IT SEEMED AS THOUGH EVERY TIME YOU READ ABOUT A NEW PROPERTY in Mexico last year, it was in either the Riviera Maya or Los Cabos area.
Well, it looks like the pattern isn't going to be changing much for 2008. To keep up with the growing products in both of Mexico's hottest destinations, as well as other places in the country, Travel Agent has put together this list of new properties to pitch to clients this year.
Casa Dorada Los Cabos (www.casadoradaloscabos.com) was slated to open this week on the popular Playa Médano, within walking distance of dining, shopping and nightlife. The resort has 186 deluxe oceanview rooms and suites, including 13 penthouse suites that face Cabo's Lands End rock formations.
Penthouse suites range from 2,000 to 4,500 square feet in size, and each has vaulted ceilings (some 12 feet high), living and dining rooms with separate terraces and a kitchen. Amenities include several TVs, ocean-facing Jacuzzis and walk-in closets. From atop Casa Dorada, the penthouses offer great views of the bay and the Baja Peninsula. Every two- and three-bedroom penthouse has a Jacuzzi on one balcony.
The 7,000-square-foot Saltwater Spa at Casa Dorada features unusual treatments such as a massage using Chinese balls for stimulation, as well as a saltwater ritual that guests receive with each service.
At the resort's 12 Tribes restaurant, executive chef Fabian Rios draws on 400 ingredients from 30 countries to craft a selection of dishes inspired by the cuisines of Spain, Romania, Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Hungary, Tunisia and more. The 80-label wine list, heavy on New World wines, includes 20 Mexican vintages from top boutique producers.
Upon request, the resort's chefs prepare gourmet meals in the penthouse kitchens. The property's agent liaison is Nora Acosta, reservations manager, who can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]
Riviera Maya Without Kids
Valentin Imperial Maya Resort & Spa (www.valentinmaya.com), an all-inclusive, adults-only property, opened November 30 about half an hour from the Cancun airport. It features approximately 400 suites in two- and three-story villas. Accommodations categories are Deluxe Junior Suites, Golden Junior Suites, Ocean Front Junior Suites and Diamond Suites.
All rooms have a hydromassage bathtub, and Diamond Suites—which have a separate living room—also have a Jacuzzi on the terrace. Diamond Suite guests receive one complimentary 30-minute Swedish massage during their stay.
Golden Junior Suites are built around a horseshoe-shaped pool. It's a pool that's so large you can hardly see from one end of it to the other. The rooms on the first floor are "swim-up"—they have direct access into the pool.
There are seven à la carte restaurants and a buffet restaurant onsite. Unlimited snacks and drinks are available round-the-clock at no extra charge. Guests must be at least 18 years old. The property expects to attract an upscale crowd between the ages of 35 and 60. It offers weddings and honeymoon packages, so that market should be popular as well.
Agents can contact Veronica Celedon, director of business development, at 011-52-984-206-3660 or [email protected] In the U.S., agents can call Robyn Mitlitsky, director of sales and marketing, at 718-358-2401 or e-mail [email protected]
Arriving This Month
Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya (www.mandarinoriental.com/rivieramaya) was slated to welcome its first guests January 15. Set on 36 acres near Playa del Carmen, the resort has 128 guest rooms in contemporary-styled bungalow villas or two-story villas. The Grand Selva Suites and Beachfront Casitas have private pools, while a butler and chef are available for the Presidential Villa. Twenty guest suites are adjacent to the resort's 25,000-square-foot spa, which embodies Mayan philosophy blended with Asian-rooted healing rituals. Book the hotel at 866-526-6567 or [email protected] Sales e-mail is [email protected]
At Mayakobá, an ecological master-planned village on the Yucatan's Caribbean coast, about 40 minutes south of Cancun, Rosewood (www.rosewoodmayakoba.com) had a soft opening in late December and is expected to be fully operational on February 1. In this growing destination, the Banyantree at Mayakobá and the Viceroy Mayakobá are set to open during the 2008-09 season.
Rosewood Mayakobá is situated along a mile of beach, encompassing several small islands surrounded by a mangrove jungle. Its spa occupies a private island with a cenote, a natural limestone pool fed by subterranean springs.
For more active guests, the resort has a championship 18-hole Greg Norman golf course and tennis courts. Also offered are lectures about ancient Mayan culture and the Yucatan ecosystem.
The resort has 128 suites, on either the beachfront or a lagoon. Signature room categories include Over-the-Water Spa and Lagoon-view Suites and Deluxe Oceanview Suites. Call 888-ROSEWOOD or e-mail [email protected]
Unik Resorts Plants Flagship
Unik Resorts (www.unikresorts.com) will open its eponymous flagship hotel on April 15 on Isla Mujeres, a small island a short distance off the northeast coast of the Yucatan.
Upon arrival at the Cancun airport, Unik guests will be transported via hotel-arranged car service to a dockside registration/reception area, where they are greeted with drinks and light appetizers before boarding the complimentary private boat to the resort's pier.
The Unik resort will consist of 84 rooms and suites with such amenities as flat-screen TVs, CD/DVD players, iPods, high-speed wireless Internet and 400-thread-count bed linens. Six restaurants and bars will serve Mexican, Asian and Continental cuisine. To book clients at the hotel, call 877-888-8645.
Resort Adds Fifth Hotel
The Barceló Maya Palace (www.barcelo.com), in Pce northeastern Yucatan Peninsula, opened on Christmas Eve, the fifth hotel at the Barceló Maya beach resort on the Riviera Maya. The hotel contains 756 junior suites, as well as honeymoon and presidential suites.
The Barceló Maya Palace's architecture is Moorish in influence, with palazzos and patios opening to the sea. There are French and Caribbean restaurants and a Brazilian-style grill. In addition, the hotel has two buffet restaurants, a lobby bar, a beach grill and pool bar.
Guest suites contain sleeping and sitting areas and large contemporary spa-style bathrooms finished with natural stone and featuring a shower, garden-style tub and double sinks. All suites have ocean or garden views and large patios or balconies.
For more information or reservations, call 800-BARCELO. Agents may also contact Beatriz Bustos, director of sales for Barceló Maya resort, at 011-52-984-875-1522 or [email protected]
El Cid Expands
As part of a recently completed $50 million expansion, Hotel Marina El Cid (www.elcid.com) on the Riviera Maya has added 150 suites, a gourmet restaurant, a 13,000-square-foot Maya-inspired spa, a beachfront bar and a convention center. The 617-acre all-inclusive resort is 15 minutes from the Cancun airport and Playa del Carmen.
El Cid's 342 junior, one-, two- and three-bedroom suites occupy 11 low-rise buildings overlooking a 22,000-square-foot freeform pool. The property has four restaurants, four bars, a 120-slip private marina, a business center and an activities program. Call 800-525-1925 or 888-733-7308.
Meanwhile, in Acapulco
As for the place that helped establish Mexico as a hotspot for vacationers, Acapulco is planning hotel developments and enhancements in an effort to return it to the front of the pack of Mexico destinations.
Acapulco's Best Western Playa Suites (www.bwplayasuites.com) is constructing a building, slated for completion in 2009, that will house 60 Deluxe Suites. The property is also updating amenities, with the addition of free wireless Internet throughout the property and a new lobby bar and front desk area, as well as refurnishing Las Gaviotas and El Morro restaurants. Palma Sola is a new venue for small meetings and groups.
The Ritz Acapulco Resort (www.ritzacapulco.com.mx) completed refurbishment of its 240 guest rooms and suites last summer. Accommodations received rich wooden furniture, fresh and glowing painted walls, new window treatments and colorful bed linens. Additionally, La Fiesta restaurant underwent a face-lift, getting new flooring and furniture to create the feel of a large beach palapa where guests can dine and enjoy ocean views. Las Estrellas ballroom has enhanced its theater lighting. Shows are performed nightly in the space.
The Fairmont Acapulco Princess (www.fairmont.com/acapulco) and the Fairmont Pierre Marques in Acapulco (www.fairmont.com/pierremarques) were acquired by Goodman Hospitality Investments, a private real estate company, toward the end of 2007. They will undergo $50 million in enhancements, including complete guest room renovation, addition of a conference center, expansion of the Willow Stream Spa and refurbishments to restaurants and shops. Two golf courses are being redeveloped, and an exclusive golf and beach club is slated for construction within a year and a half.
Changes on the Menu
Hotel Mirador Acapulco (www.miradoracapulco.com) has finished its renovation of the Don Carlos restaurant, which updated furnishings as well as the menu. Only local culinary resources such as fresh fish, tropical fruit and other ingredients native to the state of Guerrero are now used in cooking. Renovation of the hotel's guest rooms is scheduled for completion in August.
Las Brisas (www.brisas.com.mx) invested close to $20 million in a makeover completed in July. The project included an overhaul of the 28 luxurious suites that offer a view of Acapulco from their perch on the mountainside. Guests can rent one of Las Brisas' signature pink-and-white striped Jeeps to explore the area or wander to the resort's private beach club, La Concha.
Private Golf Course
Looking ahead to late 2008, Capella Hotels and Resorts, the group started by former Ritz-Carlton chief Horst Schulze, will offer the only private golf course in the Yucatan at Capella Bahia Maroma (www.capellalivingmaroma.com), a resort with 86 suites in oceanfront villas that's scheduled to open next winter.
Designed by Rees Jones, the course is the final one that was permitted to be built on the Riviera Maya. The 18-hole, par-72 course will weave through the natural vegetation within Capella Bahia Maroma's 254-acre setting, opposite the world's second-largest coral reef (the Great Maya Reef).
At about 7,000 yards, the course will feature varied elevations that take their cues from the natural terrain. Many holes will have views of the Caribbean Sea, with the 9th and 17th holes finishing directly at water's edge.