Successful Meetings OCTOBER 2006
Colonial (with pre-Columbian precedents) yet up-to-date, these cities in the east and west of Mexico are helping attendees mix business with pleasure, with expanded convention facilities in Acapulco and Guadalajara, as well as a groundbreaking on a new facility for Puerto Vallarta.
Essential Tool Box
Convention Centers: World Trade Center Veracruz, 96,876 sf of dedicated space in four halls. Acapulco Convention Center, 190,010 sf of dedicated space. Expo Guadalajara, 376,651 sf of dedicated space.
For complete listings, visit Quick Facility Search at www.mimegasite.com
Tax Exemptions: Contact Mexico CVB (www.visitmexico.com) to learn more about tax-free meetings.
For More Info:
Guadalajara CVB www.gdlmidestino.com
Puerto Vallarta CVB
Veracruz CVB www.veracruzovc.com.mx
Acapulco CVB www.visitacapulco.com.mx
The Big News
While planners take for granted that the Gulf of Mexico will be stormy from September to December, the Pacific Coast has also recently begun to feel the wrath of Mother Nature. In Aug, Hurricane John sent torrents of rain and wind toward Puerto Vallarta and the nearby coasts of Jalisco and Nayarit before heading off toward Baja California.
More happily for PV, the city finally broke ground in Aug on a multimillion-dollar convention facility, after more than a decade in the planning. Modeled after Expo Guadalajara's architecture and wide esplanade, the new center will be located near the El Salado estuary along the main highway into town. On a multiacre site, Phase I, which is expected to be ready by the end of the year, will comprise a 130,000-sf building, parking lot, and service docks. A green area in the form of a park will eventually take shape near the center, protecting the ecology of the estuary.
PUERTO VALLARTA The 433-room CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort is undergoing a yearlong makeover; rooms will feature Marriott Revive bedding, and the spa will expand to 21,000 sf.
* In the neighboring state of Nayarit, the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita has debuted stylish new cabanas and a one-of-a-kind, 13,000-sf beachside suite called Arena, featuring five bedrooms, its own courtyard, and a couple plunge pools. (A yacht is now available for attendees to charter for sports fishing, sunset cruises, and whale watching.)
GUADALAJARA Expo Foro, built on the same site as its bigger counterpart, Expo Guadalajara, debuted this year as a stand-alone building, with 18,000 sf of space for 3,500 attendees, reception style, or for more than 2,000 in a theater setting. Expo Guadalajara itself will be expanded by 150,000 sf of exposition space. According to Expo executives, it will widen the slate of options available to groups, both to faithful clients and potential customers. The expansion is due in part to the petitions of steadfast clients like the International Book Fair and the Hardware Expo, which are asking for more space for their yearly conventions. An outside area measuring 130,000 sf is being reconditioned for use by groups. With the additions that are expected to be inaugurated in 2009, events that have been out of the reach of Expo, like motocross, basketball, and boxing, may be added to the sports
VERACRUZ The city's first golf course is in the planning stages. Currently undergoing an environmental impact study, the development is expected to be a 19-hole Greg Norman signature course built south of town along with a residential community, José Barquín, head of the Veracruz CVB, says. Construction may begin by the end of the year.
* Wi-Fi was recently launched throughout Veracruz.
ACAPULCO Phase I of the Mundo Imperial complex, comprising the 360,000-sf Expo Imperial and the 4,800-seat Foro Imperial theater, will open next year as part of a $120-million reinvestment that also freshened existing hotels.
Colonial Cities of the east and west Veracruz is one of the oldest colonial cities in Mexico-it's where conquistador Hernan Cortez established a base and set out to conquer the New World. Areas of the old city with charming streets lined with colonnades, where marimba players entertain into the night, can be cordoned off for an evening event; other unusual reception venues include the romantic Fortress of San Juan de Ulúa (a colonial gem built in the 16th century to ward off pirates) and the old train station in the Historic Center. Attendees and families can tour the city with its aquarium-the largest in Latin America-stroll the sea walk viewing ships from around the world, and browse handicrafts, or take a break in the coffee houses serving the famous lechero coffee that is found only here.
* Guadalajara, often called the "city of roses" for its lovely gardens, is the second largest city in Mexico. Not only does it have one of the top convention centers in the country, it's upping the ante for attracting meeting groups with new facilities. A future project is a tower called Torrena, slated to be the biggest entertainment and communications venue in Mexico. It will have a hotel with meeting rooms, a shopping mall, and dining outlets. A Guggenheim museum is expected to be added to the many cultural venues in Guadalajara.
Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from Successful Meetings' Home Team* experts. In Puerto Vallarta, top choices include the 80-room Villa Premiere and the 600-room Sheraton Buganvilias.
*Home Team contributors who informed this section include Dan Gennari. Contact them at [email protected]
On Site: Puerto Vallarta
This lively Pacific resort, where Liz Taylor and Richard Burton romanced during the shooting of The Night of the Iguana in the 1960s, has kept its small-town charm despite the growth of modern hotels and attractions.
Avidly promoting its meetings facilities, the resort was the setting for Meeting Place Mexico (MPM), June 7-9, organized for the fourth year in a row by Mexico City-based Avanti Meetings and Incentives. Sponsors for the largest meetings industry convention in Mexico included the Puerto Vallarta CVB, Mexico Tourism Board, and the Mexican Ministry of Tourism, among others.
A golf tournament between buyers and sellers kicked off the event, followed by the trade show itself, with more than 400 delegates. The meeting planners hailed from the U.S., Canada, and Europe, while the booths were manned by suppliers mainly from Mexico, with new arrivals from New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Czech Republic.
The Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center, with its nearly 26,000 square feet of meeting and exposition space, served as headquarters. Booths were set up in Expo Buganvilias, which also has space for 750 attendees, reception style. Indoor and outdoor areas will also hold up to 1,500. Puerto Vallarta offers planners more than 8,000 hotel rooms to choose from.
Among the attendees was Susan Rosen from In the Event in Palatine, IL, who said she likes to bring groups to "unusual destinations. PV isn't perceived as a touristy destination. It has the best of both worlds. It's Mexico and authentic. It feels safe. You always find someone who speaks English."
Faith V. Morphis from Conference Resources in Greensboro, NC, who traveled to Puerto Vallarta for the first time, waxed positive about the experience. "It's a blossoming city," she said. "What they've got so far is awesome-smiling people, for example. I would bring a group here."