Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter May 28, 2003

MEXICO HOSTED fewer visitors during the first three months of 2003 compared with the same period last year, but those who came spent more, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. Mexico welcomed 4.5 million tourists during the first quarter, or 12.6% fewer visitors than in the previous first quarter. The tourism board attributed the drop to the war with Iraq and the uncertain U.S. economy. Despite the drop, these visitors spent close to $2.6 billion during the period, or 6.8% more than during the same three months of 2002. The number of cruise visitors rose 61% to more than 2 million passengers. Last year, tourists spent a record $8.86 billion in Mexico, and the tourism board expects visitors will spend more than $9 billion this year.

PRESIDENTE INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS and Resorts is making waves in Mexico. The company, which operates nine hotels and resorts in the country, said it will open a new high-rise tower, spa and restaurant at the Presidente InterContinental Mexico City by the end of the year. The Presidente InterContinental Mexico City recently completed renovations of all 659 rooms. The hotel company will also open Alfredo de Roma's restaurants at the Presidente InterContinental Guadalajara and the Presidente InterContinental Cozumel. Meanwhile, the Presidente Intercontinental Puerto Vallarta will be marketed as a boutique hotel by the end of this year. By then, the resort will feature a new lobby/reception area, spa and fitness center, restaurant and 24-hour cyber cafe, and will have completed renovations to all rooms. A-la-carte dining will be a new option at the Presidente InterContinental Los Cabos, which has upgraded its menus and hired a new chef. The Presidente InterContinental Guadalajara will complete renovation of all 409 guest rooms by mid-2004. To date, 218 rooms have been renovated.

AEROMEXICO, Mexico's largest airline, launched a Mexico on Sale promotion, offering a 10% discount on tickets purchased by May 31 for travel by June 15. The promotion applies for travel to Mexico in coach class and Clase Premier, the airline's first class cabin. The promotion is valid only for reservations and purchases made through AeroMexico's toll-free number [(800) 237-6639].

THE VIVA MAYA AND VIVA AZTECA resorts in Playacar will offer complimentary fitness classes in flamenco aerobics, kundalini yoga, tai chi and karate this summer led by experts in their fields. The classes will be offered on a rotating basis at the two hotels. Flamenco aerobics will be offered June 17 to 23 at Viva Maya and June 26 to 30 at Viva Azteca; kundalini yoga will be offered July 5 to 14 at Viva Maya and July 15 to 24 at Viva Azteca; and tai chi and karate will be offered July 5 to 14 at Viva Azteca and July 15 to 24 at Viva Maya. All-inclusive prices start at $112 a night per person, double at the Viva Maya and $119 at the Viva Azteca. For reservations or information, call (800) 898-9968 or visit www.vivaresorts.com.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS and three Sol Melia properties in Los Cabos partnered to offer Pleasant guests free nights, reduced rates and other incentives when they stay at Sol Melia properties during select dates in 2003. The Melia Cabo Real Beach & Golf Resort is offering both the third and seventh nights free when guests travel now through Dec. 25, and children 12 and younger can eat free from a special children's menu. A seven-night minimum stay is required. The Melia Los Cabos is offering special reduced rates through July 31, and again from Oct. 1 to Dec. 25. Like at the Melia Cabo Real, children 12 and younger can eat free from a special kids' menu. At the Melia San Lucas, seven-night, land-only rates start at $506 per person, double, reflecting a savings of $395 per couple. Three-night, land-only packages at the Melia Los Cabos start at $300 per person, double, which is a savings of $73 per couple, while three-night, land-only packages at the Melia San Lucas start at $293 per person, double, reflecting a savings of $105 per couple. Included in the price are roundtrip airport transfers, accommodations, all hotel taxes and surcharges, and on-site assistance from Pleasant's customer service representatives. For information or reservations, call (800) 448-3333 or visit Pleasant's www.pleasantagent.com.

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