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Investors looking to cash in on growth in Mexico should take notice of Tulum, a sleepy town on the east side of the Yucatan peninsula in Quintana Roo, which has been heating up in the last few years.

Tulum boasts the most visited set of Mayan ruins in Mexico, a walled city built on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean, according to The New York Times. About an hour south of Cancun’s International Airport, Tulum is a natural day trip for tourists, and some developers in Tulum are looking to bring tourists and their money to the small Mexican resort town.

The Tulum Mayan ruins stand on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean
Part of the Mayan Riviera, Tulum boasts the most visited set of ruins in Mexico
“Property prices have tripled there in the past five years,” Ben Fitznar of Real Estate Investment and Development in Merida said in an e-mail interview. “Groupo Plan, which is Roberto Hernandez, of the City Bank/Banamex merger fame…and the Dicas Group of Merida, the wealthiest family in the Yucatan, have been working the Tulum area for years. In December, they are unveiling their Tulum joint venture, which will also include Scotia Bank. [It will have a] man-made lagoon for a marina, seven major hotels, three golf courses, a new town site and of course, plenty of shopping.”

Quintana Roo is Mexico’s fastest growing state, with more than one million residents, according to The Wall Street Journal. In the first major master-planned community in the area, 31 lots were pre-sold to American and European investors, even though the community is not on the beach, according to The Wall Street Journal. “The hottest section is near Tulum,” columnist Michael Allen wrote.

With plans such as these in the works, investors may want to start looking for properties in Tulum sooner rather than later.

“Playa del Carmen was the fastest growing community globally in 2005 and 2006,” Fitznar said. “Tulum will be next.”

As part of Tulum’s bid to grow into a global tourist destination, there is a great deal of speculation about construction of an airport in the Playa del Carmen/Tulum area. Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste, S.A. de C.V. (ASUR), a private company that, with government approval, manages the nine airports in southeastern Mexico, hopes to build the proposed Riviera Maya airport, according to Maura Gedid, assistant vice president for the Breakstone Group, which handles ASUR's corporate communications.

“ASUR has publicly stated its intention to bid on the concession for a new airport in the Riviera Maya (Tulum) area,” Gedid said in an e-mail. “The government will run the bidding process, and as far as we know, that bidding process is not expected to begin until 2008.”

One of several luxury resorts in Playa del Carmen along the Caribbean
Playa del Carmen was the fastest growing community in 2005 and 2006
Some investors and real estate agents are banking on the airport to bring more business to the Riviera Maya resort area and are snapping up property in the vicinity of the proposed airport.

Tulum also borders the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sian Ka’an is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean, according to Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK), and is noteworthy for having unique geography, wetlands and 23 known archaeological sites. Approximately 36,000 tourists visited the reserve—intended primarily for scientific research—in 2000, according to CESiaK. That number has likely increased with the infrastructure improvements in the area during the last seven years.

With its convenient and beautiful location and recent growth, Tulum may be a real estate investor’s dream. Investors interested in Tulum should visit and speak with local real estate agents to get a better sense of the area. With plenty of resorts nearby, a trip to Tulum could be a relaxing jaunt for real estate investors interested in the area.