Mexico’s Costalegre is getting a $1 billion master-planned community — and we got a sneak peek.

    A sandy shoreline in Xala, Mexico
    Photo: Meagan Drillinger/Travel + Leisure

    There are places in Mexico that are so beautiful, it almost hurts. The Costalegre, a wild and windswept stretch of coastline south of Puerto Vallarta, offers that heart-pulling scenery that will steal your breath and infuse into your soul. At least, that’s what happened to me the first time I visited this magical slice of earth. And while the remote, rural stretch of land is no stranger to quiet luxury, in the form of resorts and communities like Cuixmala, Las Alamandas, Careyes, Las Rosadas, and Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, there is a new player about to make its $1 billion debut.

    Xala has been a project two decades in the making. Turning off a dusty stretch of Highway 200, past the small agricultural villages of Higuera Blanca and José María Morelos, the 3,000-acre world of Xala begins. With five miles of raw, white-sand beach, a wildlife-rich estuary, and a crown of rolling mountains, the landscape here is the stuff Mexico dreams are made of. This sets the scene for a project that includes 75 rancho estates on six-acre plots of land, roughly half of which have already been sold, as well as the first Six Senses resort in Mexico.

    Exterior of a Bungalow Style Suite in Xala, Mexico
    Meagan Drillinger/Travel + Leisure

    Six Senses Xala, which is set to open in 2026, will have a collection of 51 bungalow-style suites on a half-mile stretch of Pacific coastline. Two beach clubs will offer guests swimmable beaches, a surf break with considerable bragging rights, beach bars, waterfront pools, and a selection of dining enclaves, including a farm-to-table concept using fresh ingredients from the on-site Xala Farms organic garden. A signature spa is in the works as well.

    One of the selling points of Xala is its direct access to the Costalegre Airport, scheduled to open before October. With all of this, Xala is poised to become an entire destination within itself.

    Interior of a Bungalow Style Suite in Xala, Mexico
    Meagan Drillinger/Travel + Leisure

    However, staying insular is the last thing that Xala’s founders want to do.

    Behind the scenes, the team of developers at Xala is no stranger to hospitality success in Mexico. (These are the brains behind the exclusive Mandarina development in Nayarit.) But what makes Xala so unique is its commitment to embedding itself in the community, rather than isolating itself from it.

    “If you are going to create a development that will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to an impoverished region, you have a moral obligation to ensure the families living there for decades receive a real opportunity to change their life circumstance,” said Ricardo Santa Cruz, founder and president of RSC Development and one of the founding partners of the Xala project. “To accomplish this, the focus must go beyond the immediate job creation. It must provide opportunities for these community members to learn new skill sets, create startups, and be able to thrive on their own.”

    A dirt path and walkway in Xala, Mexico
    Meagan Drillinger/Travel + Leisure

    Xala’s foundation arm, Xala With Heart, is just as important to the ethos as the multimillion-dollar ranchos and the luxury resort. Xala With Heart’s mission is to improve the quality of life of nearby communities through three pillars: health and lifestyle, economic resilience, and education and culture. José María Morelos and Higuera Blanca have an average monthly income of under $300 USD per family of four. Twenty-seven percent have not completed elementary school, and the communities have no access to social security.

    “José María Morelos and Higuera Blanca … represent a mosaic of Mexican reality as they experience all the aspirations and fears that many rural communities go through in all of Mexico,” Ceci Parades, Xala With Heart executive director, said in a video shared with Travel + Leisure.

    A sandy beach in Xala, Mexico
    Meagan Drillinger/Travel + Leisure

    In 2023, more than 1,000 residents have already been impacted by Xala With Heart. Specifically, there have been 38 graduates from the entrepreneurial certification program, 36 of whom were women. Other initiatives include mental health services for middle and high school students, health and lifestyle programs, and the introduction of year-round potable water for more than 200 families — families who have relied on either seasonal rain for crops or once-a-week water delivery.

    Santa Cruz added, “As developers, we have to leverage the investment we bring to ensure the government also does their part by bringing much-needed infrastructure to the marginalized communities. To determine whether or not a development is successful, you have to measure what happens to the neighboring community as it is just as important as the one you are creating within.”

    Of course, Xala is still a luxury development. An entry ticket into the 75 ranchos starts at $5 million. In an attempt to bring more diverse voices into the community, a smaller village of casitas will be part of Xala, though those residences still cap at $1 million. But unlike the majority of other luxury developments in Mexico, Xala wants its local impact to be long-lasting, and for the better. Rather than separating itself from the community behind security gates and imposing walls, Xala’s bubble aims to be porous, attempting to raise all boats with its billion-dollar tide.