Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: July 27, 2005

EMILY REDUX:  Mexicos Yucatan region took a harder hit from Hurricane Emily on July18 than initially reported. Although Cancun largely emerged unscathed, farther south Cozumel and the Riviera Maya particularly the stretch from Akumal to Tulum were heavily damaged. Fernando Garcia, managing director of Real Resorts, estimated 20% of Riviera Maya hotels were damaged enough to require closures of one week to several months. To better assess the toll Emily took, area tourism boards and local governments sent inspection teams on evaluation tours of Riviera Maya hotels and resorts; the findings will help formulate a recovery plan. Major hotel chains with resort closures lasting beyond July 31 include Iberostar, Occidental, Wyndham, Palace Resorts, AM Resorts and Karisma. As for attractions, the Xcaret and Xel-Ha eco-theme parks were damaged, but Xel-Ha was operating at press time, while Xcaret was set to reopen by Aug. 1. Sources described the seaside Mayan ruins at Tulum as undamaged.

FAMILY, FRIENDS FLY FREE: Aeromexico introduced a discount Family and Friends Plan for travel to Mexico from Aug. 10 to Dec. 10.  Families or groups of four receive one free ticket with the purchase of three when traveling from 14 Aeromexico U.S. gateways and Tijuana, Mexico.  Eligible U.S. departure cities are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York (Kennedy), Ontario, Calif., Orlando, Phoenix, Salt Lake City and San Diego. Travel from Tijuana is valid only for tickets purchased in the U.S., with blackout dates of Sept. 14-20, Oct. 29-Nov. 2, and Nov. 24-28. A minimum of two adult fare tickets, are required to qualify for the discount; other taxes and restrictions apply. Visit www.aeromexico.com/usa or call (800) 237-6639.

SUITE DEAL: The all-suite La Casa Que Canta resort in Zihuatanejo is offering rates discounted by up to 23% through Sept. 30, depending on length of stay.  For example, 3- to 6-night stays are priced from $340 per night for a terrace room to  $693 per night for a penthouse suite, while 7-night stays in the same units range from $320 to $653 per night, respectively. The special rates apply to all room categories, as well as private 4-suite villas El Murmullo and El Ensueno. Facilities at the 25-suite resort include three pools, a spa and fitness center and an open-air restaurant. Call toll-free (888) 523-5050 or direct at (011) 52-755 555-7000; e-mail to [email protected] or visit www.lacasaquecanta.com.  Or, contact Small Luxury Hotels of the World (800) 525-4800 or www.slh.com.

GAY VALLARTA: Atlantis Events, which specializes in gay lifestyle travel, will offer a new all-gay, all-inclusive resort vacation option this fall at Palace Resorts new Vallarta Palace property, which opened July 1 in Nuevo Vallarta, north of Puerto Vallarta. Atlantis chartered the entire 348-room resort for its clients Nov. 5-12. Complete packages at Club Atlantis Vallarta include deluxe accommodations; all meals, sports, activities; Atlantis entertainment; parties; gratuities; and all  drinks, from $1,199 per person, based on double occupancy. Special discount airfares, starting at $278 roundtrip, are available from most major U.S. gateways. Call (800) 6 ATLANTIS (800-628-5268) or visit www.atlantisevents.com.

SHORE THING: Mexico is more popular with cruise passengers than ever. The Mexican Port Authority says the countrys Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico ports welcomed more than 3.3 million cruise passengers in the first five months of 2005, a 20% jump compared to the same period in 2004. The visitors arrived on some 1,662 cruise ships, up 17.3% from 1,417 such vessels in 2004. And several of Mexicos lesser-known ports posted the most gains, with the Pacific ports of Zihuatanejo seeing a 275.5% increase and Manzanillo, 135% growth.
 

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