Ochoa Hills Land First Project at Punta Lobos

Ochoa Hills Golf Course Architects, the collaborative venture formed last year by Alejandro Ochoa and the partners at Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates (AHSF), has inked its first course design project: Punta Lobos, a 54-hole development located on 3,000 acres along the Pacific Ocean, 40 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas.

Punta Lobos ("Sea Lion Point") is owned by the Santa Ana family, stewards of the seaside property since 1803. The three golf courses, real estate, hotels and marina will take root on coastal terrain made verdant by active arroyos channeling fresh falling water from the Sierra de La Laguna Mountains. Groundbreaking is expected in early 2010.

"When Ochoa Hills Golf Course Architects was formed in 2008, Punta Lobos was exactly the sort of premium project we had envisioned," said Arthur Hills, principal and founder of Toledo, Ohio-based AHSF. "The Ochoa name is a powerful brand in Mexico, and we intend to burnish it with a world-class golf experience at Punta Lobos. The property is remarkable. We expect the finished product will lay the foundation for many Ochoa Hills projects to come."

Ochoa is the elder brother of world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa and a principal in the Guadalajara-based Ochoa Group (www.osports.com.mx), one of the country's leading player-representation, golf academy and event-management firms. As a partner in the firm, he serves as chief business development officer, working in concert with Gary Hart, director of Pacific and Western U.S. regions for AHSF. Ochoa also has several solo course design projects under his belt; he will delve more seriously into the process at Punta Lobos, alongside his AHSF partners.

"Arthur Hills has one of the most respected bodies of work in all of course architecture," Ochoa explained, "and I want to do more than secure development deals for our partnership. I want to learn course architecture from a master - in the way one learns a craft or fine art, so that we might create great golf courses, together. Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest have afforded me this opportunity and Punta Lobos is the start."

Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates is one of the most active design firms in golf, with a portfolio of some 200 original designs and 130 renovations on four continents. In addition to its projects in the U.S., AHSF has flourished abroad with design projects recently completed and currently underway in Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Morocco, Russia, Belize, Canada, the Caribbean and, of course, Mexico.

Punta Lobos will reflect the style, sensibility and natural attributes of Todos Santos ("All Saints"), a town as famous for its climate as for its colorful, bohemian culture. It will also reflect the values of the Santa Ana family, which has balanced commercial concerns with environmental stewardship in this corner of Baja California Sur for more than 150 years - from the sugar cane boom of the 19th century, through the 1930s when it pioneered organic farming in the region, to the rebirth of Todos Santos today as a cultural center.

"Back in the mid 1800s, my grandfather took care of this land and he left a lot of love in it," said family patriarch Jose Santa Ana Pineda. "Punta Lobos will be a place where buyers will become much more than another member of a luxury residential community. They will become part of the two centuries of tradition and heritage that built Todos Santos."

The Santa Ana Family has assembled a capable team to develop the components vital to the community's character. The firm of EDSA will direct the sustainable land-planning effort, combining culture and program elements with what the natural environment has to offer: remarkable terrain, beautiful views, and an inherent relationship with water. Ochoa Hills Golf Course Architects will lay out the three 18-hole courses - the semiprivate Punta Lobos Golf Club and the private Rancho Santa Ana Golf Club - while relying on AHSF's long history as a leader in environmental course design.

"There will be two luxury boutique hotels at Punta Lobos," says Punta Lobos director of sales Jesus Ruibal Santa Ana. "The brands have not yet been determined, but elsewhere we have chosen the very best: Ochoa Hills and EDSA, known for their work on signature resorts such as Atlantis in the Bahamas, El Conquistador in Puerto Rico, and numerous projects in Mexico. So the hotels must be up to this standard. We are planning on between 650 and 850 real estate units, but the final number will be determined by our architects and land planners."

The private Rancho Santa Ana will take shape on property east of Highway 19, the coastal road connecting Todos Santos with Cabo San Lucas to the south, while Punta Lobos Club will be built west of the highway. Ultimately, all three courses will be operated by Borders Golf Group (www.bordersgolfgroup.com).  

Design collaboration is a long-established practice at AHSF. Partner Brian Yoder, who will work with Arthur Hills and Ochoa at Punta Lobos, spearheaded well-known designs as Bay Harbor GC in northern Michigan and El Conquistador in Puerto Rico. Journey at Pechanga, named to Golf Magazine's "Top 10 New Courses You Can Play" for 2008, was laid out by an AHSF team led by partner Forrest. Two others include Wolfdancer Golf Club at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Austin, Texas - designed by a team led by AHSF partner Chris Wilczynski -and Oitavos Dunes, site of the European PGA Tour's Portuguese Open, designed by partner Drew Rogers working closely with Hills.

"Our team approach has served our clients well," Hills explained. "The sharing of design responsibility has diversified and invigorated our work, our brand, if you will. The addition of Alejandro to this team is consistent with this approach."

"I am realistic," adds Ochoa. "Hills/Forrest has so much experience and I am just starting. They have such a great reputation in golf course design. Ochoa is a very big name in Mexican golf. This is why our partnership makes a good combination, a very interesting mix of talents."

For more information about Punta Lobos, contact Gary Hart at AHSF (480/563-3125, ghart@arthurhills.com) or Alejandro Ochoa (aochoa@grupoochoa.com.mx, + 52 3312 0208 77). For more information about AHSF, visit www.arthurhills.com.