Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

It’s a warm day, and the sun is shining as temperatures rise. But under the shade of a tiki hut, all is cool. 

Walk past the palm trees and into the pool to a swim-up bar, where a submerged bench awaits.  The table has its own thatched umbrella for shade. 

This scene would be right at home on the sandy beaches of Cancun, but it is a bit out of place in Casa Linda. That’s exactly why neighbors Jim and Kelly Hughes like it. 

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

Jim grew up in the landlocked, barren winter wasteland of Minnesota, and the wintry mixes there made him a quick lover of the tropics. The couple visits Cancun twice a year and considered moving there, but they didn’t want to be far from their children.

Instead, they brought Cancun to Casa Linda.

When they bought the house in 1998, the backyard was overgrown and split with a fence. They soon cleared the land and began building their own personal paradise. Over the years, they put in a pool, planted palm trees, banana trees, flowers, cacti and other tropical flora.

“A lot of people think palm trees can’t survive. It was trial and error, and we lost a few,” Jim says.

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

As beautiful as it is, the Hughes were pleased to find that it is a low-maintenance way to landscape. The yard includes Mexican fan palms and Texas palms, which are a bit hardier for Dallas winters. Palmetto palms, date palms and sago palms add to the 18 tropical trees in the backyard. There are also canna plants with bright red flowers and 20 agave cacti dotted around the edge of the pool.

The tanning ledge, hot tub, decorative parrot and expansive deck make the Hughes’ tropical paradise the perfect place to entertain. Their contractor and neighbor, Bugoslav Butchikowski, helped build the tiki huts.

The Hughes have been married for 35 years and raised two children in their Casa Linda home. Both were police officers, and Jim now works as a consultant with the North Texas Crime Commission. Kelly is enjoying her recent retirement, and they spend plenty of time sitting, swimming and entertaining in their Casa Linda Cancun.

“I am a frustrated beach person,” Kelly says. “We recreated it the best we could.”

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.