Ashland resident Zan Nix always dreamed of building a villa by the sea, one with no straight lines or square corners, a place where she could relax and draw inspiration to write her poems and books.
Now she and her old friend, Ashland developer and lawyer Lloyd Haines, have made that dream come true, creating a three-story tropical castle overlooking picturesque Sayulita on the Mexican Riviera.
Named Villa Poema de Amor, or Villa Love Poem, the stunning stucco palace provides sweeping views of the Pacific and towers over an unspoiled fishing village of 5,000.
In addition to being a dreamy retreat from drizzly Oregon winters, the villa was built as an investment, renting for $4,500 a week November through May — with individual floors renting for $1,200 to $2,000.
It opened last November and is getting plenty of interest from vacation-rental-by-owner surfers and on its own website, www.villapoemadeamor.com, says Nix, a sales executive with Dex Media in Medford and psychology teacher at Southern Oregon University.
"I went there in the winter of 2003 and looked at building lots," says Nix. "I fell in love with this hill and saw myself writing poetry, prose and songs by the water. The fishermen go out early in the morning. The surfers stay up partying and go out on the water at 10. There's a big ethnic influence. You see horses and children dancing in the central square."
Over the last four years, developer Haines worked with a local Mexican architect and builder, helping shape Nix's aesthetic vision, inspired by visits to the Greek islands.
All furnishings and fixtures were made to order by artisans in nearby Guadalajara, with a theme of angels on hand-fashioned sinks and mirrors and heart-shaped stones worked into floors.
The painted sinks cost only $100 each, Nix adds, noting they couldn't be purchased for any price in the U.S.
"Zan fell in love with this little fishing village and bought the lot nine years ago," says Haines, a prime mover in birthing the Ashland Art Center. "It was her concept. I always intended to build a work of art like this and it will be a good investment in the long run. Now I've fallen in love with it."
Building the brick and stucco structure with only curved walls, doors and ceilings was a big challenge, leaving Haines to say, "Don't ever do it. It's not efficient, but the energy flows in and out and it all has a lot of heart energy."
Haines is responsible for the murals that adorn the underside of the Lithia Way bridge in downtown Ashland. He commissioned four local artists in 2007 to create eight murals that he had installed, illegally, under the bridge in part to protest the city's restrictive sign code. He was ordered to take the murals down, but they were reinstalled the following year once he met the City Council's conditions of covering planning fees and the cost of reinstalling, maintaining and insuring the art.
Meshing with locals has been a positive experience, Haines and Nix say, and Americans have formed a Grupa Sayulita to raise money for contributing to the community, including providing trash collection and litter pickup on beaches.
Nix has a doctorate degree in spirituality from the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, Calif., and for years has taught "The Psychology of the Passionate Life" and "The Psychology of Love" at SOU.
Her teachings, she says, are about self-love and realizing one's dreams, a dynamic she put to work, she says, in creating the villa.
"Manifesting your visions is an amazing process to me," she says. "If you see it clearly, you will see its reality. It's an amazing thing that we humans can do."
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.