Tulum Hotel seizures

Discussion in 'Living in Cancun' started by Mellow_in_Puerto Morelos, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Mellow_in_Puerto Morelos

    Mellow_in_Puerto Morelos Guest

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    By TRACI CARL, Associated Press Writer Thu Jul 10, 6:00 PM ET

    MEXICO CITY - The soldiers seemed out of place in paradise.

    They stood guard at the sandy entrances to the exclusive, beachside hotels, holding their guns while inspectors took careful measurements and studied documents.

    Tourists from around the world sauntered by on their way to spa treatments or sunned themselves on private decks overlooking the Mexican Caribbean's blue-green waters, puzzled but mostly unconcerned.

    Until Monday, when the soldiers returned with federal officials who slapped "closed" signs across the hotel entrances and said they would be back on Friday to start clearing out guests.

    The federal government's closure of five small, exclusive hotels on Tulum's breathtaking stretch of white-sand beaches has created an uproar over who has the title to one of the few still-to-be-fully-developed coastlines left along the exclusive Riviera Maya. At least five other developments near Tulum's seaside Mayan ruins are also under investigation.

    The actions carried into Thursday, when the federal Environmental Department announced it had shut down construction of an Acapulco development that didn't meet environmental standards.

    Visitors driving south from Cancun find most of the coast has been divided up and sold off to hotel chains. There are monster, all-inclusive resorts boasting hundreds of rooms and a maze of swimming pools, as well as sprawling communities of vacation villas and beach clubs.

    Then there is Tulum, a tiny hippy-style town that started as a backpacker retreat. Most hotels were a collection of primitive thatched huts stuck into the sand and surrounded by beachside jungle.

    But it has recently transformed itself into a chic eco-resort, one where travelers pay up to US$500 a night to practice yoga on the beach and stay in minimalist Mayan suites where flatscreen televisions and iPod docking stations are powered by solar energy.

    Title disputes have haunted the Tulum beach for decades. At the heart of this dispute, however, is whether the hotels were built in a federal park.

    Federal environmental prosecutor Patricio Patron says the land is protected and the government wants to eventually demolish the buildings and leave the area untouched. But he says bulldozers won't arrive for a year or more as the cases work their way through Mexican courts.

    John Kendall, owner of Mezzanine, a 10-room resort featuring a beachside restaurant and bar, says the federal government just wants to take back land that is worth millions of dollars.

    "The pretext is totally fabricated," he said.

    Ari Kantrowitz, a New York City graduate student, said he and his girlfriend were in the pool Monday when two bureaucrats walked up, carrying clipboards and signs that said "closed" in Spanish.

    "Suddenly, walking behind them were four guys in full fatigues, helmets and carrying M16 rifles. It was somewhat surreal," he said. "We sort of just sat in the pool ... After a bit, I assumed it was the Mexican government and not some rogue militia."

    Kendall has held nightly meetings with his guests, assuring them that he will find alternative lodging if they are forcibly evicted on Friday.

    But guest Richard Beaver and his wife aren't waiting to find out what happens. The couple from New Zealand plan to check out first thing Friday. They drove up Monday as soldiers and government officials were posting the closed signs.

    "There were guys walking around with big guns, and my wife didn't want to stay," he said. "We thought we had come to a really nice place, but to look at that was pretty intimidating."

    Patron says officials will let guests stay until they are scheduled to leave, even if it means they stay past Friday. But he warned the hotels against taking on new clients.

    He says the developments have yet to show adequate titles, are too close to the Mayan ruins and are built in an area for protected plant and animal species, including the towering chit palm.

    "We are forced to comply with the law," he said.

    Hotel owners argue they've been there for up to two decades without problems, and their businesses are built around protecting the environment.

    Roberto Palazuelos, a Mexican soap opera actor and president of the Tulum Hotel Owners Association, says the federal government's paperwork to create the protected area in the 1980s was never done correctly. His Hotel Diamante K is among the five that have been closed.

    "I think they want to take away the land and divide it between themselves," he said.

    The state government issued the land titles and says they are valid. Tourism officials have been visiting the hotels this week and supporting their fight to keep their land.

    In the meantime, urban refugees seeking peace and quiet in Mexico's jungle squeeze in one last spa treatment and wonder when the soldiers will return
  2. carrie77

    carrie77 Guest

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    I just read this, too. What (else) made me mad is how the Seattle Times was misleading, the sub-headline read 'near Cancun'. Puerto Morales may be near Cancun, but Tulum is certainly NOT.

    I'm not sure how to feel about this, being Mexico it really does not surprise me... but it sure is f***ed up! I could not imagine being at one of those resorts... especially if I was not so familiar with Mexico! What an impression that has to be, and that too is f***ed up! How many of these people would never return to Mexico now... sad really.
  3. mixz1

    mixz1 Guest

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    Too bad it hasn't happened in Cancun. After the destruction caused by Wilma, the mostly failed recovery attempt, the wholesale encroachment of the beaches by condo developers and hotels has been criminal. Once the construction at Delphines begins much of what used to be "public" beaches will be gone. Ballenas has gone, Tortugas is a thin strip of sand, the parking lot at Langostine has been taken over by Discovery and is closed to public parking. Marlin is still viable as a public beach, but for how much longer?
  4. Jim in Cancun

    Jim in Cancun Guest

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    There are always 2 and usually 3 sides to every story. (The third being the truth)

    Assuming that either the government (and especially Patricio Patron) is the knight on the white horse trying to save the environment and protect the ruins is a naive position of those who don't know his history.

    And to think the owners--especially Pazazuelos--are innocent is equally naive. They are there because they have had some permission, permits and/or colussion from authorities for years.

    This is (or at least has been for a long time) the wild wild west and the rules and the question of who wears the white and black hats are definitely in a "grey" area.
  5. carrie77

    carrie77 Guest

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    Viva Mexico!!

    (That is not facetious... I do love Mexico, and wish I could live there again.)
  6. catbrown

    catbrown Newbie Registered Member

    Jul 10, 2008
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    Puerto Morelos
    +0 / 0
    Too bad they are not doing it in Puerto Morelos too. Where once was our wild and beautiful South Beach is now El Cid and now the huge NH resort who seem to have no problem filling in hectares of mangalar Today noticed a fence going up around another section of mangrove on the beach - the far section of it had 'Clausurado' signs on it so hopefully something is happening or maybe they just haven't paid everyone yet. The same is happenign to our immediate North
  7. CancunCanuck

    CancunCanuck Guest

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    I'm just amazed their going after the little guys and not the mega resorts. And hey, if they were really interested in protecting the environment, they wouldn't be destroying 70 hectares of land to build a useless Tulum airport.

    According to Noticaribe, there is the possibility that they will start to shut down Cancun hotels too, the mayor is quoted as telling people to "be prepared".


    I blogged about this last night, will try to keep up with the stories. Should be interesting to see what happens today when they try to remove all the tourists.

  8. Jim in Cancun

    Jim in Cancun Guest

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    I absolutely agree CC. I did see however that one of the 3 hotels destined to be torn down that has lost all of its appeals is Dreams!

    And I too saw that they are concerned here in CAncun that PROFEPA just comes in and closes something down after it has been operating for years and years. Of course they many times operated under the old "it-is-better-to-as-for-pardon-than-to-ask-for-permission" philosophy and have always expected that "well, we will just do it until we get caught and then pay the fine and keep on going."

    I also agree that the airport is a waste of time and money and the locations they have looked at could also cause problems with the ruins.
  9. CancunCanuck

    CancunCanuck Guest

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    I guess if they shut down all these hotels, there will be a different type of "ruin" in the area. :)

    Thanks Jim, I have read nothing official about Dreams, only rumour, but that would be a very interesting development indeed!

    I've just been perusing some Tulum forums and people are freaking out, landowners, homeowners and travelers alike. The government will try to remove some tourists today (I have read numbers from 180 people to 400, who knows what is accurate), but no one seems to know what to do about the people arriving this weekend for their vacations. You would think that the government agencies would work together to make this transition as "scandal-free" as possible, limiting the immediate effects on actual tourists, but it doesn't look that way. The international press has already got the story and it's yet another black mark on tourism in Quintana Roo.
  10. lambert13

    lambert13 Guest

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    That's similar to my first thoughts.

    The old and accepted tradition of doing business where money in the right persons hands can speed up quite a few things can also come back to bite in the long run. Regimes change, people leave office, and favors get forgotten. While one person or group in power may have been willing to play ball, there is no guarantee that the next one will.

    That's if that is what is going on. I obviously have no way of knowing. Just a little speculation for debate. It doesn't just happen in Mexico either.
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