The resort town of Huatulco in the Oaxaca state of Mexico offers a very different landscape and attitude than Mexico's better—known luxury real estate markets, but with plenty of upscale living opportunities.
Huatulco, Oaxaca is one of the many planned tourist destinations designed by Mexico's National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism: Fonatur. Different from the likes of Cancun or Los Cabos (also developed by Fonatur), Huatulco's planning has taken a more ecologically–friendly tack. The city has developed a low–density master plan, and has a real focus on clean beaches that can be felt when you vacation there. According to international tourism advisory group EarthCheck, 100% of the region's energy comes from renewal sources.
Brent May, owner of Bayside Real Estate, a boutique real estate company in Huatulco, believes the eco–friendliness of the destination is one of its biggest draws.
"Two-thirds of the entire region is national park and green spaces and they also put restrictions on the developers. I think the low-density master plan really helps the area retain a small–town feel."
This also means that a federal review process is in place for every new project built along this slice of Oaxaca coastline. There are height and building restrictions, environmental impact reports, and green space requirements, all with the aim of developing the area sustainably.
Local Remax agent Kino Healy says that the process gives Huatulco luxury real estate buyers a certain level of security: "All projects have to go through Federal oversight, which is very positive. There are fewer games that can be played with pricing or scams; it gives a great benchmark"
A More Sustainable Version of Luxury Living
Here you won't find long stretches of development without a tree in sight or towering hotels that block the ocean view for miles behind them. If you want to buy a penthouse on the 14th floor look elsewhere. If you want low–key luxury, Huatulco is your paradise.
For most buyers, they want the latter. "Huatulco is a place of laid-back luxury," says Healy, "Very moneyed people like it here because they can just relax and hang out without much fuss. This is a place for people who know who they are and what they want in life and don't need to be entertained."
The area, a series of 9 bays, 36 beaches and several small towns, is extremely tranquil. There is no bustling nightlife or luxury brand shopping. Huatulco appeals to a clientele that wants peace and quiet—and a pampered beach life. Its other big benefit is that it's safe. While that may be true of many Mexican cities, it can't be said about a fair number of coastal towns where contraband smugglers are constantly looking for a drop-off point. The Army and Navy both have a base there. These mean a lot to newcomers, especially those from foreign countries inundated with bad press about Mexico, and nationals coming from areas like Acapulco where the negative news stories are their weekly reality.
"We are equally affected by the good and bad press in Oaxaca City," says local Century 21 agent Crisanterna Rameriz. "When there are travel warnings about Oaxaca they include the entire state, even when none of those things are happening here. When last year's earthquake happened, people were nervous because we were so close to the epicenter, but because of Huatulco's planning we saw almost no damage here. Our beaches are clean, it's peaceful, you can walk on the street at three in the morning and ride a bike easily through town."
Along the series of bays and small beaches that dot the Oaxacan coastline are several main areas of development. Santa Cruz, Chahue, Arrocito, and Conejos Bay are all areas with growing populations and real estate offerings.
Huatulco's Most Desirable Real Estate Areas
"Santa Cruz is very popular, mostly because of the bay," says May, "it's very deep and very calm. It's great for paddleboarding, kayaking, and kids. There are also amenities that people can walk to, so they don't feel like they have to have a car. There are restaurants and shops and the marina is there. Chahue is also very popular for the same reasons."
If you want to be in a downtown Santa Cruz, Cruz del Mar is a good options according to May, for Chahue, the Sueno del Mar development, but most of the buzz is directed towards Huatulco developments scattered down the coast, out of town centers.
With an inventory limited by local regulations and the speed of the area's growth, there are a handful of newer Huatulco real estate developments that local agents are excited about.
Cosmo, where I stayed during my visit, is 90% completed, with a final two buildings (that will be a separate entity from the rest of the complex) called Eleven by Cosmo set to be finished at the beginning of 2019. The original Cosmo development consists of 8 condo buildings (each limited to three levels) with a small gym, restaurant and various pools scattered throughout the complex. In the main development, the partial-view condos are less enchanting than the full ocean-view condos, and the villas built right at the water's edge are absolutely stunning (500 and 900 square meters and US $2.1 and $2.4 million respectively). Each has an open floorplan, master bedrooms facing the sea, and individual swimming pools.
© Bayside Realty
The newest two-bedroom condos at Eleven by Cosmo will be the closest purchasable condos to the beach in Huatulco when they are finished (there are others a similar distance, but all are timeshare or rental). The penthouses in each building have rooftop terraces that are going to be an incredible place to have a drink at dusk.
The complex has access to the tiny Arrocito beach, also open to the public, that is supremely calm and easy to swim in. The complex sits in an area that is mainly residential and/or hotels, meaning few restaurants or shops. I saw just about everything getting delivered while I was there, however, even someone's dry cleaning hanging off the back of a motorcycle.
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