Many people know of Playa del Carmen as the choice destination for those wanting to visit the Riviera Maya in search of an escape, whether they are honeymooners, retirees or spring-breakers, this part of the Yucatan appeals to all demographics. With some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, incredible diving opportunities, an abundance of excellent restaurants and a very exciting nightlife all with a small, tropical beachside town feel, this reputation is well-earned. Many do not know however, at the incredible rate at which this one tiny fishing village has grown and how rapidly it continues to do so.
In case you didn’t know, Playa del Carmen was named originally for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who is the patron saint of Cancún. She was known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a town in Italy, which was the first place where a chapel was built in her honour, in 1263, before her ascension into heaven.
Starting in the early 1980s, little by little, street by street, the tiny fishing village and ferry town began to grow. New shops, restaurants, and even a couple of hotels opened their doors, luring the passing visitors to stay a while. The first hotels were built of bamboo and palm fronds, with slatted wood doors-not to keep out thieves, but to prevent the wild pigs from entering and looking for food.
These days Playa del Carmen has become one of the world’s most desired tourist hotspots, with tourist numbers at record highs and a massive hub of foreign investment and development. The town is inundated with incredibly large variety of boutique hotels to suit every desired accommodation imaginable.
Playa del Carmen now plays host to over 120,000 year round residents which has seen real estate values continuing to climb rapidly and given way to almost continuous new construction, ranging from homes, hotels and mega-stores like Wal-Mart to new highway overpasses and even a world class hospital. Its current growth rate is set at +25% per year and according to Guinness World Records is the Latin America’s fastest growing location. To the point where most homes and condominiums have appreciated before construction is even completed.
While the growth of Playa Del Carmen has been extraordinary, the town has been careful to preserve its small-town feel. There are no high rises allowed, for example, and smaller piazzas (town squares) dictate the feel of this coastal resort. As such, Playa Del Carmen is known for having a European flair that helps attract many international visitors and buyers. Such legislation to safe-guard this vibe also keeps the demand in the region continuously high.
This is also important lest the very soul of Playa del Carmen, its most attractive feature, is lost due to over-development. It is expansion in fine form, not only allowing the location to provide a permanent home for many North American and other international migrants with all the amenities one would expect from living in a county like the US, but never straying from the place Playa del Carmen will always be, ocean-front bliss.