Getting High on Hilton in Mexico

Hilton Hotels Corp. over the past two years has been pouring investments into its Mexico properties with an eye toward boosting group business. The time was right, given the demand.

"Now that the economy has improved, a number of companies are having more sales meetings, incentives have become more important to retain employees, and people want to make their trips longer," said Hiltons of Mexico spokeswoman Lucia Samaniego.

Added Gabriela van der Lee, senior sales manager at the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, "Group business is even more appealing than leisure because of its food and beverage revenue."

To court that business, Hilton will open this spring Embassy Suites Hotel Mexico City–Reforma, designed exclusively for business travelers. Each of the 162 two-room suites will feature flat screen TVs and alarm clocks with MP3 players. Wireless Internet access will be available throughout the property.

The business center will offer translation and copy services, while the three meeting rooms, when opened up as one, will accommodate up to 150 people.

Meanwhile, a $10 million renovation of the Hilton Cancun Golf & Spa Resort has been completed. All 426 guestrooms have been redecorated, while a 12,000-square-foot wellness and beauty spa, featuring beachside treatment rooms and a secluded outdoor sanctuary, has been added.

The hotel is committed to the group market, said Sergio Serra, director of sales and marketing.

"Group business is what makes our hearts beat," he said. "There is revenue potential because of golf, spa, AV, and so forth. It's easier to forecast than leisure, and repeat business is likely."

At the 375-room Los Cabos property, the company has invested in compelling touches, like a fire pit, day cabanas and a terrace outside of the spa.

Mauricia Martinez, executive assistant to the president and chief operating officer of DHL Smart & GlobalMail, experienced Hilton's willingness to work with groups when she brought a management meeting to the property this summer.

"The staff had a 'yes we can' attitude," she said. "They went out of their way to make sure that what we had in mind worked."