Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Sept. 6, 2006

HURRICANE JOHN became the first storm of the Pacific hurricane season to make landfall in Mexico Sept. 1, and despite several inches of rain and sustained winds of up to 110 mph, the Los Cabos Tourism Board reported that Los Cabos "suffered nothing more than some rain and wind," according to Alberto Trevino, secretary of tourism for Baja California. The resorts never lost power, and guests were accommodated in ballrooms until the storm dissipated. The storm struck around nightfall near Cabo del Este on the tip of the Baja California peninsula as a Category 2 storm and made a second landfall the next day near La Paz, also on the Baja peninsula, as a weakened Category 1 hurricane. The airports in both Los Cabos and La Paz did not sustain any major damage, according to Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacifico, and have both since reopened after canceling 151 flights due to strong winds in the area. Meanwhile, the Acapulco Convention & Visitors Bureau, where John drenched on its way by Aug. 28, said the destination sidestepped John in stride. "Acapulco luckily suffered nothing more than a good rain," said Mary Beth Medina Cortes, president of the Acapulco Hotel and Tourism Association. Elsewhere in the Pacific, Kristy regenerated yet again and is a tropical storm for the third time, although the storm remains no threat to land.

PLAYA HOTELS & RESORTS, the company formed earlier this year by Spain-based Grupo Barcelo, acquired the 332-room Barcelo Tucancun Beach Hotel from Highland Hospitality Corp. for $38 million. The hotel had been severely damaged by Hurricane Wilma and reopened last April after a multimillion-dollar repair project. Playa Hotels said it plans additional renovations and improvements to the hotel's rooms and 16 beachside villas. The Barcelo Tucancun will retain its management and branding as an all-inclusive under the Barcelo Resort umbrella. As previously reported, Playa Hotels & Resorts was formed earlier this year as a private equity fund to acquire and develop all-inclusive beachfront resorts in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. Bruce Wardinski, chairman and CEO of Playa Hotels & Resorts, said Playa is in "active negotiations" to buy several more hotels as well as land to build more resorts in Mexico and elsewhere. "We expect to close on some of these transactions prior to year's end, and with over $1 billion in available capital we are aggressively pursuing additional growth opportunities," said Wardinski. Playa currently owns five resorts in Mexico.

IBEROSTAR HOTELS & RESORTS said it will open the 300-room Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso in December. The all-suite resort will be the fifth, and last, property developed on Iberostar's Playa Paraiso Resorts complex on the Riviera Maya and will set the standard as the five-star flagship of the Iberostar brand, according to the company. The resort will feature 300 suites with full or partial ocean views, 12 Honeymoon Villa Suites with private plunge pools, four restaurants, three swimming pools and a "mini spa." The much larger El Spa is situated across the street in the Playa Paraiso shopping and entertainment plaza. The resort will include 24-hour butler and concierge service. In addition to the new Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar's Playa Paraiso Resorts complex includes the Iberostar Paraiso Maya, Iberostar Paraiso Lindo, Iberostar Paraiso del Mar and Iberostar Paraiso Beach. For information or reservations, call (888) 923-2722 or visit www.iberostar.com.

AEROMEXICO is offering Amigo Fares to travel agents for 40 destinations in Mexico and three destinations in Latin America. The fares start at $100 roundtrip for an agent and $130 for a companion. Amigo Fares are good through Dec. 10 from Boston; Chicago; Houston; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York; Ontario, Calif.; Orlando; Phoenix; and San Diego. A current IATAN card is required. For information or to book, call (800) 454-1847 and mention code G/USA/PRO/AM6.

CORRECTION: The Web site to register for Destination Ventures' Los Cabos U.S. seminars is www.loscabos-seminars.com. An incorrect Web site was published in Aug. 28 Mexico E-letter. For information about Los Cabos, visit www.visitloscabos.org.

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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