by Andrea Doyle | August 07, 2018
Mexico was recently celebrated by Travel & Leisure's annual World's Best Awards, as readers voted San Miguel de Allende their favorite city in the world. The city, about 150 miles north of Mexico City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts stunning colonial Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, arts and crafts, hot springs and a thriving dining scene.

Last year, more than 39 million visitors traveled to Mexico's many destinations, including San Miguel de Allende, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Scenery, architecture, the country's rich heritage plus a first-rate infrastructure are all factors keeping visitors coming.

When it comes to meetings and incentives, specifically, the hot spots here include Cancun/Riviera Maya, Mexico City, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta/Punta Mita. A perennial favorite, Cancun, on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, has many meetings-ready hotels and beaches close to Mayan archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza.

About 50 miles from Cancun is another popular spot for meeting and incentive groups: the Riviera Maya.

"The Riviera Maya is absolutely over the top. I had no idea of the culinary experiences that were here, so if you are a foodie, if you are going to go all-inclusive, you have no idea of the caliber of the restaurants. The service, everything was impeccable," says Donna Molinaro, vice president of group sales and golf tourism for Elite Travel Concierges, when asked about a recent meeting at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.

Krystal Bordner, events program manager for INNOVATX Events, concurs. "One reason that I love coming to Mexico for incentives and meetings is for beautiful views, and the reasons I love Grand Velas is the service. The three-to-one staff-to-guest ratio is something that's unbeatable, in my opinion."

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is upping the ante with new adventures for meeting groups that offer luxury options to delve into Mexico's heritage. A helicopter to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and one to the eastern coast of the Yucatan to the Uxmal ruins and colonial city of Merida are examples.

In consideration of perpetually connected executives, Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers "cellphone concierge services" for meeting and convention attendees. Before meetings, executives specify which calls must be answered and to which email contacts their concierge should respond promptly -- and which can wait. Travelers then leave their phones with the professional concierge, who filters incoming calls and messages, allowing the execs to enjoy their surroundings without feeling stress about responding to calls back home.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya has 91,547 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and events space for gatherings of from 10 to 3,000 guests. Two ballrooms and 30 breakout rooms give added flexibility, while beachside, pool areas and lawns are available for outdoor functions.  

Winning Elements
Hipotels, a Spanish hotel group with an eclectic portfolio of 29 properties across Spain, is launching Haven Resorts & Spas, an adults-only, all-inclusive luxury hotel brand. The brand's debut property, Haven Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, is slated to open this fall.

"The brand is distinguished as a modern take on the adults-only all-inclusive hotel concept, designed as a boutique hotel with only 333 keys, all of which are king suites of 600 square feet or more," says David Schwartz, director of group and incentive sales for Haven Resorts & Spas. "Haven Riviera Cancun is a fully walkable intimate complex, coupled with the standout service and attention to detail of a luxury hotel and backed by all the amenities and ample recreational opportunities of an all-inclusive resort."

Located between Cancun and Riviera Maya, only 15 minutes south from Cancun Airport, Haven Riviera Cancun is a beachfront resort that also includes five restaurants, two snack bars, nine bars (including two swim-up ones), a tennis court on site and a full-service spa set on 50 private acres. For incentive groups, Serenity Club Oceanfront Suites are a great option, with expansive terraces, private pools, a dedicated VIP check-in and lounge privileges.

The resort offers on-site meeting and event spaces best suited for incentive groups and executive retreats, including Moon's Cabaret lounge and an oceanside terrace.

"Mexico, and particularly the Cancun and Riviera Maya areas, offer winning elements to attract meetings and incentives," adds Schwartz. "Service in Mexico is world-class yet friendly, casual and sincere. The location is accessible and diverse."

Other game-changing projects underway include those in Costa Mujeres, along the Mexican Caribbean about 30 minutes northeast of Cancun. Spanish hotel company Palladium Hotel Group is opening two properties: Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and TRS Coral Hotel. Featuring more than 1,000 rooms and suites, the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and TRS Coral Hotel will also elevate the all-inclusive concept. Five swimming pools, seven themed restaurants, the Zentropia Palladium Wellness & Spa and the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre are highlights.  

Club Med Cancun Yucatan is another popular meeting and incentive property. Not only did it convert its theater into a meeting room for up to 150 attendees, but it introduced a working wall -- an interactive digital screen with office supplies -- a mobile food-and-beverage tray for coffee and tea breaks and an energy wall that has water bottles, phone plugs and sweets.

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This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.