Attention Travelers! Mexico has Changed the Exchange Rules for US Dollars

By: Lisa Coleman

We have had a number inquiries about the “peso situation” and we recently received a short, yet official statement from the tourism board listed below.  It appears the rumors are true.  We are not sure of how it will all work, and we don’t have details from hotels either. Bring your debit card and use ATMs – just keep in mind the $ sign is the same for pesos and dollars, but the rate you are seeing on the screen is in PESOS. We will keep up on this and post as we get reports.

MEXICO BANKING SYSTEM CAP ON
EXCHANGE OF DOLLARS FOR PESOS
 
OFFICIAL STATEMENT
September 13, 2010
  
In order to regulate the quantity of dollars entering the Mexican banking system, beginning September 14, 2010, the Mexican government will cap the amount of dollars foreigners can exchange for pesos in Banks & Money Exchange Establishments to no more than US$1,500 per month.
 
The measure WILL NOT AFFECT purchases made with credit cards or debit cards in Mexico.
 
The measure WILL NOT AFFECT the amount of CASH (in Mexican pesos) an International Tourist can withdraw from an ATM machine on a daily or monthly basis.
 
It is recommended that all travelers bring Mexican pesos as well as their credit and/or debit cards to minimize any inconvenience the exchange cap at banks may cause.

Drug Legalization Must Be Analyzed in Depth

drugs 2

During the Dialogues for Security organized by President Felipe Calderón on Monday and Tuesday to meet with civil society and experts and specialists on the issue, some of the participants put forward arguments regarding the advisability of legalizing certain drugs.

A propos of this, the President simply took note of the arguments in favor of legalizing drugs, adding that the pros and cons should be analyzed in depth during this debate.

The Mexican president said that legalizing drugs in Mexico could make Mexico pay all the negative consequences of this modification in the legislation and receive very few positive results in exchange. President Calderón said that several generations of young people would be at risk due to the foreseeable increase in the consumption of these substances as a result of their legislation.

Therefore, despite opposing the legalization of drugs, President Calderón does not oppose the debate on this issue.

MEXICO CARRIES OUT HUGELY SUCCESSFUL BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION

El grito

MEXICO CITY, September 17, 2010 – Mexico’s joyous Bicentennial celebration was an enormous success as tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets wearing their best red, white and green. The pride was palpable as President Felipe Calderon took to Mexico City’s National Palace overlooking the Zocalo to deliver “El Grito” and ring the historic liberty bell once rung by “the father of the nation,” Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. “El Grito” was heard around the country as state governors and city mayors also recreated the famous call to arms that sparked Mexico’s independence movement.

Following “El Grito” in Mexico City, red, white and green fireworks illuminated the sky as shouts of “Viva Mexico!” resonated throughout the country’s capital. Prior to the highly anticipated appearance by President Calderon, thousands of Mexico City residents gathered alongside the famous Reforma Avenue for a festive parade, including 250 teenagers carrying replicas of native cacti on their heads and several marchers carrying helium-filled depictions of Mayan gods behind a replica of a rebel soldier. Other celebrations throughout the country, although smaller in scale, were no less exuberant, as Mexicans of every state celebrated with fireworks, mariachi music and plenty of Mexican flags.

Other Mexico City festivities took place at El Angel de la Independencia (The Angel of Independence), a victory column located on Paseo de la Reforma and erected during Mexico’s centennial independence celebration in 1910. The government also put together an open-air philharmonic orchestra to promote the serious side of the occasion.

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 functions as an executive agency of Mexico’s Tourism Secretariat, with autonomous management and the broad participation of the private sector. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Real Resorts Gets Things ‘Cooking’ at its Luxury-Gourmet All-Inclusive All-Suite Resorts

THE ROYAL in Cancun & THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen Invite Couples to ‘Play’ in the Kitchen

CANCUN/RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico /PRNewswire/ — Real Resort’s two luxury-gourmet all-inclusive, all-suite resorts, THE ROYAL in Cancun & THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen, are renowned for their gourmet dining and romantic atmosphere. Now the two adult-only resorts are offering couples a fun opportunity to learn from its professional chefs and enjoy preparing a meal for each other.

The new couples activity, which is available at both of THE ROYAL in Cancun and THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen, is included as a fun activity as part of the resorts’ all-inclusive experience. Each week couples are invited to sign-up for the lunch experience where they will prepare a meal for one another. The activity begins when guests are presented with a chef’s torque (tall hat), as well as a chef’s jacket, apron and pants. Once donned in the proper attire, the couples are taken to one of the resort’s many kitchen areas where they work with the chefs on preparing an easy three-course meal for each other. The event is designed to be entertaining, easy and suitable for the many newlywed couples who visit the resort and want to sharpen their culinary skills. Once the meal is prepared the guests can enjoy the leisurely lunch.

“The cooking activity is a perfect complement to THE ROYAL in Cancun and THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen excellent reputation for fine dining and fun activities for adults,” said Real Resorts Managing Director, Fernando Garcia. “As luxury-gourmet resorts we are renowned for our quality and preparation of food. Many times guests want to meet our chefs, learn a few ‘tricks of the trade’ and the cooking program is an excellent way to share our ‘secrets’ with our guests so they can take some of the flavor of the resorts home with them while having a really good time bonding with one another,” added Garcia.

Both THE ROYAL in Cancun and THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen offer a dozen dining options as part of its all-inclusive experience. In the quest to constantly add to the dining experience, the resorts recently expanded the menu at its signature restaurant, Chef’s Plate, to include a selection of nouvelle cuisine dishes prepared to enhance and combine natural flavors. Each day the executive chef designs an exceptional menu combining the freshest ingredients with expanded preparation to produce an explosion of flavor. In addition, the resorts have added a new gluten-free menu for guests who have special dietary needs. This complements the low sugar and lactose free menus that are already available. Guests are asked to request these special menus in advance. Examples of gluten-free items available include gluten free breads and desserts, as well as soups, salads and entrees. Special dietary menus are available at all restaurants throughout THE ROYAL in Cancun & THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen, both luxury-gourmet, all-inclusive, all-suite resorts.

Reservations can be made through a travel agent or by calling 800-760-0944. For more information visit online at: http://www.realresorts.com/.

Luxury Avenue Los Cabos Offers Couples Specialized Wedding Services

LOS CABOS, Mexico — For couples traveling to Los Cabos for their destination wedding, Luxury Avenue is a must for shopping, pampering and beauty services. Luxury Avenue’s impressive menu of wedding services guarantees couples can arrive with the confidence that many last minute wedding details can be attended to.

Instead of traveling with bridal party gifts, couples can find the perfect gifts for the entire group at Luxury Avenue. Working with an on-site coordinator, couples can visit the spectacular collection of boutiques to find gifts that complement their bridal party. Home to exclusive brands such as Cartier, Fendi, Swarovski, and more, Luxury Avenue is the ideal solution for finding quality gifts at an unbeatable value.

With makeup from Clinique, Chanel and Estee Lauder, professional make-up services at Ultrafemme will freshen up the faces of the bride and bridesmaids before walking down the aisle. Prior to makeup, a visit to Ultrafemme’s Skin Lounge is great for the bride and her group. The Skin Lounge brings the spa experience to shoppers, offering exclusive treatments and pampering services. A great treatment for a bride to unwind before the ceremony is the For Relaxation treatment, using royal jelly to achieve an energetic glow and remove signs of stress.

Welcome wedding guests to Mexico and celebrate a couple’s upcoming nuptials with a cocktail reception at Luxury Avenue. Guests can enjoy cocktails and hor d’oeuvres against the stunning backdrop of Luxury Avenue’s boutiques and the Cabo San Lucas Marina.

For couples vacationing in Los Cabos and looking to get engaged, Luxury Avenue is the place to choose the perfect proposal jewelry. For engagement rings, couples need not look further than Ultrajewels, showcasing prestigious names in jewelry such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co and more.

Luxury Avenue is the newest venture from Grupo Ultrafemme, the innovative company that developed the alluring and distinct retail divisions of Ultrafemme and Ultrajewels. With 10 locations throughout Mexico, Ultrafemme offers travelers over 500 of the world’s best cosmetic, fragrance and skin care brands such as Chanel, Clinique, Christian Dior, Estee Lauder and more. The renowned Ultrajewels boutiques, with 8 locations throughout Mexico, feature the finest jewelry and timepieces such as Rolex, Breguet, Breitling, Bvlgari, Cartier, Concord, David Yurman, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Mikimoto, and more. For more information visit www.luxuryavenue.com, follow us on Twitter @ShopLuxuryAve or become a fan on Facebook.

CANCUN & THE RIVIERA MAYA JOIN FORCES FOR LOW CARBON TRAVEL

CANCUN, Quintana Roo; September 9th, 2010. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) in Cancun, along with partners and allies, presented a series of initiatives to raise awareness about the problems of climate change and its effects locally and are taking concrete actions towards a low carbon economy during the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP16) being held in Cancun from November 29th through December 10th, 2010.

The Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Riviera Maya Tourism Board, the Cancun Hotel Association, two business groups committed to sustainability: OHL – Mayakoba (with hotels, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Fairmont Mayakoba, Rosewood Mayakoba Golf Course and The Chameleon) Experience Xcaret (which includes companies Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor and Xich), WWF, Universities and other partners, presented four projects on climate change that will take place before, during and after COP 16.

Tourism initiative for a Low-Carbon Quintana Roo. The above mentioned business groups, hotel associations and tourism boards, advised by WWF, the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI), the University of the Caribbean and the consulting firm Environmental Policy and Environmental Planning (GPPA) are working on methods that will enable hotels and businesses to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, reduction commitments and establish medium and long term reductions. They are also seeking options for tourists who visit the destination to be able to choose travel choices with less impact to the local atmosphere. The main goal of this initiative is to add more business partners in the coming years, and to become the main tool to promote action on climate change in the tourism sector.

Update Seminar on Climate Change and Tourism. This seminar will be held at the Fairmont Mayakoba on October 8th and will target hoteliers and business operators that are seeking to update relevant information on the issue as well as present a variety of success stories from similar companies. Morning lectures will be lead by national and international experts and in the afternoon we will develop a participatory workshop.

Exhibition Quintana Roo, air to land. Exhibition of aerial photography, land and underwater in large format on the ecosystems of Quintana Roo, co-organized with the Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Ecologic Center of Akumal and the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, and pictures of Fabian Caballero and photographers of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) which will be mounted during the two weeks of COP16 in the Cancun Messe fairgrounds.

National Call for Competition Climate Change in Short. In collaboration with the Universidad Anahuac Cancun, this competition aims to give young people in private and public schools and universities in the country, the opportunity to showcase their vision of climate change. Registration is now open and closing date for receipt of materials is October 22.

“The fact that the most important climate summit in the world, is taking place in our destination, is an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of the effects that global warming is having on ecosystems, which are key to tourism and the state’s economy, such as coral reefs.”It’s also important to highlight the role that business play in promoting these initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment as well as promote their importance and strength of the partnerships between their sector and Civil Society Organizations,” said Vicente Acosta, Director of WWF’s Sustainable Tourism. With these initiatives, the tourism industry in Cancun and Riviera Maya is preparing to welcome attendees to the COP 16 and to continue the work already carried out in order to have destinations with low carbon.

About COP 16

The COP is the main forum and only formal meeting place that serves multilateral negotiations of the United Nations that seeks to develop an international regime on climate change, to promote stabilization of the concentration of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere at levels that do not harm adverse socio-natural systems, allowing ecosystems to adapt in advance and not stop the socio-economic development of peoples. The first COP was established in 1995, in Berlin and through2009, in Copenhagen. This year Cancun will host the 16th UN Climate Summit on Climate Change (known as COP 16), from November 29th through December 10th, 2010. Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.To learn more about the COP 16 visit: www.cc2010.mx

About WWF

WWF is one of the largest and most experienced an independent conservation in the world. WWF was founded in 1961 and is known by the symbol of the panda. It has a global network that works in over 100 countries, working for the living planet and its mission is to stop the environmental degradation of the Earth and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. To learn more about WWF visit: www.wwf.org.mx and www.panda.org

Guest Blogger Carolyn Patten: Fiesta Time? Listos??

By Lola

Hurrah for Carolyn! She’s still in San Miguel de Allende (yes, that’s a note of envy creeping in my voice) and sending in a Travel Wench’s eye view of the town’s preparations for the grandest fiesta of all: the Bicentennial!

“In a country with an almost reverent attitude about fireworks and an actual patron saint for same – San Juan de Dios – the party atmosphere is never really undercover. Mexicans work harder than any people I have ever know, and they also know how to celebrate, dance, play music and get their yayas on like no other.

Look closely: yep, that's confetti!
Look closely: yep, that's confetti!

In slightly less than a week, Mexico will be caught up in the biggest party in 200 years – the 200-year anniversary of the 1810 revolution that declared independence from Spain. Here in San Miguel de Allende, the fervor is especially intense. This lovely city was where it all began, with the “grito” or shout of independence, delivered from the balcony of the Allende home across from the elegant cathedral, the Parroquia. For the past several months, the square in between the cathedral and the Jardin has been the site of folklorico dances, concerts, beauty queen contests, speeches and general extreme high spirits – even more than usual, and that’s saying a lot.

La Virgencita de Guadalupe, Mexico's own patron saint
La Virgencita de Guadalupe, Mexico's own patron saint

The main streets are decorated with red, green and white streamers and sparkly stuff. Bullfights are planned, parades are in the making, art galleries and restaurants are buffing up for a stream of visitors and, unless you just don’t like fun, there is absolutely no reason not to be part of the celebration.  The Bicentennial comes at a time when this sweet country is under siege in the press and those visitors north of the border are hesitant about making the journey.

But, I tell you, if there is an ideal time to visit, it is starting right now. The Independence celebrations hit their peak the week of September 13. San Miguel will take a pause to catch its breath, and then October 1-3, it’s time to pay homage to San Miguel Arcangel, the patron saint and guardian angel of the city. More parties, parades, fireworks and happy faces. In November? Put on your dancing shoes and stock up on sugar skulls, because the Day of the Dead is a huge two-day fiesta all over the city.

And have I mentioned that prices for gorgeous, full-service hotels and top restaurants are rock-bottom right now? Yep. If you’re feeling the pinch in the U.S. or Canada, this is definitely the place to stretch your dollars. Fly right into Mexico City and take a comfy shuttle or streamlined air-conditioned bus into San Miguel, or take an alternate flying route into the Leon/Guanajuato airport and reserve a spiffy shuttle from there direct to your hotel room.

Bienvenidos to party central!”

Balloons and toys sell briskly in the Jardin...
Balloons and toys sell briskly in the Jardin...

Ignacio Allende's statue keeps an eye on the festivities.
Ignacio Allende's statue keeps an eye on the festivities.