Retiring in Mexico: Larry Prater Talks about his New Life in Tepoztlan

When I decided to move here, I had to decide what to bring and what not to bring.  For better or worse, I picked out 20,000 pounds of stuff to bring, a huge truck full, everything from computers and televisions and a ten foot dining table to my mother’s ashes as well as the ashes of the little dog she loved dearly.

I gave away much more than I brought, and just left some stuff, but in retrospect, I could have done with bringing much less.

The first two weeks after we arrived here, in a caravan of three vehicles, we stayed in a little house in San Andres de la Cal, about four km. down the road from our land.  We then found a house to rent right by our property, and moved there for the next ten months while our house was being built.

We have learned a lot from this experience of building, the hard way mostly.  We had three different work crews, building a building with four apartments, two of which we live in and two of which are empty.

I thought we would rent the other two apartments for extra income.

The beautiful garden at Tepozspa
The beautiful garden at Tepozspa

When our house was finished and we moved in, we started building our spa.  This was completed in six months, which was much more efficient.  Before leaving Oklahoma, I had sold my house and my office and practice, and I used this money to build with, plus I sold what stocks I owned and spent this also.  It took all I had to build the house and spa.

I receive a Social Security check each month and this is mostly what we have lived on until recently when the spa became profitable.  Also, Alberto is a Registered Nurse and he returns to the US now and then to work for a few months at a time.
5. You undertook several construction projects on this property. What was your experience with the local authorities and the local workers? Was it difficult to undertake a construction project?

When we first got here, it took us two or three months to actually get the building permit to start our house.  Our land is considered agricultural, even though no crops have been planted here at least for the past thirty or more years.  Our first work crew only worked until 2 p.m. each day, so that was slow going.  Subsequent crews worked longer hours and therefore made faster progress.

I had used computer programs for the past few years planning our house and the spa.

The guy who did the wiring and plumbing for our house wanted to build the spa, and he was friends with some of the local authorities, and this smoothed things for the building permit for the spa and also for our business license to open when it was finished.

Outdoor table at the spa
Outdoor table at the spa

Some of the items I bought in Mexico many years ago and took to Oklahoma, I brought back when we moved here.  Arts and crafts type things, plus in planning to build, I started looking for rock carvings and such, and we incorporated many of these items in the building of our house and spa.  Also while in Oklahoma I bought some plastic molds for making cement items, and I brought these with me and our workers made several castings of cement that we incorporated into our buildings, such as a row of blocks of grasshoppers across one side of our house, and several castings of a Grecian style face that we have in various places.  Also, we discovered that the items sold locally carved from onyx and other stone are all made in the little town of Tecalli de Herrera, Puebla, about two and a half hours from here.  We drove there several times, buying about 90 wall sconces for our house, and quite a bit of granite for our house and spa.  It is much cheaper there at the factories than in Cuernavaca, although the Cuernavaca prices are only a fraction of similar items in Oklahoma.

The beautiful pool at Tepozspa
The beautiful pool at Tepozspa

6. Please tell us about the spa that you built. What type of spa is it, what kind of amenities does it offer?

I worked on the design for our spa for a couple of years before moving here, using computer programs.  When reality set in, I had to make it much smaller, but it is still rather large, the building is 400 square meters and the outside gardens are much larger.

We have a swimming pool, two hot tubs, one inside and one outside, a steam room, a dry sauna, showers, dark rooms, and lockers.  We also have small private rooms to rent.

Our spa is for men only.  Nudity is allowed.  You must be 18 or over to enter.  We are open Saturdays and Sundays only, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.  We do open a few other days of the year, such as Good Friday, which is usually our busiest day of the year.  I think that is what makes it so good.

We do not offer overnight accommodations, but there are many places to stay in Tepoztlan.

Pool scene
Pool scene

7. Where do your customers come from? And how you do you reach your customers?

Most of our customers are from Mexico City,which is one hour away.  The rest are from closer towns, such as Cuautla, Cuernavaca, Tepoztlan, and even from Puebla.  We advertise mainly on the Internet, especially Facebook.  We get most of our new customers from the Internet, and the rest from word of mouth.  We usually have a few foreigners, both US and European, some of whom live in Mexico and some of whom are visiting.

How has your business developed over the last few years? What about the vacation rental business?

This is our fourth year and we are finally having good crowds every Saturday and Sunday.

9. What does your week look like? What kind of routine do you follow?

Fridays we spend shopping for supplies for the weekend, in Cuernavaca and Tepoztlan.  We are busy all day Saturday and Sunday at the spa.  We relax on Monday and start cleaning up from the previous weekend and getting ready for the next weekend.  We are constantly making improvements to our spa, adding new features and plants.  We want it to remain the prettiest spa for men in the world.

Street in Tepoztlan
Street in Tepoztlan

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