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A $1 Billion Bet on Selling Mansions in Mexico

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One&Only Resorts is known for ultra-luxury hotels in outposts like Cape Town, the Maldives and Dubai, where it operates a beachfront retreat on an artificial island. Now it’s selling private homes in a $1 billion development near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It’s the first time the resort operator, owned by Dubai-based Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., has stamped its brand on a residence. Late last year, partners RLH Properties and RSC Development pre-sold the first five One&Only-branded homes in the new development, Mandarina.

The initial phase of the project, designed by the architect Rick Joy to incorporate jungle vegetation and dramatic cliffside drops to the Pacific, includes 55 branded residences, priced between $4 million and $12 million, and a 108-room One&Only hotel. The development will eventually include a second hotel and another group of branded homes, to be operated by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts Inc., as well as a beachfront polo field and equestrian center.

“The community that these people are buying into, they realize this is the last large tract of land,” said Ricardo Santa Cruz, chief executive of RSC Development. “It’s very difficult to replicate, if you’re interested in this part of the country.”

Hotel developers have long cherished the idea of slapping luxury hotel brands on private homes, selling buyers on access to concierge services and the cachet of names like Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, and using the proceeds from early sales to fund hotel construction. Hospitality companies get a piece of the sales price and can add vacation rentals to their product mix, since many owners rent their homes when they’re not using them.

“In our ultra-luxury clientele, more and more people are traveling with their extended family,” said Philippe Zuber, president and chief operating officer of One&Only. He said the company is planning branded residences in Montenegro, Mauritius and Kea, an island in Greece.

The One&Only project is part of a parcel of land that Santa Cruz began putting together in 2008, assembling properties owned by 58 families with backing from a private-equity firm in which Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was an investor. The land was placed in a new company, RLH Properties SAPIB, which in 2015 sold shares to the public.

The new hotel comes amid a building boom that has increased the number of luxury rooms in Mexico by 33 percent since 2011, according to data from lodging industry provider STR Inc. Average daily rates increased 43 percent over the same period. Currency fluctuations may explain some of the rate growth, said Jan Freitag, senior vice president at STR.

It’s also possible, he said, that “the people who can afford Mexican luxury hotels are just not price-sensitive.”

*Originally posted on Bloomberg.

Hilltop Villa in a New Resort on Mexico’s Central Pacific Coast

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This contemporary five-bedroom villa is one of 55 luxury homes being built at the new One&Only Mandarina residential resort on the central Pacific coast of Mexico, north of Puerto Vallarta.

“Villa 6 sits perched on top of a hill—it’s almost like you’re on an island,” said Ricardo Santa Cruz, the founder of Mandarina. “You have no surrounding neighbors, so basically you have 360-degree views.”

“If you’re in the pool, you see the entire coastline, and you’re looking down over a one-mile stretch of beach,” he said.

“From Villa 6, you are able to take in all of the different ecosystems that the property has to offer,” Mr. Santa Cruz said, including mountains, jungle and rainforest, sandy beaches, green flatlands and estuaries.

RLH Properties is the developer of Mandarina, and Mr. Santa Cruz’s company, RSC, is handling all of the sales and marketing. Architect Rick Joy is designing all 55 villas and each is architecturally unique and envisioned specifically for its location and to capture the best ocean views.

“I love that when you’re standing in your kitchen, you can look out and see mountain, valley and beach views,” said Kappner Clark, director of marketing and sales at RSC.

“I was there when we were doing the renderings and it was one of the most spectacular sunrises I’ve ever seen, with the sun coming through the haze of the mountains,” she added.

Villa 6 is one of the first 18 to be released for sale, Mr. Santa Cruz said. “We will start construction this year, with delivery by the end of 2019.”

A 108-room One&Only hotel on the 630-acre site will also be finished by the end of 2019, he said. The development will eventually include a second hotel and another group of branded homes, to be operated by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts Inc.

Villa 6 also sits above the polo fields and equestrian center that will be a prime feature of the resort.

Outdoor spaces include an infinity-edged pool, terrace and garden areas.

Most of the materials and finishes will be sourced from different parts of Mexico, he said. For the stucco walls, “we’re creating a mix with local materials so that they will be the same color as the earth.”

There are three themes of furniture packages that buyers can choose from and purchase, and then they can put the furnished villa into the resort’s rental program.

The 5,533 -square-foot, one-level villa has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and one partial bath. There is another 3,423 square feet of exterior space.

Amenities include the One&Only Majahua Beach Club, with beachside terraces, dining, massage spaces and a jetty extending over the sea that will create a harbor and haven for swimmers; the Mandarina Polo and Equestrian Club, with a clubhouse, arenas, two tournament-size polo fields, polo lounge, pro shop, horse boarding and veterinary clinic; One&Only Spa; Canalan Beach Club along Mandarina’s one-mile stretch of soft-sand beach; a farm that will produce for a farm-to-table restaurant; and trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Mandarina is about 15 minutes south of the village of Sayulita, which is known for its charming cobbled streets and great surfing, Mr. Santa Cruz said.

It’s just under an hour’s drive to the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, he said, and a new highway due in 2019 or 2020 will make it a 30-minute drive.

*Originally posted on Mansion Global.

One&Only Is Bringing Its First-Ever Private Homes to Mexico

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When Mexican real estate developer and president of RSC, Ricardo Santa Cruz, and the RLH Properties team found the Mandarina coastline property in 2008, they couldn’t believe the treasure they had stumbled upon. The uninterrupted 636-acre parcel of immaculate Nayarit coastline, jungle, and estuary was within driving distance of Puerto Vallarta but completely removed from the busyness of modern society.

Thus began a 2.5-year saga of acquiring the veritable jigsaw puzzle of farmer-owned land. RLH Properties negotiated sales with each of the 58 families, promising to create a vision that would benefit the local community while bringing in sustainable tourism to an area overshadowed by established resorts to the south.

“We are not speculators,” Santa Cruz says. “We’re there to stay and create a world-class resort destination. [These families] would receive and participate in the benefits from the development.”

RLH Properties devised a “branded residence” and hotel hybrid layout. The caveat was that this escape, which would be of the highest quality, had to incorporate the natural environment into the development. The team signed operational agreements with One&Only (marking the brand’s first foray into private residences) and Rosewood to provide trademark experiences.

In total, the One&Only side of the grounds will have 55 private homesites ranging from $4 million to $12 million; there will also be 108 suites. The property will have a year’s head start on Rosewood, opening in mid-2019. Rick Joy Architects (of Amangiri fame) took the landscape into account and used the natural features of the land as the foundation for each property. As a result, no two homes are exactly the same.

Although the sum equals a medium-sized resort, each suite and homesite is spread out with an average density of one building per 2.4 acres. Residences are nestled among old-growth trees or set atop steep hillsides. Owners can choose between land with a shaded canopy, expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, or both.

It’s an intoxicating experience that begins detoxifying the soul mere minutes after arrival.

The vision is slowly coming to life through individual locales that blend seamlessly into whichever of the three microclimates they happen to be situated in. Six of the first 18 sites have been sold, including Lot 14—the highest buildable hilltop on the property. The site offers dramatic 360-degree views of all three microclimates plus the Sierra Vallejo Mountains towering behind the resort.

Mandarina will also include all the top-tier amenities that One&Only is known for. Unique to this property, a 22,000-square-foot spa and wellness center will harmonize between four large Higuera Blanca trees, which anchor an enclave fittingly located near the center of that side of the development. It will have an authentic temazcal (ancient Mayan healing) practice plus several treatment rooms built around the trees. It’s just one example of the strict preservation philosophy that’s built into Mandarina’s DNA.

“We definitely wanted to create as little impact as possible,” Santa Cruz says. “In Mandarina, we made the decision that the natural vegetation already there was so precious and irreplaceable, you’re actually buying time. That becomes the property’s biggest asset.”

They’re also doing their part to protect the ancient heritage of the site. A full-time archaeological team is digging through centuries of dirt on the grounds to preserve artifacts of the Cora and Huichol tribes, which still call this part of Nayarit home. Rocks with 500-year-old markings are fenced off around the property during construction and will be incorporated into the final layout.

The team is looking to the future, too. Mandarina’s labor force is predominantly local, and the accompanying investment is helping neighboring communities stake their claim against Punta de Mita, Sayulita, and Puerto Vallarta to the south. RLH Properties gave the tiny neighboring community of El Montéon a classic beach club with basic amenities and a water tower securing potable drinking water—two things the 2,500-person town never had before. Tourists are beginning to discover El Montéon, and a real estate boom is underway.

As much as Mandarina is going to redefine the standard for luxury in Mexico, it’s going to do so in an understated way that matches its future residents and guests.

Perhaps this is best understood when viewing the expanse from the water. Beyond some of the gathering spaces hugging those sharp Pacific cliffs, the residences and suites will blend into the jungle by design, remaining virtually unnoticeable.

For the discerning individual, the residential community will offer the ultimate luxury—the rare chance to disengage completely from modern chaos and reconnect with nature.

*Originally posted on Robb Report.

On Location: One&Only Mandarina is an Immersive, Impactful Paradise

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The curves and ridges of the cobblestone streets describe the character of the charming, seaside town of Sayulita, located on the western coastal state of Nayarit, Mexico. Unique Homes was recently invited by RLH and RSC and The Agency to stay in the town of Sayulita as part of a larger effort to discover and learn about Mandarina, a new exclusive resort that will feature hotel rooms, one of the world’s first collections of One&Only branded residences and other world-class amenities.

Though only a 15-minute drive separates Sayulita from the land Mandarina is located on, entering the site is like stepping directly into a tropical jungle, surrounded by the sounds of native creatures and the crashing waves along the Pacific coast. The site of the resort is expansive and includes a variety of landscapes that will feature amenities for every kind of adventure-seeker. The flat plots of fertile farmland lining the road to the property will offer locally grown produce for an authentic farm-to-table experience at the restaurants that will be on the site. In the background was an amazing protected mountain range that nestled us closer to the cliffs and the shore.

The steep climbs and alternating landscapes provide a challenge for active guests on the trail system, open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. These trails take you through thick patches of jungle that are both reminiscent of how out of our element you are, but also envelope you in a sense of quiet wonder that fill you with a sense of contentment. On the shore, two stretches of beach will satisfy those looking to relax somewhere that feels world’s away from everything. This property is the definition of unique, providing incredible vistas of every terrain imaginable, from the crystal clear waters you can see from cliffs formed by a long-dormant volcano many years ago, to the green flatlands that will eventually play host the world-class Mandarina Polo and Equestrian Club.

Apart from certain sections of the site that were already under construction, a large part of the property is waiting to be developed, which according to Ricardo Santa Cruz, RSC President and CEO, will be done in stages coinciding with sales of the One&Only Private Homes. Santa Cruz has been working and negotiating with citizens and authorities within the region for more than 10 years to acquire the land for Mandarina, an endeavor that has formed a closer relationship between Mandarina and the town along the coast of Nayarit. Santa Cruz, alongside architect Rick Joy, aim to bring a tailored luxury experience that immerses you into the landscape and the surrounding communities by keeping authenticity a key principle.

A sense of individuality and uniqueness are undeniable, as few have come to find once they set foot in Mandarina. There will be no other place quite like it.

A closer, in-depth look at the Mandarina project will be included in Unique Home’s upcoming Ultimate issue, which will be on sale in May.

*Originally posted on Unique Homes.

Mexico Private Homes at One&Only Mandarina

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One of Mexico’s most popular destinations is somehow, ironically, also its least explored. A 200-mile stretch of coastline known as Riviera Nayarit—about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta—is as diverse as they come, comprised of mountain ranges, swimmable seas, volcanic craters and tropical jungles. Travelers from all over the world come to walk the streets of boho beach towns, surf the swell and revel in its archaeological offerings, but few stay long enough to celebrate its storied past or play a part in its future. Mandarina, Mexico’s luxe resort and residential property, was designed to do just that.

“Mandarina is home to one of the last remaining tropical, beachfront jungles in Mexico, which makes it the most significant resort and residential development to grace the shores of Mexico in decades,” explained Ricardo Santa Cruz, founding partner of Mandarina and RSC President.

The $1 billion property began its initial planning 10 years ago and today, features two hotel properties known as One&Only Mandarina and Rosewood Mandarina, as well as soon-to-be Mexico private homes Rosewood Residences and One&Only Private Homes.

The One&Only branded residences are the company’s first and only ownable villas throughout the world—a step in a new direction from their simply extravagant vacation properties. Designed by Rick Joy Architects, each one of the 55 villas at One&Only Private Homes are architecturally unique, meant to capture the most idyllic views possible from every vantage point.

Floor plans for the villas range from four, five and eight-bedrooms at 7,500 to 13,500 square feet, costing anywhere between $4 million and $12 million. “Today’s luxury home buyer is focused on location, lifestyle, and privacy,”  said Santa Cruz. “Owning at One&Only Mandarina offers a lifestyle of unforgettable experiences with a remarkable destination to call home.”

The surge in buying Mexico private homes stems from the transition to resort stays versus residences, where lodging options for the latter can easily accommodate larger families or impress discerning travelers. At Mandarina, they’re offering guests a chance to actually own and preserve a piece of Riviera Nayarit’s heritage, one that cannot be replicated.

Aside from location, what makes the Mandarina development so special are the array of amenities in which it offers, mimicking a kind of luxury lifestyle essence that has yet to be seen on Mexico’s Western shores.

Located on Mandarina’s flatlands, the Polo & Equestrian Club is a world-class facility featuring two arenas, tournament-sized polo fields, clubhouse, pro lounge and shop. Guests of all ages are encouraged to gather, learn, practice and compete. Also located within the flatlands is their on-site farm which features local fruits and vegetables, as well as an authentic farm-to-table restaurant.

The One&Only Spa offers open-air treatment rooms, in line with their holistic and nature-driven approach to wellness. Take a dip in the plunge pool, practice yoga on the palapa or indulge in a massage underneath a canopy of trees.

And every night, as tribute, guests can venture over to The Jetty at sunset to catch a glimpse of fire burning across the sea, symbolizing the center of a long-dormant volcano in which Mandarina sits today.

“Properties like Mandarina allow buyers and travelers from around the globe to celebrate life with those that matter and make lifelong memories in a place where natural wonder abounds and all of life’s every need is at your fingertips.”

*Originally posted on VUE NJ.

Billion-dollar bet by One & Only Resorts

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An international ultra-luxury resort operator is making a billion-dollar bet on a new oceanfront residential development in Nayarit, just north of the Pacific coast city of Puerto Vallarta.

One & Only Resorts, owned by the Dubai-based company Kerzner International Holdings Ltd., is selling private homes in the US $1 billion Mandarina project, located around 50 kilometers or less than an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta in the Riviera Nayarit.

It is the first time that One & Only Resorts has put its brand on a residential project. Kerzner partners RLH Properties and RSC Development pre-sold the first branded residences late last year.

A total of 55 residences make up the first phase of the project, which was designed by Arizona-based architect Rick Joy to incorporate the natural environment including jungle vegetation and cliffs which drop down to the Pacific Ocean.

Each residence is priced between US $4 million and US $12 million. There is also a 108-room One & Only hotel.

A later stage of development will add another section of residences and a second hotel as well as a beachfront polo field and an equestrian center.

“The community that these people are buying into, they realize that this is the last large tract of land,” said Ricardo Santa Cruz, CEO of RSC Development.

“It’s very difficult to replicate, if you’re interested in this part of the country.”

Santa Cruz began acquiring land for the Mandarina project in 2008. With backing from a private-equity firm in which Goldman Sachs was an investor, he eventually purchased properties owned by 58 families.

The land was placed in a new company, RLH Properties SAPIB, and in 2015 shares in the company were sold to the public.

The new development comes amid a construction boom that, since 2011, has increased the number of luxury hotel rooms in Mexico by 33%, according to lodging industry provider STR Inc.

Last month, hotel chain Hilton announced that it was planning five new properties in Mexico, including a luxury Waldorf Astoria hotel in Cancún, Quintana Roo.

One & Only has one property already in operation in Mexico, the luxury Palmilla resort in San José de los Cabos, Baja California Sur. It is also developing another property about 100 kilometers south of Puerto Vallarta called Santa María de Xala.

*Originally posted on Mexico Daily News.

The Agency Debuts One&Only Private Homes at Mandarina

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The Agency is thrilled to share the very first glimpse of One&Only Private Homes at Mandarina, among the first collection of One&Only branded villas to own in the world. Situated in a spectacular setting less than one hour north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 55 ultra-private villas will neighbor the new One&Only Mandarina beach resort.

Recently unveiled by Bloomberg News, the villas will be nestled along a lush, tropical hillside above a one-mile stretch of sandy beach on the pristine shores of Riviera Nayarit. One&Only Private Homes is the first residential offering to debut within Mandarina, a master-planned resort and residential community featuring One&Only Mandarina, Rosewood Mandarina, and the world-class Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club.

“One&Only Private Homes at Mandarina is among the first collection of hotel branded residences from one of the most renowned and celebrated luxury resort companies in the world,” said Andy Ardila, Managing Director of The Agency Development Group, which represents sales and marketing of the villas. “This residential offering is unprecedented on many levels, combining the signature One&Only experience, an unrivaled location on Riviera Nayarit, incredible architecture by one of the world’s foremost visionaries, and lifestyle amenities unmatched anywhere in the world.”

The villas feature innovative architecture by Rick Joy Architects, a Tucson, Arizona-based firm acclaimed for its climate responsive, environmentally sensitive work. Four, five and eight bedroom villas will be situated within the trees, designed to blend with the landscape, rather than reshape it. Each villa is architecturally unique and configured to maximize far-reaching views of the tropical jungle landscape, soaring mountain peaks and the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Villas offer 7,000 to 13,000 square feet of seamless indoor/outdoor living, infinity-edged pools and thoughtful modern detail. Residents may choose from a selection of four furniture and amenities packages highly curated by One&Only to ensure homes are remarkably designed and furnished upon arrival.

“What’s so interesting about these homes is they aren’t just positioned to capture ocean views,” said Ricardo Santa Cruz, President and CEO of RSC Development, a developer partner with RLH Properties on Mandarina. “Rick Joy and his team configured the homes to offer a rich and varied backdrop that immerses residents in nature. Some rooms are beneath the jungle tree canopies; others capture mountain peaks descending to the ocean. Architecture is used as a way to frame the overall experience Mandarina has to offer.”

Residents of One&Only Private Homes will enjoy an extraordinary array of amenities for relaxation, cuisine, wellness and adventure, including those of One&Only Mandarina, Rosewood Mandarina, and the entire Mandarina community. Within moments of home will be two private beach clubs, the One&Only Spa, world-class dining, a jungle adventure outpost, and an incredible kids’ club with treehouses and a butterfly sanctuary. Miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails extend from the mountains to the beach and across the Mandarina Flatlands.

One of the community’s most distinct and remarkable offerings will be the Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club, where riders from all over the world will gather to learn, practice and compete. It will host several international events each year, featuring open-air jumping and dressage arenas, two tournament-sized polo fields and a polo lounge. Horseback riding lessons for the whole family and children’s activities will also be offered.

Tremendous planning and forethought went to the programming of amenities within the master-planned Mandarina community to offer residents authentic experiences as diverse as the landscape itself. Mandarina is situated amidst one of the last remaining beachfront jungles in Mexico, along a 200-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast. Riviera Nayarit boasts a rich biodiversity and some of the best climate conditions in the world, with 345 days of sunshine a year and average temperatures in the low 80s.

An easily accessible destination, Mandarina is located minutes from the surfing mecca of Sayulita and the charming resort town of Punta de Mita. It is a less than one-hour drive north of the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, a drive that will be shortened to 30 minutes when the region’s new highway is completed in 2019. The airport welcomes direct 2 to 3-hour flights from the Southern U.S., as well as direct flights from a host of other U.S., Mexican and Canadian cities.

Construction of the One&Only Mandarina beach resort has commenced, with One&Only Private Homes set to get underway this spring.