Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: June 29, 2005

UP WITH MICHOACAN: The Mexico Tourism Board is reporting enormous growth in international tourism arrivals in Michoacan state, famed for its autumn Day of the Dead festivities. According to Michoacans tourism secretariat, the percentage of foreigners among all visitors has increased from 3.5% to 12% in just three years. In the same period, international tourism revenue grew sixfold, to $71 million (up from just $12 million). Lastly, the international airport in capital city Morelia will soon be served by flights from eight U.S. cities, up from todays six. For more on Michoacan, which lies on the Pacific coast west of Mexico City, visit www.michoacan.gob.mx.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR: Aeromexico this year is rolling out a host of new connections between the U.S. and Mexico. The carrier adds a fourth year-round weekly flight from Salt Lake City to Mexico City, each Wednesday, starting July 6.  On the seasonal front, Aeromexico will offer new twice-weekly non stops between Los Angeles and Culiacan, July 9 to Aug. 20; from Las Vegas to Guadalajara, July 7 to Aug. 21; and from Atlanta to Cancun, July 7 to Aug. 22.  Aeromexico also plans seasonal December service between New York (Kennedy) and Cancun, and has applied to the DOT for permission to fly between Chicago and Durango July 8 to Sept. 4. Overseas, the airline adds first-ever nonstops from Monterrey, Mexico, to Madrid, Spain, starting Sept. 6. For more on flights and schedules, visit www.aeromexico.com.

LESS GREEN, MORE GOLF: Riu Hotels and Resorts in Mexico are offering golf discounts Nov. 1 through Oct. 31, 2006. Guests of any Riu resort in the Cancun area get 50% off rack rates at, and free transfers to, the Mayan Palace Golf Riviera Maya course. The Riu Palace Las Americas in Cancun gives guests unlimited free golf at Pok Ta Pok Golf Club, 25% off greens fees at Hilton Golf Club and 10% off at the Hilton Pro Golf Shop. At Riu Cancun and Riu Caribe, also in Cancun, guests get 25% off greens fees at the Hilton and Pok Ta Pok, plus 10% off at the Hilton shop. The Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas reduces rates at the Raven Golf Club, ranging from $100, plus 10% (7 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Oct. 16, 2005-April 20, 2006) to $50, plus 10% (12 p.m. to closing; June 16-Oct. 15, 2006). Lastly, guests of Riu Jalisco in Puerto Vallarta pay $72 (a $48 savings) for tee times before 3 p.m., and $60 ($20 off) from 3 p.m. till closing, at Flamingos Golf Club from Nov. 1 to April 30, 2006. For more about Riu Hotels and Resorts, visit www.riu.com.

MORE FUNJET: Funjet Vacations expanded its Second Person Flies Free sale to Mexico from Atlanta, also knocking up to $200 off companion rates  from Texas and the Midwest. Book at www.vaxvacationaccess.com by July 7 for travel from Dallas/Fort Worth or Houston (using promotional code FLYFREENOW) or Chicago,  Cleveland and Detroit (using FLYFREEMW) for vacations from Aug. 1 to Sept. 20. Prices start at $499.99 for the first person and $299.99 for the second from Texas, and  $699.99 and $499.99, respectively, from the Midwest.  For more information on Funjet, visit www.funjet.com.

LESS MAY BE MORE: For a different take on the Riviera Maya, consider the areas many small, boutique hotel properties as an alternative to larger resorts. The Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board in Playa del Carmen suggests the even-villas Acanto Hotel and Suites (www.acantohotels.com); 15-villa Azulik (www.azulik.com); Cabanas Copal (www.cabanascopal.com), with 47 jungle cabanas; the 32-room Cabanas Los Lirios (www.loslirios.com); the 42-suite, nudist Hidden Beach Resort Au Naturel Club (www.hiddenbeachresort.com); the 15-room Hotel Deseo (www.hoteldeseo.com); and the Hotel Escencia (www.hotelescencia.com), with 29 suites. Other options include the Illusion Hotel (www.illusionhotel.com), with 38 rooms; the 10-room La Lunata (www.lunata.com); La Tortuga Hotel and Spa (www.hotellatortuga.com), with 45 units; and Las Casitas Akumal (www.lascasitasakumal.com), which features 18 two-bedroom casitas on Akumal Bay. For more boutique Riviera Maya resorts, call (877) 7GO-MAYA or visit www.rivieramaya.com.

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