The silky sands and the clear warm waters of Zihuatanejo bay stretch out before me. To my right, a large outcropping of volcanic rock with a Mexican flag flying from the highest point, defines one boundary of the nearly 2km. beach of La Ropa, arguably one of Mexico’s premier beaches. Paddle boarders cross the calm water in front of me. A group of snorkelers swim near the rocks looking for the sea turtle that hangs out there with the colorful parrot fish and schools of striped sergeant major fish. The entire bay is ringed by the dense tropical vegetation that covers the hills nestling the small fishing village of Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Behind me is a construction that was once thought to be something of an albatross, until a Canadian investor and visionary, Michael Drever, purchased it and is resurrecting Sotavento. Originally built in the early 50’s Sotavento became THE hotel in Zihuatanejo with celebrity guests like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Mick Jagger, Timothy Leary, and others. After the original owner died the hotel changed hands and in recent years, during a total remodeling, fell into financial problems and stood gutted and unused until Michael purchased it and is turning it again into the most luxurious ocean resort and villas in Zihuatanejo. These full ownership condos come with a special twist that allows owners to travel anywhere in the world with discounts of 30% or 60%.
Michael has been involved in the travel industry since he was a teenager. He founded Cruise Ship Carriers, a company he later sold to Expedia. He has constructed a network of travel agents throughout North America and the Caribbean with 160 offices and over 4500 agents. These OTA’s, or on line travel agencies can offer prices substantially below the published public prices on lodging, car rental, cruises, and in many cases airfares only to members of travel clubs. Condominium owners at Sotavento are automatically members of the Sotavento Travel Club and as such are entitled to 60% discounts when booking their travel arrangements themselves or a 30% discount when booked through a participating travel agent.
In addition, the resort and villas at Sotavento incorporate a focus on health and well-being with vegan and vegetarian options on the menu as well as an emphasis on locally grown fresh produce and, of course, the fresh fish and seafood that the fishing village of Zihuatanejo is known for. Daily yoga classes, spa treatments and massages round out the health minded amenities. Michael says, “I love this place and I want to make it a wellness resort.”
Positioned on the side the hill, the Villas overlook the beach and all of Zihuatanejo bay. I’m sitting in the master bedroom of a villa looking through the greenery that frames one side of a view of the bay. A paddle boarder moves slowly through the scene. A water taxi crosses the bay in the distance. The deep blue waters are calm, with just a whisper as they fall gently on the sand below. This is the sound that will lull you to sleep at night. This room like all the others faces west, so the sunsets that paint the sky with all the colors of the rainbow are spectacular!
A hammock waits on the porch for an afternoon siesta. The interior of the villa is mostly white, with touches of beige, grey, and aqua. Up a short flight of stairs is the living room, dining room, and a full kitchen with a dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer. The floors are all beige travertine and the dining table, set for eight, is grey marble. All look out over an infinity splash pool to the same view as the bedroom. Everything is air-conditioned and fitted with ceiling fans to give the owners a choice of cooling options.
It all adds up to the perfect spot for a tropical beach vacation or permanent residence if you’re ready
Nevertheless, it must be said; there are many skeptics influenced by the fact that before Michael Drever took over, in late 2018, the project remained a partially finished construction that was an eyesore on the beach for over 8 years. Many long term residents and frequent visitors to Zihuatanejo say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” While progress is being made, as of mid-January 2020, 40 of the 68 villas have been sold, and demolition of the old structure as well as new construction is making daily progress, satisfying these Doubting Thomas’ will be one of Michael’s biggest challenges. When I asked Michael about these comments, his response was, “That’s history, this is now. It’s only a problem in people’s minds. I just ignore it and keep on building and selling.”
For those not familiar with Zihuatanejo, Mexico; If you saw the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” that is where the characters dreamed of going. Before the movie, it was just a tiny fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Today it has grown somewhat but still retains its small fishing village charm. The boats go out to sea every evening and return around 6 am with their haul to sell on the beach. The still flapping red snapper, mahi-mahi, tuna, and grouper are displayed on tarps thrown on the sand for the early morning buyers. You can linger at a coffee shop in front and sip your morning coffee while you survey the catch to select your fresh fish for lunch. The waves gently lapping on the shore induce a languid feeling which could put you to sleep if it weren’t for the coffee.
Conde’ Nast Traveler magazine has called the beach at La Ropa, “Mexico’s #1 beach. Sotavento Ocean Resort and Villas may be the #1 location and real estate investment opportunity on that beach. Come to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, and see for yourself. You may end up being a very happy member of the Sotavento family and find yourself sitting with your toes in the silky sands of Sotavento sipping a mango margarita and watching the sunset on one of the best beaches in Mexico.