Vivo Puerto Escondido

The dream of buying oceanfront property in a foreign country–for instance, in a relatively unknown region in Mexico–might come with some questions and some anxieties. Follow the publisher’s journey into one beach utopia for a crash course in what to consider.

By Steve Dietrich

When you’re considering a recreational or full-time home in a sun destination, you have many questions. How difficult is it to get to? Is it safe? Will there be like-minded people there? Is it really a 5-star destination? Is there anything to do there? What is the developer’s reputation locally? Any of those could be potential deal-breakers, in a transaction most of us will only make once in a lifetime.

On a recent media junket to the town of Puerto Escondido, to check out Right Sizing partner Vivo Resort, I arrived with these questions and more on behalf of our readers, but found some community and development that exceeded my expectations.

A potential downside of an emerging sun destination can be getting there. Huatulco, at 100 kilometres down the coast from the closest airport to Puerto Escondido, is more than a six-hour flight from Vancouver. (Many trips connect through Mexico City, adding a couple of hourse to flying time.) So after a long travel day, I awake heavy-eyed, and on the way to grab a coffee at 7 a.m., I pass the resort gym. Expecting it to be empty at this hour, I see a dozen very fit 50-something men and women getting pumped and limber for their day–with a spectacular gym view of the pools and ocean.

After grabbing my coffee, I shuffle my way down to the beach. As far as the eye can see, there is white, soft, unspoiled sand, with no other resorts or significant home developments in sight. For a Vancouverite, it feels like Tofino’s Long Beach–only the sand is warm, the weather is sunny and rain is not expected for months.

After our group enjoys a delicious breakfast, a proud and informative local taxi driver takes us into town of Puerto Escondido, where an authentically colourful market boasts fresh products, from cheese, beef, vegetables and fruit to tacos, flowers and fried grasshoppers! Over the next four days, we see other local highlights, including tasty restaurants, genuinely friendly locals, lush and tropical agriculture, a lagoon with nature sightseeing plus the area’s top attraction: surfing (both for beginners and experts). The area is nearly pristine and largely undisturbed by large-scale, mass-commercial tourism.

Though anyone used to the scrubbed-clean look of some Mexican resorts might find the town of Puerto Escondido a bit rough around the edges, we enjoyed the authenticity and warm welcome. I felt as safe there as walking through downtown Vancouver. The beauty is that it’s not too touristy, primarily due to not having many direct flights or cruise ships. It’s also known to be one of the safest states in Mexico, with great healthcare, clean water and significant growth potential.

Vivo Resort is the largest developer in the area. While meeting some of the 200-plus condo owners at the resort (about 70 per cent of them Canadian), I find out that the developer, former Canadian Olympic ski racer Carry Mullen, is also an active and respected resident of the community. In fact, engagement among Canadians and other foreign owners and the local Mexican community is higher, and more positive, than I expected.

Mike and Lisa Oleksiuk, Parksville, B.C. residents and owners there, are among a group who created a foundation and organized volunteers to help fundraise and then build some new washrooms for a local school. Claudia Heston, a Vivo resident from New York, teaches English part time to Mexican kids at the same school. Many others get involved with local connections in their spare time.

“Giving back really feels good and helps us develop long-term relationships with the locals,” says Mike Oleksiuk. “We hope to spend three to four months down here living this vibrant and healthy lifestyle and we want to be more than just tourists leaving footprints in the sand. We would like to feel that we make a positive difference and engage in a positive way.”

I ask the Vivo residents if they ever get bored down here. The list off all the things that they have been doing, including: horseback riding, fishing, evenings dining in downtown Puerto Escondido, surfing, boogie boarding, whale watching, ATVing, mountain biking, snorkeling, coffee plantation tours, mezcal tours and of course the market, caf├ęs and all the resort facilities (including pickleball, beach volleyball, tennis, yoga, spa, gym, Spanish lessons, owner events, barbecues, wine tastings, long beach walks…). I am almost exhausted just listening to them talk about their activities!

When we leave Vivo Resort a few days later, we are asking ourselves: Could this be the next ideal snowbird destination for British Columbians? As Mike Oleksiuk says, “Going a little further off then beaten track makes a world of difference.” I just hope the Canadian influence on this idyllic stretch of Mexican coast continues to keep this as a southern Utopia. I’ll definitely be back.