Have you Ever Met a Living Legend?

Meet Carlos Ungson, one of Baja’s true pioneers. Many people claim to be famous but not Carlos… however, his life story tells otherwise.

Benjamin Ungson (Carlos’ father) was just 16 years old in 1895 when he travelled across the Pacific Ocean from China to Mexico, a whole new world to him. After living in many areas of Mexico, he finally settled in Mexicali where in 1935, Carlos was born. Benjamin insisted that all his children learn to speak Spanish and their native Chinese dialect as well as English.

When he was nine, Carlos, a brother and one of his sisters were sent to boarding school in Los Angeles where Carlos thrived during his formative years. He earned an Engineer’s degree from the University of Southern California and served his first job with IWATA, an international engineering firm. In 1960, architect Alberto Triboletti received a contract to build a new hotel in Los Cabos, Mexico which lead to the question …”where?” Carlos had a feeling that his future would change dramatically.

Carlos Ungson c.1965
Carlos Ungson c.1965

The developer, Bud Parr painted a fabulous picture with tales of pristine beaches, exceptional sport fishing, spectacular scenery, and unbeatable weather! The Hotel Cabo San Lucas rose at El Tule on the dirt road between San Jose Del Cabo and the small fishing village of Cabo San Lucas.

“As I flew over the site for the first time, it was pointed out to me where the hotel would be built and I remember thinking…’where am I going and what have I gotten myself into’! It turned out to be the greatest adventure that has ever happened to me or that could happen to anyone…to experience what I did as a 25-year old!”

Building materials took weeks to arrive by boat so Carlos and his team made equipment to trim lumber, make tiles and mix cement. They also built electrical stations, water reservoirs and sewage plants… remember this was 1960 with no highway or easy access by plane.

The Hotel Cabo San Lucas soon became a world-famous destination, known as a quick get-away for Hollywood’s “Rich & Famous”. People lucky enough to discover this desert oasis found themselves enjoying a cocktail with John Wayne and Frank Sinatra, teeing off with Bob Hope and marlin fishing with Ernest Hemingway.

Carlos Ungson and Bud Parr - estimated photo date: 1965-75
Carlos Ungson and Bud Parr – estimated photo date: 1965-75

In 1961 when construction was finished, Carlos became General Manager of the hotel until 1976 when he moved on to projects such as the Palmilla Hotel, the Twin Dolphin Hotel and the Hacienda in Cabo. He invested wisely in real estate, much of which he still owns today, including the beautiful Casa Bella Boutique Hotel located in Cabo San Lucas Centro. It remains a family business with his lovely wife Maria Elena and his daughter Barbara there every day.

Carlos’ contributions have benefited Los Cabos for decades and his visionary commitment to the future will continue to do so for generations to come. Even now in his golden years, Carlos has three major projects on the go: Town Center / Riverwalk, Cabo San Lucas: located between Wal-Mart and the bullring arroyo sit 30 hectares (75 acres) which for the past 10 years have caused people to ask…”where do those two paved roads go, what will be built there?”. The answers will soon be revealed when construction of the Town Center / Riverwalk of Cabo San Lucas is started. It will be home to businesses, stores, restaurants, shops, boutique & luxury hotels, condominiums, medical facilities…everything a bustling community needs including a winding riverwalk just like in San Antonio. Of course, proximity to the beach and wonderful vistas are free.

The Town Center / Riverwalk will combine local culture with international flair. Investment opportunities are available as all permits are in place and financing is being finalized.

Satellite City, San Jose Del Cabo: located near the international airport are 300 hectares (750 acres) designated for “Cuidad Satellite, Los Cabos”, utilizing a new design of intermediate urbanization with considerations to the environmental, social, and educational interactions of residents. Schools, hospitals, police & fire stations, commercial & retail locales, residential homes, public facilities and green space make Satellite City one of the most anticipated developments to be brought to Baja.

Marina on the Pacific, Los Cerritos: located just south of Todos Santos, the property is 1100 hectares (2500+ acres) with 2 km of beachfront then across Highway 19 for 7 km up the side of the Sierra Laguna foothills. The oceanfront section will have a 200-slip marina, a signature-designed golf course, and private residences. The land sites across the highway will be home to 1 acre estate homes with panoramic vistas. The close proximity to both Cabo San Lucas and La Paz makes a 30-minute drive easy and quick.
Information about all three projects can be found at www.iicg.com

“Once in our lifetime, we are offered a wonderful opportunity which will change our lives forever. I was very fortunate and took mine 50 years ago. It can happen to anyone…we don’t do things for ourselves but for others. “
It has been my extreme privilege to know Carlos and his family for 14 years and I look forward to his on-going ventures in keeping Baja the magical place that we enjoy!

By: Brian Blackburn • e-mail: ask@caboguy.com
Article previously published in Ventanna Magazine 2008


Don Luis Bulnes Molleda

Hotelier Interview with Don Luis Bulnes Molleda, Los Cabos Magazine, Issue #11, Jaunary 22, 2007
(1929 to October 10, 2011)

“Don” Luis Bulnes Molleda at his hotel with Pacific Ocean in background. 12/19/2006 – photo © Francisco Estrada • PhotoMexico.com
“Don” Luis Bulnes Molleda at his hotel with Pacific Ocean in background. 12/19/2006 – photo © Francisco Estrada • PhotoMexico.com

Walking into the lobby of the luxurious Playa Grande Resort, my eyes immediately look upward to the five-story domed ceiling. Massive columns encircle the expansive great room, beautifully appointed with marble floors, beveled glass, Mexican winged sculptures, and lovely murals. This is a far cry from what Cabo San Lucas was a few short years ago, especially for the developer behind the scenes, Luis Bulnes Molleda.

Este año que termina pasará a la historia en el concejo de Ribadesella por acontecimientos grandes y pequeños que sus vecinos evocarán con el tiempo de muy diferentes maneras. Pero el 2011 también merece ser recordado por un hecho que ha pasado desapercibido para la inmensa mayoría, la desaparición del último indiano, Luis Bulnes Molleda, fallecido en un hospital de Los Angeles el 10 de octubre pasado. Este emigrante de fortuna nunca regresó al terruño salvo para descansar.


Adiós al héroe pionero de San Lucas
homenaje-a-don-luis-bulnesOctubre 22, 2011 – Colectivopericu
Ayer el tiempo se detuvo en este puerto. Sentimientos encontrados de tristeza alrededor de un hombre que entregó todo su amor, esfuerzo y cariño por esta tierra, como ningún otro. Don Luis Bulnes Molleda descansa en paz.


Cabo developer and sportfishing pioneer
Don Luis Bulnes Molleda dies 

He was one of the most prominent resort builders in the Cabo area and a champion for sustainable fishing

Cabo San Lucas hotelier and sportfishing pioneer Don Luis Bulnes Molleda has died.

Don Luis, who was born in 1929 in Spain and moved to Mexico as a young man to run a tuna cannery, eventually rose to be one of the most prominent developers in the Cabo area and a champion for sustainable fishing.

You can read a notice of Don Luis’ passing here at Cabovision (link provides English translation), where there are also a number of video interviews (Spanish only).

If you want to read more about Luis Bulnes and his influence on the sportfishing industry in Cabo, there is a great profile courtesy of MexFish.com entitled Luis Bulnes and the Marlin that Changed Cabo San Lucas.

You can also read more about his background as a pioneering resort builder and his thoughts on Cabo’s explosive development in this 2007 article available at loscabosguide.com.


Cabo Pioneer Dies – Rest in Peace Don Luis Bulnes Molleda

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Los Cabos lost one of his founding fathers when Don Luis Bulnes Molleda died at age 83 in a hospital in Los Angeles, US  on October 10, 2011.

Don Luis Bulnes is the mastermind behind the Solmar empire which includes the “Solmar Beach Club Resort” “Playa Grande Resort”, “Hotel Quinta del Sol”, the “Solmar Sport fishing” fleet and the restaurants “El Galeon”, “La Fonda”, “Hacienda el Coyote” and “Romeo y Julieta”.

He arrived to Cabo San Lucas with his bride Conchita in 1955, to an obscure fisherman town with 400 inhabitants, no paved roads, electricity or restaurants. Despite the desolating welcome, Don Luis Bulnes saw the potential and helped turn Los Cabos into one of Mexico best destinations.

In 1969 joined forces with Luis Coppola and started the construction of the Hotel Finisterra, a few months later he sold his interest  and started the first phase of the “Solmar Beach Club Resort”.

He was also a great advocate of responsible fishing and his employees remember him as wonderful boss, many of them have been with Don Luis since the very beginning.

If you wish to know about the influence of Don Luis  on the sport fishing in Cabo, there is a great piece of mexfish.com entitled “Luis Bulnes and the Marlin that Changed Cabo San Lucas”.

For a more detailed profile and background of Don Luis as a developer I invite you to read Sandra Berry’s interview in 2007 here.
Rest in peace Don Luis.
Source: https://alegranzavacations.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/cabo-pioneer-dies-rest-in-peace-don-luis-bulnes-molleda/


Photo of Luis Bulnes on the cover of Aqui Magazine.
Photo of Luis Bulnes on the cover of Aqui Magazine. c. 2006

aquimagazine.com/   Año 1 Vol.I no.1




Don Luis Bulnes Molleda, Cabo San Lucas

Don Luis Bulnes Molleda, Cabo San Lucas

Captain Thomas Ritchie Cabo

House of Captain Thomas Ritchie, Cabo San Lucas
House of Captain Thomas Ritchie, Cabo San Lucas

Resources for more information.

The legendary Captain Thomas Ritchie 1809 to 1872
The history of Cabo San Lucas begins in a remote place in time when it was inhabited by settlers of whom little is known even though they left tracks of their presence in the area. One of the most important findings is the Man of Matancitas with height between 1.75 and 1.80m and longevity of at least 75 years who fed on vegetables and proteins. Later inhabitants include the honest and friendly Pericúes, men with a remarkable resemblance to the more modern villagers who were well formed.
English version:

Cabo San Lucas drawing from 1867 or 1868

Cabo San Lucas • Drawing by John Ross Browne in the year 1867 or 1868  from his explorations of Lower California.
Cabo San Lucas • Drawing by John Ross Browne in the year 1867 or 1868 from his explorations of Lower California.

“Browne sketched the rocks of Cabo San Lucas as he saw them from the ship’s deck. Erosion over the century may have softened the contours, but artistic exaggeration is more likely.”  excerpt from Exploration in Lower California by Spencer Murphy.

Exploration in Lower California  by J. Ross Browne.
Exploration in Lower California 1868 by J. Ross Browne.

Exploration in Lower California 1868



Por: Eliseo Santana A.
¿Quién era John Ross Browne?
Ross fue Escritor, periodista, viajero, funcionario del gobierno y agente de la compañía Lower California Company de, y es en calidad de agente como llega a Baja California.
Nació cerca de Dublín, Irlanda el 11 de febrero de 1821,a los trece años de edad emigró a Estados Unidos con sus padres; taquígrafo, dibujante , escritor de reportajes y libros (trece de carácter científico y literario) ,aventurero. Murió, en Oakland, 7 de diciembre de 1875, a la edad de 53 años.