Celebrations are taking shape across Mexico, to commemorate anniversaries big and small. Puerto Vallarta, for one, is marking its centennial as a municipality. A year-long roster of events begins next week, with the Mexican Ocean Racing Circuit. The regatta takes place from March 9-14, kicking off with the “Centennial Puerto Vallarta Race.”

Clients visiting during that time will no doubt catch a glimpse of some 30 boats from across the globe racing across Banderas Bay. Local boat operators are offering special tours to observe the race. And, there’s still time to see humpback whales up close.  

Puerto Vallarta is coming off strong back-to-back tourism numbers for 2016 and 2017. The destination hopes to increase international arrivals this year, via targeted niche market campaigns. Among other things, the campaigns will spotlight some signature cultural and culinary events.

One of the destination’s best-known cultural events is the Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronomical. Taking place every fall, it’s considered one of Mexico’s top culinary festivals. Last year, the lineup of participating chefs included 10 Michelin star holders.

New events for 2018 include the Puerto Vallarta Centennial 2018 Marathon and Centennial Cycling Route this spring. A city-wide celebration is scheduled for May 31. Plans call for special musical, cultural, gastronomic and sporting programs.

Anniversaries abound on the Caribbean side of Mexico, as well. Some of the most prominent include the ten-year milestone for Rosewood Mayakoba. The luxury resort marks the occasion this weekend with a grand fiesta and gala dinner. New initiatives on the culinary and wellness front will roll out this year, as well.

The Wine & Food Festival Cancun – Riviera Maya also celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2018.

“The festival is planned for November, and there will be many events planned alongside it," Lizzie Cole, director and CEO of the Cancun Tourism Board, tells Travel Agent. "We have so many exceptional restaurants in Cancun, and they are constantly reinventing themselves. You will see so many special menus at hotels. And, our major properties in the hotel zone participate as sponsors."

One regular festival sponsor is Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun. This year, it’s introduced a unique dining concept of its own to showcase.

A new “digital gourmet dining experience” at the resort’s La Joya restaurant fuses gastronomy with technology. An eight-course tasting menu is served on a specially designed table, complete with a video display function. Guests hear and see the story of Mexico unfold, from the Yucatan asteroids that changed life on the planet, to the rise of the Maya and the Spanish colonial period.

Along the way, they sample dishes reflecting different parts of Mexico’s history. Selections include Blue Crab Chilpachole; a traditional venison salad and regional citrus jelly; Cacao Braised Short Rib with vanilla poached lobster, followed by a Five Spice "Churro" with sweet potato and milk cream cakes.

Alberto Gurrola, managing director of Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun explains the concept.

“The technology trend is everywhere,” said Gurrola. "We’ve done some amazing things using mapping technology for some of our big meetings and events clients. Now, we’re bringing this type of technology to the dining experience. We’ve worked on it for a couple of years, getting designers and storyline animators. We wanted to tell the tale of the Yucatan peninsula and the great cultures that have formed here. We’ve paired technology with the best food and wines from the region. You can get this incredible story without ever leaving the table."

He adds, “What we’ve done is break some rules. But, the fact is, all the properties here are pushing each other. We’re all trying to deliver the most memorable experiences. That’s what today’s guest wants. You have to knock them out with something that really makes them say, ‘Wow.’”

Gurrola can look for added competition in the hotel ranks soon.

Sunwing Travel Group last week announced a deal with the Planet Hollywood brand. They’re joining forces to expand the brand to both Costa Rica and Mexico. Planet Hollywood Resort Cancun will open in late Spring of 2019. It will be the first venture into the luxury all-inclusive market for Planet Hollywood.

Once again, technology is the star attraction on the horizon. Planet Hollywood plans to use technology to enhance the guest experience in a number of ways. They include interactive touch-screen digital displays, plus high-tech narration of memorabilia displays both in suite and in public areas. Technology will even add distinctive mood lighting to make the architecture — and guests — look better.

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