COZUMEL, Mexico -- Mexico is a hot sell for travel agents who have
families for clients.
The ideal family candidates are those seeking the enriching
travel experience of another culture, a kind of travel that scores
with the socially conscious, ecosensitive baby boomer category of
Cozumel is taking the lead in developing a family travel
product, and Isla Cozumel alone has a half-dozen properties
actively pursuing this growing and lucrative market.
As Hans Bratt, general manager of Presidente InterContinental
Cozumel, sees it, it makes good sense.
"I see travel patterns focusing on entire families, with
multiple generations wanting to travel together," Bratt said. "This
is a big change."
When Wendy Murphy, a travel agent at Linden Travel in New York,
sends families to the property, she said she knows they'll have a
"The staff loves kids and families," Murphy said. "You never
have to worry as a parent about your child running through the
lobby or embarrassing you.
"Everyone who works there gives such personal attention to the
kids," she added. "They really enjoy them."
The Chiqui Club, the Presidente InterContinental's children's
program, plays a big part in the resort's Family Vacation
Murphy called the program a "huge value-add" and said she wishes
the hotel would do more to promote it. The complimentary club for
children ages 5 to 12 operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, year
It introduces children (and parents for that matter) to Mexican
history and culture by teaching Spanish, creating handicrafts,
learning authentic songs and dances, playing local games and
building pinatas and kites.
Additional activities include the iguana search, frog races and
pool and beach games. DVDs are on hand for rainy days.
Murphy said she has seen the club in action and appreciates the
mix of Spanish- and English-speaking kids.
"The people in charge really do personalize the activities," she
said. "What I saw were creative experiences from an enthusiastic,
Alicia Owens, an agent at Advanced Travel in Lufkin, Texas, has
booked many families into the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel
but was unaware of the Chiqui Club.
"It'll be a very valuable tool when it comes to booking families
in the future," she said.
Owens said she steers families to the Presidente
InterContinental Cozumel because "it's a lovely property with
About half of the clients she sends there are families, Owens
"They love the service, the view from the rooms and, of course,
the exceptional diving and snorkeling right on the property."
Owens says the property is perfect for clients not seeking an
General manager Bratt said about 25% of the Presidente
Intercontinental Cozumel's business comes from travel agents.
"[Travel agents] are critical to us, and we are very sensitive
to their needs," he said. "We value them greatly."
Bratt said agents are beginning to go directly to the hotel for
bookings and not through wholesalers, "so we want to be ready for
them and be sure we do what we can to accommodate their needs."
Presidente pays 10% commission to agents and offers agents who
want to stay at the property a flat 50% discount on any published
Bratt pointed out that his staff is always working on new ways
to reward agents who send clients to the hotel.
He said the property keeps the agent community informed of new
deals, promotions and news through e-mail blitzes.
The hotel's Family Vacation Experience package costs $255 per
room, per night, double, through Dec. 20; $355 from Dec. 21 through
Jan. 1; and $255 from Jan. 2 through April 9.
The package includes a beachfront room, two doubles or one
king-size bed and daily breakfast. For children ages 12 and
younger, it offers free participation in the Chiqui Club, a snack
between lunch and dinner and bathrobes.
In addition, up to two children 12 and younger stay for free in
their parents' room, and a second room is offered at 50% off.
Baby-sitting is available for $11 per child, per hour.
Meanwhile, for agents who book 45 room nights via either the
rack rate, family package or golf package, the resort will reward
the retailer with $1,000.
For additional information or to make reservations, travel
agents should call (800) 327-0200 or visit the Web at www.intercontinental.com.
Kaleel Sakakeeny covers the family travel market for Travel
Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected].