Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Nov. 17, 2004

INTERCONTINENTAL Hotels Group signed its 100th franchise agreement in Mexico, adding a Crowne Plaza hotel to its portfolio. The 506-room hotel in Acapulco was previously a Holiday Inn and is currently in the process of being reflagged the Crowne Plaza Acapulco. In addition, IHG said 24 properties will be built in Mexico by the end of 2006.

KARISMA Hotels & Resorts will open the El Dorado Seaside Suites on the Riviera Maya Nov. 18. Formerly the El Dorado Resort, the property underwent a $6 million renovation that transformed the former 177-room resort into an all-suite, 133-room "boutique" property catering to adults only. The renovation lasted 14 months and included new bathrooms and furnishings as well as new cable TV and phone systems. The resort will be marketed to couples and honeymooners and as a resort for "destination weddings." The property is offering an introductory rate starting at $270 per night, double. Jacuzzi suites, of which there are 85, feature either interior or exterior hot tubs and direct beach access. For information or reservations, call (866)-KARISMA.

APPLE VACATIONS is offering a lowest price guarantee on its new nonstop service from Chicago's Midway Airport to Cancun via Ryan International. If a lower price is found, Apple will match the price plus reward the agent with bonus Royalties Points. The price match is valid on new bookings and are based on final price (less taxes and insurance) for the exact same vacation, including the same hotel, room category, departure date and duration. The promotion does not apply to companies that don't pay agents commission.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS is offering reduced room rates at select Riu properties through Dec. 23. The promotion is in effect at the Club Hotel Riu Jalisco in Nuevo Vallarta, the Hotel Riu Cancun, and the Hotel Riu Palace Las Americanas in Cancun. Four-night, land-only packages start at $287 per person, double. Prices include roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes and surcharges. For information or reservations, call (800) 448-3333 or visit www.pleasantagent.com.

SIESTA TOURS launched escorted tour packages for independent travelers to Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato. Siesta, a specialist in escorted group tours, said the new packages are designed for clients who like the company's product but don't want an escorted group tour and for clients whose vacation dates don't coincide with scheduled group departures. Siesta's independent tours include hotel accommodations, daily breakfast, tours of local attractions with an English-speaking guide and airport transfers. For information or reservations, call (800) 679-2746.

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