Chef Roberto Cruz // © 2017 Vivo Resorts
Feature image (above): Vivo Resorts offers a peaceful oasis. // © 2017 Vivo Resorts
There’s something exquisite about having to send off tiny baby turtles into the deep, vast ocean — and something nerve-racking, as well. They’re simply too tiny and too precious to be out there on their own.
That was all I could think of as we stood on a beach just outside Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca, waiting patiently for the last turtle to blunder its way to the ocean.
I was surprised to stumble into a turtle release activity, signaled by the blowing of a conch shell, at the property where I was staying. After all, Vivo Resorts isn’t a typical resort; it’s more of a gated, oceanfront community of private homes and condos moonlighting as a luxury resort.
Indeed, it’s easy to dismiss the property as just another homogeneous residential community. Its furnishings, while comfortable, are typical; its details, unsurprisingly nautical-leaning; and its exteriors, the usual Mexican-inspired modern.
Yet, it makes up for all that it’s not with all that it has.
Set along a mostly secluded sandy stretch 10 minutes outside of town, it’s close enough for shopping excursions and local tours, yet far enough from the quotidian bustle. Guests can also partake in off-site activities such as bird watching, paddleboarding in bioluminescent Laguna de Manialtepec and swimming at Carrizalillo Beach.
The resort has the necessary trimmings for a fortnight’s stay or a monthlong getaway. The suites and villas are perfectly curated for vacationing families. There’s a full kitchen and dining space for home-cooked dinners; a washer and dryer for crisp, laundered clothes; and satellite television and a spacious living area for family nights.
These are topped off with all the resort-type flourishes: an ocean-facing infinity pool with a swim-up bar, a family pool with a waterslide, on-site restaurant Bistro 216, in-room spa services and an obligatory lovely view of the sunset. And those are just to start — a few more amenities are set to arrive later this year.
Vivo Resorts’ appeal, however, extends further than its amenities, locavore cuisine, a go-slow lifestyle and the rich nature and wildlife that Puerto Escondido is known for. Most importantly, it nurtures an amazing relationship with the local community and taps into the town’s supply of talented people, small businesses and nonprofit projects.
Take, for example, the turtle release program, led by local Roberto and his nonprofit, Vive Mar. While he and his small team of volunteers comb the beaches during turtle nesting season to collect and secure vulnerable eggs, the resort’s Vivo Foundation supports their work by funding and maintaining a turtle sanctuary.
There’s also the hotel’s head chef, Roberto Cruz, whose extensive knowledge of the luscious local ingredients is marvelously intuitive and whose knack for crafting creative twists to traditional Oaxacan dishes is second to none.
It’s because of him that one of Vivo Resorts’ sweet spots is its food. Who could forget his ant-topped "chicharrones tlayudas"; surprisingly tender and non-gamey fried octopus; creamy mole; or perfectly seared tuna? Your shoulders will drop an inch or two with his delightful take on fruity desserts.
Vivo Resorts is neither an idyllic converted townhouse inn nor an uber-swanky hotel with a gallery of quirky decor. What it is, however, is a quiet piece of coastal property in which to retreat, where the sea is glorious and the food is divine. It’s a home away from home — so much so that you might not want to leave it.