After its creation in the 90s, Marina Vallarta is one of the detonators of the development and modernization of the current Puerto Vallarta. After the great exhibition that gave it the movie The Night of the Iguana, in 1964, the city required leaving behind the image of a sunny, beautiful town, but a little boring. It had to change from the typical and picturesque to the modern.
Product of the vision of José and Jorge Martínez Güitrón, heads of Sidek-Situr, from Guadalajara, La Marina transformed the tourism of the city and perhaps of the country. What was a solitary estuary, infested with mosquitoes and crocodiles, with beautiful beaches, became the promoter of a new wave of growth and modernity for Vallarta. Beyond fishermen, duck hunters or young adventurers, very few locals ventured into this inhospitable place.
A few steps from the airport, the area would have a golf club, shopping center, tennis courts, school, church, post office, residences, condominiums, luxury hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes … Of course, without forgetting its end primary, a Marina with 500 piers for yachts and boats.
One of the witnesses and protagonists of the project was the lawyer Alejandro Flores Von Borstel. In April 1991 he arrived to this city, hired by Sidek-Situr. Coming from Guadalajara, his mission was not simple: he had to work on tax issues, trusts, administrative law, federal zones, municipal laws, relationship with the city council, for what would be an innovative and gigantic real estate and tourism development. As Legal Manager of Marina Vallarta, Alejandro saw it born. And had to circumvent many gaps in the law, complex tax issues and legal obstacles to the creation of the ambitious project, which was well ahead of its time. To cite an example: while in those days an estuary could be urbanized without any problem, now the legislation prevents it given the impact of this habitat on the environment.
A new lifestyle
When La Marina opened, it offered a new and exclusive lifestyle for people from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, California … The combination of an airport, house, private dock, sea, was very tempting for those who could take the luxury of buying a property in the area, where prices exceeded one million dollars, something unheard of for the time. It is important to note that in fact two marinas were created: the general one and a more private one, that of Isla Iguana, where houses were built to had the dock at the door (instead of a garage!).
Puerto Vallarta began a new wave of growth, which allowed the creation of jobs (up to five thousand direct, plus all indirect) and the attraction of professional talent from other cities. Juicy investments arrived, such as the new hotel chains (Vidafel, Regina, Velas, Quinta Real …) or condominium buildings (Puesta de Sol was the pioneer) that bet on the success of the Marina. No less important, was his enormous contribution to the municipal treasury.
Among those who anticipated the potential of La Marina, Guillermo Wulff, builder and promoter of Vallarta since the late 50s, stood out. The legendary engineer asked José Martínez Güitrón for a lot to build the first major construction of the project. With a down payment of 10% of the value, Wulff set aside the land of what would be the condominium and tennis club Puesta de Sol, which was to have – once completed – 160 apartments and 40 business premises.
A new Sun
Preceded by his fame as an inspired builder of the Vallarta architectural style, it was not a problem for Guillermo Wulff to start the pre-sale at Puesta de Sol, his first great business triumph. The buyers believed in it and acquired practically on paper the promise of what their properties would be in the Marina. At the beginning, obviously, there was a lot of skepticism from the people: “It’s crazy to build there,” they said. But it was enough that some were encouraged to invest so that many would follow their example.
Among the first customers, Elizabeth Taylor, who visited the Marina when it was just beginning to urbanize, stands out: Luis Wulff, Guillermo’s son, took the actress, who was accompanied by actor George Hamilton, to learn about the new site. When they arrived and the only thing that saw a sign and land, asked skeptical if they were going to build apartments there. Reluctant, doubtful, his friend Hamilton ended up convincing her to buy. Word of this operation soon spread, which helped to immediately sell 30 more condominiums, according to Luis. Regrettably, Taylor did not manage to inhabit her property in Puesta del Sol because soon after she got sick and never returned to Puerto Vallarta.
After the successful commercialization of Puesta del Sol, Wulff would later undertake other projects in the area: Marina Sol and Marina Golf; in particular, the last one “excited” the passionate golfer. The course, designed by Joe Finger, was one of the first in the entire Bay of Banderas area.
La Marina contributed to a new boom for the city. “Puerto Vallarta became fashionable again,” says Alejandro Flores Von Borstel, who observes another wave of growth for the city these days: “This is no longer a small and boring town. It is a cosmopolitan, safe and interesting city. Many Europeans are arriving now and in addition, the millionaires and important investments are coming “, says who arrived at the beginning of the 90s here, with a suitcase and full of illusions, without even knowing English. Currently, this lawyer heads Von Borstel, SC, an office specializing in environmental law and federal and maritime matters. A long journey, to reach a good port, without a doubt.
Good reasons to go to La Marina
Any list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta will always include visiting the Marina. Whether for locals or visitors there is much to see and enjoy in the area. It is a destination by itself, irresistible, that has magnificent restaurants (some of the best in the city are located there), coffee shops, ice cream shops, crepes, pizzas, seafood, hamburgers, as well as good bars (including El Faro), spas, a shopping center and its golf course.
It’s just worth going for a walk along the pier and admiring the yachts and boats that dock there. Seeing these boats of all sizes and shapes is a nice spectacle. A Farmers Market has been installed there for four or five years and enjoys great popularity. In order to attract people to the Marina in the afternoons, it was thought to organize something interesting and fun for the high season. After trying an outdoor cinema, danzón dance and exhibition of paintings, they came up with the idea of the market or tianguis. The result has been an overwhelming success: to have initially no more than 30 positions, today there are up to 300 vendors. In moments there are so many people walking that one can hardly move among people who browse or buy clothes, crafts, food, gifts … and food stalls.
The Marina has lived a long way since its creation in the 90s to the present. The area is a reference for Puerto Vallarta, and gave it a renewal and modernity boost. With good reason, it can also be said that this real estate development could come to fruition in a successful journey of more than three decades.