Reader interest in Mexico was understandably high in 2015. According to the National Travel and Tourism Office, more visitors from the U.S. journeyed to Mexico in 2015 than to Europe, the Caribbean, Asia and Oceania combined.
As far as stories are concerned, readers were interested in hotel, resort and destination updates. New product and marketing tips for family, romance, wellness and adventure travel also ranked highly, as did updates on airlift and tourism infrastructure.
And then there was Hurricane Patricia.
The strongest hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere prompted fears for the worst in late October. On course to hit Mexico’s Pacific Coast near Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit, readers were understandably anxious for news reports.
In fact, our updates on the hurricane were the most-read stories of the year.
Miraculously, Patricia made landfall in a sparsely-populated region, and no loss of life was reported. Government officials were praised for rapidly evacuating 20,000 people in the Vallarta-Nayarit area (50,000 altogether in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Colima).
Even without the hurricane drama, reader interest in the Riviera Nayarit ran high all year. A widely-read story this spring outlined projects, developments and infrastructure improvements set for the region. They include a 300-acre immersive theme park and performance venue. The collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta will debut in 2018.
In hotel news, Kerzner International announced plans for two new One&Only resorts on the Pacific Coast. One & Only Mandarina on the Riviera Nayarit will be in a rain forest setting some 30 miles north of the Puerto Vallarta Airport. It will feature 145 luxury villas and private residences, farm-to-table dining, a beach club and conference center.
Sixty miles south of the airport, One&Only Santa Maria de Xala will feature 75 villas and private pool suites on a five-mile stretch of beach.
Kerzner International was but one of the hotel developers and operators in the spotlight this year. Mexico’s hotel scene is booming, and 2015 brought news from family-owned Mexican companies, multi-national global brands and everything in between.
|Photo by Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach|
Trendy names such as Thompson Hotels opened in Los Cabos and the Riviera Maya. And trendy areas, such as Guadalajara’s Lafayette district, solidified their status as global arts, architecture and design centers. Casa Fayette, a Grupo HABITA property opened there to much acclaim in a restored 1940’s Art Deco building. The 37-room property is part of the Berlin-based Design Hotels family. In addition to its Milanese architect, the hotel’s executive chef Trevor La Presle is garnering attention. He’s a veteran of New York City’s Daniel and other high-profile establishments.
La Presle isn’t the only big culinary name affiliating with hotels this year.
Chef Pedro Abascal oversees the first Mexican branch of Manhattan’s CATCH at the Thompson Playa del Carmen. And Enrique Olvera is helming Manta at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel in Los Cabos. Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant, Pujol, is a fixture on “best in the world” lists.
Readers are always interested in the individuals behind big (or small) hotel companies. One of our most popular hotel stories this year profiled the founders of Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
The company is in the midst of some impressive international expansion. In Mexico, they’re introduced the new Generations by Karisma brand with Generations Riviera Maya. The all-suite properties are designed to serve the multigenerational traveler market. Another move sure to stand Karisma in good stead with that market is its newly-announced Nickelodeon Hotels brand. The “gourmet inclusive” family-friendly properties will feature kid favorites such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The first Nickelodeon Hotel is set for a 2017 opening.
New air service is always welcomed news for travel sellers. This year, both Southwest and Alaska Airlines added flights to Puerto Vallarta. Los Cabos saw new lift from a number of major markets, including Southern California, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Houston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New York City.
The added lift for Cabo fit in nicely with its recovery after 2014’s Hurricane Odile. The destination spent this post-hurricane year in an aggressive, well-focused expansion mode. The net result is a Cabo that’s bigger, better and more upscale than ever.
Luxury landmarks such as Ventanas al Paraiso and The Resort at Pedregal took months to not only restore but renovate after Odile. In addition to The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, the new 300-room JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa has opened. And another 4,000 (mostly luxury) rooms are in the pipeline.