BEACH­FRONT LIV­ING IN PUERTO ESCONDIDO

A quiet beach­front com­mu­nity on Mex­ico’s Pa­cific coast may be just the haven you’re search­ing for.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY DONNA S. VIEIRA

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.

THE VI­SION

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.

LO­CAL COM­MU­NI­TIES

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

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