Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter: August 5, 2002

HOTELES MARQUIS in December will open the $44 million, 238-room El Encanto Marquis in Los Cabos between the El Dorado and Cabo Real golf courses. The resort will feature 204 junior suites, five one-bedroom master suites, one presidential suite and 28 casitas. The hotel will feature the largest conference center in Los Cabos, capable of accommodating as many as 1,000 guests. In addition, the hotel will feature a 27,000-square-foot, full-service spa, which the company said will be the largest spa in Los Cabos. Rates will start at $404 per person, double, for a junior suite through May 31. Rates include continental breakfast, which can be delivered to a guest's room. For information or reservations, call (877) 238-9399.

MEANWHILE, El Encanto's sister property in Mexico City, the art deco-style Marquis Reforma, launched a $10 million expansion and renovation project that will add a spa and beef up its meeting space. The expansion will add two meeting rooms with capacity for 900 and 650 people, respectively. Scheduled for completion in September, the new meetings space will triple the property's meetings capacity, according to hotel officials. On the leisure side, the hotel is adding a full-service spa that will be connected to a new fitness facility and swimming pool. The spa is scheduled for completion in early 2003. For information or reservations, call (800) 235-2387 or visit the Web site, at www.marquisreformahl.com.mx.

MEXSEASUN is offering 50% off a companion's air fare from Chicago to Puerto Vallarta for bookings made by Aug. 15 for travel by Aug. 31. MexSeaSun's basic packages include roundtrip air fare on Mexicana Airlines from Chicago (O'Hare), three nights' accommodations and airport transfers. Prices to Puerto Vallarta from Chicago start at $499 for the first person and $309 for the second at the Holiday Inn; $539 for the first person and $349 for the second at the Paradise Village Beach Resort & Spa; and $549 for the first person and $359 for the second at the NH Krystal Vallarta. All electronic bookings will earn a 15% commission. Or call (866) 263-9732 for reservations and information.

ALASKA AIRLINES is discounting prices by up to 35% from 18 cities in Alaska to five Mexico destinations. There was no booking deadline set at the time of this report, but travel must be completed by Sept. 30. The lowest fares are for southbound travel Sundays through Wednesdays and northbound travel Tuesdays through Fridays. A seven-day advance purchase is required, and a 30-day maximum stay is allowed. Stopovers in connecting cities also are permitted. Roundtrip fares start at $389 from Anchorage and Juneau to Los Cabos or Mazatlan. Fares do not include charges and taxes. For information or reservations, call (800) 252-7522 or visit the Web site at www.alaskaair.com.

TNT VACATIONS in Boston is rewarding agents with 14% commission on packages with scheduled air to Mexico and the Caribbean booked by Aug. 31. In Mexico, TNT's Travel Agent Appreciation Summer program is valid for bookings to Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya in conjunction with scheduled air on American, Delta and US Airways. From New York's LaGuardia, a three-night package at the Solymar Beach Resort in Cancun starts at $459 per person, double; $629 at the inclusive Akumal Beach Resort on the Riviera Maya; and $579 at the inclusive Reef Club Cozumel. Rates include departure tax. For information or reservations, call (800) 262-0123 or visit www.tntvacations.com.

AEROMEXICO, Mexico's largest airline, said it ordered 15 of the next-generation Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The first of the airplanes is scheduled for delivery in August 2003, with the remainder arriving one every two months after that. As the new 737s are put into service, Aeromexico will phase out its DC-9s. Aeromexico's current fleet consists of Boeing 757s and 767s, as well as MD-80s, in addition to the DC-9s. The next-generation 737s will seat 12 passengers in Clase Premier and 112 in coach. For flight information or reservations, call Aeromexico at (800) 237-6639 or visit www.aeromexico.com.

GREYHOUND LINES began selling Grupo Estrella Blanca tickets at seven Greyhound international ticketing counters in Texas for passengers headed to Mexico. Grupo Estrella Blanca, a major bus operator in Mexico, provides service into the country from five gateway cities: Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros. Previously, passengers traveling to Mexico would purchase their Greyhound ticket from Dallas to Nuevo Laredo, and then upon arrival in Mexico, purchase a Grupo Estrella Blanca ticket.

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