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US$13m cliffside mansion up for sale in Mexico

Developer's house, which was completed in 11 months, has five pools and a six-car garage

New York

DICK Butera, a real estate developer and one-time owner of Aspen's Hotel Jerome, regularly leaves Aspen for Mexico during Christmas.

Fourteen years ago, he bought a house in Careyes, Mexico - an area on the Pacific Coast south of Puerto Vallarta - and a year later, he discovered that a nearby, three-acre peninsula was for sale. So he bought that, too.

"It didn't take much for me to say: 'This is an unusual piece of land,'" he said. "It's got water on three sides."

He brought the Mexico City-based architect Manolo Mestre, whose first reaction, Mr Butera recalled, was "Oh, my God."

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Mr Butera decided to build a house on the property, and he wanted to do it fast. "I had a meeting on the site with the superintendent and said: 'Look. You've got to understand that at my age (he's now 82), each Christmas is a huge percentage of how many I have left, and if you can get this done before this upcoming Christmas, I'll give a 5 per cent bonus to everyone.'"

He brought in 250 builders and artisans to complete the project, built a village nearby where the workers could sleep and eat, "and it became a kind of cult, trying to finish this house in time", Mr Butera said.

In total, the 18,000 square-foot-house was completed in 11 months.

"It became a source of pride to get this done, and get it done beautifully," he added.

Now, Mr Butera is putting it on the market with Scott Davidson of Christie's International Real Estate for US$13 million. "But then I look at videos of the property, and they make me not want to sell it," he said.

Not counting a 2,000-square-foot caretaker's house at the entrance of the property, the house has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms.

There are five pools - three main pools, and then each of the two attached guesthouses has its own dipping pool.

The main house is accessed by a palm-tree-lined walkway and has a massive family room and a "playroom" with a foosball table, gym, and theatre. There's also a large chef's kitchen, dining room, and a range of terraces with outdoor lounge areas. The master suite is more than 1,000 square feet, and there's a six-car garage.

Every room in the house is different.

"The concrete floors all have a design; we had 35 indigenous people from a tribe who still does (the decoration) by hand," he said. "They were there for five months. You have to see it to believe it, because it's something that doesn't get done anymore."

The property might be three acres, but the house itself is perched at the very edge of the cliff.

There's no direct way down to the water, Mr Butera said, "but being on a cliff is the best way to be on the ocean", he added. "There's no bugs, or crabs, and you're better off when hurricanes hit."

For a while, Mr Butera spent 12 to 16 weeks a year at the house. The rest of the year the property mostly sat empty; family would stay in it occasionally, and even less frequently he would rent it out for a week for a charity auction.

"I don't send a lot of people down there," he said, "because it's not the kind of place where I'd send people I don't know very well."

That said, when visitors do come over, he added, they're impressed. "I've had some extraordinarily ..." Mr Butera paused - "well, rich people - you can call them, I guess - over to the house" he said. "And they're amazed."

Mr Butera decided to part with the property once his son fell in love with golf. There isn't a course near the home in Careyes, he pointed out, "and I'm 82, I'm not a billionaire, I'm not a party guy. I can't just have that real estate sitting there."

His plan, he said, is to sell the house and buy a home in America on a golf course, so his son can follow his passion.

"Everyone is shocked that I'm selling, though," he noted. "It's not just a house. It's something else."  BLOOMBERG

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