Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco—three distinct cities on the forefront of Mexico’s tourism initiative aimed to entice travelers to where the sun always shines.
In 2012, Mexico’s State of Guerrero, along the Pacific Coast, developed a tourism initiative designed to highlight the state’s top travel destinations: Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and its colonial gem, Taxco. The initiative promotes the state’s new luxury hotels, its infrastructure, its air service, and its ideal weather, hence the name, the Sun Triangle. So, has the new campaign worked?
According to Javier Aluni, secretary of tourism of Guerrero, at the end of August 2014, Acapulco “showed the highest percentage in tourism recorded in the past six years for that month, and from January to August 2014, the port experienced the largest tourism numbers in the past five years.”
Overall, there was a 15.1 percent increase in tourism for the Sun Triangle’s destinations this past summer; and in hotel occupancy, Acapulco increased 6.8 percent; Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo increased 16.4 percent; and when it came to visitor data, Taxco received 115,063 tourists, an “unprecedented number for this area,” adds Aluni.
So travel agents, if you’re unfamiliar with the Sun Triangle, we put together a little cheat sheet you can use to get an idea of each destination, where your clients can stay, how they can get there, and what they can do.
Once upon a time, Acapulco was the place to be when one was looking for a beach resort getaway in Mexico; and in the 1950s, Acapulco was the playground for international socialites and Hollywood’s glitterati. Although the beachside resort town lost some of its grandeur in the 1980s and ‘90s, it’s back in full force thanks to some clever planning and initiatives taking place. From infrastructure projects to a thriving restaurant scene, its Diamante district featuring luxury condos, golf courses, and prime shopping, Acapulco is seeing a grand rebirth, and here are some reasons why it’s one of the stops on the Sun Triangle.
- Nestled by Revolcadero Beach and Puerto Marques is Acapulco Diamante. This modern area of the city is home to the Mundo Imperial development, the modern expo and performing arts center. The area also features a slew of four- and five-diamond properties; luxury condos; four golf courses; and La Isla Acapulco, a shopping and entertainment area with movie theaters, department stores, specialty shops, and restaurants.
- Acapulco’s downtown is also experiencing a revival thanks to the richest man in the world, Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim, who heads a new advisory board designed to rejuvenate Acapulco. Plans ranging from infrastructure improvements on roads and sidewalks to new hotels, and even a marine museum is being proposed. Also, the Boulevard De Las Naciones, the road leading to and from Acapulco’s airport, has been refurbished and now features hotels, restaurants, landscaping and shopping villages.
- In Acapulco, well-known brands like Fairmont Acapulco Princess and the Banyan Tree Cabo Marques offer high-end to luxury amenities, while boutique stays like Boca Chica, reopened by Groupo Habita and a member of Design Hotels, provide travelers with a cozy and charming hotel option, as well as scenic views of Roqueta Island, 30 charming guestrooms and six suites, a spa, onsite restaurant and pool.
North of Acapulco, and set against the dramatic backdrop of the Sierra Madre del Sur, is the second destination highlighted in the Sun Triangle, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. These dual destinations are located only 4.3 miles apart from each other, and are ideal for those looking for an eco-adventure getaway—from cycling to fishing and hiking, complemented by some of Ixtapa’s modern amenities and luxury accommodations. While Ixtapa, first developed back in the 1970s, boasts a hotel zone of five-star properties adjacent to its own boutique and designer stores, bars, and coffee shops, Zihuatanejo dates back hundreds of years, and what was once a quaint fishing village, has now blossomed into a thriving beach town and tourist hotspot.
- For active travelers, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo offers the best in deep-sea sportfishing, golf, diving, snorkeling and eco-adventure day trips to the Zihuatanejo mountains where travelers can kick it up a notch with ziplining excursions, rafting, hiking, and 4WD tours along the beach or mountainside.
- These dual destinations also allow travelers to experience surrounding towns and villages on day trips. Barra de Potosi is a small fishing settlement nestled along Playa Larga where travelers can find local restaurants, a long stretch of isolated beach, and a lagoon ideal for birdwatching. Located just down the coast from Zihuatanejo is Xihuacan, an archaeological site open to the public with artifacts and jewelry from Aztec, Zapotec, and Maya civilizations on display at an onsite museum.
- Playa La Ropa in Zihautanejo stretches for 1.2 miles and is the area’s most scenic beach with beach cafes and watersports rentals, while at Playa Linda, tourists can hop on a small boat to Isla Ixtapa to see various wildlife like native birds, iguanas and deer.
- Luxury hotels are not hard to find in both Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo. Notable names include Club Med, Azul Ixtapa, Barcelo, La Casa Que Canta, Capella Ixtapa Resort & Spa, and the Viceroy Zihuatanejo.
“Taxco is a city for those who enjoy history and culture. We think it is the perfect getaway for a couple of days because it can offer visitors a contrast from the more developed areas of the Sun Triangle like Acapulco and Ixtapa,” points out Aluni. Declared a National Historic Monument because of its stunning colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and its parish of Santa Prisca, a 250-year-old baroque-style church made in pink stone, Taxco is also known as the “silver city.” Here, there are hundreds of silver jewelry shops, and Saturday is silver-market day in Taxco—the town is known for its silver mining, which began in pre-Columbian days.
- In Taxco, one must visit the caves of Cacahuamilpa. Winding subterranean pathways lead explorers through 20 different caverns where centuries-old stalactites and stalagmites are in full view. The park is open daily and tours are offered and recommended.
- For museum and jewelry admirers, there is the William Spratling Museum, named after the American who founded the town’s first silver shop. The museum features his collection of artwork and his personal jewelry designs.
- Taxco offers plenty when it comes to festivities. The Festival del Jumil happens the first Monday after the town’s “Day of the Dead” celebrations in November. The jumil is a beetle considered to be a delicacy in Taxco. Locals scour the mountains to collect the beetles, which are believed to give them energy and life for another year.
- If your clients are looking for boutique hotel stays and family homes turned into hotels, Taxco is the ideal fit. But for clients who are looking for a trusted name when it comes to lodgings, the Best Western Taxco is located in Taxco’s city-center.
Acapulco International Airport (ACA) services Delta Air Lines and United airlines. Alaska Airlines, Delta, United, US Airways, Air Canada and WestJet fly into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (ZIH). There is no air service into Taxco, but the city is accessible via deluxe bus service from Mexico City or Acapulco. There is also bus service from Acapulco to Zihuatanejo.
Archived related articles (available on recommend.com/magazine/issue-archive):
Dreamy Puerto Vallarta (July 2014)
The Sun Triangle: triangulodelsol.travel
TOUR OPERATOR INTEL
Although MLT Vacations does not have any current plans to add vacation packages to Taxco, Tina Iglio, MLT’s senior v. p. of marketing, says one of the tour operator’s “most popular tours from Mexico City is a day-long excursion to Taxco and Cuernavaca. Both cities are rich in art, history and cultural significance and are a great opportunity for vacationers to touch and feel a part of Mexico not generally available with beach-only vacations.”
Delta Vacations and Aeromexico Vacations offer 12 properties in Ixtapa’s Hotel Zone, Playa Linda, and Zihuatanejo Bay. The portfolio includes four- and five-star hotels like Capella Ixtapa Resort & Spa and Las Brisas Ixtapa. MLT’s airline partnerships are key in allowing travel agents’ clients the opportunity to see and experience parts of Mexico outside the standard vacations to Cancun or Rivera Maya.
“We’re seeing that vacationers are increasingly looking for first-hand encounters with Mexico’s rich history and diverse cultural background,” adds Iglio. “Offering Delta Vacations and Aeromexico Vacations means travel professionals and their clients have convenient and reliable access to more colonial cities like Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Huatulco and Merida, where vacationers can explore these unique destinations’ museums, art, architecture, and, of course, their shopping and local cuisine.” (800) 800-1504; mltvacations.com or mltvacations.com/agents/index.html
“Travel Impressions generally sells these [Sun Triangle] destinations separately, however, our vacations can be easily customized and can include any combination of destinations within the Sun Triangle based on the interests and travel personalities of each client,” says Tim Mullen, president and CEO of Travel Impressions.
When it comes to visiting the Sun Triangle destinations, Mullen says that it’s best to use “Ixtapa as home base as it features great all-inclusive resorts like Sunscape Dorado Pacifico and Presidente InterContinental Ixtapa, as well as the luxurious EP resort Las Brisas Ixtapa. “Agents with clients originating from Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee or Minneapolis can take advantage of our nonstop Dedicated Vacation Flights to Ixtapa, which offer early morning departures so that guests can make the most of their first day in Mexico,” he adds. Travel Impressions plans to expand its hotel product line in Ixtapa in 2015 with the addition of the Azul Ixtapa Beach and the Azul Ixtapa Grand.
(800) 284-0044; travimp.com