Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: Jan. 5, 2005

ITS WHALE-WATCHING SEASON along Mexicos Pacific coast, and a number of tour operators and hotels are offering packages for tourists to view the whales. Thousands of California gray whales abandon the freezing waters of the Bering Sea near Alaska each November for the warm waters of the Baja peninsula. The peak time for whale-watching is January through early April, after the calves are born. During these months, boat excursions are available all along the Baja coast for tourists to view the whales. Lindblads Special Expeditions (www.expeditions.com) offers nine-day cruises featuring whale-watching at Magdalena Bay; Los Cabos-based Pronatur/Pro-Tours (www.rissalena.com) provides three-hour whale-watching tours. Each winter, humpback whales also migrate south from their arctic feeding grounds to breed and rear their young in the warm, protected waters of the Bahia de Banderas in Puerto Vallarta. Tours are available to view these magnificent creatures, as well as wild dolphins and a variety of other exotic sea mammals. Visit www.vallartawhales.com and www.vallarta-adventures.com.

THE PRESIDENTE INTERCONTINENTAL Puerto Vallarta Resort is offering a Whale Watching Experience package, which includes a whale-watching tour for two on Banderas Bay with an English-speaking tour guide, three nights in a deluxe room, daily breakfast and private check-in. The package costs $707, double, with additional nights priced at $189. The package is available now through March 31. Visit the resort chains Web site, www.ichotelsgroup.com, or call (888) 303-1758.

APPLE VACATIONS kicked off the new year with a Winter Relief sale to Mexico. For bookings made through Jan. 22, Apple is offering discounted packages for February and March departures. From Denver, a seven-night package in Huatulco at the Crown Pacific All-Suite Resort starts at $800 per person, double, including roundtrip air fare. From Chicago, seven nights at the Fiesta Americana Cozumel Dive Resort start at $900 per person, double, including air fare, meals and drinks. For more information on these and other packages, call (800) 365-2775 or visit www.myappleonline.com.

REACTING TO CUSTOMER DEMAND for its custom-designed furnishings and linens, the upscale Ikal del Mar Villa Resort & Spa on the Riviera Maya has begun selling its sheets, pillow cases, robes, bed canopies, hammocks and other resort items in its new hotel shop. The shop also sells reproductions of archaeological items; ties, handbags and shoes by Mexican designers; and silver jewelry designed by Mexican artisans. Items can be shipped via Federal Express and delivered within 48 hours. The shop is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For information or reservations, call (888) 230-7330 or visit www.ikaldelmar.com.

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