Mazatlán is having a moment. The Pacific resort town is in rebound mode, after a tourism slump in recent years. Officials tell Travel Agent that visitor numbers are up eight percent for 2017. Added airlift is buoying the trend. Among the expanded routes are new United non-stops from Chicago and Houston.
The strong dollar-to-peso exchange rate is adding value to all Mexico travel this fall. But, Mazatlán looks especially good. Forbes recently named the city as one of Mexico’s most economical places to visit. And American Express Travel ranked the city the fourth most popular destination in the world for fall travel, ahead of London and Paris.
A soon-to-launch marketing campaign for the U.S. and Canada will highlight Mazatlán unique appeal. The colonial city (founded in 1571) by the beach has plenty to brag about.
To begin with, a four-mile long malecón (boardwalk) along sandy beaches, and historic district filled with plazas and landmark buildings, many now reclaimed as galleries, boutiques and cafes. The newly-developed Nuevo Mazatlán offers two marinas and two golf courses and the famous Zona Dorada hotel zone is lined with expansive resorts, restaurants and nightclubs. All are accessible via the city’s ubiquitous pulmonias, or open-air cabs.
On the culinary front, Mazatlán is the shrimp capital of Mexico. Fishermen bring in daily hauls to local markets. And, the city is home to the Pacifico beer brewery.
Surrounding colonial villages — some of them "Magical Towns" — provide a glimpse into a rural way of life. On Travel Agent’s trip for Day of the Dead, townspeople visited flower-covered cemeteries on horseback.
Marco Antonio García Castro, secretary of tourism for Sinaloa, says new hotels are an encouraging sign. Open or under construction are a Holiday Inn, Courtyard by Marriott, Radisson Park Inn and Ibis Hotel.
“Other hotel brands are taking a closer look at the destination,” Garcia tells Travel Agent.
The state’s undersecretary of tourism, Silvia del Carmen Ruiz Coppel, cites “miles of swim-friendly beaches and warm weather along with the cultural aspects of our Centro Histórico, gourmet dining and city-wide renovations” as pillars of the new brand campaign.
“The support of our travel partners in spreading the word on the Mazatlán renaissance has taken effect,” she tells Travel Agent.
Though not as well-known as Mazatlán, the town of Valle de Bravo is also in the news. Mosaic Hotel Group will open two hotels in the 16th-century Magic Town, located two hours west of Mexico City.
The California-based Mosaic’s collection of boutique hotels includes the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, El Dorado in Sonoma and North Block Hotel in Napa Valley.
Valle de Bravo is a popular weekend getaway for Mexico City residents.
Known for its lake and forested landscape, it offers kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, fishing and hiking in the nearby mountains. It’s a paragliding and hang-gliding haven, as well.
It’s highest-profile attraction, however, is the nearby Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The arrival of the migrating species from November through March is an internationally-acclaimed attraction.
Mosaic Hotel Group’s CEO Tim Harmon is effusive about Valle de Bravo’s appeal.
“I discovered it seven or eight years ago. It has a wonderful colonial feel, with cobblestone and red tile roofs. You can experience a different side of Mexico there. In the mountains, you feel like you’re getting away, even though it’s very close to Mexico City. It’s an easy flight, especially if you’re anywhere in the Southwest. Yet, I still hardly see any Americans there,” he tells Travel Agent.
Mosaic currently operates Hotel Rodavento in Valle de Bravo. The property is known for its contemporary, eco-design set amidst a forest and lake setting.
It will add Casa Rodavento on December 1 and Intown in the spring of 2018.
The former is a family mansion transformed into a seven-suite luxury boutique property. It’s ideal for multi-generational trips, Mosaic’s corporate director of marketing Christine Kenny-Moriarty tells Travel Agent.
“Casa has what I refer to as a host, someone there to help as if they were the host of home,” said Harmon.
Noted chef Diego Isunza Kahlo will helm Casa’s restaurant, which will offer wine tastings and special dining events.
“The restaurant is small, but very chef driven. He can do custom breakfast and lunch,” said Harmon.
Transportation is available to take guests to its sister property, Hotel Rodavento. A concierge can coordinate water sports and other activities. Guests can also access the spa services at Hotel Rodavento.
Opening in 2018, Intown is located in Valle de Bravo proper.
“Intown has more of a social feel to it. The property is 90 percent new. One wing that was there has been gutted,” said Harmon.
Kenny-Moriarty describes the hotel trifecta.
“All of our hotels have an individual identity, but a common thread. You can have an active day at Hotel Rodavento, then get a drink and dinner at La Casa or Intown. All three really work together,” she tells Travel Agent.
Also in the works for Mosaic is a converted building in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City.
“We don’t have anything in Oaxaca or San Miguel de Allende yet. We’ve looked at several opportunities in those markets. Colonial towns in Mexico offer such a cross-current of culture and history,” said Harmon.