When golfers talk about Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, the conversation inevitably revolves around Los Cabos, on the peninsula’s southern tip. The corridor connecting the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo is lined with golf courses and resorts, and more of each always seem to be in development.

It’s a comfortable destination for Americans and Canadians. Think Scottsdale, but with some really cool beachfront property.

Developers have tried, with less success, to develop other parts of Baja. But there are signs that is changing with the surging economy.

In La Paz, the capital of Baja, the Mexican real estate investment firm Ascendancy purchased the defunct CostaBaja resort this year and reopened it recently under a new name, Puerta Cortés. Ascendancy is pumping at least $5 million into the golf course – the only Gary Player design in Mexico – and other amenities, including new dining options at the marina. The golf course, now called El Cortés, reopened in June.

La Paz is located two hours north of San José del Cabo on the Sea of Cortez. It’s the place to go for those looking for a bona fide Mexican experience.

“We believe we are a completely different product than Los Cabos,” Antonio M. Davila, president of Ascendancy, said via email to Golfweek. “We are situated in an authentic location surrounded by untouched land, sea life and protected areas year-round. Visitors and buyers come to Puerta Cortés seeking exclusivity, which is not always possible in Los Cabos. Additionally, our golf and yachting experience is unmatched – we’re the preeminent location for yachting in all of the Sea of Cortez.”

I first visited Puerta Cortés in late 2008, during early construction of the golf course. The lasting image from that initial visit was of a line of dump trucks hauling rocks off the steep, rugged hillside. It seemed as if it would be a difficult site on which to build a course.

When I returned in 2011, I was stunned by the work of Player and his team, who managed to tame that site and create a playable, often thrilling design. The tee shot on the par-5 14th – a cliffside tee, a long forced carry, a stunning view of the Sea of Cortez in the distance – remains the single most memorable shot I’ve experienced in my visits to Mexico. But there are others that come close at El Cortés; Player’s design maximized the vistas and the number of scenic, downhill tee shots.

Davila said his firm plans to add a new hole and halfway house at El Cortés, and expand the clubhouse, which sits atop the hill, with lovely views of the course, marina and sea.

The marina is the other key amenity. It has 250 slips, which can accommodate vessels ranging from 30 to 225 feet.

Puerta Cortés has two residential communities, one up on the golf course and the other down along the waterfront. The Las Colinas residences, constructed in 2011, range from 2,000 to 3,300 square feet and are priced from $400,000 to $750,000. The 60 waterfront condominiums located near the marina range from 2,600 to 5,000 square feet and are priced from $500,000 to $1.4 million.

Davila anticipates that about 60 percent of resort guests and homebuyers will come from the U.S. and Canada, with the remainder coming primarily from Guadalajara and Mexico City. Gwk


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