Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter: Oct. 8, 2003

THE RIVIERA MAYA will host a Latin Jazz Festival Nov. 13 to 15 at public venues, restaurants and hotels throughout the region. Sponsored by the Tourism Promotion Board of the Riviera Maya and the Riviera Maya Hotel Association, the event will bring together several of jazz's top Latin performers, including Caribbean Jazz Project, the recipients of the 2003 Grammy for best Latin jazz album ("The Gathering"). On Nov. 13 and 14, events will take place in restaurants and hotels, as well as at the Municipal Park in Playa del Carmen. On Saturday Nov. 15, the main concert with Caribbean Jazz Project will take place at the Municipal Park starting at 8 p.m. Other groups scheduled to perform are La Reunion, MaJazz, Hiram Gomez & Friends, Jazz Son Four and Marion Patron. Most events are free. For information, call (888) 604-6044 or visit www.rivieramaya.com.

RUNAWAY launched specially priced four-night packages to Mexico that include air fare on Alaska Airlines from Los Angeles and airport transfers. The packages are valid through Dec. 18. In Los Cabos, prices start at $492, at the Hotel Hacienda Beach Resort, $793 at the Ritz-Carlton in Cancun, $426 at the Pueblo Bonito in Mazatlan (including a daily $20 food and beverage credit and use of the fitness center), $822 at the Melia Azul in Ixtapa (kids under 12 stay free), $489 at the Jolla de Mismaloya in Puerto Vallarta and $724 at the Karmina Palace in Manzanillo (including a one-hour massage and 1000 bonus Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles). All rates are per person, double. For reservations, call (800) 622-0723 or e-mail [email protected].

MEXICO'S KRYSTAL HOTELS are giving automatic room upgrades at check-in to Pleasant Holidays clients who book run-of-house rooms at Krystal properties in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta through Dec. 20. At the Krystal Puerto Vallarta, guests will be upgraded to Junior Suites facing the pool or garden; five-night, land-only packages start at $281 per person, double. Guests at the Krystal Cancun will be upgraded to Club Floor rooms; five-night, land-only packages start at $329 per person, double. Rates are both properties include roundtrip airport transfers, daily breakfast, and hotel taxes and surcharges. Meanwhile, the all-inclusive Presidente InterContinental Resort in Los Cabos is extending its reduced rate special through Dec. 20. Three-night, land-only packages start at $172 per person, double. Prices include roundtrip airport transfers, a room upgrade if available at time of check-in, all meals and beverages, and hotel taxes and surcharges. For information or reservations, call (800) 448-3333 or visit www.PleasantAgent.com.

THE RITZ-CARLTON CANCUN opened the Cobalt Lounge, the first Club Level lounge reserved exclusively for adult guests among the 54 Ritz-Carlton Hotels worldwide. The lounge is located one floor above the existing Club Level Lounge. Ritz-Carlton said the Cobalt "provides an extra measure of tranquility and privacy" for Club Level guests. The 2,200-square-foot lounge seats 30 and is located on the 9th floor; it is accessible via a staircase from the Club Lounge. The Cobalt is open from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and offers a full cocktail menu, complimentary canapes and live music. The lounge name salutes the famous Ritz-Carlton blue cobalt goblets introduced at The Ritz-Carlton Boston in 1927. To book the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, call (800) 241-3333 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com.

FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts was voted "Best Hotel Chain" by Apple Vacations, which presented Iberostar president Miguel Fluxa with the Crystal Apple award. Apple Vacations' Crystal Apple, the company's most prestigious accolade, is given to a hotel company that offers quality, service and value. This year's winner was based on questionnaires completed by more than 115,000 guests who evaluated a total of 450 hotels worldwide. "Customer satisfaction is our top priority so it is a true honor to once again be selected by travelers as the best hotel chain," said Fluxa. "Apple Vacations and the travel agents trust Iberostar to provide the best vacation experience and receiving this award let's us know we are doing a good job. We plan to get even better." For Iberostar reservations, call (888) 923-2722 or visit www.iberostar.com.

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