Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Sept. 13, 2006

MEXICO'S CRUISE BUSINESS is booming, and the country is responding to the cruise industry's growing demand for Mexico by expanding and modernizing its existing port facilities and creating new cruise destinations from coast to coast. With more than two dozen ports of embarkation, Mexico is the No. 1 cruise destination in the world. Last year, Mexico tallied some 3,100 cruise stops and received 6.5 million cruise visitors, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Cozumel, Mexico's most popular cruise stop, has fully recovered from the damage caused by Hurricane Wilma, and the reconstruction efforts are paying off. Port authorities report that Cozumel received 1.3 million cruise visitors through July, and the destination is on target to surpass last year's 2.5 million cruise passengers.

MEXICAN DESTINATIONS in the process of expanding and enhancing their cruise infrastructure include Chiapas, Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta and Campeche, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Chiapas, for example, opened a $7 million cruise port. Next year, 10 cruise ships are scheduled to stop at the port, bringing some 25,000 passengers with them. Puerto Vallarta is expanding its cruise facilities to welcome multiple large ships simultaneously. Plans call for constructing two docks at a cost of more than $15 million. In Ensenada, officials are in discussions to increase cruise business from Seattle. Famous for its missions and wineries, Ensenada last year welcomed approximately 600,000 cruise passengers, making it the second most visited cruise port in Mexico.

THE OWNERS OF MEXICO BOUTIQUE HOTELS have created a villa product line modeled after their collection of 45 small, upscale hotels throughout Mexico. Costa Vallarta Boutique Villas is a collection of luxury villas in and around Puerto Vallarta that have been inspected by the Mexico Boutique Hotels management team. Thus far, there are six properties in the collection, with plans for more than 25 by the end of the year. Concierge service is available. As with Mexico Boutique Hotels, membership in the villa collection will be by invitation only. All villa properties come with a staff and have been in operation for at least one year. The same reservations team that handles Mexico Boutique Hotels will service Costa Vallarta Boutique Villas. For information or reservations, call (800) 728-9098.

UNITED VACATIONS is offering an early-booking bonus to Mexico for vacations next year from Jan. 1 to Dec. 13, excluding select blackout dates. Customers who pay in full when they book will receive $50 off their package, which includes roundtrip air fare, accommodations and roundtrip airport transfers. Participating destinations are Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta and Vallarta Nayarit. Customers must use promotional code MEXCAR50 to qualify. For information or reservations, call (800) 328-6877 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com.

TRAVEL AGENTS who book clients at the Marquis Reforma Hotel in Mexico City can earn free nights for themselves at the Marquis Los Cabos Resort. Under the promotion, agents earn one free night in Los Cabos for each completed Mexico City stay by clients. To qualify, agents must book their clients at the Marquis Reforma by Oct. 15, and clients must stay by Dec. 15. The free nights in Los Cabos are valid through Dec. 15. For information or reservations, call (800) 235-2387 or visit www.marquisreforma.com. Mention promotion code REFDF06.

Mexico E-Letter Editor:

Jorge Sidron

Phone: (973) 898-0011

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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