Mundo Maya: The Future of Tourism

Throughout the Maya world, developers both large and small, international and local, are expressing their faith in the region's tourism future by investing in new projects. In addition to the many eco-lodge-type facilities that are enhancing travelers' accommodations choices in the region, a number of major hotel developments are in the works.

Several of these are concentrated in the fast-growing Tulum Corridor south of Cancun, an area which at least one tour operator is using as a gateway for trips to points further south in the Maya world. Following are selected highlights of these and other developments in Mundo Maya.

  • As a result of a joint venture launched last year with Grupo Real in San Salvador, El Salvador, Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts is expanding its presence in the Mundo Maya region. Late last year, the former Camino Real in San Salvador, a 228-room property, was converted to the Camino Real Inter-Continental San Salvador.
  • In December 1997, Inter-Continental Hotels and Resorts marked the grand opening of an all-new property in Honduras -- the 150-room Camino Real Inter-Continental Hotel San Pedro Sula. Another Honduras property under construction, the 150-room Camino Real Inter-Continental Hotel Tegucigalpa, is slated to open in December 1999.
  • Sol Melia Hotels assumed management of the former Las Americas Hotel in Guatemala City in April. The 194-room property, now the Melia Guatemala, is located five minutes from Guatemala's airport and convenient to Guatemala City's museum and theater district.
  • Also in Guatemala City, the former El Dorado came under the Marriott banner in December 1997. Marriott is marking the debut of the 467-room Guatemala City Marriott Hotel this September with an official grand opening.
  • In Mexico, Sol Melia was planning to begin construction this summer on the 450-room Paradisus Tulum. Located in the Tulum Corridor, the property will be an all-inclusive resort, offering four restaurants, three bars, six tennis courts and more.
  • The El Cid Group is planning a fall 1999 opening for the first phase of El Cid Cancun, a $300 million mega-resort that eventually will encompass 3,000 rooms and suites, private homes, a 300-yacht marina, shopping center, botanical garden, an "ecotouristic" park for wildlife preservation and a Maya museum.
  • Phase one of the five-year plan includes a 250-room deluxe Mediterranean-style hotel and the marina. The resort, which developers say will incorporate the history and ecology of the area, will be located in Puerto Morelos, about 10 minutes south of Cancun's airport.

  • By the winter of 1999/2000, Fiesta Americana plans to open three resorts in Mexico's State of Quintana Roo in the Riviera Maya and Costa Maya tourism districts, both located south of Cancun in the Cancun-Tulum corridor. The properties include the 250-room Fiesta Americana Chemuyil, a $38 million property on 1.5 miles of beachfront; the 80-room Fiesta Americana Costa Maya, an all-inclusive beachfront resort that will offer various soft adventure activities, and the 40-room Fiesta Americana Kohunlich, an all-inclusive, low-density hotel located adjacent to the archaeological zone.
  • Allegro Resorts is building its first Royal Hideaways resort, a luxury all-inclusive brand, in Playacar, on the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Scheduled to open in December 1998, the property will contain 200 rooms in two- and three-story villas and will feature a daily activities program, fitness center, yoga classes, spa, water sports and nightly entertainment.
  • OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

  • In June, Belize opened the Museum of Belize and Curatorial Center in Belmopan. The small museum displays archaeological artifacts.
  • In Honduras, a new Sculpture Museum that opened in Copan in October 1997 has been temporarily closed while structural problems are corrected. The anticipated reopening of the museum, which contains original sculptures of the ancient Maya, is within about six months.
  • Long-term development projects in Honduras include the creation of a major tourism zone in the Tela Bay area in the northern part of the country. The plan envisions approximately 1,600 hotel and condominium units contained in low-rise properties of 100- to 150-units each, beach facilities, an equestrian center and a water fun park. Facilities will be located adjacent to an ecotourism zone set aside for hiking, camping and other activities.
  • Several archaeological projects under way in Honduras are scheduled to open to the public within two or three years.
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    Allegro Resorts: (800) 858-2258
    El Cid: (888) 733-7308
    Fiesta Americana: (800) FIESTA1
    Inter-Continental: (800) 327-0200
    Marriott: (800) 228-9290
    Sol Melia Hotels: (800) 33-MELIA/(800) 336-3542

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