Residents of a small fishing village on Mexico’s Riviera Maya are up in arms about the expansion of a hedonistic swingers club in their town.
Puerto Morelos, a hamlet of just under 10,000 people located about 37 miles south of Cancun on the Yucatán Peninsula, is known as a tourist hot-spot for its secluded beaches, world-class scuba diving and water sports.
But since news broke last year that the town’s family-friendly wedding destination Ceiba del Mar Resort and Spa would be transformed into Desire Resort and Spa -- a couples-only, clothing-optional swingers resort – locals have been concerned that tourism will take a hit.
Desire has another location in Puerto Morelos in a more secluded area six miles from town, but the new space, which opened this month, is on the strip of beach in between the town center and a hotel zone that is frequented by locals and vacationers.
The opening of the second Desire location comes as Mexico, and the Yucatán Peninsula in particular, prepare for December 21, the date in Mayan mythology that marks the end of a 5,125 year-long cycle, which some believe could mark a doomsday-like scenario. The day has been a big tourist pull, and the Mexico Tourism Board estimates that 52 million domestic and international tourists will visit the southeastern part of the country in 2012.
But local restaurant owners and tour operators say they're not interested in getting the type of tourist Desire is expected to attract, and don't want their businesses exposed to the potentially tawdry goings-on at the resort.
“People in Puerto Morelos don’t like the idea of Desire. People here are conservative,” Wilmo Zetina, the co-owner of Pelicanos, one of the town’s largest restaurants and beach clubs, told FoxNews.com.
“You shouldn’t have to walk by the beach and see that,” said Goyo Morgan, an American ex-pat who has called Puerto Morelos home for more than three decades. “This is a family-oriented town,” he said. “I want my grandkids to enjoy that beach.”
Jose Jiminez, who takes tourists out on snorkeling and dive trips complained that the changing of the guards at the resort will be bad for business.
“Those people don’t want to snorkel. They’re busy doing other things,” Jiminez told FoxNews.com.
So far the locals have not formally organized to try and stop Desire from operating in their town. Since it only officially opened they are waiting to see how things play out before taking any action.
The Cancun Visitors Bureau, which oversees Puerto Morelos had no comment for this story.
According to Don Hughes, chief operations officer for Desire Vacations and Lifestyles Travel in the United States, there will be security guards posted at each end of the beach to keep people moving along, but because the beach is public there is no way to keep anyone off it. Currently, there is nothing shielding pedestrians from viewing the activities in the resort.
Hughes said that he is unaware of any complaints, and said the March renovations to the resort to transition from Ceiba del Mar to focused on upgrades that would meet the standards of the new visitors.
“We added a nightclub since part of the Desire theme is a sexy nightclub and the intention was to convert the kiddie pool at the main pool into a hot tub spa,” Hughes said. “We did renovations like that to bring it up to the expectations of the lifestyle crowd.”
“Lifestyle” is the buzz word that describes visitors to resorts like Desire. “The demographic has morphed into sexy couples looking to revive the fun in their marriage…or to explore their sexuality with like-minded couples,” Hughes said. “You can touch and be sexy and affectionate and do body shots off the bar naked—things that if you did it at the Hilton you would be kicked out.”
Those are the things that concern the townspeople.
“They need to build walls and not let them out,” said local Enrique Nates.