Each morning Jerry Bruner wakes up on his farm in Uruguay. He checks in on his animals…Jack the Labrador…Carbon the tiger-stripe cat…the chickens…the geese…and half-a-dozen beef cattle who roam a fenced-off, green pasture.
The farm covers 27 acres of greenery and is a world away from Jerry’s native Nevada. What Jerry loves most about Uruguay is its climate, countryside, and culture. It has four distinct seasons and—being from the desert—he loves the lush farmland, grazing land, orchards, forests, rivers, and beautiful beaches.
“Uruguay offers about as good a combination of climate and countryside as you are likely to find,” says Jerry. “We are free from annoyances like earthquakes, volcanoes, or hurricanes…and the local people are among the friendliest and most helpful people I have encountered.
After checking the animals, he has coffee with his friend Pat who rents a second home on the property, and then makes the 10-mile drive to the coast where he owns a 16-room hotel, with restaurant and bar.
For some, retirement is all about having more leisure time but not Jerry. He moved from Nevada to Uruguay in 2010 in search of a meaningful challenge and purposeful interaction…and so he bought the hotel.
The Viapark Hotel sits above a popular beach in the small town of Parque del Plata, on Uruguay’s Costa de Oro (Gold Coast). During the Southern Hemisphere summer months of January and February, it fills up with beach-goers. In winter it becomes calmer. After the summer crowds are gone, surfers, fishermen, and folks strolling the shoreline emerge.
“It reminds me of how the coast of central California used to be,” says Jerry.
Owning a hotel in Uruguay has been a fascinating adventure for him.
Jerry bought it, turnkey, just before the 2012/2013 high season. The place had been renovated and remodeled shortly before he purchased it, and included a new commercial kitchen. The business came with 12 existing employees with backgrounds ranging from no previous work experience to a retired bank manager.
Jerry has a long history with commercial real estate in the U.S., but not with food service. He is now considering leasing the restaurant and beach bar to someone else to operate, keeping his focus on the real estate and hotel operations.
The Viapark Hotel is a red-hot earner during the high season, when the occupancy rate is close to 100%. It has a 50% occupancy during the shoulder-months.
It’s enough to afford him a good lifestyle in a country he loves…but he is keen to continue marketing and improving it.
He is living his dream retirement. One that keeps him busy and involved.
“The payoffs I appreciate most are the friendships and connections with the community that are forming,” says Jerry. “In short, Uruguay is beginning to feel like home.”
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