Riviera Nayarit: The Latest Mexico Hot Spot

With the emergence of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico's newest tourism region, agents have some more options in selling Mexico to clients. Agents can sell the destination by itself or book it as a detour to the already popular Puerto Vallarta. Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

Riviera Nayarit spans more than 100 miles of coastline and beaches, traditional coastal towns and villages and beachfront luxury resort areas, sheltered by the towering SierraMadremountains, and is located just minutes north of Puerto Vallarta.

Among its major attractions are Banderas Bay, one of the largest bays in the world and home to the most developed area of Nuevo Vallarta; the popular coastal village of San Blas; the exclusive Punta Mita luxury resort and residential area; a rich cultural tradition with pre-Hispanic and pre-Columbian history; and abundant and exotic species of protected wildlife, including sea turtles, humpback whales and tropical birds.

Average annual temperatures are in the 80s in Riviera Nayarit. It offers beach relaxation, soft adventure, outdoor recreation, water sports, cultural exploration, dining and eco-tourism.

Where to Stay

The top hotels and resorts in Riviera Nayarit are the Four Seasons Resorts—Punta Mita; Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort—Nuevo Vallarta and the Marival Resort & Suites—Nuevo Vallarta.

Also, the ultra-luxurious St. Regis Resort and Residences will open in Punta Mita by the end of this year. It will feature 120 guest rooms each with its own outside shower, and about 65 luxury villas for both fractional and whole ownership.

Overall, Riviera Nayarit offers nearly 13,000 hotel rooms in just about every style and price category. Almost all of the available hotel accommodations can be found in the BanderasBay region, which has numerous beaches, water sports and fishing. More than 8,000 rooms here are in the four-star to grand luxury categories.

One of the many golf courses at Punta Mita, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

For information about best rooms and commission at Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort—Nuevo Vallarta, contact Margarita Guitron Mendoza, group and conventions manager, at 011 52 322 226 8000 or [email protected]. For the same information at Marival Resort & Suites, agents should contact Bea Barbero, director of sales, at 011 52 322 22 68200, ext. 4466 or [email protected].

For the Four Seasons Resorts–Punta Mita, agents should call Ann Armstrong, director of marketing, at 011 52 329 291 6013 or write to [email protected].

The Future is Bright

Riviera Nayarit is in the beginning stages of a major tourism development. Between 2005 and 2007, the government has invested $1.5 billion in tourism facilities and infrastructure. Of the 20 projects currently in development, 15 percent of the investment is from the U.S. Among the projects in progress is a major new resort area called Litibú, a high-end development featuring boutique hotels, a marina, heliport, shopping centers and golf courses. In fact, a Greg Norman golf course will be inaugurated there in December.

Increase in hotel capacity is a major component of the growth program. The estimated number of rooms in BanderasBay by 2010 will be 11,000, which is up from its current number of 8,000.

Also, in the next four years, Litibú is expected to have 3,800 rooms, Punta Mita will have 1,000 and Nuevo Vallarta and Flamingos will have 2,000.

How to Get There

Riviera Nayarit is located in the state of Nayarit on Mexico's Pacific coast, which is just minutes north of the Puerto VallartaInternationalAirport. Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) is the nearest commercial air service to Nayarit—only 15 minutes south of Nuevo Vallarta and 40 minutes from Punta Mita.

Some carriers serving the destination include Aero California, Aero Mexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, America West, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Mexicana, United Airlines and US Airways.

Culture of Nayarit

Nayarit's cultural heritage encompasses four separate ethnic groups: Huicholes, Coras, Tepehuanos, and Mexicaneros. This heritage has led to a destination rich in culinary traditions reflected in a wide variety of restaurants as well as popular cultural events and festivals, folklore and, of special importance to visitors, shopping for traditional handicrafts and art.

Hot Spots

There are more than 10 popular spots to visit in Riviera Nayarit that cover everything from fishing to eco-tourism to food and golf, but here are just a few:

In Nuevo Vallarta, which is just north of Puerto Vallarta on the southern edge of Riviera Nayarit, clients can find ample golfing opportunities, as well as large and small hotels, shopping, dolphin parks, a water park, a marina and some of the longest and widest beaches in the region.

Flamingos, an area of luxury hotels and condominiums centered around the famous "Flamingoes" golf course designed by Percy Clifford, is another golf haven.

For the seafood lover, there's Bucerías, a small fishing town that has grown into a popular spot for dining and shopping near the resorts of Nuevo Vallarta. In January it is the setting for a popular annual festival celebrating the "Virgen de la Paz" which includes the blessing of the fishing fleet.

Contest for Agents

To garner North American interest in the destination, Riviera Nayarit will kick off an online contest called "Treasures" for agents and the traveling public to use their creativity to name Riviera Nayarit's attractions. The most creative entrants can win a trip to be the first to experience the wonders of Riviera Nayarit. Visit www.visitrivieranayarit.com for details.

Spa Options

All three recommended resorts have some of the best spas in the regions. Grand Velas Spa at the Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort features health and wellness amenities including a guided hydrotherapy ritual with an herbal steam and eucalyptus inhalation.

The Spa offers 20 treatment rooms with more than 80 spa options, such as massage therapy, body scrubs, hand and foot care, peels and body wraps, in addition to day spa rituals. The Grand Velas Spa also offers a Swiss shower, pressure shower, sauna, whirlpool, cold plunge lagoon and hydro reflexology area. Guests can enhance their spa session with an assortment of herbal teas or a refreshing chlorophyll drink.

Apuane Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita feature treatments that only use all-natural products. In addition to its numerous existing spa treatments. Apuane is also featuring new treatments like the "Hakali Signature Massage," named after the Huichol word for cactus. The massage uses two of Mexico's most ancient ingredients, "Nopal," an extract from the young stem segments of prickly pear, and "Pulque," from the maguey plant, to relax, detoxify and rejuvenate the skin's appearance. Marival Resort & Suites Spa & Beauty Salon has treatments and services that include the "Hot Stone Massage" for chronic pain in the back and neck; "Lymphatic Drainage Massage," a soft gentle massage that eliminates toxins by draining lymphatic tissues; and the "Temaztac Mud Treatment Hydration," which is intended to relax and hydrate the skin with extracts, vanillas and essential oils.

Operators

Some major tour operators participating with Riviera Nayarit include Funjet Vacations and Apple Vacations. Apple Vacations offers agents a base 10 percent commission if the booking is made online and 8 percent if the booking is made on the phone. Contact Senior Product Manager Bill Kliot at 847-631-2449 for more information. Funjet Vacations offers commissions to travel agents of up to 15 percent. Travel agents can speak to trained reservationists when they call Funjet Vacations at 800-558-3050. Also, a formal agreement by GOGO Worldwide Vacations President Michelle Kassner and Ney Gonzalez Sanchez, governor of the state of Nayarit, was made on March 12. The purpose was to establish consistent activities by both parties to strengthen the promotion of tourist attractions and services of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. A full marketing and education campaign has been developed in support of these efforts. To book your client's next vacation to Riviera Nayarit, contact your local GOGO Worldwide Vacations branch office, or book through your GDS or online at www.gogowwv.com.

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