Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: March 8, 2006

NEARLY 22 MILLION foreign tourists visited Mexico last year, 6.5% more than in 2004, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. The tourists spent $11.8 billion in Mexico on everything from hotels and attractions to dining and shopping, 9.7% more than in 2004, the tourism board said.  In fact, visitors spent an average of $679 per person during their stay in Mexico last year, up almost 1% compared with 2004. The number of tourists arriving by cruise ship rose 2.7% to 6.06 million cruise passengers. The rise in tourist arrivals occurred despite three powerful hurricanes that struck Mexico last year: Hurricanes Emily, Stan and Wilma hit Mexico between July and October, killing 75 people and causing more than $2 billion in damage. Wilma struck Cancun on Oct. 22, severely damaging hotels and washing away the areas beaches.

KOR HOTEL GROUP, the Los Angeles-based operator of such luxury properties as the Tides in Miami Beachs South Beach, will begin construction on the 190-room Tides Playa del Carmen this fall. The property, which is scheduled to open in 2008, will include design-savvy studios and one- to three-bedooms units ranging from 800 to 2,000 square feet. The resort will include a 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, upscale restaurants and meetings space. Tides Playa del Carmen will be Kor Hotel Groups second Mexico property. Kor plans to open the Viceroy Riviera Maya Resort & Residences in the nearby Mayakoba Resort complex in 2008.

TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS launched a 90 Degrees From Here promotion for Occidental and Allegro properties in Cancun and Cozumel that have reopened after reparations following Hurricane Wilma. Under the promotion, Travel Impressions is offering three-night, all-inclusive packages starting at  $529 per person, double, from March 1 to 31. The packages are available at the Occidental Grand Xcaret ($529), Allegro Playacar ($529), Allegro Cozumel ($535) and Occidental Grand Cozumel ($615). The packages include roundtrip airport transfers; meals and snacks; use of nonmotorized water sports equipment; and hotel tax and service charge. To book, call (800) 284-0044 or visit www.travelimpressions.com.

ANOTHER CANCUN PROPERTY reopening following renovations in the wake of Hurricane Wilma is the Presidente InterContinental Cancun, which will open its doors on March 10. Although many beachfront properties lost precious sand after the storm, the operators of the Presidente InterContinental Cancun said the resort actually gained more than 15 feet of sand between it and the ocean. Among the improvements are a new lobby, renovated guest rooms and a new club floor on the fifth floor with 36 rooms that brings the total number of club rooms to 52. Other enhancements include a new oceanfront deck bar, a larger pool with five Jacuzzis and new beach palapas, including one that will be used exclusively for massages. A second phase of improvements that will add a restaurant off the lobby and a new facility for meetings is scheduled for completion by mid-July. To book or for information, call (800) 327-0200 or visit www.intercontinental.com/cancun.

DESTINATIONS VENTURES, the Bend, Ore.-based event-planning firm, is bringing its Mexico Travel Marketplace seminars to a city near you. The company is promising a more interactive series of seminars, sit-down dinners and face-to-face meetings between travel agents and Mexico suppliers, with attendance at the 12 venues expected to number between 75 and 125 people. Sponsors will include the major Mexican airlines and tourism boards, including those representing Mazatlan, the Riviera Maya and Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Campeche State. Upcoming events are scheduled from March 13 to May 12. For details and registration, call (800) 599-6633 or visit www.mexicotravelmarket.com.

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