Hotels, airlines unveil objectives at conference

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ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Hotel companies and airlines with a major presence in Mexico announced growth and marketing strategies at last month's Tianguis Turistico conference here.

The following is a rundown of some of the major developments:

• Spain-based hotel operator Sol Melia said it will rebrand several properties this year, including several in Mexico.

The hotel company said it will upgrade the Melia Cancun Convention Center Beach & Spa Resort to its Gran Melia brand, effective next fall, and the Paradisus Cozumel resort to the Melia Cozumel in November.

Elsewhere, Sol Melia will rebrand the Melia Playa Conchal in Costa Rica to the Paradisus Playa Conchal on Nov. 15.

• Mexicana Airlines said it will launch nonstop service between Denver and Mexico City on May 2 and between Denver and Zacatecas on May 4.

Pending approval, the airline said it will begin nonstop service between Sacramento, Calif., and Guadalajara, with continuing service to Mexico City, on July 1.

• The owner of the Punta Mita resort development near Puerto Vallarta is poised to announce which hotel companies will operate the four remaining hotel projects planned for the 1,500-acre site in the state of Nayarit.

The owner, DINE S.A. de C.V., Mexico's largest real estate development firm, said it would make an announcement this month in New York.

The site is home to the 140-room Four Seasons Punta Mita, Four Seasons' first hotel in Latin America, as well as to an 18-hole golf course.

A DINE spokeswoman said the site's second hotel will be a 68-room, all-suite property. The development's third hotel will be its largest, with 220 rooms.

These two properties are expected to break ground this year and open within two years of the groundbreaking, the spokeswoman said.

The remaining two hotels will have 100 rooms or less, the spokeswoman added. Two other golf courses also are planned.

Meanwhile, DINE this summer will break ground on three- and four-bedroom private villas at the resort. Villa prices will start at $1.4 million.

• Mexico Boutique Hotels, the Puerto Vallarta-based operator of small luxury hotels in Mexico, announced eight new members, bringing the number of hotels in the association to 35 in 22 cities.

The new hotels are in Guadalajara, Zacatecas, Punta de Mita and Isla Navidad.

In a move to boost travel agent business, the association also announced it will integrate all of its members into the major GDSs by the end of the year.

Eight hotels will be available via the GDSs, starting May 1.

The group, whose hotels previously were bookable only through its Web site, earlier this year unveiled a toll-free number for customers in the U.S., (877) 278-8018.

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