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Posts Tagged ‘Casa Linda’

In my first post, I tried to articulate what I felt made San Miguel de Allende so compelling to visitors.  There are many stories of people who planned on only staying for a week or two, and end up buying a home on impulse within a few days.  New friends from Connecticut did that in my last week there:  we celebrated their purchase of a “tear down” with drinks on a roof top terrace, toasting their new venture and the stunning San Miguel sunset. 

 As I said earlier, there is something for everyone in San Miguel. You can explore your latent creative ability with fine art lessons, seek spiritual enlightenment at an Empowerment Centre, watch fabulous, sexy flamenco at the local theatre, or expand your mind with lectures on Dante’s Inferno.  The option of spending your days recovering from the night before is a popular choice too! Actually, there are so many restaurants and bars with live music, filled with folks eagerly practicing their dance steps, you would have to be pretty much a curmudgeon not to enjoy yourself. (And if that is the case, don’t come! Please.) 

Or, you can join a number of strong, independent women in San Miguel, and open your own business. I spent my month in SMA at Casa Linda, a boutique hotel done in an extravagant colonial style, owned and operated by a Texan, Linda McLaughlin.  There are a lot of Texans here, and they bring their warm, big-hearted attitude to the place. (I like the contrast with the more earth mother bohemian women of a certain age that choose to retire here) There are over 100 hotels and B&B’s here, so I could have been more nomadic, which is what I normally do to “try out” a new city. (For example, in Bangkok, I moved between three boutique hotels in 5 days, just to see the difference in value for dollar. For future reference, the winner was the magnificent Sukhothai.) 

But here, I was upgraded to a suite, and frankly, I welcomed the chance to practice Spanish with the staff, and spend my morning coffee with Linda when she was available. I even got the point where I would just go to the kitchen door to order breakfast. As the manager said, I became family. 

Linda came to SMA 16 years ago, by way of small town, working class Texas, a high school marriage, which led  to Dallas, New York, Philadelphia and L.A. (I may have omitted a few spots, but you get the sense of a  busy life, filled with her children, a demanding career of her own and an ex husband with a big job in the oil industry) Her first stay here was for 6 months, in honor of her deceased brother, who had loved Mexico. She had no aspirations to be an inn keeper, and in fact her first venture was a jazz bar, restaurant, art gallery mélange. Doing business here can be challenging because the working culture is so different from our own. The tax structure is pretty straightforward and there are no mortgages, so cash talks. As a foreigner, you cannot work here if it means taking jobs from Mexican citizens, but you can certainly invest. 

So she did, jumping right into the deep end of the pool, by renovating a 400 year old meson into a modern boutique hotel with 8 unique decorated rooms & suites, a pool, Jacuzzi, gym, restaurant and an extremely popular roof top bar, aptly named, The Sunset Bar. In fact, I met almost all the people I now enjoy as friends sitting on that terrace, watching the lights come up on the churches and in the hills beyond.   

Linda credits her eight successful years here to her wish to make people comfortable, to make them happy with their stay in SMA and at her hotel. Anyone who has ever touched the service business knows that sounds a lot easier than it does. She has been described as the perfect hostess, a slim blonde with a dazzling, welcoming smile, who works the room to make sure that everyone is enjoying themselves, as much as she obviously is. I think that she also has a generous heart:  one of my first events in SMA was a chili tasting contest which was also a  fundraiser,  spearheaded by Linda and two friends, for a local school for kids in need. When I saw her a few mornings after the event, she was going off to see the accountant to see “how much money they had raised for the kids”.  

Her ”Next Big Thing” is to help others face  the challenges of getting old and still have  a wonderful life. She is looking at a venture which will be retirement residence that has a huge fun factor built-in:  could this be the Club Med for Seniors that I referenced earlier? She sees it as a natural extension of being an innkeeper, but it also an expression of her genuine caring for others.

I wanted to profile more of these strong successful women in San Miguel, but I ran out of time. Or perhaps I was just looking for an excuse to go back?

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