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Tianguis Turistico Continues Longstanding Success
ACAPULCO—Mexico’s largest tradeshow of the year, the 33rd Tianguis Turistico, kicked off April 13 and wrapped up last Wednesday.
At the day’s most attended press conference, Oscar Fitch Gomez, chairman and CEO of the Mexico Tourism Board, told a room full of press from around the world some final numbers for this year’s Tianguis. According to Gomez, the event drew about 1,000 buyer companies. Of those, 57 percent were international and 43 percent were domestic. As of Tuesday, 21,000 business meetings were scheduled, an increase of 13 percent from last year. Of the international buyers, 75 percent were from North America while 11 percent hailed from Europe, five percent from Latin America and nine percent from other countries. Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism Roldofo Elizondo also told media that a weak U.S. dollar could result in more tourism to Mexico. “With the American economy the way it is right now, there is a risk for a drop in tourism, but we won’t suffer,” he said. “We have learned that there haven’t been any cancellations for the first semester. We don’t know what will happen in the second semester, but we don’t expect tourism to drop. A lot of Americans like to travel to Europe and it is way more costly to go to Europe than Mexico. Mexico will be an important alternative.”
Panel: Mexico’s Future Success Relies on Bargain Hunters
The show’s first panel discussion was an interesting overlook of North American market trends hosted by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Rodolfo Elizondo. The discussion included six prominent travel industry professionals including Peter Yesawich, president of YPartnership, which monitors U.S. travel trends.
Yesawich, arguably the panel’s best speaker, emphasized the need for Mexico to offer value deals if it wants to succeed in 2008 and 2009. Yesawich says, due to the weak U.S. economy, 29 percent of all U.S. households traveling to Mexico last year have taken fewer vacations; 16 percent picked less expensive vacations; 12 percent stayed fewer nights; and seven percent changed their destination. “The American traveler in 2008 will be trading down, looking for better value,” Yesawich said. “The good news is they are not trading out, they’re still coming to Mexico.” There are two demographics that agents should target, Yesawich says—the older vacationer and the younger traveler. Citizens over the age of 65 make up more than 20 percent of the U.S., which is 72 million people, Yesawich said. In fact, another panel speaker, Sarita Skidmore, president of the consulting firm MENLO, which also tracks U.S. travel trends, said one-fourth of all travelers to Mexico last year (which totaled about 20 million) were over the age of 62. The other demographic to be considered is the “Millennials” or those born between 1977 and 1998 that make up about 75 million of the U.S. population. “This group is demanding better deals, looking for bargains,” Yesawich said. “And there is no better place for that than Mexico.”
Real Resorts Plans to Open Four New Properties, Its First in Central America
Fernando Garcia Zalvidea, president of Real Resorts, told Travel Agent about ongoing discussions to expand the Mexico resort company to Costa Rica with plans for a 250-room resort.
Discussions are only preliminary and no time frame has been set. Real Resorts, which currently has properties in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, is also on the verge of inking two new deals in Mexico, Zalvidea said. A deal to build two new properties in Tulum, the hot new destination in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, should be finalized in the next 45 to 60 days. Once the deal is set, the 400-room Gran Tulum Royal and the 250-room Royal Tulum could be built within 13 months. Real Resorts is also looking to close a deal in the same time frame for a 250-room Royal Los Cabos, also scheduled for completion within 13 months.
Aqua to Expand Beyond Cancun
Aqua Resort in Cancun is making up for lost time. The property, which reopened in December after being closed for nearly four years due to hurricane damage, is planning to expand beyond Cancun, Rafael Sandoval, director of sales for Aqua, told Travel Agent.
We learned of two deals that haven’t been announced yet. The Aqua, Sante Fe, is expected to open around November while the Aqua, Acapulco, is slated to open by early 2009, Sandoval said. Aqua is also expected to open two properties in the Riviera Maya, but no further details were released on those projects. All four properties will be similar to Aqua Cancun, which has 371 rooms, including 29 suites.
Cancun to See at Least Three Major Hotel Openings in 2008
We chatted with members of the Association of Hotels of Cancun and learned that at least three new hotels are expected to open within the year. Promotions Manager Fabiola Zarate Guaida told us that the Westin Del Mar and the Palm Beach resort will both open before year’s end with no specific time frame announced.
The Westin Del Mar will have 400 rooms and be located about 10 minutes from the airport, while the Palm Beach resort will have 370 rooms. Also expected to open this year is the 396-room Grand Oasis Caribbean. A Hipotel hotel, with 1,800 rooms, is expected to open by the end of the year or early 2009.
Is Merida the Next Big Mexico Destination?
Both Hilton and Marriott have submitted written plans to open properties in Merida, the capital of Mexico’s Yucatan.
Angelica Espinosa Carrillo, coordinator of tourism promotion for Merida, said the two U.S. hotel companies filed development papers with the destination, one of Mexico’s growing hot spots. Carrillo says there is no time frame for construction, but noted that both Hilton and Marriott plan on reflagging existing Merida properties and refurbishing them to meet brand standards. Merida has its own airport, a new Jack Nicklaus golf course and some of Mexico’s best archaeological sites. Visit www.merida.gob.mx.
Delta Finally Expected to Launch New Flights to Mexico From North Carolina
The National Account Manager of Delta Air Lines told Travel Agent that the on-again, off-again plans for new flights from Raleigh-Durham to Cancun are finally expected to launch sometime in June.
The flights were initially announced and expected to launch in February, then were cancelled because of low-demand fear before being “brought back to life” after further research, said Jim Magrath, national account manager for Delta. The flights will run once-a-week on Saturdays.
Original Resorts’ Unik Opening
Original Resorts’ Unik Resort in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, is slated to open in mid-October and will be the newest Isla Mujeres property going with 85 Jacuzzi Suites and private boat rides from Cancun.
The resort will also be home to a spa with nine treatment rooms, three restaurants and three swimming pools. Visit www.orginalresorts.com.
Our Base: The Fairmont Acapulco Princess
The Acapulco International Center, site of Tianguis Turistico 33, is located about 25 minutes away from where we stayed for our coverage of the Mexico tradeshow. The thought of tedious shuttles and expensive cab rides gave us pause, but once we saw our hotel, we exhaled.
The Fairmont Acapulco Princess has been described as Acapulco’s best hotel, and after five minutes in our Partial Oceanfront View Room, we saw why. Our room, #1441, cost about $170 a night and is about three times the size of an average hotel room, with a kitchen area and living area with two couches. The balcony wraps around the room and offers a great view of Revolcadero Beach. After shuttling back and forth from the hotel to downtown Acapulco, the difference between the Fairmont Acapulco Princess’ location and the rest of this destination became clear. Downtown felt more American with the likes of McDonalds, Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Café. When we got back to the property, it felt like another part of town. The hotel is quiet and secluded and is perfect for couples and business travelers looking to get away from the chaos of downtown. The Fairmont Acapulco Princess was definitely a pleasant surprise and we recommend it to agents booking clients who want an authentic Mexico feel when visiting Acapulco. Visit www.fairmont.com/Acapulco.
The Latest Deals: Costa Rica Resorts Offer Wedding Packages
The Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica in Guanacaste and Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas invite couples getting married to celebrate their future with a commemorative tree in Costa Rica.
With the resorts’ Green Wedding package, newlyweds will enjoy a special moment as they plant a tree seedling on resort grounds. A stone marker displaying their names and wedding date is placed beside the tree and each year on their anniversary, the couple will receive a photo of their tree, the tree’s height, and one of its leaves. Both resorts opened in January. Located between the mountains on a secluded natural volcanic sand beach on the Gulf of Papagayo, Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica is situated on tropical gardens with bungalows offering mountain and water views. Located in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific region, the Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas overlooks a volcanic sand beach along the Gulf of Nicoya. The Green Wedding package, available all year, includes a wedding ceremony and set up in romantic surroundings, complete with flower arrangements and décor; full notary service and an English-speaking justice of the peace; event services support, a bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonniere; a private dinner for the couple featuring a gourmet menu prepared specially by the chef and Hilton bathrobes for the couple at the Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica. Rates at Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica start at $3,000 for 20 guests and rates at Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas start at $2,500 for 20 guests. To book a wedding at the Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica or the Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas agents can call Merdith Anglin at Hilton Papagayo Resort Costa Rica at 011-506-2672-000, ext. 839 or [email protected]. To book at Doubletree Resort by Hilton Puntarenas, agents should call Mayela Calvo at 011-506-2220-2412, ext. 103 or [email protected].
The Latest Deals: Los Cabos Resort Offers Family Getaway
The Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort is offering its “Family Getaway” package, available June 29 through October 19. It offers guests five days of accommodations and includes daily breakfast per person, complimentary kids menu meals for children 12 and under when accompanied by a paying adult and a one-hour interactive family cooking class that highlights traditional Mexican cuisine.
On the night of your clients’ choice, they enjoy a relaxing and intimate three-course dinner on the secluded Hilton beach, specially prepared by the Hilton's Executive Chef Mauricio Lopez. Additionally, the Hilton invites parents to take a night off and enjoy a relaxing and intimate evening for two while a Hilton certified babysitter cares your children in the comfort of your guestroom. This package also features family-friendly amenities including a welcome “Cabo Cooler,” daily “Vacation Station” activities including the “Hilton Picasso” painting workshop and weekly 'Fiesta Mexicana' piñata party, twice weekly “Dive-In” movies broadcast poolside for the entire family, 50-percent-off kids spa treatments with purchase of a regular 50-minute treatment and complimentary 10-minute poolside massages for adults. Rates for this five-night package start at $1,387 for four guests. Visit www.hiltonloscabos.com.