Sol Meliá Hotel Group Going Strong in 2008

Tianguis – Acapulco- April 2008. Once again this year Sol Meliá has been included amongst the top 100 Spanish companies with the best corporate reputation according to the ranking by the Spanish Corporate Reputation Monitor (Merco), an evaluation system similar to the published annually by Fortune magazine in the United States.

Sol Meliá has always been included in this select ranking since its creation in 2001, and this year has risen 26 places to 71st position, compared to the above the 97th position of last year. The fact that Sol Meliá appears in the report by Merco is another sign of recognition for the efforts made by the company to improve its brands, the quality of its services, and its commitment to the environment, the latter a subject for which the company has also earned important recognition in general.

Sol Meliá also expects this recognition to be yet another reason for pride in the company amongst its more than 32,000 employees, the company’s most important asset. The hotel chain has received other important awards in this area. It was named the leading hotel chain in the world in corporate reputation according a list prepared by the Reputation Institute of New York and published by Forbes magazine, coming in at number two amongst tourism and travel companies and the fourth highest ranked Spanish company.

Sol Meliá came 31st in the list of the top 100 Spanish companies to work for in June 2007 in the Mercopersonas study organised by the same company that measured corporate reputation. Following with the Sol Melià strategic plan, its portfolio of hotels have had a restructure and due to this premium brands for the company are conformed by: Gran Melià, Paradisus and Gran Melià.

Gran Meliá is the ambassador of a distinctly Spanish brand of world-class hotels and resort characterized by superior service developed over 50 years’ experience internationally. With nearly 4.000 rooms in 12 properties world-wide, the Gran Meliá Hotels and Resorts brand is the premier collection of Sol Meliá Worldwide.

Gran Melia Cancun

The brand’s most representative hotel in the Mexican Caribbean offers more than rooms and has been awarded with the AAA Four Diamond recognition. The hotel had a multimillion renovation and the Royal Service Tower comprehends 137 rooms member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Spa Gran Meliá Cancun, the most renowned resort on Cancun’s hotel zone, has introduced a new state-of-the-art gym to provide guests the opportunity to stay fit and holistically balanced while visiting one of the most sought-after beach destinations in the world. The Yhi Spa Wellness Center becomes a part of the resort’s unique spa concept, Yhi Spa, a Leading Spa of the World.

A new member of Leading Spas of the World, Yhi Spa at Gran Meliá Cancun has achieved the industry’s highest honor. Out of 104 Leading Spas, Yhi Spa is only the second in Cancun to receive the accolade, where members must pass a rigorous, anonymous inspection comprised of 200 different criteria.

The design hotels in Mexico

ME by Meliá Cancun has been the whole success from his throwing, occupying a relevant position in the destination, thanks to his great transformation, that turns it into a hotel with personality, based with experiences and characterized by the passion for the service, his contemporaneous design, his International cuisine of merger and the taste for the music of the world. These attributes have led it to being recognized with the four diamonds of the AAA and his strategy of communication and public relations was distinguished with the prize Adrian Award in his first version for Latinoamerica , for the HSMAI.

ME Cancún is a hotel built purely for pleasure with every comfort supported by the latest technology and an Aura Experience Manager who ensures that all guests experience a personalized culture within this lively retreat.

Each of the 448 guest rooms, including 32 Loft Suites, four Level Suites, and four Passion Suites offer stunning ocean and sunset lagoon views. All of the rooms have been artfully refurbished by world renowned architect Alvaro Sans in collaboration with architectural firm Interarq, designer Rebecca Perez, and celebrated Mexican artist, Yuri Zatarain. Together they recreated each of the guest rooms in warm, rich colors with meticulous attention to detail. Additionally, rooms feature custom-made wood and stone furniture by Zatarain that has been etched by hand using shells and other elements to create sea-life scenes. Each piece of furniture is a one-of-a-kind work of art that carries a certificate of authenticity.

The celebrities: Cindy Crawford, Tara Raid, The Kardashians sisters, Adrien Granier, Marta Sanchez, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, are some of the personalities that have lodged at our hotels, that there have turned favorites of organizers of fashionable and sports events as golf and pole.

Alliances:

The hotel have turned a place extremely energetic and entertaining thanks also for the alliance with internationally active acquaintance of night places of leisure Rande Gerber, and his brother Scott, on having operated the Rose Bar. As same as Me Madrid, the Beach House and the Infinity Bar, next to the swimming pool only for adults set with the pace of the music of renowned international DJ’s.

Yhi Spa wellness center

Guests enjoy a balanced stay, where a busy day is complemented by ME by Melia’s signature Yhi Spa – the first in Cabo San Lucas. This marks the second Yhi Spa to open at a ME property, having made its debut at ME Cancun.

Inspired by ancient healing traditions, the 7,036 square foot boutique spa includes world-class Fitness, Hydrotherapy and Relaxation Centers. The Fitness Center features free-weights, machines and cardiovascular equipment, a YHI MOVES Studio complete with an outdoor movement garden and special group Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates classes. A Hydrotherapy Ritual Center features indoor/outdoor relaxation areas (YHI RELAX), thermo-hydrotherapy experiences, a native Temascal sweat lodge and an outdoor waterfall which provides a cascade-shower, while the Relaxation Center offers reflexology paths and a complete selection of signature spa treatments.

The Yhi Spa concept is based on the four elements – earth, water, air and fire – as well as a careful orchestration of space, with open areas and the encouraged interaction with varied textures – stone, wood, glass and bamboo – that emit luxurious minimalism. The goal is to create an overall sense of serenity for guests, from the resort’s Asian-inspired Eco-Spa and water ritual area, to the multi-sensory ambience of intoxicating scents and mystical sounds.

As part of Yhi Spa’s holistic approach and methods, the wellness center offers Yhi Moves featuring fitness, personal training and wellness activities specially designed to meet guests’ desires for achieving the perfect wellness balance. Experienced personal trainers assess each guest’s individual needs and develop customized exercise programs best suited to them.

ME by Meliá Cabo

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – ME Cabo is redefining Cabo as a destination with its style, sophistication and sensuality. Having completed a multi-million dollar renovation in 2007, the property is already the most fashionable hotel in one of the most captivating destinations in Mexico. ME Cabo is part of a select group of seductive, urban and resort destination hotels under the ME by Melia umbrella that combine an intimate style of warmth and Latin flair while delivering experiences that are an extension of guests’ individual life-rhythms.

A lively, sexy, energetic atmosphere fills the hotel. ME Cabo’s 150 rooms and suites were created by Rebeca Perez of Interarq in collaboration with architect Álvaro Sanz.

Nestled on the sands of Playa el Médano, the property is situated on the only swimmable beach in Cabo San Lucas, as it is protected against the strong currents of Mar de Cortes. Within a short walking distance of downtown restaurants and shops, ME Cabo is captivating travelers who have a taste for stimulating art, international cuisine, and world music. Designed for the discerning guest, ME Cabo fuses innovative design with local flavors that encourage guests to move seamlessly within the surroundings, transitioning them from their daily routines into an inspirational existence that is indulgent…energizing…and daring.

Paintings and sculptures by celebrated Mexican artist, Yuri Zatarain, are on display in every guest room and all public spaces. The Aura Experience Manager skillfully orchestrates the ambiance of the hotel, ensuring that all guests are immersed in a personalized cultural experience within an exhilarating retreat – a place that resonates with a passion for life.

While ME Cabo boasts three world-class restaurants, The Passion Club Restaurant & Lounge is ME Cabo’s centerpiece of cuisine. The smart-casual feel of the Passion Club is created within the context of three different spaces. Guests can start their morning with a healthy breakfast on the patio of the Passion Club Restaurant with views of the sea or savor an intimate nighttime dinner of Mexican fusion cuisine. Patrons can enjoy signature cocktails, tapas and premium tequilas at the neon-lit bar or lounge outside on daybeds by a fire pit, listening to DJ’s spinning music or taking in live performances. The Passion Club is the place to see and be seen. Guests can mingle with locals and visitors from other hotels who gather to enjoy the sophisticated atmosphere at the only club in Cabo San Lucas.

Nikki Beach

All guests of the hotel are offered preferred access to Nikki Beach, the ultimate in international nightlife scene, overlooking the sands of Playa el Médano and an extension of the personalized service and electric atmosphere of ME Cabo. One of ten worldwide and described by the London Observer as “the sexiest place on earth,” Nikki Beach features pool-side Opium day beds, live musical performances and the hottest DJs – day or night the party doesn’t stop. Diners can enjoy the best in “global cuisine” a culinary interpretation of Asian and Mediterranean dishes al fresco under illuminated lanterns and for special occasions, romantic dinners can be arranged under the stars of Playa el Médano with a private server.

Products:

Having in mind our guests preferences we have designed specific packages such as:

Pet Me: Pets are welcomed at our 3 hotels, a special kit is available on premises as well as a pet sitter upon request.

Bachelors/ Bachelorettes, Special programs available to enjoy with friends are becoming very popular.

Mexico’s Oil And What It Means

David Simmonds

Mexico, as most of you know, has a monopoly state-owned oil business called Pemex. Those are the only gas stations you see in the country, with its signature green and white colors, where the price of a gallon runs about $2.50 right now. Most of Mexico, according to the polls, want to keep their oil out of private hands, particularly those attached to foreign arms. Based on past history, back when U.S. oil companies controlled all of the Mexico oil (Rockefellers, Getty, etc), it is understandable that they are gun-shy about this happening again.  Mexican oil has become a symbol of independence and national pride, and for a country that lost nearly one-half of their land mass to their northern neighbor, it is no small matter. Mexico is the 6th largest oil producer in the world and the No. 3 supplier to the U.S.

So when President Calderon presented a new set of energy reforms that would begin to allow some periphery involvement by gringo companies, the frijoles hit the fan. The leftist PRD took over the podiums in both houses of Congress in protest for two weeks until the PAN ruling party agreed to a substantive debate on the issue.  And then yesterday there was a 15,000 person protest march throughout downtown to Mexico City’s zocalo, led by Andres Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the last presidential election.

Calderon, and others, claim that it is necessary to bring in more advanced technology to drill six-miles deep in the Gulf of Mexico, where there are believed to be large, untapped oil reserves, and to increase refinery capabilities. The opponents envision a slippery (oily?) slope that will result in Mexico losing it’s most valuable resource. Once that doors opens it would be nearly impossible to close.

Stay tuned as this story develops. It is a major issue that will help determine the future of Mexico and its people. At $115 a barrel and rising as the world sucks every last drop from the ground, the stakes are enormous.

A New Book About Loreto

MP Mexico News

LORETO, The Future of the First Capital of the Californias by Paul Ganster, Oscar Arizpe and Antonia Ivanova. SDSU Press, available from Sunbelt Publications (www.sunbeltpub.com).

Loreto was one of five regions to be targeted by Fonatur, the tourism development arm of the Mexican government, in the early 1970’s. Tho other areas of Los Cabos, Cancun, Ixtapa and Huatulco have experienced various degrees of development for the past 30 years, with Cancun and Los Cabos leading the way. But Loreto, to the relief of many, remained the small, quiet town that it has always been. That is about to change, starting a few years ago with the resurrection of a stalled project five miles south of town, now named Loreto Bay. This project, once so attractive in their scope and vision, has been through an ownership change, and there are questions about where they will be down the road.

The book notes that the town can probably avoid the negative, inevitable by-product that is created whenever populations rapidly expand, stressing natural resources, mass immigration, trash creation, etc. , if Loreto Bay was the only addition to the area, as they strive to having a sustainable-development, ecological model. But several more devlopments are now on the drawing board, and they have no such good intentions.

In Loreto, as in all of Baja, the main issue is water. There isn’t any, or not much. This is a desert with very little rain. Los Cabos and La Paz are building desalination plants, turning sea water into fresh. This always sounds good, but as you peel back the layers you find that desal plants themselves have significant effects on the environment, destroying offshore ecosystems, putting significant demands on electricity resources, and leaving a salt by-product that is not easy to dispose of.

And now, with the real estate meltdown and sub-prime loan problems in the U.S., there just aren’t the number of cash-rich gringos these days who can be counted on to buy into the new developments. Loreto is cheaper than Cabo, but its not cheap.

All of these issues and much more are discussed in the Loreto book. This is a good resource for anyone interested in Mexico as a possible retirement choice. Loreto might change dramatically in the coming years…or it might not.

Conde Nast Picks Hot New Hotels in Mexico

David Simmonds

Conde Nast Traveler Magazine likes to compile lists. It must help sell magazines, because it seems that nearly every other travel mag does it, as well. 10 Best Places To Look Cool, 20 Hot Spots To Get Lucky For Fat Guys, 30 Great Deals For Less Than Your Mortgage. You look at the prices at some of the hotel rooms these days, these days when we read about world-wide food shortages, and there seems to be a parallel universe out there somewhere, with most of us living in one and only imagining the other. Since the prices listed are in U.S. dollars, maybe Europeans, Canadians, Asians and other solvent countries are filling these resort rooms, with the dollar so deep in the toilet. I have a feeling that the recession we are having is going to start effecting the rest of the world soon, and if it does, we might see some price relief.

In the meantime, Mexico is already a good value. And it’s easy to get to. And they make tequila. The Conde Nast article touts the Hot List for New Hotels, and Mexico has six resorts on the list, with two of the six boasting room rates that start under $155. Here is the Mexico list with their web sites.

Aqua Cancun       www.feel-aqua.com
Cabo Azul Resort & Spa      www.caboazulresort.com
Hotel Hacienda Merida       www.hotelhaciendamerida.com
La Purificadora (Puebla)      www.lapurificadora.com
Mandarin Oriental (Riviera Maya)      www.mandarinoriental.com
Rosewood Mayakoba (Riviera Maya)      www.rosewoodmayakoba.com

Run for the Roses… with Tequila?

By: Lisa Coleman

It’s considered the greatest two minutes in sports. It takes place at the oldest race track in America. And if you have ever walked into Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, you’ll experience a feeling like nothing else on earth. I don’t say that lightly. I have been to enough places in this world to understand awe and I have felt some pretty amazing emotions, but to walk through the passageway in the shadow of the twin spires and gaze upon the track on Derby Day is something that simply can’t be duplicated.

I bought my new hat today and will leave next week for my 23rd trip to the Kentucky Derby. It’s a sacred, magical place for me personally. It’s all about my family, my father, my brother and the bond the race built in our lives. It’s also about spectacle, dazzling outfits, hundreds of thousands of people, high energy, gorgeous creatures, roses, and, of course, the famous Mint Julep.

If you’ve never had a Mint Julep, you’re not missing much. It’s a rather difficult drink  if you aren’t a fan of cheap bourbon, crushed ice, some sugar and mint sprig. But, it is the definitive drink of the Derby. Whether you like it or not, you have to go for the Julep… it’s part of the experience. So today I read that Tequila Herradura is now the “official” tequila of the 2008 Kentucky Derby… Are they serious? This isn’t spring break, it’s Kentucky… it’s the Derby… it’s about tradition, it’s about the Mint Julep… not the margarita!

That’s like saying Sake is the official drink of the Super Bowl. It just makes no sense to me to have an “official” Derby tequila.  I could go on and on about the ridiculous nature of this story, but suffice to say that Tequila and the Derby aren’t exactly what I would consider a necessary pairing. Herradura, which translates to “horseshoe” in Spanish, released a statement saying “horses run deep in our DNA.” What kind of a statement is that? So because the logo is the horseshoe some inept marketing agency thought this might work? Hummm.

Well, all I can say is I’ll pass on the shot until I’m back to the beach in Acapulco. This trip I’ll stick with my ice cold Early Times Bourbon Mint Julep. The races start at 11:00 AM, but once you get the first one down, the next one isn’t nearly as “difficult.” Be sure to tune in on Saturday, May 3rd. I’m thinking Big Brown might go all the way!
 
  
  
  
  

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón Speaks at the 2008 Tianguis Turístico in Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico – Mexican President , Felipe Calderon closed the 33rd annual Tianguis Turistico in Acapulco by reasserting that Mexico will be a major world tourist destination and that his government will convert the country into one of the biggest power players in the tourism industry. Calderon plans on accomplishing this by investing in infrastructure, attracting more foreign investment, diversifying destination offerings, expanding Internet facilities and reinforcing security.

The president predicted an excellent year for tourism despite the “economic turbulence” within the U.S. economy over the past year. Mexico depends on the U.S. for almost 80 percent for its international trade. He also mentioned that in 2007, an additional 100,000 foreign tourists visited Mexico compared with the previous year, and that in 2007, the economic influx was $700 million more than in 2006.

Likewise, he emphasized that in the first 16 months of his government, the private foreign investment in tourism was over $5,500 million; half the amount collected in the previous six years.

Calderon also explained that Mexico is actively concentrating on diversifying its tourist offering beyond the traditional sun and sea to highlight other products such as cultural, archeological, crafts, gastronomical and religious tourism.

“In every one of these activities there is a huge potential that the country is obligated to take advantage of,” said President Calderon.

Calderon also emphasized the infrastructure plans that his government is working on to reinforce the tourism sector. The plans include the opening of three new airports and the amplification of 31 others. In addition, 11 new cruise docks are planned, adding to the two already built this presidential period, plus the modernization, by 2012, of roads and highways that unite important cities and tourist centers.

Furthermore, he mentioned credit programs for medium and small tourist businesses. By the end of 2008 the credit programs will have benefited more than 2,000 small tourist businesses, who will have authorized credit account receivables of more than 2,000 million pesos (a little more than $191 million).

The president also underlined the launch of the web page “Ventana Unica” that will allow any person, in any part of the world, to reserve and buy fully guaranteed airline tickets, lodging, packages and tourist services in Mexico.

Regarding the necessity to guarantee the security of tourists and Mexicans, the president said that his government “has acted, and will continue to act, with firmness to recuperate the security of the entire national territory so that order may prevail in the tourist zones.”

As an example, Calderon explained how these actions have achieved results in Acapulco given that in the first three months of 2008, crimes associated with gangs decreased by 65 percent compared to the first trimester of 2007.

Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, speaking earlier in the same closing ceremony, pointed out that the Tianguis Turistico in Acapulco has positioned itself as one of the main platforms of the destinations, products and tourist developments of Latin America.

He emphasized that almost 500 businesses exhibited during the Tianguis, representing a turnout of 11 percent more than in 2007. He also said that for the first time, tour operators and wholesalers from China and Russia – important transmitter markets – attended the show.

About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

MEXICO’S PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON SPEAKS AT THE 2008 TIANGUIS TURISTICO IN ACAPULCO

Gracias, Andy! We Loved the Ride

By: Lisa Coleman

It was Acapulco, it was late… we were at a party far, far away…outside the city. The huge Mariachi cocktail extravaganza hosted by the state of Jalisco was ending and there wasn’t room on the press bus. Is this sounding biblical? Anyway, and not a taxi in site… There were five of us.  (Names will be withheld to protect the innocent.) It was becoming increasingly obvious we may be stranded. We needed food. Not just any food, but those late night tacos at a groovy little place on the Costera with plastic tables and serves until 3:00 AM. Safe to say we didn’t need any additional margaritas!

Then, we spot it… the disco bus (as we like to call it). It may have been a stretch Hummer, it may have been a stretch van, but I know it was something stretched. The windows were blacked out. One of our fearless cohorts dashed to the vehicle. “There are five of us,” he pleads. “Can you take us?” “Sure,” says our host with a big smile and in we hop. 

At this juncture it’s key to point out we didn’t ask “where” the disco bus was going. And, quite frankly, didn’t care. As long as we were going in the general direction of Acapulco, all was well. Also important to note we have no idea who anyone is in the disco bus, no idea who is running the disco bus, and quickly realizing none of that mattered either. Beers were served, the flat screen TV and zillion dollar stereo system were cranked to their highest. Videos in HD had us all “rockin out” as we used to say in college. Once in awhile one of my partners would yell “everything is gonna be awright” (which were lyrics to one of the songs on the video, yet he was painfully out of sync with music and it was so loud he truly believed he was singing!) In the meantime we were all laughing and singing and repeatedly asking “who are these guys?” 

And then it hit me… THIS is why I love Mexico. Yep, memories like our evening on the “disco bus.” This is why we come here. Our Mexican friends already in the bus had welcomed us with open arms and dancing. We never knew their names, but we did indeed know they were friends. That’s Mexico to me. The warmth, the fun, the laughter and the moments that will always bring me back.

So the disco bus dropped us off near some taxis and we were able to get a ride into town. With all five of us in one small taxi (only in Mexico by the way!)  we talked all the way back about our little adventure. The tacos were extraordinary, the experience even better. But we still wondered… “Who are these guys and where did the disco bus come from?”

Turns out I grabbed a business card from our host as we stepped off the bus… The card says PV Event Group, Andy Boggeri, Director.  “Clubs, Parties, Spring Break, Summer Break, Incentives & Weddings.” Looks like our friend Andy lives in both Puerto Vallarta and Minneapolis.  I’m not sure if the disco bus belongs to Andy or not, but if you are ever in Vallarta and need transportation, I think he’s your guy. All I can say is “Gracias, Andy!  It was a great ride!  Thanks for taking such good care of us… you made our trip very special!” 

If you’re going to Puerto Vallarta, you can reach Andy from US and Canada  at 510-919-1074 and in Mexico at 322-138-9644. His email is pveventgroup@aol.com