APPROVAL by Mexican environmental groups, a multimillion
dollar project to restore Cancuns beaches after much of the sand
was washed away by Hurricane Wilma officially kicked off last week.
The beach restoration project, which was funded by the private
sector and the federal government, will be a 24-7 endeavor using
sand dredged from the sea floor not far from Cancuns coastline to
create miles of artificial beach along the hardest-hit areas.
Construction teams will pile sandbags along the beach to protect
workers from the waves. The biodegradable bags will then be covered
with new sand to create artificial dunes. The Mexico Tourism Board
said the entire project, which was partly funded by a government
investment of approximately $21 million, is expected to be
completed by April 30. Hurricane Wilma slammed into Cancun on Oct.
21 as a Category 4 storm, killing four people and causing an
estimated $1 billion in damage. Thousands of tourists were left
stranded for days. As a result of the hurricane, tourism to Cancun
is expected to be down 6.7% for 2005 compared with the previous
year, when 3.5 million tourists visited Cancun, according to the
PROGRESS has Cancun made since Wilma did its damage?
According to Travelocity, enough for the destination to get a
recommendation from 90% of customers who traveled to the Yucatan
peninsula in the past three months. Travelocity said it solicited
customer feedback via e-mail and used responses from 321 members
for its results. Travelocity also said it sent company
representatives to the region who report that most hotels and shops
are open, and many attractions and activities are operating.
Travelocity warns, however, that construction to bring all hotels,
restaurants, shops and attractions back to normal is widely evident
throughout Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya. The Yucatan is as
safe to visit now as it was before the hurricane, but its a work in
progress to varying degrees, with the Riviera Maya your best bet
for peace and quiet, Travelocity said. The company is offering a
number of discounts to the region to boost business and is posting
updates on the Yucatans recovery efforts on www.travelocity.com/realmexico.
MEANWHILE, the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, which
closed after Hurricane Wilma, will reopen on June 15 after a
multimillion dollar repair and refurbishment project. Luis Marco,
general manager of the 365-room resort, said the property will
reopen with new facilities and expanded services, including a
culinary center created in association with the Viking Range Co.
that will offer cooking and wine classes for hotel customers and
will host visiting chefs. The resort also added a tennis program
operated by former pro and ESPN commentator Cliff Drysdale and
upgraded and expanded its fitness center. The Ritz-Carlton Cancun
bills itself as the worlds only oceanfront property to have
garnered three AAA five-diamond ratings for the resort and two of
its restaurants, Fantino and the Club Grill.
CANCUN PROPERTY on the mend from Hurricane Wilma is the
Barcelo Tucancun Beach hotel, which will reopen on April 22. The
resorts 315 rooms and villas are being refurbished, there will be a
new reception area and lobby bar, two new restaurants were added
and the swimming pool and deck area were rebuilt and expanded. The
resort will also offer expanded spa services, baby-sitting and a
beauty salon. For additional
information, visit www.barcelo.com.
OF CANCUN in the Riviera Maya, the Fairmont Mayakoba will
open on April 16 after Hurricane Wilma delayed its planned opening
last December. The 397-room property is part of the upscale
Mayakoba Resort, a $2 billion, mixed-use development that includes
the Fairmont Mayakoba, an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg
Norman and managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Rosewood Resorts
Laguna Kai (opening in 2007) and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba (opening
in 2007), among other luxury properties.