Diamante Cabo San Lucas

Although there is much more to do at Diamante Cabo San Lucas than play golf, the Dunes golf course at the resort – designed by Davis Love III – and the new El Cardonal golf course – the first to be designed and opened by Tiger Woods and his company, Tiger Woods Design (TWD) – are major attractions.

Work is continuing at a rapid pace. Ongoing construction activities include eight golf villas, the El Cardonal clubhouse, and the first phase of its Resort Towers hotel. This consists of a six-story tower with two four-bedroom penthouse units, seven four-bedroom suites, an attached three-story low-rise with 14 two-bedroom units, six additional two-bedroom units and two four-bedroom bungalows that front an existing 10-acre lagoon at the resort. 

Private homes are also underway at Diamante, including six beachfront homes that are in various stages of construction and six homes within its inland subdivisions. This activity is occurring as part of the initial phase of development within Diamante’s 1,500-acre master-planned, private resort community that is uniquely positioned on 1.5 miles of Pacific coastline within the city limits of Cabo San Lucas.

Construction began in April on the first phase of the two-story, hacienda-style El Cardonal clubhouse, which will include a restaurant, a retail pro shop, a bakery and additional retail and foodservice amenities still to be determined.

Before construction of the clubhouse or other new buildings begins, the soil under the structures must be prepared. Consisting more of decomposed granite and heavier soils than sand, the soil is compacted by mixing it with water and driving road construction equipment with large rollers over it. This creates a hardness almost like cement onto which concrete footings and slabs on footings can be cast in place.

The architect for the majority of the structures at Diamante Cabo San Lucas is Eduardo Romo. The interiors are characterized by use of concrete, tile and stone with accents and large rafters of exposed natural wood.

Diamante Cabo San Lucas acts as general contractor on its construction projects and self-performs landscaping and construction of certain water and sewer systems and parking lots. A variety of high-quality local subcontractors are available to work on trades including electrical, mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, telecommunications, rock/stone work, tile installation and plastering. The majority of the furnishings are custom-made in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

“The great majority are local contractors,” Chief Development Officer Greg Carrafiello emphasizes. “Some of the material, equipment and appliances come from the United States, but these are imported by Mexican entities and then purchased from authorized distributors. The labor force and the subcontractors that we deal with are very talented and well-qualified. There are a number of higher-end resorts in Cabo San Lucas, and it’s that pool of talent, with our internal oversight, that is utilized to produce our high-end product here in Diamante.”

High Standards

The Dunes golf course that was completed in October 2009 has been well-received. In 2010, it was named the best new international course by Golf Magazine, which in 2013 ranked it No. 52 out of the top-100 golf courses in the world. In 2012, the course was ranked the No. 1 course in Mexico by Golf Digest.

The Dunes course’s three-story clubhouse opened in November 2012 and includes a restaurant, sports bar, deli, retail golf shop, locker rooms and a real estate development office. On the second floor are 10 two-bedroom residence club units – Diamante’s shared ownership interest product – and on the third floor are 10 two-bedroom full-ownership penthouse units.

A total of 14 full-ownership golf villas—four-bedroom, free-standing units with approximately 4,000 square feet on one story, and if on two stories, 5,000 square feet of air conditioned space—were completed by December and are either occupied by residence club members or are fully owned. Six of the 14 are two-story units.

The eight additional golf villas under construction are each being built on an approximately 15,000-square-foot land parcel. “They are preapproved design plans,” Carrafiello points out. “We build them and we deliver them as a turnkey product, fully furnished and finished with audio-visual packages and a full suite of appliances.”

Custom Homes

Part of the first phase of construction of Diamante Cabo San Lucas is Sunset Hill, a full ownership residential subdivision that includes single-family, custom-built homes. “This is not a product we construct or build unless specifically requested by the client,” Carrafiello explains. “We deliver the infrastructure and utilities to the lot line and allow purchasers to hire their choice of architects and general contractors.”

Sunset Hill includes 78 lots, each approximately a half-acre in size. Potential homeowners purchase the lot and have their home designed by an architect who has been preapproved by Diamante. Once the design is reviewed by Diamante’s design committee and the homeowner-selected general contractor is approved, construction begins. So far, one home has been completed and three are under construction, with completion of those three expected for early fall. 

Built on larger lots of three-fourths to one acre in size will be 40 Beach Estates. Similar to the Sunset Hill subdivision, the Beach Estate customers purchase their lots from Diamante – which delivers infrastructure and utilities to the lot lines – and are responsible for the design and construction of their homes subject to Diamante’s review. “This is another subdivision where we’ve seen a great deal of interest,” Carrafiello notes. The Beach Estate product is almost sold out and five such homes are under construction. Already completed is a 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom Beach Estate Residence Club unit.

Resort Lagoon

Centered around a crystal-blue, 10-acre saltwater Crystal Lagoon is the 80-acre “Resort at Diamante,” which is located in the center of Diamante’s 1,500 acre property. The Lagoon is large enough to feature kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding, along with swimming and sunbathing. Up to 300 two-bedroom residence club units will encircle the Lagoon. A total of 14 residence club units have been constructed next to the lagoon. Two four-bedroom residence club bungalows and 12 two-bedroom residence club units were completed by the end of 2013. Two more bungalows, nine four-bedroom tower units and 18 additional two-bedroom units are being constructed this year.

The residence club bungalows differ from full-ownership villas because they are beach-oriented and lagoon-centric. “[The bungalow’s] design is different from the villas, and its position is located directly along the edge of the lagoon, so it’s a unique design,” Carrafiello points out. “It has a central common space for the guests, a large living room, dining room and kitchen. Separate from the central area are four master bedroom suites. Along the edge of the lagoon associated with each bungalow are an outdoor terrace, a bar, a Jacuzzi and a firepit. On either side of the bungalow is a private beach. So it’s a pretty exceptional and well-received product.”

Also under construction and due for completion this year is a five-and-a-half-story tower that will have seven four-bedroom suites and two penthouse four-bedroom units. The suites will be approximately 3,600 square feet and the penthouse units 6,000 square feet. Attached to the tower will be a three-story structure with two-bedroom units that will lead to the main lobby of the resort hotel. 

Amenities at the resort for the entire family will eventually include a village complex with retail stores, restaurants, a kid’s camp, arcade, water park and water-based activity center. Also, a spa and fitness center with a lap pool will be built as well as a sports complex with facilities for tennis, training, baseball, soccer and other recreational uses.

The lagoon uses saltwater diverted from Diamante Cabo San Lucas’ desalinization plant that is filtered and treated. “The color is just breathtaking,” Carrafiello stresses. “It is a controlled, safe, secure body of water where we have our own lifeguards and family oriented amenities and activities that we’re including as part of the first phase and expanding upon in future phases.”

Unlike the ocean—where the water is often rough and drop-offs fall to great depths—the lagoon allows water activities without dangerous waves and currents. “At Diamante Cabo San Lucas, the 1.5 miles of beach for sunbathing or strolling is the attraction rather than swimming or kayaking in the ocean,” Carrafiello says.

Course Construction

The style of Diamante’s Dunes course is Scottish links, whereas the El Cardonal course – construction of which began in fall 2012 – will have a traditional California-style design, according to its designer, Tiger Woods.

“Tiger has been here many times,” Project Manager Paul Cowley explains. “The principals at Tiger Woods Design are highly involved with the project. Their goal is not to create the hardest course in the world but to make it enjoyable for as many different skill levels as they can. The two courses should complement each other. They have different designs and different sites, but for a resort mix, if you have people playing for a week or two, it’s great to have courses that are good complements of each other.”

The El Cardonal course progresses to a dramatic finish. “A golf course can be very diverse, but this is actually a very good site,” Cowley points out. “The first four or five holes at the lowest level are sandy in nature and very dune-like. We accentuate that in the construction. As you progress, it’s a sloping site from the lower elevation to about a 5 percent grade on average from front to back. As you go up the grade, at the highest holes up in the back of the property—the 16th and 17th holes—you have long, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean on up to a 300-foot elevation. It’s a great site. The drainage is very good because of the gentle slopes. The views are very dramatic.”

Construction of the 7,200-yard Dunes and the 7,300-yard El Cardonal courses did not require moving a lot of earth.  Cowley estimates approximately 75 acres of grass is irrigated by a special system with water from the desalinization plant. The water can be shifted between the two courses. Wastewater reclaimed from local communities and treated is also being used to irrigate the golf courses. 

The challenge for Carrafiello is to meet the high standards Diamante Cabo San Lucas and its customers have set. “We’ve been fortunate in this respect to pull together the right collection of talented individuals and companies that can work together against a budget and a timeline to produce a product that our clients expect, which is a high-quality product worthy of a five-star resort,” he says. “That is the ultimate challenge, and thankfully, we’ve been delivering—whether in the villa or clubhouse or on the golf course side. Our products have been very well-received.”  

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