Sunday, April 5, 2015

The impact of Westjet on Loreto - so far!

It has now been a month and a half since Westjet began once a week direct flights from Calgary in western Canada to Loreto and I want to share some impressions of the impact that this new service has had so far.  First of all, by all reports from the numerous passengers I have spoken with, the southbound flights have been essentially booked to capacity, with few, if any, vacant seats, and from what else I have heard, the situation is similar for the northbound trips.

That means that each weekly flight of the Westjet 737-700 plane brings about 120 passengers to Loreto, mainly from western Canada, as compared to the approximate maximum of 500 passengers a week that the current daily flights Alaska/Horizon is making to Loreto from LAX in the smaller capacity Bombardier Q400 turboprop they use on this flight.  Or in other words, the new Westjet service has increased air access to Loreto by about 25% in the last month and a half.

It is also worth noting that looking at the average ticket prices, the Westjet flight in Canadian Dollars is about the same cost from western Canada as the much shorter Alaska/Horizon trip from Los Angeles, which is of course calculated in US Dollars, which actually makes this Canadian flight about 20% cheaper, considering the current exchange rate which has the Canadian Dollar around 80 cents US.  This price difference has made travelling to Loreto a more attractive option for Canadians, even if they have to connect through Calgary from elsewhere in the country.  Let alone the fact that, as a direct flight, it avoids the hassle and expense of travelling from Canada through LAX to get here and return north again.

While it would be a mistake to assume that all of that increased number of passengers wind up here in Loreto Bay, I think it is probably fair to think that a large percentage of them do.  Particularly given the fact that Calgary was one of the best markets for the original Developer during the marketing phase that started over 10 years ago.  And so, between Homeowners, their friends and families, and a presumably large number of others in the Calgary market who are familiar with Loreto because of this development, I would not be surprised if many of these new passengers are coming to Loreto to stay in Loreto Bay.

Which brings me back to the subject for this week’s posting.  Working from my Real Estate Office, which is centrally located in the larger Founders Neighborhood of Loreto Bay, I am in a good place to observe the day to day “street life” of our Community as people pass by.  And, during the past month and a half since the Westjet flights began, I have seen a definite increase in the numbers of apparent Visitors.  While that may not seem like too significant a statement to make, it does indicate a trend that I have not seen to the same extent before, in the almost 7 years I have been working in this business here.

During that period time there has been a growing number of Visitors and Renters coming to Loreto Bay and they have been a welcome, if comparatively small, addition to the Resident population.  In the past it was relatively easy to pick out these “new faces” among the many familiar acquaintances, friends and neighbors that I have come to know over the years, who live here and return to stay for varying lengths of time.  However, recently I have begun to realize that there appears to be more of these new arrivals than ever, and so now walking down the Paseo sometimes it seems there are more new faces than familiar ones.

This trend is further accented by the fact that in the past several weeks the annual exodus of winter Residents has also begun, as people who live here for months during the Season start to return to their northern homes for the summer.  So, as the numbers of Residents starts to decline and our winter Season winds down, the presence of the Visitors becomes more and more noticeable as they become a larger percentage of the population of Loreto Bay.

While in my opinion this is a very positive trend and I am excited by the prospect of a growing
number of Visitors and Renters choosing to come here for a vacation, and the potential this has for the future of Loreto Bay and the town of Loreto.  What has struck me is, that for the first time, I can begin to see how that future may look, as we hopefully welcome Westjet back again this Fall with a new schedule of Loreto flights that would extend throughout the winter Season.  And then, if I look even further into my personal “crystal ball”, to the next Airline that may be influenced by Westjet’s success here and the eventual launch of another Loreto bound flight, possibly from some other US city.

The change, that I am now seeing at this early stage, could in time cause Loreto Bay to transition from a Community with Visitors to a Resort Destination with Residents.  Now, before I am accused of predicting an immanent influx of Vacationers descending on Loreto Bay and turning it into some kinder, gentler version of Cabo (perish the thought!) let me be clear – I believe that our Community, and the many hundreds of Homeowners who live here for part of the year, will not only survive, but thrive in a future that includes a growing number of Tourists that will choose to share this special place that we have helped to create here.

After all, originally we were all Visitors here, and those of us who were willing and able to invest in a dream, either as it was offered to us by the original Developer during the initial 5 year marketing phase, or more recently to those who have chosen to join our community over the years since, we all recognized the special qualities that make this place unique.  And now, as I watch the growing numbers of these newcomers passing by the doors of my Office on a daily basis, I realize that we may now be seeing the beginning of yet another Chapter of “Living Loreto”!