Living and Working in Paradise – Highlands girl finds adventure in far parts of the world…


LOS CABOS, MEXICO– Its only a job, she says. But when you see photos of the land, sea and homes, you know that Leah Stasney has found something special.
Leah is the daughter of Chester and Marie Stasney of Highlands. She grew up in Highlands, her father a Rotarian known for his “famous chili” at the annual chili fest. Speaking at a recent Rotary luncheon, she told about her studies that led to an unusual and picturesque job.
She attended the University of Houston, where she studied interior and architectural design. After college, her first job was in Africa, working for the Houston architectural firm EDI. There, she was in charge of furnishing interiors of prefabricated houses for an Oil and Gas Company working in Equitorial Guinea, along the west coast of mainland Africa. She had to procure furniture from U.S. firms, and then install it in Africa. She spent 3 months in a housing area near the city of Bata. In all, she received 148 containers of furniture that had to be placed. These went in to 18 homes in the development. They also built an office building and a water plant. The contractor was from Denmark.
While Leah was in Bata, she endured a dangerous situation as a coup attempt was made on the president, but she managed to avoid any personal threats.

After this project was completed, she returned to Houston, expecting to go into traditional office work. However, because of her overseas experience, and some contacts she had made and impressed in the interiors field, she was recommended for a dream job, a luxury new housing community in Mexico on the Baja Peninsula.
This time, she was employed by the developer, to help design, construct, and install interiors to large villas.
Del Mar Development is the owner and developer. This is a firm started about 13 years ago by Kenneth Schnitzer and Ron Hatfield after visiting the beautiful coast at Los Cabos. They decided to form a company to build a vacation housing community. The land is at the very southern tip of Baja peninsula, and definitely a unique opportunity.
What resulted was a new community of about 200 homes when it is finally completed. It is known as Villas Del Mar, and is built around an old famous hotel, the Palmilla.
Here and in the adjacent town of Los Cabos, stars such as John Wayne and Bing Crosby used to come to fish in the 1950s. Today this same charm and beauty draw wealthy Americans for a second home, with famous names such as Jeff Bagwell and Michael Dell.
These villas are available in several models, from 2 to 5 bedrooms, and 3000 sf to 7000 sf. Prices range from $2 million to $9 million, according to Leah. This includes the home and land. Most villas include maid and butler services, too, and a homeowners association and private recreation club and pool.
Leah works for a construction office with about 30 engineers and architects. She purchases materials and designs and supervises the interior installations.
Villa Del Mar is building about 35 new homes a year, and is also developing several adjacent projects with similar characteristics, so Leah pictures her endeavors to continue for at least another 5 years. But we can see this dream job being hard to finish and walk away from in the future.
What other paradise could top this one?