Punta Mita resort project to tap luxury market


PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- The upscale Punta Mita resort project is one step closer to completion.

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts said it will operate one of the four hotel sites planned for the 1,500-acre Punta Mita development near Puerto Vallarta.

Punta Mita is home to the 140-room Four Seasons Punta Mita -- Four Seasons' first hotel in Latin America -- as well as to a Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf course.

Rates at the Four Seasons Punta Mita through the end of September range from $390 per room, double, to $1,800.

When completed, the development will consist of five upscale "boutique" resorts, dozens of private villas, three golf courses and a marina, among other facilities.

The 70-room Rosewood Resort at Punta Mita will break ground in November, with the opening expected for fall 2004. The property's cost was not revealed.

The owner, DINE S.A. de C.V., Mexico's largest real estate development firm, also will develop 53 villas near the Rosewood property in conjunction with Jupiter, Fla.-based Medallist Developments.

"With the addition of a Rosewood resort and the luxury villa parcel, Punta Mita is setting a new standard for luxury resort communities, not only in Mexico, but in the world," said Andres Banos, DINE's chief executive officer.

The Four Seasons Punta Mita, shown here, will be joined in 2004 by the 70-room Rosewood Resort at Punta Mita. The Punta Mita development will consists of five resorts, three golf courses and dozens of villas. This will be Rosewood's second resort in Mexico, following the 1999 opening of Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos.

"We've had extremely good fortune with our first entry into Mexico -- Las Ventanas al Paraiso -- a property with the highest occupancy and average [room] rate in our collection," said Rosewood president Jim Brown.

"We see Punta Mita as a strong sister property to Las Ventanas, providing guests with a distinctively different location, yet similar service and amenities," he said.

Each of the Rosewood units will measure 700 square feet and feature a fireplace and a plunge pool. The resort will include a full-service spa with 14 treatment rooms and two "spa suites," and a village-style shopping area with boutiques, a bakery and a coffee shop.

Proposed dining venues include an open-air main restaurant, a casual beachside eatery and a spa cafe.

A popular feature of the Four Seasons resort that will be re-created at the Rosewood property -- and at each subsequent Punta Mita resort -- will be a cultural center, where guests can attend lectures on topics ranging from Mexico's culture and natural history to its cuisine and tequilas. The resort will offer guided tours that complement the lectures.

The center also will feature laptop computers with free Internet access as well as books, videos and exhibitions.

Santiago Ortiz Monasterio, Punta Mita's project director, said the development "is competing in a market segment that's virtually untapped in Mexico -- the luxury market."

"Ninety-nine percent of the lodging supply in Mexico is not high-end, so we wanted to enter into a niche that has been undeveloped, instead of going head-to-head with what's already here," he said.

Monasterio said developers decided to focus on the high-end market because "it has historically been less vulnerable to recession and economic slowdowns."

"The Mexico market is limited, so we decided to focus our attention on the international market, with the U.S. being our major tourist base," he said.

"We believe that in order to be successful, we can't imitate what others have done. Our vision is to make Punta Mita the best destination resort ever developed," he said.

In fact, DINE is so confident of Punta Mita's success that it has decided to build a similar high-end resort project just north of San Jose Del Cabo in an area known as Punta Gorda, Monasterio said.

Plans call for three luxury boutique resorts, villas and a 27-hole golf course on the 1,500-acre site.

Monasterio said developers expect to break ground in early 2004 on the first resort, with the entire project scheduled to be completed by 2008.

"We've gone through the learning curve with Punta Mita, so we hope to develop Punta Gorda faster," he said.

As for the remaining Punta Mita hotel sites, Monasterio said developers are in the "advance stage" of negotiations with two luxury hotel management firms for two of the three unnamed Punta Mita resorts. An announcement is expected soon.

Monasterio said developers hope to break ground on the third hotel site next spring and begin construction on the fourth hotel during the last quarter of 2003.

The last -- and smallest -- of the hotels is expected to break ground one year later, and the entire project is scheduled for completion by winter 2006.

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