Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Americans have always loved vacationing in Mexico, and that passion only figures to grow in 2021 as it is currently one of the few places in the world that Americans can travel to without restrictions. Looking to the New Year, here are some of the Mexico travel trends to keep in mind when selling the destination.

Cancun and the Riviera Maya are the most popular: According to the 2021 Travel Trends Report released by ARC in collaboration with Expedia, Cancun is Expedia's No. 1 searched destination for 2021, followed by Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Cancun and the Riviera Maya reopened back in June following a three-month shutdown due to the pandemic.

As part of the reopening process, the destination was conservative, sticking to a traffic light-coded system (red, yellow, green) that determined the status on the number of active cases in the area. Currently the Mexican Caribbean is in the Yellow phase, meaning most resorts, hotels, restaurants and attractions operate at a 60% capacity.

In 2020, the destination saw the opening of the Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera-Cancun, a resort owned by Karisma Hotels & Resorts. In fall 2021, the company will open an adults-only Margaritaville on the Riviera Maya.

Also new in the Cancun area is the Fives Oceanfront, which opened in July. The beachfront resort in Puerto Morelos offers a boutique vibe, with just 94 suites, two pools, and a beach club/restaurant run in partnership with Rohan Marley, Bob Marley's son.

AMResorts opened a new resort in Cancun, as well. The Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort counts 416 rooms in the gated community of Puerta Del Mar. The resort has three heated pools, a splash waterpark, and plenty of options for kids.

Resorts offering medical insurance: If ever there was a year to invest in travel insurance, 2020 was it, and this will continue to be the case in 2021. In fact, many brands are starting to offer free medical insurance to travelers.

AIC Hotel Group, for example, which has all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels in Mexico and the Dominican Republic as well as the Unico 20-87 Riviera Maya, is offering complimentary medical insurance protection to wedding and group bookings.

The program is valid for bookings made through the end of 2020 for travel any time. The basic program covers up to $10,000 for sudden illness or accidents. Upgrading to the Plus program (for $20 per person) covers up to $20,000.

Iberostar Hotels & Resorts launched its Travel at Ease initiative, which includes Covid tests in case of symptoms, an extension of guests' stays at no cost for those who test positive and isolation rooms with all necessary amenities.

The Palladium Hotel Group has offered guests free insurance, as well, for any illness arising during the stay, medical transfer of patients and extension of stays.

Demand for villas and boutique hotels: Booking boutique hotels and private villas offer some of the best ways to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Boutique resorts are traditionally smaller, with fewer staff members and far less daily foot traffic.

Private villas take it a step further and ensure that your clients are the only people who will be on property. Some guests have gone as far as to pay for Covid testing for staff members who will be working at the villa.

Longer-term travel: With so many businesses continuing to allow employees to work from home, the digital nomad trend figures to continue into 2021, as clients opt for longer-term travel that will enable them to work in a far more exotic setting.

In 2020, many resorts began offering extended-stay packages for travelers and their families to work from the resort or continue distanced learning for their children.

The St. Regis Punta Mita, for example, introduced its workation concept, which includes fully equipped offices, customized menus to meet special dietary needs and professional services for home-schooling.

Similarly, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita debuted its Knowledge for All Seasons program, which offers a tech hotline and study buddy program as well as after-school sports, art, culture and history classes.

The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is offering its Home to Grand extended-stay program, which includes unlimited WiFi, private airport transportation, room upgrades, private beach dinners, cooking classes and more.

On the Riviera Maya, Rosewood Mayakoba debuted a long-term private residence experience, which includes customized residences based on the needs of guests, bespoke office amenities and educational tools and add-ons like wellness experiences and after-school classes.

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