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Private Dive Recomendations Please!


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#1 buzzojoe

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:04 PM

My wife and I like having our own "private" boat and dive master when we dive. We had used Betsy White for years when we dove in Cozumel, but the last time we were there Betsy had moved back to the USA. We used another boat and dive master and had a pretty bad experience (equipment failures, not showing up at the correct times, etc.). We are coming to Cozumel in April, and are hoping to get some recommendations for a good dive master and boat that we can hire for private dives the first week of April.
Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!!
THANKS!
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#2 cvchief

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 12:41 PM

We dive with Scuba with Alison She both owns and operates the business. Equipment is good and her boat is a converted sport fisher, so it combines more room, shade and a nice ride with being one of the fastest boats on the water. You would have to see if she has anyone else signed up for that week, but if not, you could rent the whole boat. She is like diving with family. Really funny, but very safety conscious. Might not be as cheap as another op getting a rental boat and throwing a DM on it for you, though.
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#3 Carey

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 02:18 PM

Mike Beasley (CZDM on this board) specializes in private personalized dive trips and comes highly recommended by one and all.
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#4 strucman

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:47 PM

So here's a question that's only a little off topic...How would someone get started in the dive business? My wife and I are OW certified, but we are both very interested in going through the coursework and required instruction to become both Dive Masters and Instructors as a means to live and work on the island. One way we have considered to do this would be to buy a dive operation. We would work on our certifications while learning the ropes of running the business. However, how do we compete with all of the years and years of experience on the island? Do we hire someone away from someone else with more experience? I'm a very cautious and safety conscious diver and it would probably take me some time before I felt I was competent enough to lead a group on my own. We have no interest in getting rich, we simply want to make a living on the island doing something we love doing.

BTW, we have always used and been very happy with Dive with Martin.
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#5 cvchief

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 07:54 AM

There is a dive business for sale that I believe is a manager run model and isn't too expensive. Someone with experience might tell you that it would be a real challenge to run one, I imagine.
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#6 CZMDM

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:44 AM

There is a dive business for sale that I believe is a manager run model and isn't too expensive. Someone with experience might tell you that it would be a real challenge to run one, I imagine.



Single most over-saturated business on an island where all tourist related businesses are over-saturated. My advice would be to enjoy the island and forget it, unless you just have tons of money to drop into it. And if you already have tons of money you really don't need the headache.
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#7 strucman

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:31 PM

Thanks for your thoughts. I know about three dive shops that are for sale (Liquid Blue, Albatros and Scuba Gamma). I've looked at their "financials", or at least what they are willing to show. I also understand how saturated that market is. Kind of why I asked the question in the first place.

My real hope for a bit of a twist on the whole thing would be to buy a sailboat for liveaboard dive cruises. It wouldn't be a luxury cruise by any means, but rather something to appeal to those divers who want to see out of the way places that most land based operations don't see. Problem is the 51% Mexican ownership requirement for residents operating businesses with boats.

What we may consider is incorporating in Belize while living in Coz. Don't know if this is doable yet either.

Just trying to consider different options. My wife works in the bar/restaurant industry and I'm an engineer-neither of which help us on the island in the short term.

I've seen her name in different posts, but do any of you have the contact information for a lawyer named Giselle Martinez? At least I think that's her name. I was referred to her by Klara at Wet Wendy's and want to go through some of my thoughts with her and see if there's any chance to move forward.
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#8 cvchief

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 12:47 PM

I am sure you mean:

Gisela Rodriguez

http://www.cozumellawyer.com


gisela (AT) cozumellawyer.com

Lic. Gisela Rodríguez

8 Norte #399 por 55 Avenida Norte

Cozumel, Quintana Roo

+52 (987) 8693258<br style="mso-special-character:line-break"> <br style="mso-special-character:line-break">

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#9 strucman

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:00 PM

GREAT! Thanks so much.
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#10 cvchief

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:41 PM

No problem. She is wonderful.
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#11 CZMDM

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:17 AM

Starting an SA de CV here is so simple I find it humourous when I read multiple blogs about how to open one. It takes money, a lawyer, a notary and a couple of weeks. The problem is no one knows the rules after they start their company. Like I have mentioned...employees and it takes a few to run a dive-op....once hired they are yours for life. Any disaster hits the island that affects the economy and you are in trouble. You cannot lay your workers off and you must keep paying them. To eliminate any position will cost you at least a couple of thousand. The business doesn;t work and you want to close it? You cannot just walk away from it. You must pay your employees a very large seperation payment. And per reprecussions of closing the business.....it can cost you thousands just to close it out. As a matter of fact it is much more difficult and many times more expensive to close a business than to open one. Plus taxes. My wife is Mexican and a small business owner. Her taxes per month come in at less than $100 per month. The tax rate for a foreign owned SA de CV: 40%

The island is glorious. The natives are as wonderful a group as you could meet. Business here.......not for the weak hearted. You can get wonderful advice all day long from people who have never tried it. I would try talking to people who are realists.
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#12 zman96

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:32 AM

Part of having a successful dive business on the island is having good DM's. The good Dm's have 1000's of dives on Cozumel and know where to find all of the things that their clients are going to want to see and that only comes through experience.
From talking with a number of people we know on the island that own businesses on the island, CZMDM is spot on when it comes to employees, you can't fire them even if they are terrible, unless you want to pay a lot of money.
Are you fluent in Spanish?
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#13 CZMDM

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 09:47 AM

Are you fluent in Spanish?--zman


That is another really important thing tht I failed to mention. If you are working with the public you will be required to take a Spanish exam. Your grade must be 80% or higher. The exam is college level. If you are going to work in the marine park you will be required to take an environmental type course concerning diving in the area. It, of course, is in Spanish.

This all sounds negative and I guess it is. However I think anyone opening a biz should be aware of it. When I read blogs mostly what I see is a totally rosey and mostly impossible view of working here. The reality on the street when I talk to business owners is more like, "What in the name of god was I thinking about."

Like Nauticab always says.....if you really want to work here you are going to need to learn Spanish and have a business that caters to locals.

Whatever you do I truly wish you the best of luck. My contact info is always here. I am always here. Most people know where I live. If you ever need any help, let me know.
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#14 MarkC

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 11:19 AM

The exam is college level.


Just an FYI, Spanish is my 1st language and i got a B+ in college Spanish... So, take that into consideration.
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#15 Charles

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:17 PM

Plus taxes. My wife is Mexican and a small business owner. Her taxes per month come in at less than $100 per month. The tax rate for a foreign owned SA de CV: 40% I would try talking to people who are realists.


People can not comprehend how discriminatory, the restrictions and responsibilities imposed on a foreign owned small business. I have had both sole proprietorships and an S corporation in the States, an absolute cake walk compared to operating a S.A. de C.V. We probably spent twenty hours a month just getting facturas and bank statements necessary to give to our accountant. We could have paid him extra and he would have paid a peon to tend to many matters, but most we needed to do ourselves. This was our work to provide the accountant all he needed to do the actual accounting. The first year, we were a booming success from day one, the wife and I each worked about 95 to 100 hours per week. We tried to "take Sunday off" and only do eight hours of work on the business and devote the rest of the day not to resting, but washing clothes, cleaning house, cooking, all those little things that are hard to do when you are working a 20 hour day.

Now a Mexican citizen who happens to live in the U.S., if they possess a "Green Card" which is not green, they can work, open businesses, buy homes, open bank accounts, whatever, they can function and operate freely as would Americans. As a foreigner owning a small business, you are competing against Mexicans that can operate with an entirely different set of rules and tax rates. My wife and I owned our business, 51%/49%, but our unseen silent greedy partner was La Hacienda. And they can change the tax rules and make the changes retroactive. The IRS makes annual changes in tax rules, but they give fair warning that they take effect next year. The classic was when SAT decided to cancel all the permits for facturas de compras. This affected thousands of business, not just corporations, not just foreigners. A permit to have facturas de compras was a means for businesses to buy primarily handicrafts, raw materials etc from people on the absolute bottom of the socio-economic scale, the majority of them illiterate who lacked bank accounts, tax numbers, largely the sellers were indigenous people that even speaking Spanish was a second or third language. These were used to buy from fisherman as well. They changed the rules and canceled all permits the end of April, started notifying accountants around the end of May so they could prepare the quarterly tax returns due after June. They made the law retroactive to January 1st. This nullified all the purchases I had made using this permit and I would now owe taxes at the highest possible rate, as if I had taken the money in salary. SAT said I would owe $65,000 pesos on the less than $100,000 pesos spent. Of course this was an inconvenience for me, but creative measures I could obtain replacement facturas from companies that had suffered huge tax deductible losses and it only cost me the price of 15% IVA which was then fully deductible by me. SAT didn't get a dime extra from me, but it had devastating consequences for the people that were the sellers. Generally speaking, the poorest of the poor, illiterate campesinos primarily, could no longer conduct business in the only manner they were capable. Go North young man, pick fruit across the border and send money home! That is what that genius move accomplished, pushed more desperate people north. Remember oil is the largest source of foreign revenue for Mexico. Mexico is considered a tourism country, but something is wrong when money sent home by Mexicans working in North America is larger than combined foreign tourism.

I once investigated Panama as a possible place to do business. Back ten, fifteen years ago they had their arms open wide welcoming foreigners to come, invest and open businesses. Their philosophy was that foreigners coming would be at a disadvantage, they might not know the language, nor the customs, let's help them out, give them special exemptions, extra tax breaks for the first five years, they offered not just a level playing field, but actual advantages.

We knew far more of what we were doing and getting into than 99% of the foreigners that start a corporation. We had the blessing of don Nassim, my personal blessing and wish of good luck from don Pepe Becerra and I had a valid FM3 in my hands 18 days after we walked into Bello Melchor's office with the required list of three potential names. After almost seven years, $17,000 dollars in legal expenses to recover our stolen property and business, $400,000 pesos paid in taxes and licensing fees, add in five complaints filed with the Human Rights Commission, once I managed to get all the remaining assets and products safely outside the country, we ended our adventure in S.A. de C.V. land.

We did that when thing were good, the economy was strong. Now I have seen a steady decline in the business economy here for the last 11-12 years. It started before 9/11 and the climate grows less and less friendly toward opening a business here or for that matter anywhere else. The widespread consensus I hear from many people was that last year was even worse than the year after Wilma. I actually came out ahead. I started from scratch, worked real hard and although grossly under paid, managed a living and I will spend the next year trying to inventory and formulate a value of the product stashed away that the raw material at the source has doubled about three times since purchased.

Maybe now I should repeat the cycle, but no I don't think so. For those that have the dream of having a business and living in paradise, life on permanent vacation. I hope you have deep, deep pockets. What gets me in the sense of entitlement that people bring here. They haven't a clue that it is an entirely different country with completely different rules and the rules, the tax rates are all stacked against you. I am waiting, I hope I live to see it, when all the unlicensed, illegal villa condo rentals owners wake up to reality. Gosh I had no idea, it wouldn't be a problem in the U.S. Why do I have to pay taxes on money earned in Mexico to Mexico and still report it to the IRS and pay taxes there too. Because it is the law and no one said that life was fair.

People have gotten away with a lot here for a long time, but it is an embarrassment to Mexico and as they keep threatening, the first thing they will hit is the rental market and collect all the unpaid taxes, fees and higher utility charges.

No matter how many times and how many ways you say it, people just refuse to accept that they are not in Kansas anymore. They will only wake up when a real example is made of offenders, something I hope happens, but not what I would wish on anyone.
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#16 MarkC

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:57 PM

Good lord - that sûcks!
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“Corona con lima, Corona with lime... Todo el tiempo, hey all of the time... Con mucho gusto, I’m havin such a good time... Corona con lima, Corona with lime...”

#17 strucman

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:00 PM

Thanks again for all the words of wisdom. My wife and I don't have too rosy a picture of living and working on the island. We just need to find something to do there until we can crack into the IRAs without penalties. If that's something that allows us to dive more frequently, all the better. We're not afraid of hard work and we are both intending to learn the language and live like locals.

Admittedly, a dive op is probably not the best opportunity for us due to the fact that you can't spit without hitting the door of at least one dive shop. I have a few other ideas for businesses that aren't currently on the island, but they are all tourist-based. Beyond that, I'm a structural engineer and will try to do some consulting for people in the states via the internet. From all that I've read, there will be zero chance of me pursuing my profession down there.

Regarding the favoritism between locals and foreigners, does anyone have experience with businesses that have 51% Mexican ownership? I've been told it's very common and the "majority owners" simply require a "few hundred pesos or a case of something" every so often. Having a legal document indicating the the majority of what I put together is owned by someone else doesn't make me comfortable in the least. I don't know, maybe having an arrangement like this when compared to how the deck is stacked against the foreigner makes it worth it?
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#18 CZMDM

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 01:16 PM

Regarding the favoritism between locals and foreigners, does anyone have experience with businesses that have 51% Mexican ownership? I've been told it's very common and the "majority owners" simply require a "few hundred pesos or a case of something" every so often. Having a legal document indicating the the majority of what I put together is owned by someone else doesn't make me comfortable in the least. I don't know, maybe having an arrangement like this when compared to how the deck is stacked against the foreigner makes it worth it.

I have seen people lose things likes boats and houses in those deals. Be careful.
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#19 cvchief

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

Marriages too.... :P
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#20 strucman

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:48 AM

Well, that's exactly my point. How do you give up LEGAL control to someone who likely does not have the same interests that you do?

We met some business owners on the island at the beginning of February and I was pretty surprised to hear how disappointed they were at the way the locals take advantage. He said that it wasn't just because he was the gringo, but rather that they do it to each other simply as a matter of course or that that's the way it's always been done. From what Klara told me, when contracting for services, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give anyone money before the job is complete. That's why being a member of a forum like this is so invaluable...finding reputable businesses and/or contractors that operate in an above board and honest way. Thanks to all who contribute their "been there and done that" experiences for the rest of us.
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