Mexico program transports clients to 'Special Places'


SAN FRANCISCO -- Runaway Tours unveiled packages for travelers who would rather stay in a remote 17th century hacienda than a sprawling beach resort.

Thatched cottages of Hotelito Desconocido The packages are part of the Special Places product line for Mexico and feature a collection of small luxury hotels, resorts and haciendas in lesser-known regions of the country. Customized itineraries with components such as discounted air fares, accommodations, transfers, ground transportation between destinations, sightseeing and car rentals can be created.

Special Places targets independent travelers seeking distinctive accommodations in locales that are off the beaten path, according to Ed Jackson, president of Runaway.

The firm launched Special Places four years ago to augment its existing Mexico lineup, and the program has since been well received by agents and their clients, Jackson added. "The response has been overwhelming," he said. "Special Places will be the centerpiece of our Mexico promotions in the next year because we think it will be a real draw."

This year's Special Places program retains many of the original elements, but new properties were added. There is a focus on activities such as exploring historic cities, archaeological sites, bird- and turtle-watching and water sports.

The 16 properties, 13 of which are new to the firm, run the gamut from restored 16th century convents to centuries-old haciendas. Many were previously unknown to the U.S. market and largely inaccessible to most travelers since booking was inconvenient and no one could handle all of the vacation components, according to Jackson.

Special Places ventures into the colonial cities.

"We're trying to open the area up to more independent travel," Jackson said, adding that programs combining the colonial cities often are limited to group motorcoach tours.

Other highlights of the new Special Places roster include the archaeological zone in the Yucatan Peninsula. Runaway had offered the city of Merida and sightseeing in the surrounding region, but the haciendas in the Yucatan are new to the property lineup. "This is for the more adventurous traveler," Jackson said.

The following is an overview of the main categories and properties of Runaway's Special Places program.

The colonial cities selection features Hotel Villa Montana in Morelia, Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende, Casa de la Marquesa in Queretaro and Camino Real in Puebla and Oaxaca. Nightly rates for the colonial cities properties range from $70 to $105 per person, double.

Runaway also offers colonial cities itineraries that incorporate stays in two or more destinations.

On the Turtle Coast (Costa Careyes) between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, Runaway provides four options. Included are Hotelito Desconocido, Bel Air Costa Careyes, Casitas de las Flores and Aldea Tamarindo. Nightly rates on the Turtle Coast range from $88 to $146 per person, double.

On the Riviera Maya south of Cancun, the secluded Maroma resort near Playa del Carmen is the featured selection. Nightly rates start at $171 per person, double.

In the sleepy fishing village of Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast, Runaway offers the three top options in the area: La Casa Que Canta, Puerto Mio and Villa del Sol. Nightly rates in Zihuatanejo range from $74 to $152 per person, double.

Three hacienda properties are featured in the Yucatan Peninsula, which also offers close proximity to archaeological sites, the colonial city of Merida, natural wells and jungle reserves.

Included are Hacienda Katanchel, Hacienda Santa Rosa and Hacienda Temozon. Nightly rates range from $105 to $188 per person, double occupancy.
Runaway Tours
Phone (800) 622-0723

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