Travel Weekly's Mexico E-Letter: Sept. 3, 2003

SOL MELIA HOTELS & RESORTS said the $22 million expansion of its Melia Azul Ixtapa is nearing completion, with the opening of a new convention center and tower scheduled for November. The two-story convention center will offer 19,250 square feet of meetings space that can be divided into seven meetings rooms. In addition, the top floor will house eight breakout rooms, a business center and an executive lounge. The new tower will house an additional 137 guest rooms, bringing the total room count to 410, including three Presidential and 67 Junior Suites. Two floors will be dedicated to Sol Melia's Royal Service program, which features express check-in, daily breakfast, a "pillow menu," cocktails and hors d'oeuvres and butler service. The Melia Azul Ixtapa is situated 20 minutes by car from Jose Azueta Airport. For information or reservations, call (800) 336-3542 or visit the Web at www.solmelia.com.

VALLARTA ADVENTURES, the Puerto Vallarta tour company, launched an excursion to Talpa and Mascota. The six-hour guided tour offers visitors insight into the everyday customs and traditions of life in authentic Mexican towns. Mascota is a 16th century agricultural town nestled at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. Among the many stops on the Mascota tour is the pine-and-oak forested colonial town of Jalisco, a traditional "Old Mexico" town established in 1592 by early Spanish colonists. Talpa de Allende is one of the most important religious centers in Mexico. Talpa is famous throughout Mexico for its Gothic church dedicated to the Virgin Rosario de Talpa, where pilgrims from all over Mexico journey to pray for miracles. The six-hour tour costs $130 per person, including transportation via private air charter. For information or to book, call Vallarta Adventures at (866) 256-2739 or visit www.vallarta-adventures.com.

VIVA RESORTS introduced the Viva Junior's Club aimed at travelers between the ages of 13 and 18. The complimentary program will be in effect at Viva's all-inclusive, child-friendly properties in Mexico, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Viva recently entered into an alliance with Wyndham International to rebrand its resorts as Viva Wyndham Resorts. Viva Resorts' Mexico properties are the Viva Maya and Viva Azteca, both in the Riviera Maya, and the Viva Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta. Effective Dec. 1, the contact number for Viva will be (800) WYNDHAM; the Web site will be located at www.wyndham.com. In the meantime, find information at www.vivaresorts.com.

APPLE VACATIONS launched a travel agent incentive promotion called King of the Palace in conjunction with Palace Resorts in Mexico. Under the promotion, agents can earn a $50 bonus and 1,500 Bonus Royalties Points for every new air-inclusive charter that includes at least three nights at a Palace Resorts property. Bookings must be made between Aug. 28 and Feb. 6 for travel during the same period from Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco and St. Louis. After 10 bookings, Apple will award agents an additional $250 bonus and an extra 10,000 Bonus Royalties Points. The promotion will run concurrently with Palace Resorts' own agent incentives. There are six Palace Resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. For information, log onto www.applevacations.com and click on "Just For Travel Agents."

AEROMEXICO is marketing a "Two for One and a Half" promotion under which travelers who purchase one full fare ticket on AeroMexico from a participating U.S. gateway can take a companion to Mexico for half price. Tickets must be purchased by Sept. 22 and travel must be completed by Sept. 30. The promotion is valid on K, S, M, B, Y and J fares. Flights operated by AeroMexico's code-share partners are not eligible. In addition, both passengers must travel on the same outbound flight, although return trips can be booked on separate flights. For information or reservations, call (800) 237-6639 or visit the Web at www.aeromexico.com.

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