Use caution when traveling! This is what really happened at Ocho Tulum:
Ocho Tulum, an idyllic 22-room boutique hotel on the coveted Tulum beach developed by Denver businessman Ken Wolf, was illegally seized by armed Mexican state policemen on December 1, 2009, with hotel guests and staff summarily marched out of the property and the facility barricaded.
Without warning, state agents, wearing flak jackets and carrying automatic weapons, brandished a spurious court order of de-possession, flushed guests and workers from the Ocho Tulum (www.ochotulum.com) resort, loaded the hotel furniture and accessories onto two waiting semis, and secured the property with barbed wire.
Ocho staff quickly found similar lodgings in Tulum for the displaced guests, but staff and guests alike remain shocked and horrified by the experience of being escorted out of their upscale holiday retreat by storm troopers.
Wolf subsequently discovered that Carlos Chico, the husband of Ocho’s former attorney who was fired for unethical practices executed a phony lease on the Ocho Tulum resort between a corrupt and powerful Mexican family in the neighboring state of Monterrey, the Garze Ponces, as Landlord, and Carlos Chico as the proposed tenant. Chico never played any role in the development or management of Ocho Tulum. The lease was drafted by the Garza-Ponces, even though they never had possession of the land where Ocho is situated. With this unauthorized document notice of which was never presented to Ocho Tulum owners or management the Garza- Ponzes went to a Mexican court and received an order of de-possession.
Wolf states that the Garza-Ponces and the owners of a neighboring resort, Ana Y Jose, have spread rumors that the “taking” was due to the fact the owners of Ocho signed a lease with the Garza-Ponces, and then stopped paying rent.
“This is simply not true,” says Wolf. “No one associated with Ocho has ever been in contact with the Garza-Ponces. There was never a lease with the Garza-Ponces. Rent was never paid; in fact, the Garza-Ponces have never attempted to contact anyone associated with Ocho regarding rent.
“The Garza-Ponces never had any interest in collecting rent,” Wolf asserts. “They just wanted to find a way to try and steal the resort. Unfortunately, some Mexicans have the attitude that if they see something owned by foreigners that they would like to possess, they try and figure out a way to steal it rather than purchasing it. In this case, the Garza-Ponces committed a fraud on the courts in Monterey.”
To add insult to injury, Wolf adds, three days after the depossession, the owners of Ana y Jose threw a party at the former Ocho restaurant, with local Tulum officials, including the Mayor of Tulum, celebrating the depossession of American owners.
Closed for a month, the Ocho Tulum re-opened under the name S&S Hip Hotel and is being operated by the proprietors Ana y Jose.
“The managers of Ana y Jose have, obviously, played a role in the taking of my resort,” says Wolf. “I would ask American tourists to boycott both properties Ana y Jose and S&S Hip Hotel not only as a show of support to a fellow American who’s being taken by unscrupulous Mexicans, but also to insure as visitors to Tulum they won’t be abruptly displaced by armed guards.”
Wolf adds that he is not calling for a boycott of Tulum, just the two properties involved in the illegal seizure.
He also warns that he wasn’t the first victim. About 18 months before the seizure of Ocho Tulum, another U.S. citizen found himself in a similar situation. On May 28, 2008, U.S. citizen John Kendall had his two Tulum hotels and three restaurants Mezzanine, La Zebra and La Pez taken illegally. That dispute is as yet unresolved and subject to a Mexican legal proceeding.
“Tulum is a wonderful place; that’s why I invested a lot of my money, time and passion there,” says Wolf. “There are several other fine Tulum hotels and resorts where people can discover the wonders of Tulum.”
In the case of Ocho Tulum, neither Wolf nor his attorneys, Teresa Jimenez and Octavio Guitierrez (www.attorneyscancun.com) received forewarning or notice of the impending de-possession. Ms. Jimenez reports that she was called to the site at the time of the seizure by hotel employees. She arrived on site with documentation that the land is properly titled to Kaya’s Maya Resort, with a lease allowing Ocho Tulum to operate its hotel, restaurant, spa and yoga center on the property. The uniformed police were uninterested in the legal status.
The team subsequently filed lawsuits in the Mexican federal court system on Dec. 22Case 1939/09 to be heard by Federal Judge Arturo Escobedo Ramirez in Quintana Roo.
Word of the seizure spread via the Internet quickly.
“I was stunned and amazed to witness the seizure. We were helpless with no recourse. Jobs were lost going into the holidays and our family is displaced. Nothing about it is good for Tulum and the area in general,” one Ocho employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution, reported.
“This is a scandal,” says Wolf. “Terrifying tourists and tossing American investors out of their private properties is an outrage, and frankly contributes to the world view of Mexico as a country that is out of control.”
In an attempt to intimidate the rightful owners of Ocho out of pursuing their rights to regain control of their resort, the owners of Ana y Jose and the Garza-Ponces have filed criminal charges alleging that Ken Wolf attempted to retake the property on December 11, 2009. Wolf asserts that on that date he was not in Mexico.
Until this seizure, Ocho Tulum ranked as one of the Top Two destinations on Trip Advisor for Tulum. And the venerable “grey lady,” The New York Times, sent out particular praise to Ocho Tulum slightly less than four months before its abrupt forced closure. To read The New York Times review of Ocho Tulum appearing August 9, 2009:
For information on the illegal seizure of Ocho Tulum and the continuing legal struggle contact Teresa Jimenez and Octavio Guitierrez (www.attorneyscancun.com) at or Ken Wolf at .