Last week brought a flurry of announcements regarding reopenings across Mexico. Destinations and hotels from coast to coast are getting ready to open their doors to domestic and international visitors. But the question remains: Is the industry ready?
"It is important to clarify that there has been no restriction to air travel to Mexico at a destination and government level," said Zach Rabinor, CEO of Journey Mexico. "Hotels were ordered to close, and that restriction is being now lifted in stages according to the government data, destination by destination."
Some travel advisors are betting on Mexico, especially as destinations such as Europe, Hawaii and California are going to be slow to return. "Mexico is a safe bet for summer travel right now, and I hope it stays that way," said Terrah Van Meter, a travel advisor with Legacy Travel. "Year after year it is the most popular vacation spot for Americans, and for good reason."
Still, other advisors are wanting to wait a little longer before promoting the destination. "I would ask my clients, 'Are you really sure? Are you comfortable with this?'" said Hope Smith, owner of Born to Travel. "I would really talk them through and make sure they understand the repercussions."
On May 13, the Los Cabos Tourism Board shared its reopening plan for international travel, revealing new health and safety guidelines for hotels, restaurants and tour operators across the destination. Eighty percent of international arrivals to Los Cabos come from the U.S., and so the destination is determined to work with all of its partners to build confidence from travelers. The five-phase reopening plan will start June 1 and will last through Q1 2021, when the destination expects a recovery in booking of 80%.
Phase I begins in June, with limited travel activity with a focus on the implementation of new healthy and safety standards. Phase II begins in July with the opening of the international terminal and resuming of international visitation. August to September initiates Phase III, which is a slow recovery of national and international arrivals, especially the reservations that were postponed from March and April. Phase IV kicks off October and runs through December, when luxury travelers are expected to return to the destination, along with groups and travelers from Canada and the U.K. Finally, Phase V will run through Q1 2021, with 60% air connectivity projected to be restored.
Similarly, Jalisco Gov. Enrique Alfara Ramirez has announced that the state entered Phase 0 of its Covid-19 recovery plan on May 18. This initial phase will last 15 days and will allow for the gradual return of some economic activities. This includes social distancing and the mandatory use of face masks outside the home. Stores, public roads and businesses that are linked to supply chains are allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Beaches, public spaces, shopping malls, bars, hotels and nightclubs remain closed, as do hotels. Cleaning and sanitizing measures are being put in place at the Puerto Vallarta Airport, the cruise port, on public transportation, supermarkets and more.
Across Jalisco, hotels have confirmed reopening as of June 1, including:
• Fiesta Americana
• Sheraton Puerto Vallarta
• Pelicanos Club
• Pelicanos Grand Beach Resort
• Crown Paradise Club
• Golden Crown Paradise
• Garza Blanca
• Hotel Mousai
• Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
• The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta
• Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Great Moments
• Hacienda Buenaventura Hotel
• Villa Premiere Boutique Resort & Romantic Getaway
• Friendly Vallarta
Pueblo Bonito's collection of resorts are scheduled to open June 1, with several new safety protocols in place. The brand has instituted what it calls its own CARE Pledge (Conscientious Service, Advanced Standards, Rigorous Sanitation, and Elevated Hygiene). All luggage will be sanitized upon arrival, and guests will enter a sanitation cabin and receive temperature checks with an infrared digital thermometer. Mobile pre-check-in will be available, and social distancing protocols will be in effect in all public areas, including pools and restaurants.
Palace Resorts and Le Blanc Spa Resorts have debuted the Purely Palace program, an enhancement program to ensure safety and health. The program also includes advanced safety measures at every step in the travel process. Some protocols will include team member temperature checks, sanitized uniforms, disinfected footwear and team member masks. Guests will be encouraged to check in online through the resort app. Floor markers have been installed to help guests obey social distancing guidelines, and incoming luggage will be disinfected. Housekeeping will follow strict quality and sanitation controls, including mandatory use of gloves, face shields and face masks while cleaning and disinfecting guestrooms. Health certifications will be placed in each guest room, as well, and guests will receive personal hygiene kits in their rooms. All public areas will be sanitized daily, entertainment venues will be disinfected throughout the day, public facilities will have a maximum guest capacity and all swim-up pool bars will be closed. Buffets will be removed from restaurants, and all transfers will have a maximum capacity based on vehicle size.
Cancun's Grand Residences Riviera Cancun has launched aggressive health and safety plans, as well. These include social distancing at all times, including pre-check-in and express checkout. Essential hygiene supplies will be provided for all guests and staff. All public spaces and items will be sanitized frequently, including vehicles used to transport guests, board games, golf clubs, sun loungers, tables and more. Open buffets have been replaced with individual serving stations, where a staff member is on hand to serve guests, and staff has been trained in additional safety and health measures. Additionally, the resort will continue to monitor the health of its employees and encourage any who are sick to stay home or refer them to a doctor immediately.
Mazatlan-based El Cid Resorts is equally committed to raising the bar on health and safety. Its program, Always Committed, includes additional guidelines and safety measures for guests, partners and staff. All staff will wear masks, gloves and protective masks when necessary. Social distancing will be enforced in all areas, and hand sanitizer will be placed in all guest contact areas. Luggage will be sanitized upon arrival, body temperature will be checked with a thermal camera thermometer, guests will be expected to use face masks at the time of arrival, rooms will be completely disinfected and sanitized with nebulizing equipment and more.
Group Posadas, one of the largest hoteliers in Mexico, has debuted its Travel With Confidence initiative, which is being applied to all of its 180 hotels and resorts. It includes enhanced cleaning standards, the option to forgo housekeeping services during their stay, social distancing, reduced capacities in dining areas to 50%, no paper menus, suspension of buffet-style layouts (replaced with grab-and-go options) and elimination of unnecessary materials such as small decorative items, notebooks and pens. Employees will use personal protective gear, such as N95 masks and disposable latex gloves.