By John Lamkin
Half a century ago, Cancun and the Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan peninsula, were only blank spaces on the map. Today it's no undiscovered backwater, but the area still offers some of world's best values in accessible luxury real estate.
Investors, both foreign and within Mexico, are rushing to buy properties among the Caribbean coast of Mexico. This is a region already filled with high-end hotels, exclusive nightclubs, and championship golf courses, all along the Yucatan peninsula's dazzling oceanfront.
It's easy to see why the region is so popular, both for vacationers and investors. The area is easily accessible from Canada, the U.S., and major Latin American cities; it's less expensive than its competitors on other continents; and it's a steadier, more mature real estate market than in other parts of the world.
The Riviera Maya, in particular, continues to be a strong and stable place to invest, says Laura Zapata, president of the Riviera Maya real estate board. "There is no overabundance of property here. In fact, there continues to be a housing shortage, as this is a fast-growing municipality, for years one of the fastest growing in the world. It will take many more years of construction to catch up with demand. Rents also tend to be higher, which, for an investor looking for rental income…is great news."
Add some of the world's best scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and yachting for activities. Within easy driving distance are fascinating archaeological wonders such as the Maya ruins of Chichen Itzá, Tulúm and Cobá. It's a great climate both for real estate growth and personal enjoyment.
"I find it so special that I can look at the water and the colors for hours. …You couldn't give me the Pacific or the Atlantic," says Harvey Blaustein, an American realtor with a second home in the area.
© John Lamkin
In Cancun, one of the most interesting projects is Puerto Cancun, an amazing residential resort project, which is currently under construction. Situated on Cancun's last undeveloped stretch of oceanfront-on the Bay of Isla Mujeres-it's only 20 minutes from Cancun International Airport. Renowned Mexican architect Humberto Artigos designed the details of the clubhouse, the entry gates and the impressive fountains that rise geyser-like, greeting visitors to the more than 2,100 exclusive condominiums and apartments.
The plans also include a Tom Weiskopf resort golf course, a mega-yacht marina with capacity for more than 350 yachts of up to 175 feet, more than 400 gated, single-family, residential lots on the wide canals, five resorts, spas, extensive green areas, a business center, and a shopping center. The complex will occupy more than 808 acres, with a sea frontage of 1.24 miles. Thirty percent of the property has been set aside as an eco-reserve.
© John Lamkin
Puerto Cancun has home lots for sale averaging $350,000 next to the golf course, $800,000 on the canals, and $2.5 million on the oceanfront. Puerto is building the main marina, clubhouse, and golf course and is selling prime land for other projects to be constructed within the main property.
To demonstrate the type of home that can be built here, Puerto Cancun is constructing a $3.5-million, Artigos-designed four-bedroom model house on the marina's main canal. The exquisite location is mirrored by the property's soaring ceilings, massive windows, handcrafted wooden doors, fountains, and a yacht dock outside the bay window.
According to Ryan Lipp, Puerto's director of sales and marketing, the infrastructure will be finished this year, and about 75 percent of the properties are already sold.
Lipp showed me around three of Puerto Cancun's several projects that offer prime investment values: Novo Cancun Beach Marina & Resort; Las Villas de Mexico; and Las Olas Marina.
While these properties differ in some aspects, they all offer nearly every possible amenity for the ultimate in resort living. Whether you prefer golf, yachting, or just relaxing and enjoying the exquisite Caribbean colors, each property guarantees an unsurpassed living experience. Las Villas de Mexico is so popular among affluent Mexicans, who have pre-bought most units, that the company isn't even marketing it to the U.S., Canada, or Europe.
Other ultra-exclusive real estate developments in Cancun are: Isola Cancun; Maya Kaan; Cancun Towers; Bellavista Towers; Belorizonte; Sky Cancun Residences; Las Olas Marina; Diomeda Community; Torre Maioris; Atlantica Cancun; Emerald Towers and Capricho.
One of the most stunning properties in the Riviera Maya I saw is in the city of Playa del Carmen. It's a $1.5-million beachfront penthouse, just off Avenida 5, a 20-block, pedestrian-only boulevard that meanders across town to within two blocks of the pier and an interesting restored church.
© John Lamkin
Lined with upscale shops, hotels, fine restaurants and outdoor bistros, Avenida 5 makes a pleasant stroll to the three-bedroom, three-bath penthouse with an expansive rooftop terrace. This furnished corner suite in the elite, three-story, 24-unit Luna Encantada Condominiums has underground parking, an elevator, an infinity pool and spectacular views of the beach and ocean.
Further south, on Puerto Aventuras, is Casa Mediterranea, a luxurious, climate-controlled, five-bedroom oceanfront villa in an exclusive gated community. Also priced at $1.5 million, this villa has large living, dining and kitchen areas, a private swimming pool, and an oceanfront saltwater swimming pool. It's also within walking distance of the marina, along with wonderful restaurants and shops.
And don't miss Punta Roca Condos. Just down the road from the Casa, this is an exclusive new condominium project priced from around $500,000 to $1.1 million. These gorgeous beachfront properties are already more than half sold.
What was once a blank on the map has transformed into a landscape of opulent opportunity. Today, the Yucatan Peninsula is ripe with possibilities just waiting to be savored.
Story by John Lamkin, photos courtesy of the developers except where indicated