Travel Impressions bullish on Cancun and the Riviera Maya

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If you ask officials at Travel Impressions, they will tell you that Mexico's Caribbean coast is the land of opportunity. The tour operator has expanded its portfolio of hotels in the state of Quintana Roo more than any other region in Mexico this year.

It all comes down to the growth potential for Cancun and the Riviera Maya, according to John Hanratty, chief marketing officer at Travel Impressions.

"These are the areas of strongest growth for Travel Impressions," he said. "We have been quick to add new properties in the three- to five-star categories. We are seeing terrific growth in the all-inclusive segment in particular."

Resorts added this year  include the Barcelo Costa Cancun and Barcelo Tucancun Beach, both in Cancun; the Azul Blue Hotel & Spa by Karisma and Maroma (an Orient Express Hotel), both in the Riviera Maya; and the Ixchel Beach Hotel by Karisma and Unik, both on Isla Mujeres.

In addition, Travel Impressions has added three Palace Resorts properties that are reopening this spring following renovations: the Beach Palace, Cancun Palace and Sun Palace, all in Cancun.

On the Pacific Coast, additions include the Grand Mayan Resort in Acapulco.

"The new Cancun and Riviera Maya properties offer characteristics and features that are new to the destinations," Hanratty said. "For example, the gourmet-inclusive concept is offered at Azul Blue. The property offers a cooking school. The Grand Mayan Resorts are designed for travelers seeking a European Plan hotel instead of an all-inclusive.

"Since many hotels in the Cancun area have undergone renovations, they have reopened with new concepts," he added. "For example, Sun Palace reopened as a couples-only property and is the first deluxe, all-inclusive resort in Mexico."

The Farmingdale, N.Y.-based tour operator has reported growth for most of its Mexican product, according to Hanratty.

Compared with other destinations sold by Travel Impressions, Hanratty said, "Mexico, regionally, is our second-largest destination after the Caribbean and is outpacing the Caribbean in growth despite the fact that the Caribbean is also growing very nicely.

"Mexico bookings are looking strong overall," he added. "Cancun and Cozumel have rebounded and are very strong, as is Puerto Vallarta. Los Cabos and Acapulco, however, are showing some signs of softness."

Market changes

Regarding the new U.S. passport requirements, Hanratty said, "The new passport regulations do not appear to have had any significant impact to date. Travel Impressions was very proactive, calling all customers with bookings after the effective date and posting advisements and instructions on how travelers can obtain passports, including normal governmental channels and expediting services."

Hanratty said that U.S. vacationers who head to Mexico have evolved.

"Travelers to Mexico are looking for more upscale properties than ever before, and Mexico has responded in kind. Customers are also seeking value for their money, and the surge in all-inclusives demonstrates that."

Even as travelers to Mexico seek value, they are looking for more reasons to choose each destination and hotel, according to Hanratty.

"These customers are interested in a wider range of amenities, such as spa services and golf, and have a greater enthusiasm in the all-inclusive sector for high-quality food and drink. Travel Impressions, through its product line, caters to this new breed of Mexico traveler."

For more information, call Travel Impressions at (800) 284-0044 or visit www.travelimpressions.com.

To contact reporter Mark Chesnut, send e-mail [email protected].

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