’ for Bitcoins I Keep Hearing About?

Man Mining

OK, from here on in, the process gets a bit more technical, and therefore much harder to explain. While it’s unlikely your buyers or sellers will grill you about this, having a basic understanding can help.

Remember how we talked about how transactions on the blockchain are verified by other users? Well, bitcoin mining is the process that verifies transactions and adds them to the public ledger.

Bitcoin “miners” are rewarded with bitcoin for using their computer’s processing power to verify transactions. Before you get too excited and start mining bitcoin out of your broker’s office, understand that in most places, the payment for mining bitcoin will probably be less than the electricity costs to run computers long enough to verify transactions.

What Advantages Do Other Cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin & Ripple Have Over Bitcoin?

OK, now we’re getting a little too far into the weeds. Worse, the crypto industry changes so fast that by the time you read this, something will have inevitably changed. If you’re feeling brave, check out this cool infographic from Visual Capitalist:

Infographic Bitcoin Ethereum Comparison

How 10 Real Estate Experts Think Bitcoin Will Disrupt the Industry

So now that you have a basic understanding of bitcoin, here’s how 10 real estate industry experts see bitcoin transforming the real estate market in the coming years.

1. Jason Penner, Douglas Elliman, New York City

Jason Penner Douglas Elliman

“A brief way that I explain bitcoin is, it’s as if technology and finance had a baby. Humans survived for hundreds of thousands of years (if not longer) without money. Money is a relatively new concept to humans, and to think that the current financial system is the peak evolution of money and the storage of value is nothing short of naive. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies represent that next step in the evolution of storing and exchanging value.”

2. Jim Merrion, Coldwell Banker Realty, Colorado

Jim Merrion Coldwell Banker Realty

“The real estate industry’s appetite for using bitcoin to purchase real estate seems to be coming back in a big way in 2021! Being a Realtor who has helped a buyer purchase developable land using bitcoin converted to cash and marketed several listings willing to accept bitcoin as payment, bitcoin investors are finding me online and reaching out with plans to purchase property using these funds in 2021.

 

“Currently, I have one bitcoin investor looking to buy a 35+ acre ranch property and have spoken to several others over the past few months about how the process could successfully work for them.

 

“And Smart Contracts are starting to be seriously considered by at least one title company in Colorado now. With their inherent security and ability to prevent wire fraud, there is a lot of motivation by the transaction processing entities to find new technology solutions that reduce their risk and enhance the efficiency of the closing process.”

3. Tristan Ahumada, Realtor, Speaker & Co-founder of LabCoatAgents

Tristan Ahumada LabCoatAgents

“So far, most of the bitcoin transactions in the real estate world have had only one party dealing in cryptocurrency and the other one doing it the traditional way. The deal can still take place, but the cryptocurrency has to be turned into cash. I do envision cryptocurrency catching on more, but our society has to start using the bitcoin/blockchain technology more. I do see it becoming normalized—it’s just a matter of people getting used to it. It is just as easy as people using credit cards and Apple pay.

“For now, there are companies like BitPay and some other international banks that allow people to convert their bitcoin into cash.”

4. Jason Shepherd, Co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group

Jason Shepherd Atlas Real Estate Group

“The disruption in real estate will come from the blockchain technology (distributed ledger) and smart contracts like those found on the Ethereum platform. The escrow process will be replaced by a smart contract, using code as the intermediary to distribute earnest money. Imagine a real estate transaction where all of our inspection and due diligence information can be found in one public ledger on the blockchain—ownership, encumbrances, repair receipts, improvements, liens—all viewable and indisputable on the distributed ledger.

 

“This transparency reduces the need for title insurance and truncates the purchase timeline for a home from 30 days to a few days. Title and escrow will be the first layer of disruption, but increasing transparency will allow the public to access more information and be less reliant on real estate brokers. This won’t replace brokers, but it will warrant a repricing for what brokers can charge their clients.”

5. John Gilbert, Co-founder/Director Prime-EX

John Gilbert Prime EX

“The acceptance of cryptocurrencies into mainstream investment portfolios equals more buyers this year for major ticket items, such as houses. Many purchases are coming from people who have never purchased real estate before. This equals more sales for real estate agents who are willing to learn about cryptocurrencies, more sales for real estate agents who are willing to market to people who are invested in cryptocurrencies, and more sales for real estate agents who are willing to specialize in educating their home sellers on how to accept cryptocurrencies as payment in kind for their real estate.

 

“The cryptocurrency genie will not be put back into the bottle.”

6. Avani Desai, CEO & Co-founder of MyCryptoAlert

Avani Desai MyCryptoAlert

“Crypto will allow a homebuyer to gather funds quickly, sometimes in less than 60 seconds, and into the hands of the seller, instantaneously. All of this is done on the blockchain, so the transaction is recorded in an open distributed ledger using encryption techniques that ensure that a transaction was complete and accurate and can never be retroactively changed. I believe what brokers and agents are going to see aside from transactions being done with crypto are technology platforms that are built on the blockchain. Therefore, understanding the two most known and built on blockchains that are out there—the bitcoin blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain—is crucial. Agents will see everything from smart contracts executed, to title storage, to international money exchanges.”

7. Alan Lewis, Chief Investment Officer at DiversyFund

Alan Lewis DiversyFund

“We are already seeing real estate sellers finding creative ways to accept crypto from a buyer in order to expand the pool of potential purchasers. As a real estate investment platform, our online customers have prompted us to look into accepting crypto and also launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that is backed by real estate assets, which creates a perfect marriage of old and new asset classes.”

8. Sheryl Lowe, Broker Associate, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty

Sheryl Lowe Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

“In all of my 33 years of closing transactions, I honestly couldn’t have expected something so unique to go so smoothly. In a matter of 10 minutes, the bitcoin was changed to U.S. dollars and the deal was done!

 

“Of course, it helped to have the right team behind this—Laura Pagnozzi of Independence Title was a key player in keeping everything together.”

9. Hyun Lee, Communications & Marketing Director, Mothership Foundation

Hyun Lee Mothership Foundation

“With Ethereum, there are companies that wish to build smart contracts around existing services, including real estate. This allows for a fully digital real estate transaction. In fact, the first real estate transaction using only the Ethereum blockchain already happened. Michael Arrington, co-founder of TechCrunch, recently purchased a Kiev studio apartment for $60,000 via smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.

 

“In this case, the smart contract allowed the sale of the property. If this template was to be copied and applied to all future sales, I would imagine real estate agents would need to pick up on using smart contracts.”

10. Dr. Lucas Lu, Founder/CEO, 5miles

Dr. Lucas Lu 5miles

“Fractional ownership. The high cost of home ownership in more and more markets has priced out many potential homebuyers, leaving them on the sidelines.

 

“Just as USD can be bought and sold in fractions, in a similar way the number of whole bitcoins (BTCs), for example, has a limit and can be used fractionally. This means that cryptocurrency holders can see the value of their currency rise, but also can pool their crypto resources with owners to purchase properties collectively, as investments.”

Bottom Line

No matter how much you fight it, bitcoin and the blockchain technology it runs on will revolutionize the real estate industry. Since your buyers and sellers will be curious about the potential of bitcoin for their transactions, agents need to have a basic understanding of how this technology works. This will not only allow them to represent their clients better, but also help attract and retain tech-savvy buyers and sellers, and create a buzz with marketing.

About Emile L'Eplattenier

As Managing Editor for The Close, Emile is responsible for the editorial direction of the site’s real estate content as well as curating actionable insights from top producing agents and brokerages from across the country. A licensed New York City Real Estate Agent and veteran of the marketing department at Tishman Speyer, Emile has been involved in every aspect of residential real estate from branding new developments to pre-war rentals and resales. Emile also regularly provides market insights and commentary for publications like The New York Times, Realtor.com, Apartment Therapy, Fox News, Yahoo, and US News & World Report. When he’s not writing or editing, Emile enjoys collecting vintage furniture and playing his guitar.

Alex Proba’s Graphic Swimming Pools are a Celebration of Color and Pattern

Alex Proba’s Graphic Swimming Pools are a Celebration of Color and Pattern

Hand Painted Pools

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: Jane Englefield

Designer Alex Proba hand-paints swimming pools with graphic murals, including the pools of two Palm Springs houses and a mural on the deck of a public pool on Manhattan's Roosevelt Island.

These three designs showcase Proba's signature shapes and playful use of colour. One painted pool belongs to Marrow House, a private residence in Rancho Mirage in California.

The hand-painted swimming pool at Marrow House by Alex Proba
Top and above: the painted pool at Marrow House

The Rancho Mirage pool's design is an explosion of colourful curving shapes to contrast the geometrical mid-century house designed by American architect Donald Wexler, and the angular shape of the pool itself.

At the shallow end, oversized chartreuse-coloured petal-like shapes twist towards a large pink and orange orb tumbling down the pool's steps.

Painted details of the Marrow House pool by Alex Proba
The Marrow House pool's decorated steps

The deep end is painted in peaceful turquoise shades which are offset by a pronged pink shape that takes cues from Atomic Age signage.

Discussing her various choices of colour and shapes, Proba said, "it's trial and error. Most of the time it is a natural inclination for me to choose one colour or pattern over another and I do not overthink it."

Proba's painted Palm Springs pool blends with its setting
Hill House's curved pool

Another painted pool by Proba is at Hill House, an Airbnb in Palm Springs, with a curved pool that perfectly compliments Proba's style.

"The shape of the pool is organic and it blends well with my work. I just tried to connect all of the aspects together," Proba told Dezeen.

The Hill House pool blends with its setting
Organic shapes twist around Hill House's pool

The curved pool is decorated in bright pinks and oranges, painted on top of each other to form a cluster of colour alongside blue and purple plant-like shapes.

Some shapes have a single hue, while others are intricately decorated with delicate speckles. Thin black lines snake across the colourful shapes, adding subtle detail to the bold designs.

Plain coloured and speckled graphic shapes decorate Alex Proba's Hill House pool in Palm Springs
Details of Hill House's vividly painted pool

Painting the outdoor pools can be a gruelling process, said Proba.

"You are mostly in a weird position, hunched down. My knees were hurting," she said. "Palm Springs tends to get very hot too, so sometimes our paint trays melted."

The Manhattan pool's graphic mural by Alex Proba
Proba's mural on the deck of a Roosevelt Island pool in Manhattan

For Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, Proba painted a vivid mural on the deck of a public pool for a project curated by K&CO and Pliskin Architecture.

A kaleidoscope-like mural of contrasting colours, Proba described her Manhattan mural as "a shape party."

Alex Proba's hand-painted graphic mural in Manhattan
Proba's colourful mural transforms the public pool's deck

The public pool's unique design also offers a playful solution to wayfinding. Visitors can plan to meet each other at a splash of turquoise, or in the middle of a speckled blob.

Painted during 2020, the mural also intends to be celebratory and hopeful during the midst of a global pandemic.

The hand-painted Alex Proba swimming pool mural in Manhattan
The Manhattan pool's unique shapes act as wayfinding devices

While each of Proba's pool designs is unique, all three projects are led by her instinctive desire to create dynamic visuals.

"I trust my gut, and 99 percent of the time I go with my first pattern or colour. The times when I question myself and go back and change them is when the design actually fails."

Alex Proba swimming pools
Water catches the sunlight at Hill House

Designers everywhere are celebrating the potential of swimming pools in public and private spaces alike. In Stockholm, Folkform has installed a glass and ceramic muralwith over 1,000 individual pieces in an indoor public swimming pool. Lost House, a property in London by David Adjaye, has a bedroom with its own pool on a plinth.

Founded in 2013, Studio Proba is a New York-based multidisciplinary design studio led by Alex Proba.

Photography is by Madeline Tolle and Max Touhey.

Some of the Desert’s Most Anticipated New Developments are on Schedule

Some of the Desert’s Most Anticipated New Developments are on Schedule

Some Optimism

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: Bradley James

It’s not all bad. Amid the pandemic, while businesses and events adapt (or shutter) to avoid contributing to the spread of the novel coronavirus, local leaders insist we have plenty of room for optimism. A look around the Coachella Valley confirms many exciting, job-creating developments — from expanded college campuses to water-themed housing communities to destination attractions — still hold promise for the region. Palm Springs Life asked city officials, educators, developers, and tribal leaders about the status and impacts of the valley’s most anticipated projects.

GRAND OASIS CRYSTAL LAGOON
grandoasisranchomirage

The first phase of this expansive desert oasis in Rancho Mirage is still expected to debut within the next couple of years.

Planned on 618 acres of barren land bordered by Gerald Ford Drive to the north, Monterey Avenue to the east, Frank Sinatra Drive to the south, and Bob Hope Drive to the west, the development plan calls for luxury hotels, a resort, a variety of housing, parks, retail, restaurants, and a network of walking and biking trails — all situated around a sandy beach and a swimmable crystal blue lagoon.

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The city and DMB Development say the first phase, which includes the creation of the lagoon and surrounding homes, remains on schedule for a 2022–2023 opening but has not announced a timeline for the remaining phases, which include the hotels and retail outlet.

Once fully developed, the project will provide more than 1,000 full-time jobs and generate at least $10 million in annual revenues. Rancho Mirage Mayor G. Dana Hobart says the Grand Oasis will provide an alternative to traditional golf course developments. “This will extend the typical tourist season by several months,” he says, “offering recreational opportunities to a large array of users and attracting visitors from all over the globe.”

AGUA CALIENTE CULTURAL PLAZA
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The banners hanging at the future home of the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in downtown Palm Springs read “2020 Vision” — a reminder of the optimism surrounding the project before the pandemic stopped construction and derailed this year’s grand opening. Located at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Way and Indian Canyon Drive, the plaza features two attractions — The Spa at Séc-he and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum — separated by the Oasis Trail, a place of reflection mimicking the elements of the nearby Indian Canyons.

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“Each federally recognized tribe throughout this country has a distinct culture that includes traditions, language, historic clothing and housing styles, as well as historical food and medicine preparations,” says tribal chairman Jeff L. Grubbe. “We want to share that with others, as well as acknowledge the fact that we are alive and well today living in the modern world.”

Though tribal leaders are mum about construction details and timelines, the plaza will become the second-largest Native American cultural center in the nation. The 48,000 square-foot will feature a mixture of artifacts dating back thousands of years with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits. The 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art spa will feature the signature “taking of the waters” experience, and a menu of innovative treatments.

CORAL MOUNTAIN
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Who says there’s no surf in the Coachella Valley? The wait for the perfect wave is almost over as developers appear on course to bring the largest, rideable open-barrel, human-made wave in the world to the desert. As scheduled, construction of Coral Mountain, a first-of-its-kind masterplan resort community in La Quinta, will begin mid-2021. Meanwhile, the 400-acre project continues the approval process, and developers Meriwether Companies and Big Sky Wave Developments expect no delays in the construction or its completion in early 2023.

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“Based on changes brought forward by the pandemic and heightened interest in the Coachella Valley,” says Garrett Simon, a partner of Meriwether Companies, “we’re more convinced than ever by the mission and vision of Coral Mountain.”

Located in the shadow of Coral Mountain, the $200 million sports and wellness resort includes a 150-room luxury hotel and up to 600 private residences.

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The biggest lure for visitors will be the waves created by Kelly Slater Wave Company technology. Homeowners, hotel guests, and members will have exclusive access to the 18-million-gallon wave basin that will pump out waves that roll for more than 700 yards and offer almost one-minute rides.

COLLEGE OF THE DESERT
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For more than four years, momentum has been building for an expansion of College of the Desert’s Indio campus off Oasis Street. The $56 million project calls for a new three-story classroom building with an adjacent plaza and outdoor pavilion. COD officials still expect construction to begin in 2021, more than doubling its campus capacity to almost 8,000 students and introducing an on-campus child development center.

While the pandemic may not delay the project, it likely will leave a fingerprint on it. John White, the college’s executive director of Bond and Facilities Planning, says the design may be tweaked for the safety of faculty and students.

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The expansion more than doubles the capacity of COD’s Indio campus.

“COVID-19 has changed our world,” White says, “and as an institution of higher learning, we are adapting and changing along with it.”

At the same time, COD plans to build out a center for workforce innovation on approximately 27 acres at the corner of Farrell Drive and Baristo Road in Palm Springs. The project is in the early design stage.

SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT ARENA
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The $240 million sports and entertainment arena initially planned near downtown Palm Springs will be built instead north of Palm Desert in time for the 2022-23 American Hockey League season.

L.A.-based development company Oak View Group has partnered with the nonprofit H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation to build the 10,000-seat arena on roughly 43 acres at Interstate 10 and Cook Street, near the Classic Club.

The arena will be the home of the minor league affiliate for the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.

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The minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken will play in the new arena.

OVG has also partnered with Live Nation Entertainment to attract other sports and entertainment events, including concerts and award shows, according to CEO Tim Leiweke. OVG’s plan to see the arena of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians land in Palm Springs unraveled during land lease negotiations and amid concerns over traffic and parking.

CV LINK
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Plans for a 40-plus mile bike and pedestrian path that would run through the Coachella Valley are progressing better than expected. The $100 million project, which will run from Palm Springs to Coachella along the Whitewater River and Tahquitz Creek, will provide unprecedented access for biking, walking, jogging, and small electric vehicles.

The only portions completed so far are a 2.5-mile stretch from Palm Springs to Cathedral City and another 1-mile section in Palm Springs.

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But Tom Kirk, executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the agency behind the CV Link, says construction of about 20 more miles — stretching across sections of Coachella, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs — should begin by the end of the year and wrap up by the in early 2022. The entire project is expected to be complete in the next three to four years.

While the pandemic has changed working conditions, requiring masks and physical distancing, Kirk said it has not anchored progress. In fact, they are building more miles than anticipated this year. “Many projects had to slam on the brakes when COVID-19 hit,” he says. “CV Link wasn’t one of them. I’d almost argue that the pandemic has accelerated the project because construction is one of the only games in town, and we are able to get a lot of focus and attention on getting this done.”

CV Link will be a boon for cyclists and runners looking for new roads to travel, potentially reducing cyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and an asset to economic activity. It will also curb car emissions and, according to one study, produce more than 3 million bicycle and pedestrian trips per year by 2035.

“We’ve seen how many individuals and families have relied on walking and biking during this pandemic,” Kirk says. “More than ever, we need projects like CV Link to make sure our communities have safe, accessible routes so they can stay active and stay healthy.”

AGUA CALIENTE CASINO CATHEDRAL CITY
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The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which has casinos in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, is confident it will hit the jackpot this fall when its third local gaming operation opens in Cathedral City.

Construction on the 13-acre casino started in November 2019, and tribal officials say it’s on schedule for a grand opening this year. This comes as welcome news for job seekers eyeing the 500 new positions the project will bring. It’s also good for Cathedral City firefighters, who will receive a new fire station across the street from the casino — the result of a $5.5 million contribution from the tribe.

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“It’s encouraging that this investment is going to be completed and opened,” says Joe Wallace, CEO of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. “In times like these, all progress provides hope and opportunity.”

The casino will be roughly 30,000 square feet, offering a gaming floor with more than slot machines and eight tables games. It will also include eateries, a sports bar, and a 12,000 square-foot outdoor pavilion for concerts, weddings, and other events.

The casino’s general manager, Michael Facenda, says, “The excitement for Agua Caliente Casino Cathedral City continues to escalate each and every day as we prepare to open later this year.”

PALM SPRINGS DOWNTOWN PARK
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Residents and visitors looking forward to a world-class park in downtown Palm Springs have reason to celebrate. That’s because plans for a 2-acre park across from the Palm Springs Museum remain on track despite calls to reduce the scope of the project — or hit the brakes on it entirely — amid the city’s pandemic-induced budget shortfall. Part of an ambitious revitalization of the downtown area, the $8 million park is expected to include two lawn areas, palm groves, and a water feature reminiscent of the waterfall in Tahquitz Canyon.

City officials say they will lean on funds from Measure J — a sales tax approved by voters in 2011 to help revitalize downtown Palm Springs — to advance the project. City councilman Dennis Woods, one of the park’s biggest supporters, says the venue is more of a necessity than a luxury. “We need to constantly recreate in order to keep our edge as a world-class resort destination,” he says. “This park is going to be an iconic, timeless place, creating a unique sense of place that is truly Palm Springs.”

The original plan had the park opening in November, but with construction halted due to the pandemic, the new target is early 2021.

 

Dining Around the Desert: TQLAS in Old Town La Quinta

TQLAS  is a Mexican Restaurant and Agave Bar specializing in Tequila and Mezcal craft cocktails, and traditional, fresh Mexican food.  They offer 75+ Tequilas and 20+ Mezcals;  all the Tequilas are 100% Agave.  All of their drinks are served in beautiful handblown glasses from Guadalajara.

They combine the best of Mexico through their food, drink, and colorful Mexican Art... The  large handmade metal “Katrinas” at the entrance will welcome you to a delightful experience.  The indoor dining room takes you to the artful experience of Coyoacan; dine or just have drinks on the patio under the hand-made lighted stars sipping a “Cazuela” and you’ll be transported to Tlaquapaque...The bar transports you to Agave bars found throughout Mexico with more colorful art as well as big screen TV's to enjoy watching your favorite sport.

We were a few minutes early so we went to the bar where Michael ordered a Cadillac Margarita and I had a Mistico which is El Tesoro Anejo Tequila, Prickly Pear Puree, Agave nectar, and lime juice. Very tart and very refreshing. They have a lot of TV's around the room which made for good viewing for future sports events.

A few minutes later, we were shown to our table outside on the patio. The entire staff wears masks, as do any guests upon entering. Once you are seated, you may remove your mask.

We started out with Homemade Jalapeno Poppers which were really good. Just the right amount of heat cooled off by the Blue cheese dipping sauce.

For our entrees, Michael had the Conchinita Pibil. Pork shoulder marinated 24 hours & cooked in a citrus & Achiote (an earthy, peppery Mexican spice) served with rice and beans. It had a nice bit of sweetness to it and the beans were great.

I had the Shrimp Diabla. Grilled Shrimp with a spicy red sauce served with veggies and rice. The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the sauce was flavorful but not too spicy. The veggies were overcooked so next time I'd ask for beans instead.

The service was personable, quick, and efficient. Since the restaurant had just opened right when the pandemic hit, it really hasn't had a chance to operate under "normal" circumstances. All and all it's a welcome addition to Old Town La Quinta and we'll be back!

Click here to go to the website

78015 Main St. Suite 109

La Quinta, CA 9253

(442) 256-4059

Open Daily 12 PM to 9 PM

Closed Tuesdays

Margaritaville Resort To Take Over the Riviera Palm Springs

Margaritaville Resort To Take Over the Riviera Palm Springs

Get Out the Cocktail Umbrellas

It shouldn't take long to discover you’re no longer at the Riviera Palm Springs and have been transported instead to Margaritaville Resort.

Courtesy of Palm Springs Life: JIM POWERS

Maybe it will be the giant sandal you’ll see as you enter. Or the 5 O’Clock Somewhere tiki bar. But it likely won’t take very long to figure out you’re no longer at the Riviera Palm Springs and have been transported instead to Margaritaville Resort.

The introduction could happen in October as renovations currently take place while the Palm Springs hotel is closed. The property has always been identified as the Riviera dating back to its inception in 1959 when it attracted celebrities like Elvis Presley, the Rat Pack, Desi Arnaz, and Sonny and Cher Bono.

That last part may not change. The whole Margaritaville concept is part of the Jimmy Buffett empire, whose song by the same name released in 1977 became his highest-charting solo single. Look at the social media channels for the Margaritaville hotels/resorts and you’ll see the now 73-year-old Buffett making appearances.

General Manager Matt Huss says under the Margaritaville umbrella, the hotel will continue the legacy it has built up over the years.

“The Riviera is a very iconic hotel with a lot of history,” Huss says. “Historically, it’s been a great place to escape, and here at Margaritaville, we are going to continue that legacy with this new brand. And it’s going to be a place for people to celebrate, create memories, and Palm Springs is really a growing tourist destination, and I think it’s going to be perfect for this new brand.”

Huss chatted further with Palm Springs Life about the hotel and what visitors and staycationers alike can expect.

So how do you create a new identity for that property? Maybe not necessarily erasing what was there, but kind of building your own brand?

Margaritaville has done a fantastic job of creating our identity. A lot of it is not only through the great renovation that we’re in the process of doing right now, but using Jimmy Buffett’s passion and love for music, and visually, they focus not only on the visual part but the music in the lobby and the lighting.

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A giant sandal like this one at Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Beach, Florida, will greet visitors to the Palm Springs location.

So what differences might people notice right away from its previous appearance?

I would say once you walk in the doors, you’re going to be hit with a lot of different sensory things. It’s going to be a very bright interior. The moment you walk in the door, you’re going to see a giant flip-flop to represent Jimmy’s laid-back style. The lighting, the music, it’s going to be very evident from the moment you walk in the door.

Is there any new construction going on, or is it strictly renovating what is already there?

It’s renovating what’s here. We are also creating another restaurant venue that we’re going to be doing a little bit of adjusting with the current food and beverage outlets so that we have additional options for people to dine. The retail space is being converted around to also offer food and beverage options.

And I noticed on the website that they mention family-oriented programming. Why is it important to include that segment?

I think it’s really important because this property with its great history has really been, I think, more of an adult resort. And Margaritaville brings a really diverse group of customers that are attracted to the brand. And as far as families go, that’s where a lot of memories are created that you carry throughout your entire life, and creating memories is what we really want to do here for people.

Can you maybe give me an example of what might be considered family-oriented programming?

I would say as we go through the food and beverage areas, we’re definitely developing menus and concepts toward different age groups. And one thing that we are doing in our guest rooms, we have some rooms that are double-bedded rooms, and we’ve turned those into king-size beds. So not a lot of hotels, when you have a double size room that you actually have large beds. So that would be helpful and accommodating families. And definitely the retail space is going to be very attractive and very different from what we’ve had here in the past with the items that we offer in there, and also the food and beverage options.

Palm Springs has always been considered a getaway place, a place to escape to obviously for visitors, but even for people who live here. How does Margaritaville fit into that type of experience, and why is it a good match for this market?

I think the big thing with the Margaritaville brand is, we use the term quite a bit about the different state of mind and relaxation, and we’ve got the amazing views here, and this is definitely going to be a place where you can relax.

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One of the last indications of the Riviera signage.

If you listen to Jimmy Buffet music, when you hear it, you always kind of escape. You always think of vacation and being away in a place where you can relax. And then likewise, when you’re at work and you want to dream about being on vacation, he definitely has the type of music that makes you escape. So I think it’s a wonderful place to come.

I also saw that you guys were opening a resort in San Diego. Why was this a good time for the brand to branch into California?

I think California is a wonderful place. When you think about San Diego, I think most people who go to San Diego, it quickly becomes one of their, if not their favorite, cities to vacation in. And we’re really excited here in Palm Springs to be the first and kind of a gateway.

What kind of impact has the pandemic had on completing renovations and was there any thought to waiting until next year?

Whenever you talk about COVID, you want to make sure that safety is the No. 1 priority. So we are very conscious of that while this is going on. In some ways, it’s assisted from a standpoint of the property is closed, so construction and renovation actually can probably move a little bit faster from that perspective. I think every one of us has been on a renovation when the public is still occupying the hotel. So in some ways, if there’s any silver lining, it’s probably helped progress to be made without interrupting any guest experience.

We have a unique hotel mix in Palm Springs with boutiques and major chains. What will separate Margaritaville Resort from the rest?

I think what’s neat about Margaritaville is that they have a very unique programming and very unique design. From the perspective of how they train, the amount of time they spend training, and ensuring that the Margaritaville culture is integrated among all the staff members, I’ve never seen it this detailed before. All the people at the corporate office and the leaders are just very passionate about the brand and making sure that the spirit and culture of helping people to get away and escape is present at all times.

Will there be any additional amenities on the property that weren’t there before?

We’re still going to have our great spa, which is the largest spa in the city. The new item out by the pool will be our Five O’ Clock Somewhere bar. It’ll be like a tiki bar. If you picture listening to Jimmy Buffett music, you’d be sitting at that bar. That’s exactly what it’s going to be. But of course with the beautiful mountains in the background.

For more information, visit margaritavilleresorts.com.

 

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