Puerta Cortes, La Paz

Puerta Cortez in La Paz offers a slower, more serene lifestyle than Cabo. La Paz also has really good restaurants, and a long seafront perfect for strolling.

That would be the recently rebranded resort and residential development of Puerta Cortes. It was previously called Costa Baja. And it would seem that people can’t resist buying into the Vista Mar condominiums.

Said Dean and Donna Bernhard, from Calgary, Alberta: “It was kind of cool because the sales guy took us up on the cliff overlooking the Sea of Cortez and said this is where the building is going to go and this is what your view will be and it was such a beautiful vista. We just both fell in love with it and shared the passion and desire to be down in Mexico,”

“Puerta Cortes is located in La Paz, and we wanted to experience the Mexican culture, and you just don’t get it if you go to Cabo or Cancun,” she says.

Bernhard was also thrilled about the amenities and the location, just a quick jaunt from the city center of La Paz, while far enough away from the action to be quiet and tranquil. Plus the property is positioned as the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, a nationally protected body of water that extends up the interior of the Baja, an 800-kilometer long playground that sea explorer Jacques Cousteau dubbed “nature’s aquarium.”

“The first we were there, we went on a snorkeling trip, and we swam with the sea lions. Since then, we have been out with the family, and we’ve had schools of dolphins jumping around our boat, we’ve seen whale sharks and sea lions. There is just so much sea life out there,” says Donna.

Dean, an avid golfer, was attracted by Puerta Cortes’ Gary Player Signature Golf Course, the only Gary Player course in Mexico, while Donna was excited for the owners’ beachside private club, which offers private beach access, an infinity pool, a restaurant, health club and spa.

Owners have access to the private 250-slip marina and the hotel. A boardwalk promenade with boutique shops and a myriad of restaurants is at the front door.

The resort was recently purchased by Ascendancy, a Mexican-based assent management firm specializing in real estate investments, and the property is experiencing a refresh of amenities, including a $5 million upgrade of the owners’ clubhouse with additional plans to launch more fine dining restaurants at Pueblo Mariner, the development’s marina village.

“We are also in negotiations with two five-star hotels with a residential component that will be coming on board,” says Antonio Davila, president of Ascendancy.

The Bernhards’ home is part of the 60-unit Vista Mar collection, an oceanfront enclave within the resort.

“It has this amazing view over the swimming pool to the Sea of Cortez, and at night we can see the lights twinkling in the city,” says Donna.

The home features two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms with double-height ceilings and marble and wood floors. The master bedroom features its own terrace and a kitchenette and can be locked off from the rest of the suite, a design feature that works well if owners are considering using the rental pool.

But really what sets the home apart is the 800-square-foot outdoor terrace overlooking the sea.

“In the mornings we get up, have coffee and breakfast on the balcony and sit there for a couple of hours and then we go to the gym, come back and have lunch out there. Then we decide what beach or pool to go to or whether we are going to golf for the afternoon. It’s a tough life,” says Donna.

The couple, who lives in Calgary, also has a recreational home in Invermere, a place that they use in the summer months.

“So the thought was that we would use the home in the winter for family getaways and eventually, once we fully retire, we plan to spend winters here,” says Dean, 50.

The couple also has three children, two daughters in their 20s and a son in Grade 10.

“It’s really great because our son speaks Spanish — he’s been in Spanish immersion since Grade 1, which is good because Dean and I each know five words each,” says Donna with a laugh.

In addition to the Vista Mar condominiums, Puerta Cortes also offers Las Colinas, a boutique collection of 72 hillside residences featuring contemporary rustic architecture. The homes are located between holes 8 and 10 of the Gary Player-designed golf course and range from 2,600 to 3,800 square feet with prices starting at $400,000 including home and lot.

There are also a limited number of uber-luxury hillside homes that range from 8,000 to 12,000 square feet.

For more information, visit puertacortes.com.