United, Mexico will Prevail against Adversity

Flag day

Mexico City. President Felipe Calderón declared that unity will enable Mexico to prevail in the face of adversity, challenges and its enemies.

Now, more than ever before, Mexico is prepared to change to improved and stride firmly towards becoming the country of freedom and justice, prosperity, equity and democracy we all want,” he said.

During the Flag Day Ceremony at Campo Militar Marte, the President said that our flag will guide all Mexicans towards the transformation of the country. He therefore called for 2010 to be a year of change and inflection to steer Mexico towards the future we wish for. “May the flag encourage in all of us the patriotism required to construct a freer, fairer, more prosperous, egalitarian and democratic nation for tomorrow’s generations and always encourage us to place the nation’s highest interest above any private interest, however legitimate it may be,” he said.

Accompanied by the three branches of government, he said that those of us comprising the Independence Bicentennial and the Revolution Centennial are called to work together. “During the Year of the Fatherland, the Flag will wave more proudly than ever and each and every Mexico will regard it with gratitude, reverence and admiration,” he said.

FotoSafari in Oaxaca!

by Ron Mader

Oaxaca City — Parque Juárez, also known as El Llano, is one of the largest city parks and one of the most noteworthy urban spaces in Mexico. Join us for a free FotoSafari Sunday, March 14 at 8:30am. We’ll look for native trees, exotic species and the living historic monuments that are a testament to Mexico’s Independence celebration. Afterward upload your favorite photos to the Flickr Groups Arboles de Oaxaca and City Parks.

lion in winter

Direct From the Mexico Tourism Board re: Travel Alert

Hello all,

We recently received this email from Jorge Gamboa, Director of the MTB’s office in Los Angeles, and thought we should share it with everyone—industry people and all you wonderful consumers of Mexico tourism. It contains some very important and relevant comments on the recently issued travel alert, which was most emphatically NOT a warning. However, because the media (unfortunately) loves to trumpet bad news, we wanted to publish a bit of sanity here on MexicoPremiere.com.

Please read on, and we hope you’ll base your travel decisions on reality, not hype.

Thanks,

Lola

___________________________________

Dear  Friends,

As you may be aware, the US Department of State has extended a travel alert to Mexico. The text of the alert has remained virtually unchanged, with a few additional border areas being added to the list of those where extra caution is recommended.

In case your customers ask you about the alert, here are a few important things to know:

• This is not a new alert. It is an extension of an alert already in place.

• What has been extended is a travel alert, not a warning. Travel warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable, and/or when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. A travel alert, on the other hand, disseminates information about short-term conditions of which U.S. citizens abroad should be aware to maximize their safety.

• The alert for Mexico does not discourage U.S. citizens from traveling to the country’s tourist destinations.

• The main tourist destinations for U.S. citizens are geographically far from the very specific areas included in the alert. For example, Cancun, Los Cabos and Acapulco are at least a two-hour flight away from the main areas identified in the alert. The distance from Cancun to Ciudad Juarez is 1,312 miles – approximately the same distance between New York and Miami (1,290 miles), Chicago and Laredo, Texas (1,395 miles), or Los Angeles to Oklahoma City (1,328 miles).

• More than 21.5 million international tourists visited Mexico in 2009. Air arrivals from the U.S. in December 2009 were up approximately 6.2% from December 2008, demonstrating that U.S. travelers view Mexico’s unique vacation destinations and attractions as safe and violence in northern Mexico as unrelated to Mexico’s principal tourist destinations.

• More than one million Americans reside in Mexico.

We greatly appreciate your help and support

Sincerely,

Jorge Gamboa

Mexico Tourism Board Director – Los Angeles

Shameless Blog Plug of the Day

By Lola

Do you like beautiful hotels that give you a true sense of place? Do you savor real live five-star service? Do you enjoy finding pretty darn good deals on excellent accommodations? Do you relish “insider-only” tidbits about oh so cool properties? C’mon, you know who you are!

Well, it’s your lucky day! Our buds at Mexico Boutique Hotels have a totally bodacious blog that everyone here at MexicoPremiere.com highly recommends and raves about (nope, no money involved, I just used veiled threats and physical coercion). But seriously: click here and let yourself be whisked away on the Magical Mexico Mystery Tour—you’ll be all the better for it!

There's no place like Casa de Mita... There's no place like Casa de Mita... There's no place like Casa de Mita...
There's no place like Casa de Mita... There's no place like Casa de Mita... There's no place like Casa de Mita...

Mexico At Olympics

David Simmonds

olympicsAlpine sports aren’t real popular in Mexico. They have some nice mountains, and a little snow on the tallest peaks, but snowboarding hasn’t really caught on like, say, bullfighting, futbol, or lucha libre.

But, they do have a participant in this year’s games: Prince Hubertus von Hohelohe-Langenburg, who competes in the men’s slalom.  Slalom is the event where you ski between closely-spaced poles (with a small p) going real fast. Prince Hubertas is a descendant of German royalty, but he was born in Mexico City in 1959, making him a 50-year old skier competing against guys half his age. He has also been known by the names Andy Himalaya and Royal Disaster as a singer.

Although Hubie spends most of this time in Austria, where he is now an artist and photographer, he does have a place in Cabo and is eligible to represent Mexico in the games due to his birthplace. He is actually an accomplished skier and he founded the Mexican Ski Federation in 1981. He also represented Mexico at the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo.

So, our hats are off to Prince Hubertus with a shot of the the world’s finest tequila.

Mexico Loving Writers’ Alert: MexicoPremiere.com Announces MBH Member Hacienda de los Santos’ Participation in the 2010 Nick Gallo Award

Acapulco, MEXICO (February 19, 2010)—Those who knew Nick Gallo knew how cool he thought Mexico Boutique Hotels were. We at MexicoPremiere.com agree completely, and we just confirmed their “coolness factor” when MBH director, Sylvie Laitre, called to tell us the insanely fabulous Hacienda de los Santos had agreed to be a part of the 2010 Nick Gallo Award.

Hacienda de los Santos
Hacienda de los Santos

We’re giddy with excitement, so let us share just a few tantalizing tidbits on Hacienda: Built in the 18th century for a wealthy silver baron, current owners Jim and Nancy Swickard lovingly restored the Hacienda de los Santos to its former glory. The couple, though, looked beyond the structure and the creature comforts to transform it into a cultural center and healthful retreat, championing the lovely town of Los Alamos and its citizens through community programs and offering its guests plenty of outdoor pursuits, indulgent spa services and wholesome, delectable dining.

The winner of the 2010 Nick Gallo Award will score three nights in a luxurious Hacienda Master Suite; daily full menu breakfast at the Agave Café (no puny Continental Breakfast here); two massages; two fine dinners and the pièce de resistance: a one-hour aerial tour of the Sierra Madre with pilot and owner, Jim Swickard.

Allow us to remind you that our other great partner, Aeromexico, will fly the winner and his or her significant other into Ciudad Obregón from their closest U.S. gateway, just about an hour away from the hotel. Nick was a five-star writer, so we want this to be a five-star prize. We’re thinking: “mission accomplished.”

Note to writers: you love Mexico, we love Mexico. Let’s show the love and show the world this destination is so much more than hype and bad headlines.

The 2010 Nick Gallo Award will be handed out during SECTUR’s Tianguis Turístico convention, held from April 25-28 in the Acapulco International Center. The winner of the 2010 Nick Gallo award will receive an engraved plaque created by Laurie Brown-Gallo plus a three-night stay for two in MBH’s Hacienda de los Santos, including air from their closest U.S. gateway courtesy of Aeromexico. Entries are only open to freelance writers based in the United States and Canada. For more information and details, visit www.MexicoPremiere.com.

About Nick Gallo

Nick Gallo, two-time winner of the Mexico Tourism Board’s prestigious Pluma de Plata award, regular contributor to such prestigious titles as Travel & Leisure, Alaska Airlines Magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres, Private Clubs, Northwest Airlines WorldTraveler, father, husband and matchless colleague, passed away in October 2007 while on assignment in Greece. A touching in memoriam written by fellow writers can be found at www.MexicoPremiere.com/?p=256.

About MexicoPremiere.com

Founded by freelance travel writers David Simmonds, Lisa Coleman and Lydia Gregory—and now home to a cadre of even more award-winning talent—MexicoPremiere.com has become a meeting place for those looking to read and write about every aspect of everything Mexico. From tourism and gastronomy to bullfighting and politics (not necessarily in the same sentence), visitors to this one-of-a-kind blog will find unvarnished commentary and differing points of view. In the spirit of tooting their own horn, the folks at MP would like you to know that travel king Arthur Frommer himself gave us kudos http://www.frommers.com/blog/2007/10/if-youre-mexicophile-youll-want-to.html. Check them out in person at www.MexicoPremiere.com

About Mexico Boutique Hotels:

Established in 1999, MBH is a collection of upscale, independent member properties (located in  25 destinations throughout Mexico) handpicked for their intimacy, high level of service and outstanding attributes. Some are housed in exquisitely restored buildings, others are paeans to Mexican cuisine, still others showcase the sleekly modern–but they each encourage guests to savor the many fascinating traditions of this vast country, and all offer guests a unique travel experience. Typically less than 30 rooms in size, they are often destinations unto themselves. Based in Puerto Vallarta, MBH is staffed by an experienced team of multicultural—and multilingual—travel and hospitality professionals who both live and work in Mexico.

Book any of Mexico Boutique Hotels’ stylish properties by calling 1-800-728-9098 (US and Canada) or visiting www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com.

About Aeromexico:

AeroMexico and its subsidiary, AeroMexico Connect, currently operate more than 600 daily flights through the airline’s new Terminal 2 at its Mexico City International Airport hub to 40 destinations in Mexico, 16 U.S. locations in 11 states as well as major cities that include Tokyo, Paris and Buenos Aires in 12 other countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. U.S. cities served are Los Angeles, Ontario (Ca.), San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Orlando and Miami. Service will be added to Toronto, Canada, on March 3, and Montreal on April 2. AeroMexico Vacations provides customized vacation travel packages throughout this network. The airline also offers connecting service to other international destinations through its SkyTeam global airline alliance with 11 full member carriers and three associate carriers. AeroMexico has been recognized for its award-winning style of personalized in-flight service, one of the world’s best on-time flight records, the highest safety and quality standards ratings, outstanding reliability and baggage handling performance, and exceptional value based on its competitive fares and superior service. Additional information is available at 1-800-237-6639. www.aeromexico.com

Lisa Coleman, Alex Gallo, winner Dan Millington, David  Simmonds and Lydia Gregory at the 2009 Nick Gallo Award presentation in Acapulco, Mexico.
Lisa Coleman, Alex Gallo, winner Dan Millington, David Simmonds and Lydia Gregory at the 2009 Nick Gallo Award presentation in Acapulco, Mexico.

Tax Back Program Officially Opens At The Cancun International Airport

Travelers to Cancun, now have more reasons to shop while on vacation. Cancun’s International Airport has officially launched the Tax Back program, located at terminals 2 & 3.

The Tax Back program allows travelers visiting Cancun to cash in taxes paid while shopping at stores such as Armani, Gucci Sunglasses, Tumy, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, DKNY, United Colors of Benetton, Puma, Sergio Bustamante and Pineda Covalin. Because VAT (Value Added Tax) can only be returned on products, shoppers need to simply ask for a receipt at the participating stores and bring the proof of purchase to the Tax Back service offices at the airport.
The basic rules of operation that the Ministry of Finance (SAT) provides for tax refunds are as follows:

–           Purchases must be greater than $1,200 MXN pesos including tax (aprox. US$90), and up to $ 3,000 MXN pesos (aprox. US$225) if paid in cash, or unlimited if you pay with a credit or debit card. You can also accumulate receipts from the same shop during your trip.

–          Tax Reimbursement can be 50% in cash and 50% via bank transfer to your debit, services or credit card, (if the reimbursement is above $10,000 MXN pesos (aprox. US$740), this can only be done via an electronic transfer) and this amount will be deposited 40 days after the presentation of the Tax Reimbursement Form.

–           If the purchase of goods exceeds the amount of $5,000 MXN pesos (aprox.US$370), Tax Back service executives will ask you to show the goods at the airport.

For more information on the Tax Back program, please call 1 800 00 NO TAX or visit their website www.taxback.com.mx.

About Cancun:

Cancun, the gateway to Mexico and the Mayan world, offers luxurious hotel infrastructure with more than 28,000 rooms, and is Mexico’s most beautiful and stylish destination. Opportunities for new experiences are everywhere, as the setting brings you into contact with both nature and Mayan culture like nowhere else.

Top-level gastronomy and nightlife; warm beaches with soft, white sand; crystal-clear, turquoise seas; and a location opposite the Great Mesoamerican Reef System, in tandem with Mexico’s world-famous hospitality, make Cancun an entirely unique tourist destination.

Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.cancun.travel.