Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Dec. 24, 2003

PLEASANT HOLIDAYS' NEW YEAR'S GIFT to travel agents is a tiered booking bonus schedule for online bookings at its Web site [www.pleasantagent.com] or phone bookings at its toll-free number, (800) 448-3333, effective Jan. 1 for travel in 2004. On top of their regular commissions, agents will receive $40 for every two online bookings to Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii; $20 for every two call-in bookings to the same destinations; and $40 for every two call-ins to Asia, Australia, Fiji and Tahiti. A minimum five-night stay or seven-night cruise is required; air-only, air/car, group bookings and cancelled bookings do not apply; and the operator's protection plan must be purchased.

MEANWHILE, PLEASANT is offering several winter discounts to Mexico, including reduced rates at the all-inclusive Club Hotel Riu Jalisco in Nuevo Vallarta. Travel dates are Jan. 3 to April 7, during which a four-night, land-only package starts at $402 per person, double. Pleasant also is promoting discounted room rates at the Hacienda Hotel & Spa in Puerto Vallarta. Available through April 16, four-night, land-only packages start at $213 per person, double.

APPLE VACATIONS, responding to demand, added a second flight on Saturdays from Milwaukee's Mitchell Airport to Cancun for departures March 6 to April 10. The operator currently runs four flights from Milwaukee to Cancun departing every Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The new flight will be the operator's fifth.

APPLE ALSO rolled out an "End of Year" sale from Dec. 26 to 31, offering savings on air/land packages for February and March. From Denver, a seven-night, all-inclusive package at the Qualton Club in Ixtapa costs $699.99 per person, double, including air fare, all meals and drinks, and use of non-motorized water sports equipment. From Chicago, a week at the all-inclusive Grand Nuevo Vallarta by Occidental in Puerto Vallarta costs from $899.99. For information or reservations, call (800) 365-2775 or visit www.applevacations.com.

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES' 2,124-passenger Carnival Spirit will offer new eight-day cruises to Mexico from San Diego between Oct. 16, 2004, and April 2, 2005. The program marks the first time that Carnival has operated an extended series of voyages from the southern California port. The program marks the first time that Carnival has operated an extended series of voyages from the Southern California port. Carnival will offer 22 eight-day voyages stopping at three Mexican ports: Acapulco, Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa and Manzanillo. After the eight-day series concludes, the Carnival Spirit will operate a one-time, seven-day cruise to Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, departing April 10, 2005. Prices for the eight-day voyages begin at $649 per person, double. Prices for the one-time, seven-day cruise begin at $699 per person, double. Call Carnival at (800) Carnival or visit www.carnival.com.

ACAPULCO has a new venue for cultural and social events that doubles as a small inn for up to 18 guests. Built in the 1950s and recently renovated, Villa Manuia is owned by Mexican writer Manu Dornbierer. It features four suites for 18 guests and offers several spaces for cultural and social events. The villa's garden, for example, seats up to 150 guests and is ideal for weddings or cocktails. On the first Saturday of every other month, Villa Manuia will feature exhibits from local artists and artisans in the garden. For information, call (011) 52-744-484-0894 or (011) 52-744-484-1273, or e-mail [email protected] or [email protected].

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