Hurricane Odile – a different view

by David Simmonds
From sheknows.com: “The name Odile is a French baby name. The French meaning of the name Odile is Wealthy.”
How’s that for irony? – there IS a lot of money in Cabo, probably the most expensive tourist destination in Mexico.
It’s been over a week now and the town at the end of the Baja highway, Cabo San Lucas, is still a mess, although repairs are in rapid progress. Neighboring San Jose del Cabo was hit too, as was the capital city La Paz, but it was “Cabo” that received the most direct, devastating  haymaker – a punch from which they will not completely recover for many months, maybe a couple of years. This was the strongest blow, a category three,  to hit the area in a long time and the ferocity took most by surprise.
In the aftermath the media often focused on the plight of the tourists, some 30,000, of them, who had their vacations so rudely ruined. I’ve seen and read numerous complaints from some of the unlucky travelers, who were apparently not aware of hurricane season. They recounted how horrible everything was, the inconveniences –  and then having to re-locate (gasp!) to different accommodations, and you know, all that heat without any AC, and they couldn’t go HOME RIGHT AWAY! There was a letter to the editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune that called it shameful of the US government not to use the US military to get the tourists back to their jobs and still – standing homes. They say they should have been “airlifted” because…well, I’m not sure exactly the rationale around that. There were no deaths and a few injuries from things like flying glass. It was an adventure that they will re-tell many times over cocktails. You can always count on Mexico for a good tale.
Forgive my lack of sympathy, but it is the local population of Baja Sur who are the only victims here, and that is where we should put all of our focus. The hotels, resorts and marinas will make the necessary repairs and contact their insurance carriers, as will the expats who have built and bought homes in the area. Mexico people, both native and transplants, are a tough lot. They live in an unforgiving desert in one of the prettiest natural settings I had ever seen when I first stepped off an old Mexican bus into the then tiny town in 1974. These people know what can happen when you live where hurricanes and chubascos brew. It’s part of the contract. They will learn from this and be better prepared for the next one. Because, one day, there will be a next one.
There are many organizations easily found on the web to make a contribution and I strongly suggest that you do so.  Here is one you can trust http://www.icfdn.org/index.php
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Eat, Drink & Savor the Flavors of Cabo: 9th Annual “Sabor a Cabo” Food & Wine Festival -November 30 – December 6

Culinary World’s Finest Chefs Gather in Los Cabos for a First-Class Tour of Baja’s Best Food & Wine

Los Cabos, Mexico – A top-tier selection of the culinary world’s finest chefs will gather in Los Cabos from November 30 – December 6 in celebration of the destination’s 9th Annual  “Sabor a Cabo” (The Flavors of Cabo) food & wine festival. This highly anticipated gastronomic event is expected to be the largest since the festival’s debut in 2005 and for the first time in its history, will include a week-long series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region.
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The delicious weeklong festivities include a Country Side Taste Event on November 30 incorporating the local flavors of Baja; a Sunset Gourmet Gala served aboard a luxurious yacht on December 2 featuring a gourmet dinner prepared by Michelin Star Chefs; an Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music on December 3; a Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo on December 4 with 16 wineries, art galleries and restaurants participating for a family outing; and a Star Chef Dine-Around on December 5 featuring course meals prepared by celebrated chefs.

The main event will take place on December 6 from 5pm – 11pm and held at one of the destination’s most spectacular areas, the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos. The event will consist of 50 participating restaurants and is expected to attract over 2,000 attendees, as guests from around the world are invited to dine beneath the stars and enjoy the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine.
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“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best chefs to Los Cabos for the 9th Annual Sabor a Cabo event,” said Eduardo Segura, Managing Director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. “Our destination has a rich and booming culinary scene that many people are still discovering. Events such as Sabor a Cabo highlight these offerings and provide us with a platform to position the unique products, sustainable brands and delicious flavors available in this particular region of Mexico.”

Confirmed to attend Sabor a Cabo are several world-renowned chefs including Federico Zanellato, Chef and Partner of NOMA Restaurant in Denmark (Ranked No. 1 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants) Richard Sandoval, Chef and Restaurateur of over 35 restaurants world-wide, including Pampano and Zengo in New York City (James Beard nominated restaurateur and participant in Bravo’s reality competition “Top Chef Masters”), and Dieter Koshina, Owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (Ranked No. 22 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). Also on the roster is Roberto Alcocer, Chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, Chef/owner of Souk Restaurant in Dallas, US and former chef of Spain’s El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, Chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.
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Additional participants and chefs are to be confirmed in upcoming weeks. Furthermore, the destination’s tantalizing culinary scene will be highlighted through participation of Los Cabos’ top Executive Chefs from two of the most luxurious hotels in the region, Las Ventanas al Paraiso and One&Only Palmilla.

Travelers interested in attending Sabor a Cabo can purchase festival tickets by visiting www.saboracabo.mx. General admission tickets are $100 if purchased prior to September 30 and $125 if purchased after. For special lounge area access tickets are $150 and for a seat at one of the events VIP tables tickets are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Sabor a Cabo event on Saturday December 6 will be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children Foundation of Los Cabos.
For more information on Los Cabos, please visit: http://visitloscabos.travel.

Los Cabos, located at the tip of the 1,000-mile long Baja Peninsula, is home to award-winning hotels, resorts, championship golf courses, rejuvenating spas, world-class sport fishing, and was the host city for the G20 Summit of global leaders in 2012. With a unique landscape of dramatic desert and white sand beaches, Los Cabos is an exotic escape within easy reach of most U.S. and Canadian cities. For more information, images and videos from Los Cabos, please visit www.visitloscabos.travel, follow us on Twitter @LOSCABOSTOURISM and visit us on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mexico Travel Tips

We have all seen them – or maybe we are them. The travelers who don’t quite get that every country has a different set of social rules – an accepted way of acting and doing things. In Mexico, at some of the more tourist areas, long-held customs are somewhat more relaxed, but should still be practiced for the most part. No bikini bottoms and tank tops in church, and no bikini bottoms anywhere for you guys! And please, don’t try to turn Mexico into the place you came from.

Fodor’s Travel has provided some of what you should know, from business meetings to tourist excursions. So “con permiso”, we think you might want to read this and become a more aware and less reviled traveler.

http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4054.html

Alaska Airlines New Flights from Portland, Ore., to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Now Available for Purchase Introductory fares from $176 to Los Cabos and $186 to Puerto Vallarta*

SEATTLE, July 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Customers can now book travel on Alaska Airlines new nonstop flights from Portland, Ore., to Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Pending approval by the Mexico Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (DGAC), the airline plans to begin seasonal service between Portland and Los Cabos from Nov. 3 through April 27, 2015, and between Portland and Puerto Vallarta from Nov. 4 through April 26, 2015.

Alaska is offering introductory fares of $176 one way from Portland to Los Cabos, and $186 one way from Portland to Puerto Vallarta, on tickets purchased by July 14, for travel from the service start date through Feb 10, 2015*.

“We’re happy to expand our longtime flying to Mexico with new flights to these two popular leisure resorts for our Portland travelers, who can take advantage of our award-winning service and low fares for their travel adventures,” said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines’ senior vice president of communications and external relations.

Summary of new seasonal service:

Start date City pair Departs Arrives Frequency
Nov. 3 Portland-Los Cabos 11:25 a.m. 4:20 p.m.** Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat
Nov. 3 Los Cabos-Portland 5:15 p.m.** 8:35 p.m. Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat
Nov. 4 Portland-Puerto Vallarta 10:15 a.m. 4:40 p.m.** Tues, Fri, Sun
Nov. 4 Puerto Vallarta-Portland 5:40 p.m.** 8:35 p.m. Tues, Fri, Sun

**Between March 8 and April 4, flights arrive and depart one hour earlier due to daylight saving time. All times are based on local time zones.

Alaska Airlines began flying to Mexico a quarter century ago and operates 240 flights a week during the winter between the West Coast and Mexico—more than any other carrier. Alaska flies an average of 1.5 million passengers a year to six Mexico beach destinations—Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Loreto, Los Cabos, Manzanillo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta—in addition to Guadalajara and Mexico City. Alaska also will begin flights between Seattle and Cancun on Nov. 6.

The new flights between Portland and Mexico will be operated with Boeing 737 aircraft.

To book, visit www.alaskaair.com or call 1-800-ALASKAAIR (800-252-7522 or Hearing & Speech Impaired (TTY): Dial 711 for Relay Services).

Alaska Airlines, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together with its partner regional airlines, serves nearly 100 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines has ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers” in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction StudySM for seven consecutive years from 2008 to 2014. Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan also ranked highest in the 2014 Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report. For reservations, visit www.alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines Newsroom at www.alaskaair.com/newsroom.

*General terms and conditions for the introductory fares: Fares include all taxes and fees. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights or all days. A ticket purchased at an Alaska Airlines airport location or through a reservation call center will cost $15 more per person than the advertised fare. Tickets are nonrefundable. Applicable fare and tax differences apply to any changes made after ticketing. A $125 (USD) change fee per person applies to any changes made within 60-days of ticketed travel. All fares, taxes and fees shown are based on one-way travel. Additional U.S. taxes may apply to itineraries involving a U.S. stopover lasting more than 12 hours. Bag fees apply for checked baggage. See checked baggage policy at www.alaskaair.com for more details. Fares are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions — blackout dates, day of week restrictions, schedule availability, change fees and advance purchase requirements — may apply. Visit www.alaskaair.com or call Alaska Airlines’ Reservations at 1-800-252-7522 for complete fare rules and fees.

SOURCE Alaska Airlines

Guelaguetza(s) 2014

by Ron Mader

The Guelaguetza is one of Mexico’s premier celebrations of dance and music and has roots that date back to ancient times and in the “dance” genre since 1932. Also known as Lunes del Cerro (“Mondays of the Hill”), this is the largest folklore festival in the Americas.

2014 celebrations are scheduled July 21 and 28.


Dates for Guelaguetza 2014: July 21 and 28 #rtyear14

Mexico Monday Hangout May 5

by Ron Mader

Google+ Hangout
May 5, 1030am Mexico City Mexico Monday

On Monday, May 5 please join us for a lively conversation in English, Spanish and a bit of Zapotec as we talk about travel, culture and conservation. We’ll share insights and practical tips from friends who live in Mexico in a candid hangout streamed live via YouTube. Comments and questions are welcome via our Google+ event page.

#MexMonday Hangout Cinco de Mayo

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Montecito Beach Village – Step into the Dream in Huatulco

By: Lisa Coleman

Flip through the pages of Architectural Digest or Robb Report and you’ll see that Mexico’s luxury villa market is making an impact. Quietly carving out a niche for distinguished buyers from around world, Mexico is on the move. Second home seekers and wealthy expats have discovered the beauty and perfection that can be found along some of most breathtaking beaches in the country. Ultra exclusive communities in Punta Mita (near Puerto Vallarta), Cabo San Lucas (Baja California), and Costa Careyes (between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo) are known worldwide by a discerning clientele. But it’s a small, unique development called Montecito in the beach town of Huatulco that is defining extraordinary.

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Huatulco is far different from its high profile companions. Considered and developed as an “ecotourism” resort in the early 1970’s, 70% of Huatulco is made up of ecological preserves. In 1988, then President Ernesto Zedillo converted most of the area’s preserves into a giant national park (protecting both land and marine life).  Huatulco prides itself in being a totally “green” resort. Mexico’s FONATUR (National Trust for Tourism Development), who built the resort town, still ensures that all new projects meet certain standards in order to maintain Huatulco’s Green Globe status.

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At the center of Huatulco’s allure are a series of nine spectacular bays notched into 21 miles of shoreline hosting 36 beaches, countless inlets and coves, and arguably some of the most remarkable coastline on the Pacific. The main areas are: Tangolunda Bay, home to the big name resorts, an 18-hole golf course, and a smattering of nightlife. The bay of Santa Cruz has a bustling marina, an intimate village with beachside restaurants and bars, plenty of shops and a cruise ship dock. And, Chahue Bay (CHAH-way) located between the other two, with a marina, lots of new high-end condo projects and a public beach. About a mile inland, the charming hamlet of La Crucecita is a slice of pure Mexico. With a colorful and quaint town square, plenty of inviting restaurants and bars, a few excellent fresh seafood stalls to pick up the daily catch, and a brand new grocery store, the infrastructure is solidly in place. It’s not unusual to see a jet or two parked at palapa-topped international airport.

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Located at the east end of the resort on a private peninsula, Montecito Beach Village is an unforgettable collection of 2, 3 & 4 bedroom beach and oceanfront Villas. This low-density (only 30 Villas in total when complete) 12-acre masterpiece is quickly becoming one of the most notable developments in Mexico. Touching the shores of two beaches and hosting phenomenal views, Montecito is at home on an incredible piece of land. Designed by famed Mexican architect, Diego Villaseñor, whose past works include the Four Seasons in Punta Mita and the Four Seasons in the Dominican Republic (to name a couple), Montecito’s impeccable style was developed to promote sustainable, elegant coastal living.

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Project Director and Managing Partner, Greg Glassman, describes the concept that makes Montecito so special, “We integrate the natural environment into the human habitat. We have created this development with minimal impact and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to develop such a unique community on this land. We are careful to protect and preserve all the flora and fauna on the property and create each Villa with nature in mind.”  Glassman further describes, “We strive to not only integrate our Village into the natural environment but the cultural environment as well. This kind of living experience can’t be found anywhere else.”

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And, I’d have to agree. There is an intrinsic perfection to everything here. “Architecture is about the art of living and the way to construct the human habitat,” says architect Diego Villaseñor. “I create spaces that resound in the soul and imagination, that give human beings a sense of protection, freedom and a place to be with themselves.”  Having spent time at Montecito, I can confidently say it’s a one-of-a-kind development.  It’s where I wander in awe and step into my own dream. This is the ultimate in beachside living. They haven’t missed a thing. Every detail is in place and every inch of the property is thought out.  It’s among the best of the best. For me, Montecito is a probably just a dream I can visit when I’m in Huatulco, but for those who can make a place like this a reality, they shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

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Montecito’s Phases 1 and 2 are in the process of completion. These phases will be comprised of 15 villas, two clubs (the Cala Beach Club and the hilltop Loma Lounge), and the management buildings.  Lifestyle perks include daily housekeeping, gardening, maintenance, pool cleaning, concierge, and cooking services.  Prices start at $1.2 million and they have already built and sold 5 villas in the past year.  (If you just want a taste, some of the villas at Montecito are available for rent. You can get info on the website. )

For more information visit: www.montecito.mx.

Mexico News and Current Events