When the Porto Bello Residence Club’s annual meeting adjourns, resident Bob Schaefer usually gets the last word. He thanks developer Roman Rivera Torres for building such a fine place to live and, being in his mid-80s, quips that “this is the closest I’ll ever get to heaven.” It draws chuckles as everyone in the room nods an “amen.” Like Schaefer, they did what world leaders do. They kept all the options on the table when looking for a vacation home that would best suit their needs.
“Before we retired, we talked of a winter escape from the Canadian cold where we could vacation for a month or two,” said Mrs. Linda Tobin during a conversation on her spacious veranda. It is embellished with a private hot tub and views overlooking a lap pool and the sun-splashed Grand Marina across the canal, its gleaming fishing fleet and yachts at rest in the quiet waters. “We hadn’t heard the term ‘fractional’ until we read about a development in Colorado that offered condo living by the month,” she said. “But we were looking for winter sunshine. Not Colorado. We had checked Miami, Arizona, California…and none would do.” - By Paul Gauvin
On a subsequent 2005 vacation at an all-inclusive hotel just outside Puerto Aventuras, the Mayan Riviera’s most unique and comprehensive community, her husband, John, an accountant at the time who pioneered H.R. Block in Canada, read about Porto Bello Residence Club’s fractional ownership plan in the defunct Miami Herald Mexico edition. It said they could buy a month or two or three or more, and pay only for the time they wanted.
The idea of it piqued their interest.They learned that Porto Bello was a 32-unit vacation oasis in progress at the gated golf-marina community of Puerto Aventuras, 45 minutes from Cancun Airport and only15 minutes from Playa del Carmen. It was a high-end vacation-home option on the Caribbean shore they thought was worth investigating.
“The sales team picked us up and gave us a tour of the community. We were really impressed with what we saw,” said Mr. Tobin, ”and to learn that we could purchase a deeded unit by the month and buy only what we wanted, one, two, three or more months. It sounded too good to be true,” he said.
The Tobins have been living there five to six months a year since 2006 with “no regrets.” And like others interviewed for this report, they praise the services, the flawless accommodations and “the cosmopolitan sense of community that exists here.”
Mr. “Dusty” Barclay, of Michigan, a retired engineer, was packing away his inflatable kayak after a morning paddling the canals bordered by impressive villas, but took time to help spread the word about Porto Bello Residence Club. His wife, Jane, joined in, “We love it here. We’d tell anybody.” And so they did.
It’s a great feeling, they agreed, to leave the frozen tundra of Michigan and arrive at sub-tropical Porto Bello several hours later in time to catch some sun at the beach flanked by palm trees and palapas and soothing turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea.
“We don’t need to do a thing when we arrive. The place is spotless, everything is in working order, and any services we asked for have been done and delivered. The vacation leisure begins immediately,” Mrs. Barclay said.
The Barclays pack a lot of living during the three months they spend at their spacious condo – their home, they call it – conversing with friends from Canada, the U.S., Spain, Italy, Russia and other countries.
“We enjoy the cultural differences on the golf course, during happy hours at the community palapa, the in-house gymnasium, at local restaurants, concerts and even the HOA meetings where the developer really listens and acts on what we have to say. The spontaneity is amazing,” Mr. Barclay notes.
“We get 25 to 35 residents drifting toward the palapa in the early evening, cocktail in hand to enjoy each other’s company. Some women bring along snacks. It makes our world so much bigger,” the Barclays said.
Millie and Wayne Acheson of Winnipeg, Canada, she a retired pharmacist with a penchant for learning the Spanish language with local teachers and going to church services in the nearby native village and he, a semi-retired orthodontist who loves boats and fishing, have been spending two to three months a year at their canal-front unit since 2004.
We bumped into them as they strolled along the winding canal walk with several bags of fruits and vegetables purchased at the nearby farmer’s market.
Like the others, they call Porto Bello “home” and mention the sense of community that has naturally developed among the myriad owners. “Even the staff welcomes us back every year like family,” Mrs. Acheson said.
“They are efficient and on top of anything that comes up.” She relays the time their refrigerator had a problem: “They were here with another one within an hour.”
Mr. Acheson is a golfer, as are most of the Porto Bello settlers, and they frequently team up to visit nearby links as well as the Puerto Aventuras Golf Course. And there is plenty of time left for deep-sea or fly fishing locally and in more exotic venues like the pristine Sian Kan Biosphere about 30 minutes away. Many residents enjoy snorkeling in placid lagoons, caletas (coves) and nearby reefs. There is plenty to do for serious divers, too.
“We have very positive feelings about this place,” said Mrs. Acheson. It’s a universal sentiment shared by the other owners. “It’s quality construction well maintained and serviced,” said Mr. Acheson.
So what is it about the Porto Bello Residence Club experience and fractional buying that attracts such consistent praise from real people, real owners with years of experience living there?
They purchased only the time they could spare to vacation. Like buying property back home, the purchase is deeded, meaning it can be sold, swapped, rented or passed on to the children to enjoy. It is legally their property.
The construction is high-end, the location on the canal is first-class, the sales team as accommodating as it can be for a satisfying, no-fuss buying experience. The units are tastefully decorated and generously applianced, the terraces with Jacuzzis overlooking the pools are more than spacious, and canal views where the boats leisurely parade by on their way to the sea emits a sense of adventure.
“When the sport fishing boats return, we can usually buy great filets from them right there the docks. It doesn’t get any fresher than that,” said Mr. Tobin.
Porto Bello Residence Club is leisurely living at its best, with every service and amenity one can find in top hotels, including maid service and trained office staff that doubles as concierge.
It is like a neighborhood within the community of democratically governed Puerto Aventuras, often described as the safest, diverse gated community on the Caribbean. Its streets are paved with stamped concrete, it has bicycle trails, private villas, condominiums and several all-inclusive hotels. There is a golf course, two protected marinas with easy access to the sea, enchanting canal-side villas, a town center of more than a two dozen restaurants and retail outlets, sport fishing and dive centers, Dolphin Discovery, private elementary through high school, public library to enhance the one at Porto Bello and more. It’s all within walking distance.
Take a look now at Porto Bello via its virtual tour, promotions, photos and considerable information at our website then call and/or stop by for a visit to feel the friendship and learn why the owners describe it as the “the closest thing to heaven”. Contact us for more information