new or improved
Azul Ixtapa Grand: The most recently opened property in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, along Mexico’s southwest coastline, this all-suite, all-inclusive property is located only 20 minutes from Zihuatanejo International Airport (ZIH) and does not skimp on the qualities of what an all-inclusive property is made up of. From its a la carte specialty restaurants serving Mexican, Italian and Asian dishes to its three pools (poolside bars included), as well as five jacuzzis, a 6,458-sq.-ft. spa with 16 treatment rooms, access to outdoor activities like snorkeling, kayaking, tennis and sailing, Azul Ixtapa Grand is an option for clients seeking an all-inclusive vibe along this picturesque Pacific coast destination known for its boutique hotel options. Accommodations at Azul range from Luxury Suites (678 sq. ft.) to 1-bedroom Master Suites (1,356 sq. ft.) and two Presidential Suites (2,368 sq. ft.). All suites are equipped with a jacuzzi, private terrace, WiFi, minibar and modern-style bathroom with rainshower. Rates start at $180 pp.
Barcelo Maya Beach Resort: Barcelo Hotels & Resorts recently completed the first phase of a multimillion dollar renovation project to its Barcelo Maya Beach Resort complex—a massive property in Riviera Maya that includes five separate all-inclusive properties. The first phase was aimed at upgrading Barcelo Maya Beach with an expanded lobby and bar; a new Mexican specialty restaurant; a children’s pool; and refurbishments to its Club Premium Suites, which include 93 jr. suites and 18 oceanfront premium suites now offering guests new jacuzzis on the terrace and in the bathrooms. The second phase of the project will feature the Barcelo Maya Entertainment Center at Barcelo Maya Caribe. The center will include a new sports bar, bowling alley, teen disco, a kids’ club, a waterpark and a redesign to its 18-hole miniature golf course. Rates for both Barcelo Maya Beach and Barcelo Maya Caribe resorts start at $253.33 pp dbl.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun: This five-star resort is located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and within walking distance from the quaint fishing village of Puerto Morelos. Grand Residences, the newest resort in the Royal Resorts collection and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, offers 103 oceanview suites with private outdoor terraces. Rooms vary from the 646-sq.-ft. jr. suites (ideal for couples) to the 2-bedroom, 2,486-sq.-ft. master suite that accommodates up to eight guests. Guests can dine at El Faro Grill for breakfast, lunch and dinner, or grab a bite at the outdoor Heaven Beach Bar, located just steps from the beach with comfy lounge chairs and umbrellas. Grand Residences also offers four pools, tennis courts, gym, spa, and a variety of onsite activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, yoga and salsa classes. Rates for a jr. suite start at $339 per night.
Hotel Escondido: This Grupo Habita property, a member of Design Hotels, opened its doors in December—here, it’s all about a minimal style and natural design elements. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range on the other, Hotel Escondido is located in the small port town of Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca; Puerto Escondido International Airport (PXM) is about 12 miles from the hotel. Here, guests will find 16 traditional palapa-rooftop beach bungalows with king-size beds or two double-queen beds, as well as a private pool, wooden floors, stucco walls and concrete bathrooms; onsite dining venues serve guests brick oven pizzas, seafood and Oaxacan traditional cuisine made with local ingredients. There’s also a spa with two massage rooms (in-room treatments also available), and outdoor activities include horseback riding on the beach and kayaking, as well as surfing, and motorcycle rides on the sand dunes. Room rates start at $255 a night.
Iberostar Playa Mita: This is the first property for the all-inclusive giant along the Pacific coast—Iberostar Hotels & Resorts opened Iberostar Playa Mita in December. The resort features 452 guestrooms, including 120 oceanfront jr. suites with balcony or terrace views. Guests can spend the day on the beach or lounge by one of three onsite pools; indulge in a spa treatment; drop the kids off at the kids’ club (ages 4-12); dine at one of four restaurants ranging from Japanese and Mexican to an American-style steakhouse—the resort also offers buffet dining service for breakfast, lunch and dinner—or order in with 24-hour room service. For golf lovers, there’s a Greg Norman-designed, 18-hole championship golf course. Playa Mita also added a new category to its room options, Spa Suites. These adults-only, oceanview rooms offer updated spa amenities, a $50 spa credit and access to a private area with a secluded verandah, special treatment areas, a whirlpool and more. Starting rates are $255 pp dbl.
Cozumel, located off the Yucatan Peninsula, is known as a top diving and snorkeling destination. The new Hyatt Zilara Cancun works with Best Day Travel to offer over 200 different tours for its guests. Cozumel tours include introductory and experienced scuba excursions, a dolphin encounter, and a Sea Turtle Snorkel tour ($110 pp) where guests swim in 8-ft. water next to loggerhead sea turtles. Rosewood Mayakoba in Riviera Maya, offers a 6-hour Dive Cozumel tour ($126 pp) that leads experienced divers to various dive sites to see groupers, turtles, coral and other marine life.
A UNESECO World Heritage site, Espiritu Santo is located in the Sea of Cortez off the coast of La Paz in Baja California Sur. At the northern tip of the island, lies a group of small islets that is home to a large sea lion colony where visitors can interact with the mammals. Island tours are offered by a variety of local tour operators (Ecobajatours, Sun Rider Tours, The Cortez Club) that provide transportation, a certified guide, snorkeling equipment, beverages, lunch and entrance fees. Tours normally start at 8 a.m. and last for eight hours.
Shopping, swimming, fishing, sailing, snorkeling—the list of what your clients can do while visiting this quaint old fishing village goes on and on. When it comes to booking a tour for your clients, look into Funjet Vacations. The operator offers a 7-hour Isla Mujeres Trimaran Cruise ($114 adult, $35 child) that departs from Cancun to Isla Mujeres for a day of snorkeling, island touring, shopping and lunch at a local restaurant. Vacaciones Barcelo, the official agent for Barcelo Hotels & Resorts, does have a variety of excursions that can be booked with each stay. The Sea Passion excursion takes guests on a 75-ft. catamaran sailing of Cancun Bay to Isla Mujeres. Snorkeling equipment, a buffet lunch and drinks on the catamaran are included. Rates start at $67.50 for adults and $49.50 for kids.
Romance Travel Forum
Where: Paradisus Cancun, Mexico
When: May 12-15
Tap into romance with the inaugural Romance Travel Forum (romancetravelforum.com), an exclusive event created especially for travel professionals eager to grow profitability through the lucrative romance niche.
Recommend is offering a special invitation to 25 travel professionals to be our guests at the Romance Travel Forum. With this special invitation, the $150 registration fee will be waived and we’ll offer you an additional $150 travel credit. To qualify, email Kristina Viera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What travel specialists are saying…
“My clients are starting to feel more comfortable traveling to Mexico, but I still get so many ‘Is it really safe?’ questions. I always say, ‘I feel safe and numbers are back up to where they used to be, but you need to do your own research so that you are comfortable with it.’ Once we get past that, they are usually surprised by the value offered and the nice resorts.
“I have had bookings for Cozumel, and inquiries for Isla Mujeres. I think that travelers first want to go to the ‘majors’ like Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit before they will consider an island. I am open to selling any new properties in Mexico, especially if they are all-inclusive and offer a good value. The new IBEROSTAR Playa Mita has my attention right now.”
—Staci Blunt, Owner & Travel Consultant, Vacation Visions
Azul Ixtapa Grand: (877) 402-2770; azulixtapa.com
Barcelo Hotels & Resorts: (800) 227-2356; barcelo.com or barcelopartnerclub.com
Grand Residences Riviera Maya Cancun: (888) 387-4702; grandresidencesrivieracancun.com
Hotel Escondido: designhotels.com/hotel_escondido or designhotels.com/travelpro; grupohabita.mx
Iberostar Hotels & Resorts: iberostar.com or iberostar.com/en/travel-agents-hotels
Mexico Tourism Board: visitmexico.com