The Yucatan Peninsula is most commonly known for the FONATUR development of Cancun. In 1975 the area was a mere jungle along a one-of-a-kind stretch of white sand beach basically visited only by locals mainly by boating in. The Mexican Federal government saw the opportunity to create a special tourist area and thus Cancun was born. While there is much known about the many resorts, nightlife and commercial stature of Cancun, I want to focus on the other two jewels in the area that are less famous but equally beautiful and unique.
THE SECOND JEWEL!
The Maya Riviera is located on the east coast of the southern tip of Mexico. Specifically it is located just 10 miles south of Playa Del Carmen in the State of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It is conveniently located and easily accessible a mere 1.6 kilometers from the main highway between Cancun and Tulum. The main highway running south of Cancun continues all the way down to Belize with much of the road being four lanes divided between Cancun to Tulum.
One of the most fascinating destination spots in the world, the Maya Riviera boasts tropical beaches, ancient ruins, abundant marine and wildlife. The Great Mayan Reef is the largest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere. A few miles off this coast is the exciting island of Cozumel. These areas are world famous for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling. Playa is not terribly expensive and therefore, everything the discerning vacationer might desire is within the tourist zone. The town even boasts a Wal-Mart and a Mega store for your shopping needs.
Mayan Riviera Highlights
- Beautiful lagoons and bays full of colorful fish
- Mayan ruins at Tulum, Coba and Xel-Ha
- Second-largest barrier coral reef in the world
- Miles of white sand beaches
- “Eco-archeological” parks, Xcaret & Xel-Ha
- Many Cenotes in the area [natural pools of clearwater- amazing for swimming]
- Aktun Ha [giant caves on road to Coba]
- Cozumel Island [diving and snorkeling]
- Magnificent resorts and hotels
- Unbelievable duty free shopping
- Fabulous food, night life, and entertainment
- World Class Golf
With all this information of this area it is easy to foresee why investments in any Mayan Riviera real estate along this coastline will be lucrative.
Main air travel touchdowns are at the shared Cancun International Airport. Direct flights from major North American cities are between three to five hours. A secondary airport is situated on the island of Cozumel where many International Airlines use as their stopping point with a short ferry ride to Playa del Carmen. Many charter companies such as Sky Services, Air Transat and Air Canada fly two to four days weekly and Scheduled Major Airlines fly daily to Cancun International Airport. The airport is serviced by most major airlines, and is the second busiest airport in Mexico; the busiest being in the more westerly Mexico City. Direct charter flights are available from most major cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
As an update to the transportation, due to the phenomenal growth rate in tourism, construction will soon commence on a new International Airport in the town of Tulum, (advantageously located 60 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen) bringing you even closer to your new condo resort.
Why Invest in the Riviera Maya
- FACT: The City of Playa Del Carmen is the fastest growing in Latin America, if not North America. The Riviera Maya is the fastest growing tourist destination anywhere in the World.
- FACT: The Mayan Riviera was listed by CNN/money.com as one of the top three foreign markets for North Americans investing in a second home.
- FACT: Riviera Mayan property values have increased at an average of 20% each year.
- FACT: A condo purchased 8 years ago in Playa Del Carmen for $130,000 USD sells today for $500,000 USD.
Weather for the Area
The average annual temperature of the Riviera Maya is 25.5 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit), with fluctuations of only 5 to 7 degrees. In June, July, and August visitors can expect hot, sunny summer weather with occasional rainfall. Usually when it rains, it rains hard for a short while, and then dries up quickly. This is also when the sea is the calmest. From July through September the temperature is highest, as is rainfall. November, December and January are the coolest months here, which mean it’s very comfortable.
Forecast and History of Growth Potential
The incredible growth over the last few years in the Mayan Riviera has been exceptional. All statistics show that this region has one of the most positive increases in land values, rivaling any other in North America. The current population is expected to quadruple in the next 6 years. One astonishing facet is that 35% of this increase is projected to come from Mexican foreign investors and retirees from USA, Canada, UK, and Spain. In 1995 there were only 1500 rooms available in this entire area of Mexico. Expectations are that in the next ten years the Riviera Maya will double its room inventory to 85,000 rooms. Hotel and Condo Occupancy Rates continue to be at an all time high, averaging over 80% annually. (Never below 71% in the past 10 years as shown by statistic charts at the end of this proposal) There is currently an 11,000 room deficiency in Playa Del Carmen, making this an ideal location for real estate investors, both short and long term.
Tourism at its Best!
The Annual Tourist Affluence is over 3,000,000 people, by current statistics, on its way to over 6,000,000 within 10 years. Along with this staggering growth, property values in the Riviera Maya are expected to appreciate dramatically. Due to the global recession the forecast was for GDP growth in Mexico in 2009 was -7.3%; however, after hitting a low of -6.8% in March 2009 the Mexican economy has rebounded and current forecasts for 2010 are approximately 4.5% growth in GDP, over a 10% increase this year from trough to peak. These statistics will place the investor in an unusually positive position to benefit from these projections with condo resort ownership.
Growth Even in the Down Economy!
Another case in point, the land values have had a staggering growth of over 30% annually in the past few years, and while the past year has not seen property values rise significantly, property values in the Riviera Maya have not dropped at all as we have seen in nearly every other location in North America. At the peak of the global financial crisis buyers and developers alike came to a standstill as they waited to see just what would happen, postponing many projects while others stopped mid-construction. This year it is expected that over $500 Million dollars will be invested to revive projects as buyers re-enter the marketplace, more than double the 2009 estimates.
This growth is expected to continue for many years to come for many reasons. Mexico has for decades now been the top destination for US travelers, and currently spends over $120 Million annually advertising its pristine beach destinations to the world. By 2012 there will be over 100 million people in the US over the age of 50, people who are looking for a smarter way to invest their retirement dollars as over 60% of them claim to have lost money in the stock market.
Add the Baby Boomers for Market Explosion
For this very reason the Mexican government is positioning itself to receive five million US retirees by 2025, which would mean a 600% increase in US ex-patriots living in Mexico. The overwhelming majority of these retirees will be looking to the Riviera Maya primarily because of the high quality of life, low cost of living, affordable healthcare, and temperate weather.
As many locals have noticed, for the past several years the Riviera Maya saw fewer visitors from the US due largely to their economic problems, but this shortfall was made up for by an increase in tourists from Europe, Central, and South America. As the average American becomes more confidant in their economic outlook, they will once again return to the Riviera Maya adding as many as a million additional visitors annually from this alone.
Tourism is the 3rd Largest Industry in Mexico!
Tourism is also being bolstered by Mexican nationals, who are benefiting from having one of the most successful emerging economies in the world. Mexico has now become the cheapest place in the world to manufacture goods bound for US markets, as hundreds of companies shift their operations, and billions of dollars, to Mexico. Even Chinese manufacturers are now moving operations to Mexico to capitalize on advantages that come from proximity to the US. Mexico has more international free trade agreements than any other country, allowing Mexican goods to be traded duty-free with over 40 countries. As the largest industries in Mexico are oil and gas, tourism, and manufacturing and export this surely means we will continue to see an increase in Mexican nationals visiting and purchasing in the Riviera Maya for many years to come.
Recent reports also suggest that over 600,000 waterfront properties in Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida face value losses of over $3 billion or more over the next 5 years. The 2010 BP oil spill disaster is expected to completely wipe out the premiums home buyers and investors paid for water access and ocean views, and commercial buyers and developers will see even greater losses. Buyers have stopped calling real estate agents and pending sales are down at least 50% from 3 months ago. This catastrophe is scaring vacationers, buyers and investors away to more pristine and unpolluted beach destinations like Mexico, which is protected by a powerful Northerly current. It is also important to note that there is no offshore drilling along the entire coast of the Riviera Maya. This puts us in a very advantageous position to benefit from these projections with our land ownership, both short and long term.
THE THIRD JEWEL!
Cozumel is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean. It is also the most populated island in Mexico with an estimated population of around 90,000.
Cozumel is situated near the eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in the State of Quintana Roo. The island is approximately 30 miles [48 km] long and 10 miles [16 km] wide. It is about 12 mi [20 km] from the mainland, and some 36 mi [60 km] south of Cancun.
Isla Cozumel [or Cozumel Island] derives its name from the Mayans who once lived there and regarded the island as a sacred place. In Mayan, Cuzamil [Cozumel] translates to “land of the swallows,” a reflection of the indigenous birds that inhabit the island.
The Mayans are believed to have settled the island over 2000 years ago harvesting the rich abundance of seafood for commercial use. Conch shells were collected as an ingredient for stucco, which was used extensively on the mainland. The ocean also supplied a large number of other valuable items such as shark teeth, stingray spines and seashells that were used for ritual purposes.
The Spanish explorer Juan de Grijalva first landed on the shores of Cozumel in 1518. The visit was proceeded a year later by the butcher Hernán Cortés. The conquistadors ruthlessly invaded the island destroying everything that lay in their path. Whether or not the Spanish knowingly imported smallpox on purpose is a matter of speculation; however to the ravaged Mayans the disease soon eclipsed their very being. Those who did not die a miserable death were shackled and sent to Cuba to live out their lives as slaves. Between 1519 and 1570 the island’s population dropped from 40,000 to 30. By 1600 the island was desolate, its once flourishing community gone. Soon the island’s numerous coves provided safe havens for marauding pirates. In 1848 during the “War of the Castes” the island was reclaimed by the Maya and used as a sanctuary for those seeking refuge from the war. Slowly the island was re-inhabited and in 1910-1917 the Mexican Revolution resulted in land reforms and freedom for the Isleños.
The popularity of a new “candy” called chewing gum in the U.S.A. led to the island’s growth. Cozumel was a port-of-call on the gum and coconut export route from Central America. During World War 2 the U.S. Air Force built a base on the island in order to launch aircraft, in the pursuit of German U-boats. The first hotel, the “Louvre” opened in 1924, followed by the “Yuri” in 1932 and the “Playa” in 1938. After the economic crises in the thirties, tourist development stopped. During the fifties, with the advent of modern scuba equipment divers started coming to Cozumel.
World-famous explorer Jacques Cousteau and his team discovered the wall of reefs just off the island’s shoreline and declared them to be one of the most incredible diving destinations in the world. After that diving exploded on the island!
By 1970, Cozumel’s population quickly grew to 10,000 and with the influx of tourism this once desolate island has now become the jewel of the Mexican Caribbean. Cozumel is an unrivaled resort destination where you can really get away from it all. You can leave the crowds and sameness behind and not worry about being crowded onto a beach with people who are looking for more of the same. Cozumel awaits you with its simple elegance and gracious hospitality. It offers relaxing vacation possibilities that are anything but the same. In fact, they are quite extraordinary:
- Some 18 miles of unspoiled coastline with dozens of pristine, sandy beaches.
- Almost guaranteed perfect weather.
- Snorkeling, fishing, sailing, swimming and scuba.
- Horseback riding, golf and tennis.
- Delicious Mexican cuisine, including fresh seafood served at open-air beachside restaurants; international dishes served in casual but sophisticated surroundings.
- A choice of elegant and charming hotel accommodations where the staff still knows the meaning and value of excellent service and personal attention.
- Lush mountain lowlands descending to acres of rich, tropical foliage; a refreshing backdrop to fascinating coves and crystal blue bays.
- Several shops and a couple of discos await those for whom paradise would not be paradise without a little shopping and dancing.
- A colonial gem for a neighbor Playa Del Carmen is a short 40-minute ferry ride from the marina. Explore the markets and surrounding villages, venture out to mountain-top archeological sites or just sit back and soak up the easy-going, friendly ambiance of this provincial town – alive with history, culture and art.
Cozumel averages 340 days a year of summer and this is certainly one of its attractions. Outdoor lovers and sun lovers flock here. Average temperature is 81F (28C).
Tourism information on the Mexican Riviera and Cozumel can be obtained from website: Mayan Riviera real estate (Please note that the occupancy rate never has been below 71%)
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About the Author Frank Jackson; is an American, married to a Mexican citizen, resident of Mexico for over 13 years, and he is a prominent business owner in Mexico. Frank is a contributing writer for Escapeartist Mexico and a member of the Escapeartist Mexico Business Development Team.