Dual destinations topic of U.S. agent seminars

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IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico -- This "dual" destination launched a series of seminars this year designed to turn travel agents into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo specialists.

Dubbed Twice As Pleasing, the free seminars are sponsored by the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo Convention and Visitors Bureau in conjunction with local hotels, tourism companies, tour operators and airlines that serve the destinations.

Lee Kraft, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau, said travel agents are invited to the seminars from leads provided by the hotels and the Mexico Tourism offices in the U.S.

Ixtapa, above, has 5,000 hotel rooms and is marketed as a full-service hotel destination. "We went to the local offices of the tourism board in the U.S. and asked them for the names of agents who have called to inquire about Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo," said Kraft. "We asked the hotels for the names of agents who sent clients from the U.S."

The result this inaugural year was 21 seminars scheduled for 15 cities in the U.S. and Canada, with each session attended by up to 70 travel agents. The four-hour presentations begin at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception and conclude with dinner and a keynote speaker.

In between, the seminars feature an introductory multimedia presentation that includes an overview of the destination's geography and information about its various niche markets.

Agents are then split up into groups and alternate between suppliers that present their products.

All agents are certified as Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo specialists and receive a sales guide with information on, among other things, hotel descriptions, tour operator listings and recreational options as well as advice on shopping, restaurants and sightseeing.

Upcoming seminars are scheduled for Oct. 15 in Toronto; Oct. 17 and 24 in Calgary, Alberta; Oct. 22 in Vancouver; Nov. 12 and 14 in Los Angeles; Nov. 19 in San Francisco; and Nov. 21 in Oakland, Calif.

Agents interested in attending the seminars can call the bureau at (011) 52-755 553-1270 or send an e-mail to [email protected].

"We ask agents to fill out a questionnaire about the seminars, and the responses have been very positive," Kraft said. "The comments have ranged from 'very dynamic and interesting' to 'surprise' at the variety of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo's tourism product," he said.

Kraft continued, "It is very difficult for Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo to compete with destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya, which have an advertising budget 20 times larger than ours. So we don't compare ourselves to them. We stick to our message."

That message, he said, is that Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo is a "tranquil and safe destination with plenty to offer clients."

Situated on Mexico's Pacific coast, northwest of Acapulco, Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo is spread out along a 25-mile coastline characterized by beaches and scalloped bays.

The dual destination is marketed as "old and new," with Zihuatanejo the "laid-back fishing village" and Ixtapa promoted as the full-service hotel destination.

There are approximately 5,800 hotel rooms between the two, and Ixtapa has 5,000 of them.

Kraft said that 60% of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo's tourists are Mexican, 25% are Americans, 10% come from Canada and the rest from South America and Europe.

The national market consists mostly of families, while the international markets consist of honeymooners, golfers, divers, deep-sea fishermen, horseback riders and ecotourists.

According to Kraft, among the major developments on tap for this year and next are:

MLT Vacations this winter plans to boost its service from Minneapolis to Zihuatanejo from three to four times a week, returning to pre-Sept 11 levels.
America West in November plans to increase service from once a week to three times a week from Phoenix to Zihuatanejo.
Continental will fly twice a day from Houston to Zihuatanejo starting in December.
• The operators of the Aristos Hotel in Ixtapa, which is closed, plan to tear down the hotel and rebuild it sometime next year.
• The boutique Capricho Hotel under construction in Ixtapa is scheduled to open next spring with 60 of 85 planned suites. Rooms will cost from $350 a night, double.
• The 250-room Melia Azul Ixtapa Beach Resort & Conference Center launched a $19 million expansion project that will add 148 rooms and expand the convention center to accommodate 2,700 people by September 2003.
• The Villa del Sol in Zihuatanejo unveiled 14 villa-style suites last November, bringing to 70 the resort's number of rooms.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo plans

IXTAPA-ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico -- Several of the hotels in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo are offering packages. The following is a sampling:

• The Melia Azul Ixtapa Beach Resort & Conference Center is marketing a Leisure Super Saver package that costs $144 a night, double, through Dec. 23.
The package includes all meals, snacks and beverages; nonmotorized water sports and other recreational activities; the Kid's Club, and entertainment.
A four-night honeymoon package costs $920 per couple through Dec. 23. It includes an upgrade to a junior suite, if available.
For information or reservations, call (800) 336-3542 or visit the Web at www.solmelia.com.

• The Radisson Resort Ixtapa is offering a Go package priced at $81 per night, double, through Dec. 20, and $141 from Dec. 21 through April 25.
The package includes breakfast, a welcome gift and taxes and gratuities.
A three-night honeymoon package costs $454 per couple through Dec. 20. It includes suite accommodations, a bottle of champagne, daily breakfast and one dinner for two. For information or reservations, call (800) 333-3333 or visit the Web at www.radisson.com.

• Las Brisas Ixtapa is selling a Holiday Breeze package that costs $175 per night, single or double, from Jan. 4 through April 20. The price drops to $155 from April 21 through Dec. 19.
The package includes a deluxe oceanview room, daily buffet breakfast, one hour of tennis daily, unlimited use of the fitness center and 20% off greens fees at the Marina Ixtapa golf course.
A three-night package costs $415 per couple through Dec. 20. It includes suite accommodations and one dinner for two with wine.
For information or reservations, call (888) 559-4329 or visit the Web at www.brisas.com.mx.

• Hotel Villa del Sol in Zihuatanejo is offering several packages, including a two-, three- and six-night Healthy Deal package.
A seven-night package costs $2,540 per couple from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20. It includes six 60-minute spa treatments, 11 fitness classes and taxes and service charges. Meals are extra.
A four- or seven-night Golf in Paradise package costs from $2,575, double, from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20. It includes three rounds of golf on two courses (including golf cart), 30-minute private putting lesson, lunch during each round, airport transfers and taxes and gratuities.
For information or reservations, call (011) 52-755 555-5500, e-mail: [email protected] or visit the Web at www.hotelvilladelsol.net.

• Aeromexico Vacations' programs to Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo begin at $495 per person, double, from Oct. 17 through Nov. 28.
The package includes three nights at the Posada Real Ixtapa and roundtrip air fare on Aeromexico from Dallas.
Aeromexico Vacations can be purchased via the major GDSs and through VAX VacationAccess or by calling (800) 245-8585.

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