BEACHFRONT LIVING IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO
A quiet beachfront community on Mexico’s Pacific coast may be just the haven you’re searching for.
Standing with arms stretched wide open, Mcquaid can barely contain his enthusiasm. There’s almost an undertone of disbelief in his own good fortune. Apparently, his exuberance is contagious. Sales are booming as predominantly Canadian boomers swoop in to claim their dream winter retreat in Mexico.
In conversation with resident condo owners, it’s crystal clear they love their little community situated on 30 hectares of beachfront property and are convinced their investment is sound for generations to come.
Cradled between Palmarito Beach on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, and just a 25minute drive north of Puerto Escondido (Oaxaca), the Vivo Resorts project is the brainchild of two-time Canadian Olympian and World Cup champion downhill skier, Cary Mullen. Apparently, Mullen carefully considered and declined 30 potential destinations around the world rated against 44 factors before settling on this little-known surfing destination on Mexico’s Emerald Coast for his venture.
So why here? Aside from expansive ocean vistas and the mountainous backdrop, the area offers the best year-round weather of any beachfront location in North America. It’s also located in a low-risk hurricane zone and has two regional airports within a fourto six-hour flight from most major North American cities. And from December through April, breezy daily temperatures hover around 31 C under near cloudless skies.
Phase 1 is built and owned. The new Laguna and Marino buildings are under construction. Priced from US$312,900 for a one-bedroom, beachfront Nautico units are selling quickly, with construction scheduled to begin once 75 per cent of the building is sold. Also for sale are the Botanica properties, featuring lush, atriumlike garden courtyards and some of the largest pools at the resort. Since these offer no ocean view, prices here are lower, with one-bedroom units starting at US$219,900. As Mcquaid sees it, “And you’re just steps from the ocean! Think of how good you’ll feel knowing how much you saved on your short daily walk to the beach.” There are also options for custom homes and all units are sold fully equipped and furnished. Upon completion, the community will include 114 private home sites and up to 600 condos—double Mullen’s original plan.
To help offset their expenses, owners can opt into a rental program. Vivo takes care of the marketing and reservations and the net income is split 70/30 in favour of the owner, after expenses, which average about 22 per cent of the rental revenue. As one owner confided, “I can live here very comfortably on my Canadian pension and old-age security.”
On-site facilities currently include a clubhouse with Grand Palapa event space, a farm-to-table dining restaurant, a sports lounge and pool bar, a day spa, an oceanview fitness club and two community pools, with more to come as the development expands. (Owners enjoy a 20 per cent discount on meals and bar purchases.) Daily programs such as yoga, Pilates, pool exercises, cooking classes and turtle releases are offered for a nominal fee, if any. An on-site grocery store sells day-to-day basics as well as alcoholic beverages and a supervised kids’ club welcomes four-year-olds and up at no cost between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. All-inclusive packages and long-stay discounts are available to renters.
The closest town, Chilla (pop. 8,000), is a 15minute drive from the resort. Consisting of two main streets—cinquo de Mayo and 17 Septiembre—the town features a street market, festivals, soccer games, cock fights and, I’m told, a very good Chinese restaurant.
Farther south and ranked the third best surfing spot in the world, Puerto Escondido (pop. 45,000) is home to fishermen, surfers, vacationers and an eclectic expat community. It does not cater to high-end tourists as much as nearby Huatulco and its sprawling public beaches are lined with small to midsize hotels and restaurants. Tourists, here, are attracted to the endless sunshine from December to May, the laid-back lifestyle and the very affordable cost of living.
There are three main beaches near the main part of town and several other smaller beaches to the west. As the name suggests, Playa Principal is centrally located. Parallel to this beach, Avenida Perez Gasga is a pedestrian-only street known as Adoquín, which turns into an artisan market at night. To the east, Playa
Zicatela, known as the Pipeline of Mexico, has attracted surfers since the 1960s. The main drag is full of hotels, shops, bars, waterfront restaurants and spas. Connected to Zicatela Beach, the bohemian community of La Punta (The Point) has its own village feel with inexpensive restaurants, bars and surf shops lining unpaved roads shaded by palm trees.
West of Playa Principal are the smaller, isolated beaches of Playa Manzanillo, Puerto Angelito, Playa Carrizalillo and Playa Coral, all popular with the expat population and centred around the Rinconada, a divided boulevard lined with restaurants and shops. From here, descend 157 steps down to Playa Carrizalillo where you’ll find more restaurants, and if your food and drink bill exceeds 100 pesos (about C$7), your sun chair rental is free. For splendid sunset views, reserve a table at the popular clifftop Restaurante El Espadín.
Since our Vivo Resorts condo is fully equipped, we prepare many of our own meals and there’s no better place to shop in Puerto Escondido than the Mercado Benito Juarez where row upon row of goodies are sold. Fruits, vegetables, juices, flowers, meat, fish, clothing, footwear, furniture, jewellery, spices, bread—it’s all here. Local delicacies include chapulines (sun-dried grasshoppers flavoured with chili), locally grown peanuts and, of course, the famous Oaxacan cheeses. Nearby, the Binisa Café is renowned for chocolate, the best espresso, local honey and fresh peanut butter.
SAVOUR THE SIGHTS
On a tour of Laguna de Manialtepec, we explore the mangrove wildlife in the area. The lagoon is known for its bioluminescence activity, best experienced at night between October and mid-december. The food served at the on-site open-air restaurant, La Puesta del Sol, is excellent and highly recommended whether you tour the lagoon or not.
Ocean safaris are also available. During the dry winter season, expect to spot humpback whales with their young, dolphins, rays, and three species of turtles, including endangered leatherback turtles.
Surfing, paddleboarding and other waterbased activities can be arranged by the resort and Vivo’s on-site Senses Spa offers a variety of treatments in a tranquil, open-air space.
Renowned for its fresh seafood, Mexican cuisine at the Vivo Resorts is amazing and there is certainly no shortage of restaurants in Puerto Escondido. In addition to our tasty meals at Ernesto’s (Vivo Resorts), Restaurante El Espadín and La Puesta del Sol, I highly recommend Fresh Restaurant and Lounge on Playa Zicatela and Pascale Restaurant Bar & Grille on Bahia Principale.
Needless to say, we’ll definitely be back.
OPPOSITE: Ideal for long-term stays, fully equipped condos at the Vivo Resort in Puerto Escondido are spacious and most offer splendid views of the Pacific Ocean. LEFT: A carpet of beautiful water lilies floats in the Laguna de Manialtepec.V&V Hospitality & Media Services
ABOVE LEFT: The surf and turf selection at Pascale Restaurant Bar & Grill on Bahia Principale in Puerto Escondido is delightful. ABOVE RIGHT: From fashions and furnishings to fresh flowers, produce and seafood, you’re sure to find whatever you desire at the Mercado Benito Juarez in Puerto Escondido. BELOW: The very popular Restaurante El Escadín overlooks Playa Carrizalillo and offers beautiful sunset views. V&V Hospitality & Media Services
LEFT: A view of Puerto Escondido on the west coast of Mexico. RIGHT: Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Ernesto’s restaurant at the Vivo Resort. V&V Hospitality & Media Services