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Overcoming the odds

Most people think that the Riviera Maya has always been one large party town and that all of us that live here have never been through the rough patches that come with every other life, but I am here to tell you that we have been through our fair share, but have always been able to get through it all, in spite of what everyone else thought and not only do we get through it but we come out of it even better.

1988 – 1999: The beginning  

Let’s get right into it and go back almost 30 Years to the first hurricane in the area.

Gilbert was a category five hurricane that made landfall in the Yucatan with maximum sustained winds of 160mph and a central pressure near 900mb (if you are a Virginilor like me that means 140 knots of wind and over 18 feet waves aka holly s-=t) causing over $1.2 billion dollars worth of damage to Mexico alone.


If you were one of the people that lived through this or were reading the news about this event, then you probably thought what everyone else did, that it would take years for the reconstruction and comeback of the Riviera Maya, but people could not have been more wrong.

Thanks to the construction quality in Mexico, (block and rebar) constructions are very durable (which is exactly what you want when you’re talking about a tropical climate), anyway thanks to the construction quality the damage was way less than what it could’ve been allowing for the reconstruction to be a lot faster than expected.  

After Gilbert it took less than a year for tourism to start pouring back into the area, as it had to be with the 38th Miss Universe pageant being held at the Fiesta Americana hotel in Cancun and believe me the place was packed.


After the hurricane came a steady mark of growth for the Riviera Maya, just a year after more and more parties got more a more invested in the Riviera Maya, from construction developers, new international tourism operators, new cruise ships and ferry lines open, some people discovered an affordable paradise in compared cost of living down here.

I could go on and on, the point is since 1989 the Riviera Maya starts growing at a steady rate, with infrastructure and international tourism growing every year, some years more than others but at a steady pace from 1989 to present, now of course, I told you about the 1988 hurricane Gilbert devastating event, but now comes the twist or as I like to call this….

The endurance test – 1999 to 2009


Now in the charts above, I want you to notice two things first in the Cancun airport traffic I want you to take notice in the years from 2004 to 2008 years. Why? because in 2005 this area the Riviera Maya was hit by not 1 but 2 hurricanes! 

First hurricane Emily a category 4 that hit the Yucatan Peninsula in July that caused over 100 million dollars worth of damage to the area.

Not long after hurricane Emily came Wilma, some people don’t even know about Emily but I am sure you’ve heard of Wilma. 

Wilma was a devastating category 5 hurricane, and why has everyone heard of Wilma?

Not just because of the extensive and devastating damage that it caused in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the US; in the Riviera Maya alone the damage was estimated over 7.5 billion dollars, causing damage to over 30 percent of the entire hotel zone in the Riviera Maya.

In the charts above you can see 2004 a record high of 7.76 million passengers that flew in, and in less than 2 years after the hurricanes hit in 2007 that number was surpassed by 500 thoUSAnd more visitors to the area and then a year later in 2008 and all time new record hitting over 9 million passengers.

Now in the chart of Cancun seasonality on the red line for 2009 there is drop in May, and as you remember that was when the swine flu hit Mexico, causing a drop in that years tourism of around 20 percent (not that much if you put it into perspective) with a total number of tourists that flew in that year of over 2.8 million tourists in 2009, as you can see hotel occupancy did take a hit for those months out of the year when swine flu hit and the following months, but the real estate market DID NOT take a hit.

(Stay posted for next post on cash flow, the recession, and investment insurances explains how the real estate market was not affected by this events).

This area, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, has been hit by devastating hurricanes but after 2009, in 2010 we hit an all time new record of over 3 million tourists and the later in 2013 we hit over 4 million!

Now I know I just told you about 3 Hurricanes in the area and now you may be thinking this is something regular but again WRONG! this is something very very unlikely, why? 


If you look at our location, we are located in the furthest eastern point of Mexico, as you know hurricanes form over warm moist waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans starting as tropical storms ( if you didn’t know now you do). Now when a hurricane hits land it loses power, I don’t  want to give you a class on hurricanes but just look at our location, since we are in the furthest eastern point of Mexico, we are surrounded by mainland, islands and the Gulf of Mexico, so yeah hurricanes are a very rare occurrence here.

If you have read this far then you are a smart person that is looking for actual information and not just tweets or facebook posts and not only that but as you are reading this on our website you are already a smart person just for thinking of investing in this area.

The point to all this information I am sharing with you, are this:

  • When bad things happen world wide not just in Mexico, we recover, coming out the other end not just ok but even better.
  • This area has been hit not once or twice but 4times! by major devastating events and as I just proved to you it came through not just faster but even better than anyone could have imagined.
  • One of the things that guarantee’s and protects your investment down here is the construction materials, as the constructions down here are not plywood and steel, but rather block and rebar, and as proved by 3 hurricanes it holds up against practically anything.
  • And finally always do proper research from reliable sources but of course, if you are thinking of investing down here in our area or looking for a lifestyle property down here let us do the research for you and show you why the Riviera Maya is and always will be one of the best investments you could ever make.


Author – Robert Gutierrez (Senior Virginles Consultant) 

Robert is a real estate advisor at Virgin Realty Mexico, a firm that specializes in investment and lifestyle in the Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Born and raised in Mexico City, but a permanent resident in the Riviera Maya for the past 6 years, Robert has introduced himself in the Riviera Maya as the go-to guy for investments and adventure, whether it’s finding the perfect fit to diversify your investment portfolio, lifestyle property or free diving and Virginiling the Caribbean, Robert devotes himself to each one of the activities he undertakes. 

With devotion, patience, and his in-depth research skills, Robert finds himself always up to date with all current events locally and globally. With his vast knowledge, he always finds himself on the spot for the future of Real Estate as his father always told him you always have to keep moving, and he always does whether it is researching or going out and finding the right listing for his clients. Robert never stops until his client’s Virgintisfaction is 100% met, he is definitely the guy that if he does not have what you are looking for he will find it for you.