Welcome to Oaxaca, Mexico! One of the 31 states located in southeast Mexico inhabiting 4 million people. Right on the Pacific coast, you’ll find the town of Puerto Escondido (meaning hidden port) growers of chocolate and coffee alongside other authentic Mexican cuisines. Only 14 km from downtown Puerto Escondido and a 25-minute ride from the airport you’ll find secluded luxury and 21 km of untouched beach, also known as VIVO Resorts; founded by former Canadian Olympian and World Cup Downhill champion and motivational speaker, Cary Mullen. Who knows better how to get away from Canadian winters than a Canadian?
VIVO Resorts is a gated community of luxurious condominiums and private homes featuring ocean and mountain views; the best of both worlds! The staff is warm and inviting and after a few days they’ll know you by name and become the people you rely on during your stay.
Let’s start with how sweet the suites are. Your spacious living quarters feature a master bedroom, living room and dining room, a fully equipped kitchen perfect for buying local ingredients from the market and cooking yourself an authentic Mexican dish (hey, when in Rome, right?), an open shower and mood-lit bathroom, balcony and my personal favourite touch, a washer and dryer! There’s nothing more satisfying than coming home from a vacation with clean clothes. Current amenities include 2 infinity edge swimming pools with swim-up bars, family pool with waterslide, tennis courts, a general store for all your shopping needs and a shuttle service to and from Puerto Escondido.
The $7 million VIVO Clubhouse is just over a year old and houses more than 53,000 square-feet spread out over four floors. Here you’ll find:
Senses Spa by Elaina for parents; an outdoor oasis filled with lush greenery and private, curtains-drawn spaces perfect for quiet time together. While the adults are playing at the spa, the kids can enjoy the VIVO Kids Club. Open from 9a-7p, the club takes children ranging from ages 4-12. Here, they’ll be able to enjoy a range of indoor and outdoor activities including soccer and dodgeball, kids cooking classes, take part in the turtle release program, experience Mexico’s cultural heritage through arts and crafts and even play Xbox and watch Netflix! So, go ahead and enjoy the spa, they’ve got your kids covered.
Jaime Palomares heads up the kid’s club and tells me that this year they’ll be adding new and exciting kid’s programs and events. For now, he’s implemented things like using a recycling program for kids to create their own little projects.
Adult activities include volleyball from 3 pm to 5 pm which happily coincides with Happy Hour. And that horn-like sound you hear? It’s the staff blowing a conch shell to signal the next fun activity. You’ll hear the shell being blown all day long and to decipher the sounds, here’s your official breakdown: Happy hour = 1 blow, Turtle release = 2 blows and Dolphin or whale sighting=3 blows.
Release the Turtles
Cary Mullen started the Vivo Foundation which that is the main funding source of the Palmarito Sea Turtle Rescue, a turtle sanctuary which in the past 4 years has rescued and released over 180,000 baby sea turtles. The Palmarito Sea Turtle Rescue program sees Dr Marcelino Lopez and his team protect and release 40-60,000 sea turtle hatchlings/year.
The sex of the turtles is decided based on where they are placed in the sand closest to the sun. Therefore, females are always on top. Once hatched, the baby sea turtles are placed in an ancestral container called a jicara to help with the release. It is important not to touch the turtles directly because it will change their adaptation cycle, reducing their chance of survival. Dr Lopez tells me that the baby turtles will return to the same beach 15 years after their release. Your maternal instincts kick in as you watch your little ones take off into the water. It is quite an amazing process. See you in fifteen years, Michelangelo and Donatello.
Speaking of Ernesto’s farm-to-table restaurant be sure to check them out at breakfast lunch or dinner offering authentic Mexican cuisine from Huevos rancheros, mole sauce and fresh fruit plates to fish, chicken, meat and pasta; you’ll be sure to be satisfied after every meal. And don’t forget about the sports lounge, Mezcalina’s (aptly named after my favourite tequila cocktail they serve).
Things to Do:
With the town of Puerto Escondido close by, there is lots to see and do during your visit. The Mercado Benito Juarez was built in 1990 and offers everything from mouthwatering fruits and veggies, meat, fish (remember you have a full kitchen to work with at VIVO Resorts) coffee, chocolate, spices, pottery, hand-woven designs, souvenirs, toys and list goes on! If you need it, it’s likely you’ll find it here.
Scenic views more your style? Taking your family on a Laguna Manialtepec Tour where you’ll board a boat and tour the lagoon while cormorants, pelicans and eagles fly overhead. As part of your tour, you’ll stop in at the Guanita house, where you’ll get to visit a local family living humbly and happily on their little island. Sit and enjoy the oceanic views while they serve you fresh coconut water in, you guessed it, a coconut. When you’re done, relax and grab a bite at La Puesta del Sol restaurant before heading back.
Fancy a nighttime tour of the lagoon? Bioluminescence (emission of light by a living organism) can be experienced as plankton swim by and you can go swimming (or if you’re not that adventurous swirl your hands off the side of the boat) to watch the water illuminate below as the sky illuminates above with thousands of stars.
Puerto Escondido is home to splendid beaches like Manzanillo Beach and my personal favourite, Zicatela Beach which can be seen from the Espadin Restaurant offering some of the finest Mexican cuisine with spectacular sunset views. Fresh grilled snapper, sweet mahi-mahi mango ceviche and spicy shrimp tacos are just some of the items you can indulge in. Plus, they’ve got a great cocktail menu featuring some of the finest mezcals to choose from. You are in Mexico after all.
Another dining experience you must try is beachside at Fresh Restaurant & Lounge. Located right in the middle of the Zicatela strip, you and your family can enjoy creative international cuisine while being entertained with nightly shows and crashing waves.
Day of The Dead
Tired of taking your kids door to door, repeating the infamous line, “trick-or-treat” every Halloween? Well, this year, immerse yourselves in a wonderful cultural celebration, The Day of The Dead (or Dia de Muertos in Spanish) beginning October 31st until November 2nd. It is a Mexican holiday celebrated by focusing on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. Alters are put up and items that the lost loved one cherished are placed on and around the altar.
In Puerto Escondido, you’ll find parties on the nearby streets of Chila (as well as at Ernesto’s at VIVO Resorts) that go on for hours. A tradition and celebration not to be missed!
For more information about Vivo Resorts visit http://www.vivoresorts.com/