Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: December 7, 2005

MEXICOS GRUPO POSADAS is entering the airline business after agreeing to pay $165 million for Mexicana Airlines, Mexicos second-largest airline. Grupo Posadas owns or operates 94 hotels, including the Fiesta Americana brand. Mexicana is owned by airline holding company Cintra SA, which also owns Mexicos largest carrier, Aeromexico. Including debt and liabilities, the transaction is valued at $1.46 billion. Cintra shareholders are scheduled to meet on Dec. 16 to vote on the offer. The Mexican government, which owns two-thirds of Cintra, has been trying to get out of the airline business since it was forced to rescue Mexicana and Aeromexico in the mid-1990s during Mexicos bank crisis. Cintra also received offers for Aeromexico, including one from Posadas for 75% of the airline, but turned down the offers. Cintra said it expects to sell Aeromexico next year.

MEXICANA, meanwhile, launched daily, nonstop service between Mexico City and Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWI) on Dec. 1. Mexicana said it expects the route to be popular for both business and leisure travelers. The route is being operated aboard an Airbus A318 plane with room for 12 in business class and 88 in coach. With the addition of BWI, Mexicana provides nonstop service to 14 U.S. cities.

HOTEL MARINA EL CID in the Riviera Maya will open Feb. 18 following damage sustained during Hurricane Wilma. The $40 million, all-inclusive resort near Playa del Carmen was under construction when Hurricane Wilma struck. The deluxe, 350-room resort will feature massage tents on the beach, a large sundeck and a pillow menu, among other niceties.

IN OTHER EL CID NEWS, the hotel company said it will reopen the El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel in Cozumel on March 15 after extensive renovations following Hurricane Wilma. El Cid said the hotel has to be rebuilt from scratch, including pools, restaurants and common areas. El Cid said the resort will reopen with a higher level of amenities without a price increase. In addition to El Cid La Ceiba and the aforementioned Hotel Marina El Cid, El Cid operates four hotels, a golf course and marina in Mazatlan. For more information or reservations, call (800) 525-1925 or visit www.elcid.com.

THE 209-ROOM MARQUIS REFORMA hotel in Mexico City is marketing a $150 per night rate for travel agents in an effort to boost business. The rate has no minimum-stay requirement, and agents can be upgraded to an executive-level room based on availability. The boutique hotel, a member of Leading Hotels, includes a 16,000-square-foot spa, two restaurants and meetings facilities. To book, call (800) 235-2387 or visit www.marquisreforma.com.

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