Travel Weeklys Mexico E-letter: Sept. 29, 2004

KARISMA HOTELS is transforming a 102-room beachfront property in the Riviera Maya into an all-inclusive boutique resort with beach butlers and a tequila lounge. The Azul Hotel + Beach Resort is scheduled to open in November, 15 minutes south of Cancun Airport and 20 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. Azul will be Karismas sixth property in Mexico. Azul Hotel is being re-created with contemporary decor for an overall modern look and feel. Beach butlers will provide refreshments, towels and sun products for guests on the beach, which will be lined with cabanas with privacy curtains for secluded sunbathing. A pool bar will feature swinging beds for lounging. Azul will have the first tequila lounge on the Riviera Maya with more than 30 types of Tequila. For more information, visit www.karismahotels.com.

THE TRAVEL INSTITUTE added Mexico to its Destination Specialist programs. Destination Specialist Mexico is produced in partnership with the Mexico Tourism Board. The course is divided into three sections: a Mexico overview, the regions of Mexico and selling Mexico. The course covers Mexicos geography, climate and seasons, transportation, accommodations, historical background, culture, celebrations and special events, dining and shopping. The features of each of Mexicos 10 geographical regions, such as local transportation and attractions, are presented with maps, fast facts and a pronunciation guide. The course also includes sections on sales tips and strategies, tour products, niche markets, sample itineraries, cruising and useful Web sites designed to help travel professionals sell Mexico. A study guide with a pronunciation guide and map skills, job aid and a map of Mexico also accompany the course. For more information, visit www.thetravelinstitute.com.

SECRETS RESORTS & SPAS, the luxury brand of AMResorts, launched all-inclusive introductory rates for its new Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun, which is set to open on Oct. 1. Through Dec. 21, rates range from $220 per night, per person, double, for a deluxe room to $570 for an Imperial Suite. From Dec. 22 to April 1, rates will range from $290 to $640. Situated between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the 440-suite Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun features the brands signature swim-out suites, which offer private access to the resorts six swimming pools from the guests room. Regular suites average 602 square feet, each of the four honeymoon suites features 1,941 square feet and the Imperial and Presidential suites offer 1,993 square feet of accommodations. All suites offer four-poster King or two double beds, furnished patio or balcony, marble bathrooms with full Jacuzzi tubs, CD/DVD players and high-speed Internet access. For information or reservations, call (866) 467-3273 or visit www.secretsresorts.com.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS partnered with the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Resort & Spa in Los Cabos to offer reduced rates and daily buffet breakfast for two to guests who travel through Dec. 22. Four-night, land-only packages start at $330 per person, double, reflecting a savings of $408 per couple. Prices include roundtrip airport transfers, accommodations, all hotel taxes and surcharges and on-site assistance from Pleasant Holidays customer service representatives. For information and reservations, call (800) 448-3333 or visit www.pleasantagent.com.

CLASSIC CUSTOM VACATIONS is offering agents a Fill Your Sol With Luxury promotion. Under the program the top three agents selling the most Fill Your Sol With Luxury packages will receive a four-night stay for two at any of the four participating Quinta Real properties in Mexico, as well as two Clase Premier air tickets on Aeromexico from select gateway cities and airport transfers in Mexico. The promotion can be booked between now and Oct. 31 for travel through Jan. 15. See www.classicforagents.com for full contest details.

CORRECTION: Aeromexico has not yet signed an agreement with a wholesaler to operate its private label vacation-packaging brand when its contract with the Mark Travel Corp. lapses at the end of the year. Incorrect information appeared in the Sept. 22 Mexico E-letter.

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