South of the Border: New tourism secretary, new air lift

exican president Vicente Fox named Rodolfo Elizondo tourism secretary, replacing Leticia Navarro, who resigned to return to the private sector.

Elizondo was formerly the president's press spokesman.

Opposition parties called for cabinet changes following the July 6 midterm election in which Fox's National Action Party lost key congressional seats and the governorship in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

President Fox said in recent interviews that he was opposed to making any cabinet changes unless his ministers asked to be removed for personal reasons.

Elizondo said tourism would become an engine for economic development, a statement Navarro also has made on numerous occasions.

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Frontier Airlines will launch nonstop service between Denver and Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta.

Starting Nov. 1, Frontier will operate one weekly nonstop between Denver and Los Cabos. Frontier will expand the Denver-Los Cabos service to three flights a week starting Nov. 22.

Also on Nov. 22, Frontier will launch three weekly nonstop flights between Denver and Puerto Vallarta. Frontier already serves Cancun and Mazatlan from Denver.

Frontier is marketing a $218 introductory roundtrip fare to both Mexican cities Monday through Thursday, and $298 Friday to Sunday.

Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 16.

To promote the new service, members of Frontier's frequent flyer program will receive double miles for travel to and from Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta between Nov. 1 and Dec. 18.

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ATA Airlines will launch nonstop service from Chicago's Midway Airport to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico, beginning Dec. 20. The service will be offered once a week on Saturdays.

"There has been increased demand for Caribbean and Mexican markets in Chicago," said John Happ, ATA's senior vice president of marketing and sales.

ATA also will resume seasonal service from Chicago to Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 17. The flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The Puerto Vallarta and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo flights will operate through April.

Meanwhile, ATA will expand its service from Chicago to Guadalajara from six days a week to seven by adding nonstop roundtrip service on Wednesdays starting Nov. 20.

To book, call (800) I-FLY-ATA or visit the Web at

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Responding to strong demand for Cancun from the San Francisco area during the Thanksgiving holiday, SunTrips added a flight that will depart Oakland, Calif., on Nov. 24 and return on Dec. 1.

Eight-day packages start at $689 per person, double, including roundtrip air fare, accommodations and airport transfers. SunTrips' Mexico charters are operated in conjunction with North American Airlines.

For information or reservations, call (800) 786-8747 or visit the Web at

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The Casa del Mar Beach, Golf and Spa Resort in Los Cabos is marketing a value season package until Dec. 15 that's priced 63% below a comparable high-season program.

The four-night package costs $897 for two people and includes daily breakfast, roundtrip airport transfers, a car rental for one day, a discounted rate on a round of golf, twice-daily shuttle to Cabo San Lucas and all taxes and service charges. During high season, the price for this package would be $2,429 for two, according to the resort.

Casa del Mar is situated 25 minutes by car from Los Cabos Airport between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.

For information or reservations, call (800) 227-9621 or visit the Web at

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Pleasant Holidays added the Crown Paradise Club in Cancun to its product line for stays beginning Jan. 4.

Seven-night, air-inclusive packages start at $1,409 per person, double.

Meanwhile, Pleasant Holidays added the El Cid La Ceiba Cozumel to its Mexico product line in 2004. El Cid La Ceiba Cozumel is located on the beach near San Miguel. It offers two restaurants, tennis courts, a spa and fitness center, a dive shop and a private beach club.

Five-night, land-only packages start at $313 per person, double. Prices include roundtrip airport transfers and all hotel taxes and surcharges. Children age 14 and younger stay free in their parents' room.

In other news, Pleasant Holidays teamed with Cancun's all-inclusive Aquamarina Beach Hotel to offer guests reduced rates through Dec. 21. Four-night, air-inclusive packages start at $644 per person, double, from Los Angeles, and $684 per person from San Francisco.

The Aquamarina Beach Hotel is rated a three-star property.

For more information or reservations, call (800) 448-3333 or visit Pleasant's Web site at

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Mexico's Occidental Hotels and Resorts launched a photo contest for guests, with a grand prize of $10,000 at stake.

The promotion will be in place for guests who stay three nights or longer at the Occidental Allegro Cozumel or Occidental Grand Cozumel from Aug. 23 to Oct. 4.

Weekly finalists will receive a three-night stay for two. One winner from the weekly finalists will be chosen and will receive $10,000. The resorts will charge a $25 photo contest registration fee.

For information or reservations, call (800) 858.2258 or visit

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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