Cancun: Travel That's Affordable, Unique and Safe

Diving, zip-lining, speed boating ... Cancun is a unique destination that is also a good value.

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The island of Cancun is shaped like the number seven, its entire length outlined with a newly restored, powdery beach. From turquoisehued, crystal clear water, first-rate dining, to Mayan archaeological sites, Cancun is a unique destination.

Besides these features, competitive pricing packages are luring groups as well. More than 70 percent of the properties in Cancun are all-inclusive or offer a meal plan, says Andy Ortiz, president-owner of the Mexican destination management company Global Incentive, and president of Mexico Showcase.

All-inclusives simplify meetings from a strategic and budgetary standpoint. The planner knows exactly what the program will cost going in.

Cancun has had its fair share of obstacles to overcome. "The challenge we're having is that the media has not been on our side as far as crime is concerned," explains Ortiz. "Crime in Cancun is next to zero. Sure there is crime in the north part of Mexico where drug cartels try to smuggle drugs into the States. This is nothing new. It's 2,000 miles away."

Still, Cancun's mayor, a candidate for state governor, was arrested in May on charges of protecting drug cartels.

Dianne E. Heffernan, CTC, CMP, director of meetings for Melville, NYbased Austin Meeting Services has traveled to Cancun for site inspections and for programs seven times since September. "I feel it's a very safe destination. I will go again and will even take my family."

Heffernan helped plan an annual sales meeting for 88 at Aqua Cancun in April for a reverse pharmaceutical distribution company and a 25-person incentive for a technology company in June at Le Blanc Spa Resort.

"For meetings and incentives, they get it," says Heffernan. "They understand what it takes to service these types of programs."

Originally published Aug. 1, 2010