New association to promote Mexico's boutique hotels

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PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- Looking for a "boutique" hotel south of the border?

The search just got easier, thanks to a new association of small hotels in Mexico that was formed to tap the public's demand for intimate inns that offer a higher level of personalized service and distinctive features than the more traditional chain properties, according to its creator.

Puerto Vallarta-based Mexico Boutique Hotels is a marketing and reservations firm composed of 17 inns with 50 rooms or less, although a few have more than 50 units.

The members are Casa de Sierra Nevada and La Puertecita in San Miguel de Allende; Casa Vieja in Mexico City; El Faro in Playa del Carmen; the Tamarindo, the Careyes and Casas de Careyes in Costa Alegre; Hacienda Cora and Majahuitas in Puerto Vallarta; Villa San Jose and Los Juaninos in Morelia; Meson Sacristia de la Compania in Puebla; Puerto Isla Mujeres in Isla Mujeres; Quinta Las Acacias in Guanajuato; Quinta Real in Huatulco; Villa del Sol in Zihuatanejo, and Villas Tacul in Cancun.

Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende.All of the hotels feature one or more attributes of historical, geographical or recreational significance, including proximity to ecological reserves, heritage sites, marinas and golf courses.

Membership in the association is through invitation once a hotel has been identified and reviewed. Hotels are judged based on such attributes as level of service, cuisine and amenities.

John Youden, who publishes Yates Y Villas, a seven-year-old travel and lifestyle magazine for upscale readers in Puerto Vallarta, launched Mexico Boutique Hotels after April's Tianguis trade show in Acapulco.

Youden said the idea for the association was sparked by his magazine readers' positive feedback to stories that featured Mexico's small inns and out-of-the-way places.

"I was also taken aback by U.S. agents at the [Tianguis] trade show who told us 'these are places my clients are interested in, but we don't know how to find them,' " Youden said.

He said Mexico's small inns "exemplify the charm and uniqueness that serve as Mexico's real allure but have been eclipsed by the dominance of all-inclusive resorts and chain hotels, which enjoy powerful marketing resources."

On July 1, the association launched a Web site, MexicoBoutiqueHotels.com, that serves as its primary booking tool. Each of the member hotels allocated approximately 10% of their room inventory to the site.

"We've gone to the Web because we are a Web-savvy company with five sites under operation [as part of Youden's publishing ventures]. Agents can easily research, reserve rooms and receive [10%] commission while eliminating communications costs and glitches," Youden said.

The site is in English, but a version for Spanish-speakers will be rolled out soon, said Youden.

Among the criteria for joining the association, the hotel's commitment to service tops the list, Youden said.

"We've turned down a considerable number of hotels that have expressed an interest in joining the group. Our current members represent about 60% of all the hotels that we have considered so far," he said.

"One bad egg spoils it for the rest of the group, so the other hotels are keeping an eye on who we allow in," Youden added.

Member hotels range from the deluxe, 37-suite Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende, which charges $295 a night, to Majahuitas, a collection of seven casitas with thatch roofs built into a hillside in Puerto Vallarta, that charges $175 for a room and three meals a day.

Youden said he is developing several "tour circuits," including an itinerary that would enable a client to rent a car and stay in the colonial towns of San Miguel de Allende, Morelia and Guanajuato.

Another itinerary would include a "golf route" from Puerto Vallarta south to Tamarindo that would enable clients to stay at up to five hotels and play golf at three courses.

A Mexican Caribbean itinerary would include stays at hotels in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Mexico Boutique Hotels
Fax: (011) 52-322 12255
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com

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