Mexican investor Ricardo Santa Cruz was always clear that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. However, the idea of participating in the real estate and tourism industries hadn’t entered his mind when he finished his studies in Business Administration at the University of Colorado in Boulder. What he was sure of was that he would return to his native country, where he saw greater business opportunities due to his skills. Born in Mexico City, to a Mexican father and an American mother, Santa Cruz is completely bicultural and bilingual.
“When I graduated, I made the decision to move to Guadalajara. I wanted to become a kind of bridge that would help American businessmen seeking to invest in Mexico. In general, they have a very positive view of our country, but they have a hard time understanding the culture and the way of doing business. I knew that here I would have added value because I know how to operate well in the Mexican system.”
In 1996, Santa Cruz partnered with American Health Care Products (based in California) and opened the subsidiary American Health Care Products Mexico. For 10 years he remained at the helm of this company that provides medical products and supplies. However, before the end of the ‘90s, he began to get involved in a real estate project located in Chalacatepec, in the municipality of Tomatlán (south of Banderas Bay), becoming a partner. This site, part of the Costalegre tourist corridor, features abundant natural beauty and white sand beaches. Eventually, this new enterprise would become his main activity, so he moved to Puerto Vallarta. During the following years, he devoted himself to consolidating the development: managing land acquisition and environmental permits, collaborating in the formation of investment funds and performing other key tasks. Currently, the project is named Xala.
“It is a 2,965-acre agritourism development, with nearly five miles of beach. This area will house the One&Only Nature Resort hotel, with 22 tent-type rooms, where guests will have an unparalleled experience in full contact with nature and surrounded by luxury. In addition, we will have One&Only residences available for purchase, and in the southern part of the property there will be a boutique hotel community.”
To facilitate access to this area, a more than mile-long airstrip has already been built, with funding from the state government, and there are plans to open an airport in the near future that will serve the entire Costalegre area. The point where this work is located is equidistant between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.
Additionally, Santa Cruz is a founding partner of Mandarina, a second project geared toward those with high purchasing power. Located in the community of El Monteón in Riviera Nayarit (north of Banderas Bay), this property comprises about 655 acres and has very interesting topographical features, including two beaches, cliffs, plains, an estuary and a lagoon. Once completed, the complex will house the One&Only Mandarina (currently under construction) and Rosewood Mandarina hotels, as well as the residential communities One&Only Private Homes (which are already being marketed) and Rosewood Residences.
Santa Cruz founded the company RSC Development, from which he is responsible for various areas and stages of development of these exclusive tourist-real estate communities, including sales and marketing. “We can take a development from A to Z,” he says.
On the other hand, he is part of the Asociación de Empresarios de Costalegre (Association of Entrepreneurs of Costalegre), which seeks to ensure the progress in the area is orderly and friendly to the environment. “Over the years, a special phenomenon has occurred in this area, where large tracts of land have been consolidated by a few groups or families that share the same vision of creating a sustainable project. In fact, ecological management plans have already been implemented in the municipalities of Tomatlán, La Huerta and Cihuatlán. This whole region will be developed with low density, in a very structured way,” he explains.
Beyond the success of his real estate projects, Santa Cruz wishes to see this region of the Mexican Pacific established as the best among the country’s beach destinations. “We are contributing our bit, in a very orderly manner, to work for the common good and achieve this goal,” he concludes.