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The New Mandarin Oriental

November 2, 2006 By: Luisa Esquiroz Arellano Travel Agent

Luxury property is scheduled to open in the Riviera Maya at the beginning of next year

Generally known for its informal style of hospitality, the Riviera Maya, a tourism corridor that stretches for 100 miles along the Caribbean coast, from south of Cancun to the Maya ruins of Tulum, is rapidly turning into an upscale destination. Following a wave of "luxury all-inclusive" that have opened during the past 10 years, this lovely region bordered by the Caribbean Sea, is ready to target the high-end U.S. market with a number of exclusive international chains poised to open high quality EP resorts.  A breezy bedroom of the Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya

Of note is a new Mandarin Oriental that's scheduled to open
early 2007 in a 36-acre environment that combines jungle and water, 30 minutes
from the Cancun International Airport and close to the town of Playa del Carmen's
shopping venues and ferry station to Cozumel.
The resort fronts a pristine beach of emerald blue waters, which is protected
by the second largest reef in the world. It also overlooks a fresh water lagoon
fed by streams spewed from underground rivers.

An impressive cenote, a freshwater reservoir also filled
from subterranean sources, dominates the center of the resort. In addition,
there's a protected mangrove forest that runs along this coast, lending more
enchantment to the property, which sits just outside Mayakoba, said to be the
first planned tourism development in Mexico.

The Mandarin spreads out in 128 huge villas, offering an exceptional
view of the sea, the lagoon or the cenote. Each villa features its own private
terrace or garden, some enhanced with their own individual plunge pools and all
with secluded garden bathrooms. Native woods and stone decorate exquisite
interiors in a blend of Maya and Asian styles with much attention to detail.
Twenty Cenote villas offer the best view of the sunset. Paddling in canoes
through the property's waterways, including the secluded canals that wind
through the mangrove forest, is an added attraction.

The resort's freshwater lagoon

The resort's villas and spa are almost completed and ready
for travel agents to get an idea of what the property will offer (all can be
booked through GDS). "In addition, plans are so well designed, agents can
already gauge how the product will appeal to their clients," says Alan
Love ([email protected]; call 818-483-0938), director of sales and marketing for
the Mandarin. He also notes the hotel plans to work with upscale travel agents
such as Virtuoso, American Express and Signature. Patrick-Dennis Finet
([email protected]; call 011-52-984-206-4000) is general manager and can take
care of your VIP clients.

Love recommends the 3,500 square-foot Presidential Villa
with two master suites as the best choice. "It sits right on the beach and
is ideal for families," he says. "It also comes with full kitchen and
private butler service."

Five one-bedroom villas also face the beach. Most
remarkable, however, are 16 "palafito" villas split into two level
structures that sit on stilts on the lagoon. Eight in the lower level have a
boardwalk embarcadero (or dock) and eight, built on a second floor, present a
roof terrace or sun deck. Villa prices start at $600 per night.

The 25,000-square-foot Mandarin Spa, adjacent to the cenote,
will offer a variety of water-based therapies, complemented by a specially
designed health oriented cuisine. Spa treatments and ambiance are set to
reflect aspects of Maya philosophy, mixed with Asian rituals that stimulate
mind and spirit. Guests will be guided in their spa choices by an expert team
educated in wellness and dedicated to serving the individual needs of each
client. The Mandarin Oriental will operate the spa, but a director is still to
be appointed.

Food and beverage highlights are a Beach-Front Restaurant
and Bar offering panoramic ocean views with both indoor and outdoor dining
options; the Mandarin Oriental Signature Restaurant, offering innovative
international cuisine with sophisticated Mexican accents and views of the
lagoon and cenote; Spa Café, open daily for guests seeking healthy fare; and
the Lobby Lounge.

In addition, the hotel has three pools, a fully equipped gym
and meeting facilities for small groups, and incentive travel events. Six
courtyards feature valuable sculptures created by Mexican artists.

Guests will also have access to two 18-hole championship
golf courses, located within five miles from the resort. Three swimming pools
will front the ocean, spa and cenote, in addition to stretches of sandy white
beaches also await guests.

The clear ocean waters are fringed with abundant coral reefs
alive with colorful fish, offering ideal conditions for those who snorkel and
dive, while the mystery of Maya ruins are within easy reach from the resort for
your clients to explore and compare this ancient culture with its descendants
living along many small towns in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Plans are to assign a leisure travel sales director that
will most likely be based in New York,
Love says. Other Mandarin Oriental properties are scheduled to open in Boston (2007), Chicago
(2009), Grand Cayman (2008 and Las

Reservations: 800-526-6566; web site:

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