Successful Meetngs OCTOBER 2006
Cancun's business community is in great spirits these days as last year's damage from Hurricane Wilma is well in the past, instilling in them optimism for a bustling winter season. The resorts have a "new" look, the famous beaches are even bigger, and more than 26,000 of Cancun's 27,882 hotel rooms are in service-a far cry from the last winter season.
Essential Tool Box
Convention Centers: Cancun Center, 154,000 sf of dedicated exhibit space; 37 meeting rooms. Riviera Maya: Playa Paraiso Convention Center with 15,683 sf of function space; eight meeting rooms. Merida: Yucatan Siglo XXI Conventions and Expositions Center, 38,594-sf divisible ballroom and 80,287 sf of exhibit space.
For complete listings, visit Quick Facility Search at www.mimegasite.com
Major Airports: Cancun Int'l Airport (CUN), Chetumal Int'l Airport (CTM), Cozumel Airport (CZM), Isla Mujeres Airport (ISJ)
Tax Exemptions: Contact Mexico CB (www.visitmexico.com) to learn more about tax-free meetings.
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Riviera Maya CVB
The Big News
"Yes, Cancun is ready for meetings," says Patricia Lopez Mancera, director of public relations for the Cancun CVB. "Most of the hotels had renovations. Now with the additional luxury facilities, Cancun more than ever is positioning itself as an upscale destination for the meetings market."
The latest statistics from the Hotel Association of Quintana Roo say 21,000 hotel rooms with luxury amenities are ready for meetings and convention attendees. But perhaps one of the most critical projects this year has been the reconstruction of the sugar-spun beaches along a 12-mile strip of the hotel zone, one of Cancun's most endearing attractions. Now attendees will see sprawling, new beaches twice the size as before, ready for sunning, swimming, or beach volleyball.
Resort expansion is taking place on the north end of Cancun City, with ground broken on a 400-room Excellence hotel in a development called Playa Mujeres. To bring even more attention to the project, a new 18-hole championship Greg Norman golf course has been inaugurated with water holes amid bunkers, jungle, and dazzling vistas of the Caribbean. Also, El Garrafon, a popular park best known for excellent snorkeling among reefs, has reopened on Isla Mujeres, a short cruise from Cancun.
CANCUN The Fiesta Americana Condesa added four meeting rooms with a capacity for 1,150, while sister property Fiesta Americana Grand Aqua reopens next spring with 371 rooms, three celebrity chefs, and meeting facilities for up to 1,000 people.
* The Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach has renovated all 600 rooms and redesigned the two presidential suites.
n Le Meridien features a new ballroom that can be converted into five breakout rooms.
* The 450-room JW Marriott Cancun and the 450-room CasaMagna Cancun re-opened with new, hurricane-proof glass, and all Marriott hotels now feature flat-screen TVs.
* The 344-room Club Med Cancun Yucatan will reopen in Nov, featuring the upscale 18-suite Jade Villa for luxury travelers.
n The Ritz-Carlton is adding a culinary center and upgrading its tennis courts.
* Palace Resorts is doing top-to-bottom renovations in its Palace Beach, Cancun Palace, and Sun Palace properties.
* The 299-room InterContinental Cancun reopened with 5,000 sf of new meeting space.
RIVIERA MAYA The 96-suite Azul Blue Hotel & Spa opens in Nov with three meeting rooms for up to 30, a 10,000-sf spa, and free in-room WiFi.
* The 128-villa Mandarin Oriental will open in early 2007.
Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings' Home Team* experts. Top choices include the 602-room Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach and the 210-room Playacar Palace.
*Home Team contributors who informed this section include Leslie J. Blair; Michelle DeClerck; and William L. Youngs. Contact them at [email protected]
Jazzin' It Up
Among the biggest attractions in the Riviera Maya are the tony new hotels cropping up along pristine coastal areas set with pretty coves and inlets where seabirds thrive. These will augment the room count to 30,000 by year's end. One such property is the Esencia Resort, 20 minutes from the Tulum ruins. Luxury at its best, the hotel features 29 units, some with plunge pools and solariums. Meetings can be held in a conference room for up to 30 participants or in two cottages for 20 attendees, each with a media room and pool. To add spice to the meeting activities, there's the new organic spa touting Mayan treatments, aided by a local shaman, using herbs grown in the resort's own garden. Some of these plants comprise ingredients in treatments and mixed right before the guest.
Among the post-hurricane restructured hotels is the Ceiba del Mar in Puerto Morelos, which reopened in August and shines bigger and better. Guests can book into one of the seven new ocean-view penthouses on the top levels of a cluster of thatched-roof, stunning, white structures built Yucatecan style, which is a theme running through the hotel. All 88 rooms come with iPods, iHome docks, flat-screen or plasma TVs, DVDs, and "new generation" mattresses for comfort. A beachfront restaurant and al fresco terrace cocktail and snack area have been added, as well as a well-known chef from Malaga, Spain to do honors to the cuisine. Meeting planners can book any of several areas for conferences or receptions, including salons for 100 or 90, dining-style.