Vivo Resorts in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico is a veritable paradise—-just ask Cary Mullen, a Canadian real estate developer and two-time Olympian. Mullen traveled around Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean visiting thirty different potential locations, from Maui to the Turks & Caicos, before setting his sights on a beachfront location ten miles from downtown Puerto Escondido, which is in the southern part of Mexico.
During his travels, Mullen, who resides in Banff, Canada, searched for the ideal spot to build a residential development that fulfilled 44 different criteria, from hurricane frequency to one that offered a low crime rate as well as having investment potential. He wanted a strong local culture and also a place where both his parents could retire that would also serve as a perfect vacation destination for his young children.
“Mother nature really blessed this area,” says Mullen, a real estate industry veteran who is now 49 years old. “Not only does it have the Sierra Madre mountains and lagoons, but it is also a great beach destination offering one of the top surfing spots in all of Mexico.”Today In: Lifestyle
Mullen, who competed all over the world as a downhill skier for Canada for which he won the World Cup Championships in 1994 and competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, also liked the international feel of the area. “It felt like a ski town to me,” adds Mullen. “I heard six languages while spending time on the water.”
A $200 Million, 75-Acre Gated Community
In 2009, Mullen launched sales on what is now a $200 million, 75-acre gated community of luxury condominiums and private homes on Palmarito Beach, a 12-mile long stretch of unspoiled coastline.
“I wanted to create an experience that actually made people feel better after their vacation was done,” says Mullen. “Travelers sometimes go through the motions of leisure vacations where they eat and drink too much, lounge too much and feel sluggish upon returning home. My company was crafted with the goal of shifting that perception. Here, guests feel rejuvenated after their time with us.”
The resort currently has 17 private homes in addition to 135 condos in seven buildings. Condos range in size from 400-square-foot studios to 2,000-square-foot four-bedroom units. There are a limited number of ocean view or mountain view lots designed for custom-built homes, as well. “All of the residences have a view of the mountains or ocean—with 90 to 95% of the condos offering an ocean view,” boasts Mullen.
The developer’s goal was to create a place where three different generations can come together. And with the mentality of an ex-Olympian, an active and healthy lifestyle is promoted here including a combination of organic food with wellness treatments and a wide array of activities from beach volleyball, yoga and aqua aerobics to a meditation zone and Tai Chi taught on the beach.
A 53,000-square-foot clubhouse offers an open-air spa (Senses Spa by Elaina) with a traditional Temazcal, a fully equipped ocean-view fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment in addition to a separate yoga/fitness class studio as well as meeting, event and work spaces.
Other amenities include two infinity swimming pools with swim-up bars, a family activity pool with a water slide. There’s also a Kid’s Club with activities for children, pickleball courts and tennis courts, and a range of on-property entertainment.
Dining options include a hacienda-style sports bar called Mezcalina’s Sports Lounge and Ernesto’s, a fine dining restaurant that features farm-to-table authentic Oaxaca cuisine made from local ingredients.
Currently, all of the already-built inventory is sold out. Purchase opportunities do exist in the two buildings currently under construction. At full build-out, which is ten years down the road, the master-planned community will feature a total of 115 private homesites and over 400 condominiums, shops, restaurants and much more.
An Enviable Climate
Mullen also chose the area because of its excellent year-round weather. As it is located in the southern part of Mexico near the equator, the weather doesn’t change much throughout the year. “This area offers the best weather in North America,” Mullen says. “The air temperature is in the eighties 365 days a year and the humidity index rarely goes above 73.”
Mullen fastidiously studied weather patterns during his search. He learned that while the rainfall was enough to keep the vegetation lush, it was never enough to spoil an entire day. “From the third week of November to the third week of May, it rains less than one inch,” he says. “Generally, it will be nice for ten days and then it will rain one night for two hours.” Even during the rainy season, there might be more than seven to ten days between rain showers, he adds.
During his travels in search of a location, Mullen found that realtors at other destinations frequently didn’t want to meet with him during the afternoon because it was windy. However, the wind is not much of a factor in this part of Mexico. On top of that, Mullen found that the water temperatures are mild here. “My dad doesn’t like cold water,” explains Mullen. “And here it is much warmer than in Hawaii, the Caribbean and other parts of Mexico including Cabo and Puerta Vallarta.”
Reduced Risk For Investors
Another important factor to Mullen was the investment opportunity—-not just for him but also for the people who would buy condos and homes from him, which is one of the reasons why he didn’t decide to build in a place with escalated prices. “I went to Maui and it cost $1,000 a square foot,” he recalls. “It was late for the investment and lifestyle. There is more upside and less downside in Oaxaca.”
Additionally, Mullen wanted to reduce the complexity and risk by doing all-cash deals. During the development period, buyers must make a deposit in cash with further payments made as each milestone is reached. While no outside financing is permitted, Vivo Resorts does offer buyers the option of a five-year payment plan.
“Our company has no financing and our owners have no financing,” he says. “We are all cash and our purchasers are all cash. There is a lot of security in that.”
If there is a shift in the economy, it is safer for everyone if there are no mortgages on the development, he explains. “It’s a slower process to develop this way, but it is also a safer model as it reduces risk for our purchasers,” he adds.
Additionally, Mullen believes he is offering inventory that will appreciate in value. “We strive to be the best beachfront value in North America and Mexico,” he says. “We deliver on both quality of service and the location.”
If the economy experiences a downturn, Vivo should not be as affected as other destinations which have already hit their peak values. “This area has not burgeoned as much because there hasn’t been as much demand,” says Mullen.
Vivo’s 20-residence condominium Laguna opened its doors to owners this past March and is fully sold-out. Construction on the 31-suite Marino is underway with concrete poured for six of its eight floors. Marino’s luxury beachfront residences will consist of 933-square-foot one-bedroom suites starting at $344,900. More than 90% of Marino’s units have already been sold to date, including all of the two-bedroom suites (each of which are approximately 1073-square-feet in size).
The foundation of a third tower, the 28-suite all-beachfront, Nautico has already been completed and its first floor is currently under construction. The building includes one, two, and three-bedroom suites. Of the remaining condos available to purchase in Nautico, there is one-bedroom residence, which is 943-square-feet in size, is priced at $347,900 while the smallest two-bedroom (1,073-square-feet) is available for $375,900. Also selling at a rapid rate, 20 of Nautico’s condos already sold.
Construction has not yet commenced on Vivo’s Botanica concept which will offer a nature-influenced design such as tropical garden courtyards, mountain views, and a large, secluded pool. The Botanica concept will feature low-rise condo buildings surrounded by gardens and pool courtyards. Suites are currently available for purchase.
Upon completion, Botanica will feature one- and two-bedroom tropical condo suites offering indoor and outdoor garden. One-bedroom units, which are 765-square-feet in size, start in price at $244,900 while residences with two bedrooms and two bathrooms are 1,025-square-feet and start at $309,900. There are 18 Botanica residences available for purchase with 30 more planned in the future.
The entire development has purified drinking provided by a deep and freshwater aquifer, which Vivo further improved with a German-built filtration and purification system. Underground electrical utilities throughout the development prevent unsightly and unreliable wiring arrangements while onsite sewage treatment allows for greywater use in landscaping, which is both economical and ecological.
Options for Homeowners
Vivo offers all buyers several different turnkey furnishing packages which include onyx sinks, granite countertops, five-hinge doors and art created by local artisans. All condos are equipped with a full kitchen, washer and dryer.
As part of its concierge program, Vivo offers homeowners a stocking service for groceries. On-site, there is a general store with groceries and several restaurants. The development offers a local shuttle service that takes guests to five different popular locations within Puerto Escondido for a small fare.
Vivo also offers a rental program that it manages on behalf of its homeowners. The rental program is a hands-free option for condo owners with everything from marketing, the reservation system and entire guest experience (from check-in to check out) provided for by Vivo. Homeowners are not required to participate, nor is there a required minimum or maximum number of weeks required.
A Growing Area
Puerto Escondido’s population (currently 45,000) is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next ten years. In anticipation of this growth, the area is receiving more than $50 billion in government investment dedicated to infrastructure projects including upgrades and improvement of local highways.
The area airport is predicted to reach one million passengers by 2025, and demand has spurred more development that has led to more supermarkets and car dealerships in the area. There are several nonstop daily flights to Puerto Escondido from Mexico City.
For more information about Vivo and real estate and vacation opportunities, see this link.
The Mazatlan Post