Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter: Oct. 10, 2007

THE BIDDING FOR AEROMEXICO is heating up. Rival Mexicana made a $200 million takeover bid for Aeromexico on Oct. 3, arguing Mexicos domestic market cannot support two flagship airlines and that one bigger domestic carrier can better compete against larger U.S. rivals. In arguing that the government antitrust commission should allow the deal, Mexicana noted that the number of airlines in Mexico has doubled since 2001 and said the rise of low-cost carriers in Mexico has dropped the domestic market share of Mexicana and Aeromexico to 53%. After Mexicanas bid, the investor group led by Citigroups Mexican unit, Banamex, raised its offer for Mexicana to $160 million, matching a previous offer by a local father-son business entity. 

AEROMEXICO, meanwhile, on Oct. 4 launched service between Las Vegas and Hermosillo, in Sonora state. The twice-weekly flights are operated by Aeromexico Connect. Flights depart Las Vegas on Thursdays and Sundays at 1:45 p.m. and arrive in Hermosillo at 3:25 p.m., before continuing on to Guadalajara. Return flights depart Hermosillo on Thursdays and Sundays at 11:15 a.m. and arrive in Las Vegas at 12:55 p.m.

PLAYA HOTELS & RESORTS acquired the 249-suite Grand Baja Resort & Spa in San Jose del Cabo for an undisclosed sum. The property will be managed under the Barcelo Hotels & Resorts brand and will be renamed the Barcelo Los Cabos Resort. The resort will undergo a major renovation and expansion over two phases, including the addition of 476 suites for a total of 725 rooms by the time work is completed by the end of 2009. The expansion also will include several new restaurants, additional meetings space and upgraded amenities and facilities in keeping with Barcelos Premium brand.

PALACE RESORTS opened the 62-room Isla Mujeres Palace on Oct. 1. The all-inclusive property is being marketed as a luxurious, yet affordable resort with 24-hour room service, wireless Internet and luxury Farouk bath amenities. Facilities include a pool with a swim-up bar; a fitness center; a small spa; and the Azul restaurant. The resort is offering rates from $346 to $522 a night, double. Guests who book a seven-night stay by Dec. 23 will receive free admission for two to a Swim With the Dolphins program. Visit www.palaceresorts.com.

UNITED VACATIONS is offering a Big Fall Sale to Mexico and a number of other destinations, with savings of as much as $200 off packages booked by Nov. 16. Customers can travel through Oct. 31, 2008. In Cancun, for example, a five-night package in a junior suite at the Gran Caribe Real Cancun begins at $964 from Denver, $999 from Washington and $1,104 from Chicago. Packages include roundtrip air on United. Call (800) 328-6877 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com.
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