Acapulco Returns

For years, Acapulco was at the forefront of Mexico tourism, but has since been placed on the back burner. For nearly the last decade, it seems as though the once-thriving tourism destination took a back seat to Cancún, the Riviera Maya and now rising-star Riviera Nayarit.

But as Travel Agent has learned over the past year, Acapulco is refusing to go quietly into that good night. Now, with news of several major developments—coupled with a new marketing effort—Acapulco is back to being a driving force in Mexico, attracting younger clients to its chic nightclubs and also opening the door for couples and families with some upscale resorts. And this is why 2009 is perhaps going to be the destination’s most important year in quite some time.

Acapulco’s Latest Stride

The resurrection of Acapulco continues with a handful of major projects including Mundo Imperial, La Isla, Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués and Aqua Acapulco. These four major projects are expected to be money pits for agents, so get to know them now.

Mundo Imperial, a $300 million private investment in Acapulco’s exclusive Diamante district, opens Phase One next month. This project is made up of five distinct elements: Resort at Mundo Imperial, Sol Imperial, Expo at Mundo Imperial, Forum at Mundo Imperial and the Promenade.

Resort at Mundo Imperial is an 805-room resort, including 100 suites, which will feature an exclusive Beach Club, fitness center, a Pets Club, five swimming pools and Executive and Club levels with a concierge staff. Other amenities include an executive business center, meeting rooms and complimentary high-speed and wireless Internet access throughout the property. The Resort at Mundo Imperial is slated to unveil 250 rooms on December 15 and the remainder throughout the first quarter of 2009.

While your clients might not be into convention centers, Expo at Mundo Imperial should be an impressive spot to keep in mind for business travelers, opening the door for larger groups. Specifically, it is a convention and exposition center spanning 730,000 square feet, featuring 50-foot-high ceilings and 50 divisible meeting rooms.

Forum at Mundo Imperial is a theater that seats up to 4,000 and hosts 40 major theatrical events each year—including concerts, performances, Broadway-style shows and keynote presentations. You can expect to hear us report on some upcoming festivals here for years to come. And we know how your clients love those festivals, since they often offer perfect settings for tourists to mingle with locals.

The Forum’s interior was designed so that no seat will be more than 115 feet from the stage. On its exterior, the Forum’s facade is comprised of the world’s largest LED display with a dimension of 21,400 square feet.

Now, here’s the neat part: This broadcast screen is constructed entirely of transparent glass, which can be viewed from the inside as well as the outside of the Forum. The Forum at Mundo Imperial is slated to open in November.

The Promenade is at the center of Mundo Imperial and will feature six distinct dining experiences, including A-Roma, the classic Italian restaurant located in the Expo, and Mezza, a casual dining restaurant featuring a market and bistro. Opening in February is Altamar, a seafood restaurant with fish tanks full of live seafood, and La Cantina, an authentic Mexican restaurant complete with live music.

Sol Imperial, a Destination Spa and Wellness Center, is said to be the only spa in Acapulco to offer authentic, traditional Chinese medicine along with an array of signature services. The center will be comprised of several spa suites with private pools, 26 treatment rooms, meditation garden, herbal pharmacy, boutique and an organic restaurant.

The La Isla Acapulco Residences will be made up of nine modern towers. The 695 two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments will have ocean views and exclusive access to the property’s numerous amenities. The development will also feature the La Isla Acapulco Shopping Village. Among the 144 upscale boutiques and shops will be well-known brands such as Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada and others. Another major attraction opening in La Isla will be Aqua Planet, an education and recreation center for families. The center will feature 10 attractions for children and adults, an interactive water exposition and thematic islands where your clients can participate in various activities that educate them about the numerous properties of water. Additionally, La Isla will feature more than a dozen dining options, entertainment and many other unique activities.

Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués is in Punta Diamante and currently under construction. It is slated to open in June. It will be the first luxury resort in Acapulco and the first all-pool villa resort in the region. The resort is at the edge of a cliff that looks out into the Pacific Ocean. It will be a combination of modern opulence and Asian designs. Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués will offer 24 Standard Villas, 16 Deluxe Pool Villas, five Spa Pool Villas and one Presidential Villa. Each villa is outfitted with private swimming pools.

Aqua Resort made a name for itself in Cancún, and is making up for lost time in Acapulco. The Fiesta Americana property is planning to expand beyond Cancún, Rafael Sandoval, director of sales for Aqua, told Travel Agent. 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 Cancún, which has 371 rooms, including 29 suites.

These projects are in addition to the many new hotels currently under development in Acapulco, including a W Hotel in Acapulco’s exclusive Brisas Marques area and plans for a Habita Hotel. Visit

The Fairmont Acapulco Princess

Even as we profile new Acapulco properties, it should be noted that the destination already has some of the finest hotels in Mexico. The Fairmont Acapulco Princess has been described as Acapulco’s best hotel, and after five minutes in our Partial Oceanfront View Room during our stay earlier in the year, 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. The hotel is quiet and secluded and is perfect for couples and business travelers alike. We recommend it to those looking for an authentic Mexico feel when visiting Acapulco.

By the Numbers

The last recorded numbers for Acapulco tourism were from 2005-2007. In 2005, Acapulco saw a total of 8,134,171 visitors and that number spiked to 8,894,771 in 2007. We expect that number to rise in 2008 and to reach record numbers by 2010.