Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
Tulum, Mexico–During the mid-2000s, for-sale multifamily properties in resort areas of Mexico were the next big thing for North American investors, or retirees, and even buyers as far afield as Europe. Much of the air went out of that balloon with the coming of the Great Recession, but with recovery, the promoters of such properties are once again optimistic that investors will turn their attention south of the border, especially to coastal areas.
“Playa del Carmen is almost built out, and the Tulum/Akumal area is the next area,” Eric Partney, associate broker at Mexico International, tells MHN, referring to a popular resort area on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. “The area is just now really developing, and with the new airport being built, we are expecting more tourism and more growth.”
Tulum and Akumal are towns southwest of Playa del Carmen along the coast that have been evolving into tourist and resort destinations in their own right in recent years. More significantly for future development prospects, a new major airport near Tulum—called Riviera Maya International Airport—is currently being bid by the Mexican government and might be under construction as early as 2011. Once complete, the new facility will handle as many 3 million passengers annually, second in the region only to Cancun’s airport.
The Yucatan itself is attracting investor interest, says Partney, who has lived in the region for six years. “Buyers seem to really like the Yucatan peninsula because of its proximity to the US and Canada, little pollution, little crime, and a really low cost of living,” he says.
Lately Partney has started selling properties at a new condo-hotel project, Sian Ka’an Golf Resort & Spa, named after the biosphere reserve and Mexican national park of the same name in Tulum, a major ecotourism attraction that also sports Mayan archaeological sites. The golf resort will feature 25 three-level buildings, each housing 12 low-rise units. The centerpiece of the Sian Ka’an project will be a Robert Trent Jones II 27-hole golf course, as well as a 9-hole par 3 course. Other amenities of the development include an on-site commercial center, medical center and dining options.
A project of Mexico Alive, the condos will start at about $150,000 and follow a hotel-condo model, with the units being leased to hotel operator Gran Bahia Principe for at least seven years. The hotelier is already quite active in the area and other tropical destinations, managing over 20 properties, including a resort at Tulum.
The assumption of leasing risk by the hotel is a major selling point for the property, says Partney. “The condo-hotel concept is beneficial for investors since a project like Sian Ka’an offers a fixed return starting the day of closing, with the hotel leasing the units as soon as they are completed,” he notes.