Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Nov. 24, 2004

SPAINS NH HOTELS said it plans to invest more than $45 million in Mexico during the next four years. The announcement was made at a news conference here to unveil the companys newly renovated NH Mexico City Hotel in the Zona Rosa neighborhood. The 302-room hotel cost $6 million to renovate. To date, NH has 14 hotels with 3,000 rooms in Mexico, making it the countrys fourth-largest hotel operator. The chain has three new hotels planned for Mexico during the next two years: a 107-room hotel in Mexico Citys historic downtown, a 135-room hotel in the upscale Mexico City neighborhood of Santa Fe and a 128-room hotel in Puebla. When completed, those hotels will raise the number of NHs hotel rooms in Mexico to 5,000.

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB, the operator of upscale yachting trips in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, is repositioning the SeaDream II from the Caribbean to Belize and Mexico's Riviera Maya this winter. The company, citing an opportunity to diversify its product and positive customer feedback, will reposition the luxury mega-yacht to the new regions between December and April. The SeaDream I will continue to operate the Caribbean itinerary during this period. SeaDream said passengers booked on SeaDream II's previously-scheduled Caribbean sailings are being offered a choice of a full refund, a 25% reduction on another SeaDream sailing or the option to switch to one of the itineraries in Mexico or Belize. Travel agency commission is protected. SeaDream created three new itineraries for Mexico and Belize: Yachtsman's Mayan Riviera, Yucatan Explorer and Mexico-Belize Eco-Adventure. Rates for the seven-day voyages start at $1,999 per person, double. Airfare is extra.

PAYLESS CAR RENTAL opened four rental locations in Campeche, Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez, increasing to 15 the number of car rental locations throughout the country. The Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez locations are at the citys airports, while the Campeche location is off-airport.

AMERICAN ORIENT EXPRESS is offering travelers $500 off its Copper Canyon & Colonial Mexico itinerary in 2005 if trips are booked by Dec. 31. In addition, agents will receive 15% commission for tours booked by that date. The Copper Canyon & Colonial Mexico itinerary begins in Tucson, Ariz., and crosses the U.S. border into Mexico, winding through 87 tunnels and over 35 bridges as the train climbs from sea level to 8,000 feet as passengers travel through the Copper Canyon. Seven itineraries will be offered from February through March, with prices beginning at $3,590. For information or reservations, visit www.AmericanOrientExpress.com.

DESTINATION VENTURES, the Oregon-based event planning firm, announced dates for its Mexico Travel Marketplace seminars in 2005. Destination Ventures said it revised its event format for next year, introducing a sit-down dinner and enhanced interactions with exhibitors. Travel agents will be allowed more face time during supplier meetings, as well as a classroom-style 90-minute seminar. The 12 events are sponsored by various Mexico suppliers and tourism boards. The events will start March 7 in Chicago and end April 28 in West Los Angeles. For a complete schedule and to register, visit www.mexicotravelmarket.com.

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