Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter: Nov. 12, 2003

THE STAR ALLIANCE could decide Nov. 13 to kick Mexicana out of the alliance. Star said it will consider the ouster after the Nov. 7 announcement that Mexicana and United are ending their code-share, frequent-flyer and lounge-reciprocity agreement, effective March 31. United said its customers currently ticketed on an itinerary that includes a Mexicana code-share flight beyond that date will be accommodated, and should contact United customer service to find out how. In a joint statement, the members of Star said they "regret this development but do not see any other solution [other than terminating Mexicana's membership] for the future of our business partnership." United and Mexicana aren't saying much about why they're parting ways. A Mexicana spokesman said only that "the industry has changed dramatically" and the termination of the United agreement "is giving us more options," which it plans to reveal more about at the beginning of next year. Mexicana, which claims a 25% market share for all travelers between the U.S. and Mexico, flies to 14 U.S. cities and might soon add Washington to that list. United said its "remains fully committed to the Mexican market," and will continue to offer daily service to Mexico City from its Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington [Dulles] hubs. United recently announced it would begin service from Dulles to Cancun Feb. 14, pending government approval.

AMERICA WEST launched a sale on first class seats with prices starting at $399 one-way to its Mexican destinations. America West said the prices reflect a savings of up to 70% off its non-discounted first class fares. The fares are available for purchase through Nov. 17 for travel through March 31. Roundtrip purchase is not required. America West's standard 50% FlightFund mileage bonus for first-class ticket purchases applies on these special fares. Tickets can be purchased by calling America West at (800) 235 9292 or on the Web at www.americawest.com.

CLASSIC CUSTOM VACATIONS designed a Mexico promotion featuring discounts on first class air fare and a room upgrade at participating hotels. The promotion applies to bookings made by Dec. 12 for travel through March 31. The promotion includes a 20% discount on first-class air on Mexicana and AeroMexico, a one-category room upgrade and daily breakfast. In addition, some resorts are offering one free night when a specific number of nights are booked. For example, customers who travel from Los Angeles to Cancun will receive a room upgrade when they book a five-night stay at Le Meridien Cancun Resort & Spa starting at $1,255 per person, double. The price includes roundtrip first-class air on AeroMexico. For details, visit www.classicvacations.com.

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS is offering a Palace Passport for clients who book the all-inclusive Aventura Spa Palace or Moon Palace Golf Resort & Spa in Cancun through Dec. 31. The Palace Passport entitles customers to unlimited tours during stays of three nights or longer at the resorts; a $50 certificate for a round of golf; a $15 certificate for spa or salon treatments; and a $25 coupon for a rental car. Seven-night, air-inclusive packages at the Aventura Spa Palace start at $1,507 per person, double, from Los Angeles and $1,547 from San Francisco. Seven-night, air-inclusive packages at the Moon Palace Golf Resort start at $1,487 per person from Los Angeles and $1,527 from San Francisco. Packages include roundtrip airport transfers; hotel taxes and surcharges. For information or reservations, call Pleasant at (800) 448-3333 or visit the Web at www.pleasantagent.com.

THE 237-SUITE MARQUIS LOS CABOS BEACH, GOLF, SPA & CASITAS RESORT is promoting a Sense of Romance package that includes accommodations in a junior suite or casita with a private pool. Three-night packages start at $1,200 per person, double, from Jan. 5 to May 31; $1,100 from June 1 to Oct. 10; and $1,225 from Oct. 11 to Dec. 18. Daily room service breakfast and service charges are included. The package also includes dinner for two at the resort's Canto del Mar restaurant and a couple's massage or salon treatment. For information or reservations, call (877) 238-9399 or visit www.marquisloscabos.com.

MAYATOUR, a tour operator/wholesaler specializing in Mexico and Central America, added the Freedom Paradise resort to its product line for 2004. Freedom Paradise is a new resort 70 miles south of Cancun that bills itself as the world's first resort for plus-size vacationers. The resort's motto is "Live Large, Live Free." Mayatour is offering a rate of $120 a night per person. For information or reservations, call Mayatour at (800) 392-6292.

PALACE RESORTS, with six all-inclusive properties in and around Cancun, purchased the 290-room Renaissance Grand Beach Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for $9.75 million and renamed it Grand Bay Palace. Roberto Chapur, president of Palace Resorts, confirmed that the renamed resort has gone the all-inclusive route.

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