In these times of rapid change we need every clue we can gain to help us see how we as individuals should evolve. We need to use data and our intelligence that goes beyond logic.
Gary & Merri Scott working with Indigenous leader in Ecuador.
Merri and I have been leaders in many ideas over the past 43 plus years. We invested in places like Hong Kong, Japanese and the Swiss stock market (1980s), the London and Manx real estate market way before the skyrocketed. Plus many others including Ecuador and Naples, Florida.
Naples has a special connotation because this is the place where Merri’s and my business together began… about 30 years ago.
In the process of building my micro business, I was living in London and used to travel to the US and conduct one day seminars. I would travel one day, conduct a seminar (on my own)… travel the next…usually for about ten days at a time. I charged $99. 15 to 30 people usually attended each seminar.
This was an exhausting schedule. Merri was a delegate at one of my seminars in New York and she saw that I needed help.
She offered to help me out by editing my first book and she also offered to organize a seminar for me in Naples, Florida… which was her home.
Many had offered to help me organize seminars… but this was in the early 1980s and most Americans had not caught onto the idea of investing abroad yet.
When I conducted seminars back then, the few who attended were really enthusiastic… but they were far and few between. They did not realize how few Americans were ready to hear about currencies and markets overseas. When others tried to organize groups.. they always failed. So I had grown a bit harsh… after showing up to several seminars with no one but the organizer. I had set a fee… $2,000 for a one day seminar… regardless of how many delegates the organizer attracted.
I told this to Merri and she pinned me down. “So… no matter how many people are at the seminar… I pay you just $2,000?” She reconfirmed this several times.
She arranged a seminar… I flew to Naples and went straight to the Naples Beach Club Hotel in Naples where the seminar was to be conducted. I walked into a meeting room and there were 99 people. I started to leave thinking I was in the wrong room. “This is your group,” Merri said.
This was my largest seminar ever and needless to say my math was not that bad. 99 people at $99 each… $9,801. My fee was $2,000. I often joke that I proposed to Merri to get that other $7,800!
Not really. Our work together turned into something far deeper and we have not spent a night apart since we wed. In fact 90% pf the time we have been within shouting distance. On our 25th anniversary I told her we had more actual time together than those who had been wed 50 years but spent each day apart.
She’s a fantastic business partner… even better wife and most of all a wonderful caring person. I still enjoy every day.. every minute with her and am a better man for it. (I think she does too… enjoys being with me that is). What a great deal!
Walking to a seminar at their Blue Ridge seminar center.
Yet this is only a small point of the story… that began in Naples, Florida at the Naples Beach Club Hotel… about 30 years ago.
Rush forward three decades. Merri and I first moved into a big, old house… one of the first dozen houses built in Naples, just a few steps from the beach… in terrible condition. We slowly fixed it up. We love big old structures… the sense of history… the rich architecture… the untold stories sitting under the roof and we love how a bit of paint and style can really enhance value. We fixed it and sold it for a whopping profit.
Then we moved on started fixing an old run down farm in the Blue Ridge and a 180 year old hotel in Ecuador.
After about 15 years of this we have the farm in great shape as well as the hotel and two years ago… became attracted to Florida again after the great real estate crash of 2008 and 2009. We purchased another big old place and began fixing again.
In each case before we were ahead of the curve. After we moved to Naples, Ashe County, North Carolina and Ecuador… real estate prices absolutely exploded… up.
In a minute you’ll see why I feel the same is true here in Mt. Dora now… and how Merri and I take clues beyond logic when we invest.
As mentioned, Merri and I love old places… to fix up. We also love staying in old hotels and appreciate the efforts of others to preserve the wonders of the past… so when we have seminars, we try to have them in great historic hotels.
We of course have our colonial Cotacachi Inn Land of the Sun for sessions in Ecuador…
Inn Land of the Sun courtyard.
In the USA we have had seminars in Mt. Washington (the old hotel there is where the Bretton Woods agreement was originated) in New Hampshire. The Green Park Inn in Blowing Rock (shown below), the…
the Bellview Biltmore in Tampa (below) are some of the old hotel venues we have used.
In Europe we have conducted seminars in castles as well as old hotels. We had several seminars at a fabulous old castle outside of Baden in Austria.
We used the Burleigh Court Hotel and Amberly Inn in Gloucstershire and many other old places in England, Hungary, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Isle of Man and more.
Burleigh Court Hotel.
So after choosing Mt. Dora a s a place to invest, it was natural for us to choose old places in Mt. Dora as well. We have been using the Lakeside Inn, the oldest continuously operating hotel in Florida… dating back to 1883 as our seminar center.
Here is where events become interesting.
Earlier this month meeting rooms at the Lakeside Inn were not available for our January seminar. The Masons were kind enough to let us use the Masonic Hall in Mt. Dora which is the Donnelly House…. a historic site in the center of Mt. Dora that the Mason have lovely restored. A word about the Masons in a moment.
Merri and I found the grand master of the Mt. Dora Lodge to be delightful to work with and discovered with interest that he had moved to Mt. Dora from Naples.
Then as we organized our February International Investing and Business seminars to be conducted at the Lakeside Inn we met the new owner who not only turns out to also have just moved up from Naples, but was general manager of the Beach Club Hotel where Merri and I really began. Excerpts below from the Naples Daily News article explains: NAPLES — It’s hard to get Jim Gunderson to talk about Naples.
He has a lot of material on the subject. Gunderson spent 20 years in Naples, most recently as the general manager of the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club on Gulfshore Boulevard, and he’s seen a lot of changes in the town and hospitality industry here.
But Gunderson is eager to look forward, not back, and for him, forward means Mount Dora, northwest of Orlando, and the historic Lakeside Inn.
Gunderson and his wife, Alexandra, just closed on the 89-room hotel and, after a career spent as a hired gun, he’s excited to be working for himself.
“This is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the state of Florida,” Jim Gunderson said of Lakeside Inn, sitting in the living room of his Port Royal home in Naples. “It’s almost unheard of for a property like this to come onto the market.”
Gunderson said that in some ways reminds him of what Naples used to be.
“Naples is no longer a secret. Many aspects are still wonderful and great,” he said, but the town has become a city. “When I come back (from Mount Dora), that’s when I see how big Naples has become.”
Gunderson had a hand in bringing all those people to Naples himself. He took a job as resident manager at the Naples Beach Hotel, or the Beach Club as Naples old-timers still call it, in 1990, after spending nine years crisscrossing the country for the Marriott hotel chain.
Naples was not “on the map” then in the way it is now, he said. “Naples still didn’t have it. You had to tell people where Naples was. They knew it was in Florida, but not where,” he said.
After two years in Naples, Gunderson was promoted to director of operations, and then named general manager in 1995, he said. During his time at the Beach Club, which he left at the end of March, they undertook continuous improvements to upgrade the guests’ experience, and meet or exceed expectations.
“We changed everything. We made numerous room improvements, built the tennis center, renovated the golf course, and added the clubhouse and spa” plus the meeting center across Gulfshore Boulevard from the rest of the hotel, he said. “You can’t be successful in the hotel business and be mediocre. Expectations become higher and higher every day. You have to focus on quality.”
That thought takes Gunderson back, inevitably, to Mount Dora and the Lakeside Inn.
“It still needs work,” he said. “I’ve got my whole little list.”
With a staff of approximately 50, the inn is tightly woven into the fabric of Mount Dora, which grew up around it after the hotel was founded in 1883.
“The inn touches people there. Everyone was happy it’s staying in business,” he said. “Mount Dora is this amazing little town, full of antique shops, and sidewalks everywhere. There are hills, for one thing” – hence the name. “There are horse-drawn carriages touring, and people sit out on the porch on rocking chairs just watching the world go by.”
The hotel is built on a hill overlooking Lake Dora, with sunsets over the lake every night.
“It’s like the Carolinas, or New England. Mount Dora has the feel of a college town for adults,” Gunderson said. “Naples is great, but if you want to escape, come to Mount Dora.”
Photo of Lakeside Inn from Naples Daily News article.
These are the type of clues that Merri and I look for in our business and investing… coincidences that show us we are on the right track. Our love for Florida.. the choice of Mt. Dora and our love of old places that can be improved. Now we see two others… really sharp business people from Naples… whom we never knew before… also fixing up wonderful old places in Mt. Dora.
The Beach Club Naples… Lakeside Inn Mt. Dora connection especially resonates because that’s where Merri’s and my seminar business together began and has come full circle.
One way to see Mt. Dora. I am forever grateful to the Freemasons and all their affiliate organizations. When I was very young child, our family had a serious health problem. My dad was a blue collar working for the City of Portland and there was no way he could afford the medical attention that was required. The Shriners stepped in and paid for everything. Surgeon…. long hospital stay…. therapy after. Mom and dad did not pay a penny. Without that help, my life and that of my family would have never been close to the same.
This story of Masonic charity is still going strong today. The Masons contribute over $2.5 million dollars of charitable contributions…. a day. So I was delighted when the Masonic Lodge offered a great way for delegates at our February Mt. Dora seminars to enjoy a fun way to get to know this wonderful town better… with a ghost walk. After the Friday sessions February 11, we see Mt. Dora.
Our quickly changing world means there is more and more we cannot hope to know or understand. We need ways to see how we can invest and serve that go beyond logic. Merri and I are thankful when we see clues… glimpses that mean nothing and everything at the same time.
We’ll look at how to invest and do business beyond logic at our Mt. Dora International Investing and Business Course February 11, 12, 13. We hope to see you there.
At the Mt. Dora seminar, you can learn how to get special value house lots in Ecuador for $1,000.
Four days left to order Ecuador valentine’s Roses.