I first started coming to this part of the world around 1997 or so. I fell in love with the little village of Akumal, which at that time was a quaint little place with dirt roads and just a handful of condo units lined up along the beach at half-moon bay.
Jesse and I bought the one-bedroom condo at Hacienda de la Tortuga in 1999 and then a year later bought the adjacent 2-bedroom. Both units were on the 1st floor. The 1-BR just over Lunita restaurant and a short 50 feet from the edge of the water. The 2BR overlooking the pool and 100 feet from the water.
For 8 or 9 years we had the units, it was an amazing place to get away to on long weekends or for a week or two at a time. In 2002, before I left for Namibia for my volunteer teaching stint, I lived there from September to December.
The condos paid for themselves through rentals when we were not using them. Jesse actually was there quite a bit. I was living overseas for a good part of the time so used them less. The management company was good and it was a pretty easy and beneficial situation.
So, why sell? Well, Jesse got divorced and went through a cash consolidation exercise. I thought about selling the 2BR and buying him out of the 1BR but decided to just simplify things a bit. Jesse was a lawyer and had managed the fideicomiso and legal matters while I mostly managed the business end.
And, Jesse was forever fighting with the management company which I never really understood or agreed with because they mostly did a good job. But it had left a rift between our partnership and the managers, which is not a good situation to be in. Anyway, I had only recently returned to the US from Sydney and was remodeling the big warehouse that would become Senang and also diving headlong into Sundance Consulting. So at that moment in time, it seemed best to take the cash back and not have the headache of a rental property in Mexico.
As Brit and I were preparing for this trip, I was sort of lamenting no longer owning the 1BR unit. It really was a pretty easy situation and the cash flow was easy as rentals were always high for that sweet little condo.
BUT…..while this has been a superb trip, Akumal is no longer the quaint little village it once was. Gone was the dirt road; replaced by bricks and streetlights and security guards. And condos now line the entire 1.5 mile road from the entrance of Akumal to Yakul Lagoon. When we started coming, most of that road was jungle on one side and 5 or 6 condo buildings on the ocean side.
Yakul Lagoon was completely wide open. A great place for fresh water snorkeling and a nice restaurant and little jungle paths. Now that is all walled off and commericalized like a Disney experience. The main public beach is also now sealed off and can only be accessed through a paid system. Traffic is 20X what it was. South Akumal was once a long stretch of beach but is now several all-inclusive resorts with thousands of guests who have overrun the beaches.
When I was scuba diving, the captain that took our boat out told me that until they started charging at the beaches, there was a theft problem. Locals were coming from out of the area and pilfering from the legions of beachgoers who might be out snorkeling or swimming or getting lunch.
So Akumal is a vastly different experience today than it once was. Far more restaurants and bars and also far more people. It is nice to see more locals visiting the facilities and beaches, but overall, I am now convinced it would not be worth having a place here again.
The problem with a vacation home is that whenever you get time off, there is a feeling you need to go visit the vacation home. Check up on things. Get usage out of it. Which then inhibits visiting other places.
Also, it is also easy to forget that the heat, the sun, the salt air and the humidity in that part of the world means everything is constantly deteriorating. The maintenance on appliances, windows, exposed wood, the road and buildings never ends. So every month something seems to come up that needs to be debated and discussed and paid for.
So I now remember why I sold.
Brittany and I mostly relaxed on this trip. We walked up and down the road to get coffee and breakfast and most times stopped off at the beach bar for a drink or two. We took a day at the beach and had many excellent meals. The ceviche here is as good as anywhere in the world. We napped a lot. Made white sangria and sat on the deck and chatted and watched the waves. Just what vacation is meant to be.
Our last night was a blow out. Brittany had organized a dinner at the amazing Azulik hotel. And she splurged for us. We sat high above the canopy with views over the ocean and jungle in a private little cocoon. This is truly where the pretty people and the rich and famous go when visiting that part of Mexico. We had champagne and wine and tequila and visited their amazing wine cellar and I smoked a cigar and Brit toked down a hookah. The service and food was of course world-class. Sort of a royal-type experience.
Overall a great trip; made slightly complicated by the need to get a COVID test before being allowed to board our plane for home. Brit found a place in Tulum and we had our tests in no time at all. In and out. Easy Peazy. The airport was a typical mess, but we found a quiet spot in a restaurant and had our last meal for the trip.
We started with Mimosa’s in the Crown Room at DTW and finished with lunch at Guy Fieri’s place at CUN.
I’ve snuck in a couple of photos from the old days in Akumal.