Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter: Feb. 4, 2004

KARISMA HOTELS & RESORTS, which operates eight properties in Mexico and the Caribbean, is planning to expand in Mexico, where it manages three resorts in the Riviera Maya. The company has an inventory of approximately 1,200 rooms in Aruba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. Its Riviera Maya resorts are the El Dorado Resort, El Dorado Royale and Hidden Beach Resort. The latter is Mexico's first nudist resort. Lubo Krstajic, Karisma's executive vice president, said he would like to expand Hidden Beach's nudist concept to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, two destinations that draw a lot of business from California, Hidden Beach's major market. The 40-room resort created a stir last summer when it was inaugurated with a "Naked Air" flight, during which guests flew in the nude on a chartered airplane to Cancun arranged by Houston-based Castaways Travel. A similar flight is planned for May 1 from Miami. In order to re-create the Hidden Beach concept in another Mexican destination, the company first must find a small hotel -- preferably with fewer than 60 rooms -- with a private, secluded beach. "We are looking for a small hotel so we can maintain the proper atmosphere," Krstajic said. "If we can't find one, we'll have to raise money to build one." Meanwhile, Karisma is busy expanding and renovating its two other Riviera Maya properties: the El Dorado Royale and El Dorado Resort. For information or reservations, call (866) KARISMA or visit the Web at www.karismahotels.com.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered an ancient Teotihuacan settlement in central Mexico City behind the landmark Chapultepec Castle. The discovery of artifacts some 30 miles from the pyramids where the Teotihuacan culture flourished 2,000 years ago suggests the Teotihuacan culture spread and influenced the area around Mexico City earlier than previously thought, archaeologists said. The discovery might push the date of Mexico City's founding back to the classic Teotihuacan period of 300 A.D. to 600 A.D. Relics found include six pairs of Teotihuacan-style ceramic urns, ceramic domestic tools, a bone needle, a figurine believed to be used in rituals, and remnants of a stone wall and floor dating from the same period. Situated north of Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in the world around the time of Christ, with an estimated 150,000 inhabitants. These are the first remains to be found in Chapultepec Park, which served as a retreat for rulers from Aztec kings to Emperor Maximillian. Chapultepec Castle was built in 1784 as a residence for the Spanish viceroys. The new site's excavation began with a restoration of the castle in 1998. The site is closed to tourists.

FRONTIER AIRLINES, on Jan. 31, launched two weekly nonstops between Denver and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, the airline's fifth Mexico destination. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Flight 80 departs Denver at 10:50 a.m. and arrives in Zihuatanejo at 3:35 p.m. On the return, Flight 83 departs Zihuatanejo at 4:25 p.m. and arrives in Denver at 7:05 p.m.

AEROMEXICO VACATIONS is offering half-price companion air (up to $150) for air and hotel vacations booked by Feb. 29 for travel by June 30. The promotion is valid for five- to 14-night packages at all of the operator's hotels for the following origin-destination pairs: Atlanta-Cancun, Los Angeles-Puerto Vallarta, Ontario, Calif.-Los Cabos, San Diego-Los Cabos, San Diego-Loreto and Houston-Ixtapa. The lead price on a five-night package is $454 per person, double, from San Diego to Loreto with accommodations at the Hotel Oasis Loreto. To book, call (800) 245-8585 or visit www.vaxvacationaccess.com.

MORE RATES & DATES
• Through Feb. 29, Funjet Vacations is offering clients savings of $100 per reservation to Mexico. To qualify, travel must be completed by Dec. 15, a four-night minimum stay is required and the reservation must be for a minimum of $1,800 per person. To book, call Funjet Vacations at (800) 558-3050 or visit VAX VacationAccess.
• Northwest Airlines WorldVacations is offering reduced peak-season prices on packages to Puerto booked by Feb. 13. Air fare and a five-night stay in Puerto Vallarta start at $491 per person, double, for travel Feb. 12 to April 3. For reservations, visit www.worldagentdirect.com or www.nwaworldvacationsagent.com.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI