Campeche Playa

Mayan Mexico's new marina residence.

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In Mexico a new resort and set of condominiums will place the work of an eco-conscious developer on a site teeming with two millennia of history in the State of Campeche. Located on the coast southeast of the Yucatan, the Campeche Playa Golf, Marina and Spa Resort will offer a change of pace from Cancun, along with the irresistible charms of the Caribbean.

The cornerstone for Campeche (kahmpe-che) Playa was laid last year by former Mexican President, Vincente Fox, affirming the resort as Latin America's next greatest tourist residential destination. "It's the next hot spot, better than Cancun," said Mark Chruscinksi, a representative of Grupo Mall, one of Spain's leading real estate developers, who have all the backing from the local and national government to see that overdevelopment doesn't spoil the party.

Grupo Mall is developing the 750-acre luxury resort with a five-star 500-room hotel, 2,500 condominium units, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, and a 150-yacht marina, all next to two miles of sandy beach and tons of verdant foliage. One of Grupo Mall's corporate values is environmental sustainability, and Campeche Playa's biggest draw is the unspoiled territory in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The resort is located about 45 minutes away from Campeche City, one of the few walled cities in the western hemisphere. The site was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Founded in 1540 by Don Francisco de Montejo, the city is the model of a Basque colonial town with checkerboard street plans and several 17th and 18th century buildings. Defensive walls and two forts repelled buccaneers. The Edzna Pyramids and Calakmul ruins, Mayan sites over 2,000 years old, are also on the World Heritage list.

To accommodate thousands of hawksbills that visit the resort beaches, a sea turtle sanctuary is planned. The Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve, located north of the resort, already is home to pink flamingo and other birds, some on the brink of extinction.

The Gulf of Mexico swims with grouper, tuna, tarpon, jack fish, shrimp, shell fish, oysters. The mangrove coast is also home to barrucada, snapper, snook and more tarpon. Deep sea fishing and diving are other draws.

The marina's 150 yacht slips range from 40 to 80 feet and come with electricity, drinking water, and firefighting equipment. There is also 30,000 square-feet of dry storage, able to hold 70 yachts, and a warehouse with a slew of spares to allow delay-free repairs. Fuel docks are set up to prevent spills in keeping with the resort's environment friendliness. A yacht club will offer amenties and a relaxing place to watch the sun go down.

The resort is set to open in phases. During the first phase a third of the condominiums, the hotel complex, the marina and the golf course will open, by mid-2008. The condominiums include two and three-bedroom units, priced from $245,000 to $623,000. (The larger condos offer around 1,500 square feet.) Buyers have a choice of golf residences, with views of the golf course; beach residences, collectively shaped into a sea-shell; and marina residences, next to the shops and services, a promenade and the yacht club.

The condominiums and the hotel will be in low-rise buildings that loll among the palms and other greenery of the Caribbean. Each residence comes with air-conditioning, Jacuzzis, terraces, two bathrooms and modern kitchen appliances. Quite a few residences also have pools and private gardens.

The upscale shops and services will meet international standards but Campeche Playa will also pay homage to its host country, including restaurants that show off Mexico's culinary culture. Other useful amenities are a spa, tons of entertainment options, a health care center and a helicopter landing pad. To assure its own sustainability in a wild and still-remote coast, the resort will have its own water purification power plant, and will also generate its own electricity.