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Sunday December 17 2017
Mazatlan Today
Patrick Hobson

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Mazatlan has a 50-year history as a tourist destination and now receives over 1 million visitors annually. Mazatlan, the city that Travel Leisure Magazine years ago rated as “one the world’s top three family vacation destinations”, and the classic south-of the-border port that Carnival Cruise Line chose to launch the Love Boat, has now become a second home Mecca for thousands of Americans and Canadians. Not surprisingly, International Living has rated Mazatlan as Mexico’s most affordable beach destination.

Although sales lagged during the 2008-2009 season, the condominium boom that started in Mazatlan just a few years ago is rebounding and again starting to pick up steam. Many of the baby boomers that have vacationed in Mazatlan over the years have decided that owning a beachfront condominium as a second home, or even their primary residence, fits perfectly with their lifestyle orientation.

Higher-income middle-age retirees and baby boomer households dominate Mazatlan’s second home market. Mazatlan’s close geographic proximity to the States and Canada is a plus as many of these boomers are still working. The principle motivation for purchasing the second home is for personal use and enjoyment, but a significant number of the baby boomers also view second home acquisition as a means of safeguarding and enhancing their net worth. Nearly 1 of 5 expect to use the second home as their primary residence after retirement, and look forward to enjoying endless days of breakfasts of tropical fruit and fresh-squeezed orange juice on the veranda following their morning walk along Mazatlan’s world-famous Malecon.

When, Who and How

Starting with Puerto Vallarta in 1961, tourism development in virtually every other Mexican beach destination was assisted by the Mexican Federal Government. Eventually tourism was acknowledged as such an important economic force that the government establi-» shed The National Trust for the Promotion of Tourism, known by its Spanish acronym, FONATUR in 1974. FONATUR subsequently designed and developed the major tourist destinations of Cancun, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, Loreto and the Bays of Huatulco.

For better or worst, depending on one’s particular point-of-view, Mazatlan is entirely different from the FONATUR cities. Rich in history, culture and tradition, it is truly a destination like no other offering the comforts and conveniences of a large city while retaining a friendly small town atmosphere. It is authentic and distinctively Mexican, and because it is located at 23 degrees, the same latitude as the Hawaiian Islands, it is blessed with 313 days with temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike the other Mexican resort cities that were shaped by FONATUR, Mazatlan was left to chart its own course, to develop its own unique identify, often motivated, exhorted and shaped by visions, ideas and actions of its own energetic, independent-thinking citizens.

Timesharing: It’s impossible to discuss the real estate boom in Mazatlan without paying homage to timesharing and the men who pioneered the concept in the Pearl of the Pacific. How could it be otherwise since those early timeshare purchasers from U.S. and Canada are the same that are now fueling the purchase of full-time real estate in Mazatlan.

One of the boldest of Mazatlan’s visionaries, and one who embraced timesharing early was Don Julio Berdegue, the founder of the El Cid Mega Resort. Don Julio was admired by many, and respected by all for his vision, devotion and commitment to his beloved Mazatlan. In 1972, Don Julio established the El Cid Country Club and developed the city’s first golf course. He envisioned a major marina and yacht club. He built the Golden Zone’s first high-rise hotel, the El Cid Castilla in 1980. The Castilla was 20 stories tall, but Don Julio topped it in 1989 with his 26-story El Moro Tower, a timesharing property. Don Julio’s structures pushed skyward at a time when very few of the city’s structures exceeded five floors. The Granada, the Castilla and the El Moro were the foundation of the mega-resort concept that he later expanded to include an upscale marina hotel and yacht club. The El Cid group later went on to develop other resort properties in Cozumel and the Riviera Maya.

A second Mazatlan timesharing pioneer is Lic. Ernesto Coppel Kelly. “Neto” likes to tell a story about being a down-on-his-luck business administration graduate who was invited to sell timeshare properties by an American he met in a disco in 1978. After gaining experience and accumulating working capital, he and brother-in-law Mark Kronemeyer opened their first property and thus founded the Pueblo Bonito Hotel and Resort Group in 1986. They later doubled the size of Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan and launched their second Pueblo Bonito Resort (“Blanco”) in Los Cabos in 1991, pioneering an entrepreneurial pilgrimage from Mazatlan to the Southern Baja by energetic local businessmen. Eventually Coppel and Kronomeyer went their separate ways with Coppel subsequently propelling the Pueblo Bonito Group to international prominence with the addition of Pueblo Bonito Rose, Sunset Beach and Pacifica in Cabo San Lucas and Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay in Mazatlan.

Up, Up and Away

In 2001, Jose E. Carranza and Ing. Jaime Peña, the founders of the Pronova Development Group, changed Mazatlan’s skyline and ushered in a new era of residential living when they initiated construction of the two-tower Las Gavias Club Residencial on Avenida del Mar, perching 100 oceanfront condominiums in front of the beach on Mazatlan’s world famous Malecon. With both towers well-received and quickly sold, Pronova embarked on its 27-story Las Gavias Golden Shores project of its 83 tower residences just north of the Golden Zone, and is now finalizing the first phase of the elaborate, three-phase beachfront masterpiece north of Marina Mazatlan called Las Gavias Grand. It took those with vision to first look skyward, and less than a decade later, Mazatlan’s skyline is now dotted with towers.

More to Come

Megaturismo, a Mexican holding company headed by Sinaloa agriculturist Ernesto Echavarria, further bolstered Mazatlan’s status when it purchased the huge Marina Mazatlan project which had gone unimproved since its initial development in the mid 1990’s. Upon completion, Marina Mazatlan will be the largest marina development in Latin America, consisting of 1200 yacht slips, an 18-hole David Fleming Championship Golf Course, a major shopping mall, 5,000 living spaces anchored by the recently opened 4,600 person capacity convention center. Initial infrastructure investment alone is estimated at $100 million with a subsequent secondary investment expected to be nearly $500 million. Mazatlan’s future is bright!


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