AEROMEXICO OPERATES ITS FIRST “GREEN FLIGHT”

Mexico, D.F., October 16, 2010. – Aeromexico, the largest transcontinental airline of Mexico, operated its first set of “green flights” yesterday. The “green” routes were Mexico City-San Jose and Costa Rica- Mexico City. The objective was to promote the sustainable initiatives and actions to reduce the rate of CO2 emissions and polluting materials to help the environment.

The “green flights”, operated by Aeromexico’s Boeing 737-700, aim to save a fuel equivalent to 555 kilograms of CO2 emissions on both flights. On ground in Mexico City, they will save approximately 300 kilograms of emissions and during the stay in San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica, the savings could be of up to 180 kilograms of emissions. With a total of a little over a ton of CO2 that will not be liberated into the atmosphere, which is  comparable to the emissions of a midsize car traveling approximately 2858 miles.

These gas emission savings are achieved thanks to the techniques and procedures used on land and in air, and to the technology in this modern aircraft. The training of the pilots, flight attendants and ground personnel along with close coordination with vendors and entities in the Air Traffic Control, generate the ideal conditions to develop these flights.

In regards to the in-flight service, several new eco-initiatives were incorporated, such as the separation of organic and inorganic waste, the reduction of printed materials to generate less amount of waste and weight, the use of bio-degradable bags  (accelerated decomposition), 100% cotton in pillows, tablecloths and napkins, as well as biodegradable hand soaps, among others.

All of the food on board included organic ingredients and the vita film plastic and aluminum tops were eliminated and replaced with recyclable plastic cups and water bottles (elaborated with 25% recycled PET). In addition, the ultra modern light-weight carts used to transport meals helped reduce fuel consumption and therefore, pollution in the air.

Through the “green flights”, Aeromexico seeks to show the potential fuel savings, the usage of less contaminating materials and the environmental benefits that could be generated during the normal operations of a flight, promoting environmental preservation programs that have been already used by the airline.

In order to make this possible, Aeromexico counted with the support of various authorities and entities, such as, the Centers of Air Traffic Control in Mexico SENEAM / COCESNA / CENAMER, Costa Rica, the General Civil Aviation of Mexico and its equivalent in Costa Rica, Aeris Consortium (airport administrator in Costa Rica); Mexico City International Airport, ASA Combustibles (fuels), SEAT (Ground Support Services), Swissport and Coopesa in Costa Rica, among others.

With these initiatives, the airline seeks to become the pioneer in the industry in Mexico, and become a proactive partner of the efforts being made worldwide to improve the quality of the air and prevent climate change. Lastly, Aeromexico looks forward to generate sustainable projects, such as “green flights”, that involve the society and institutions, and motivate the community to engage in different causes for the benefit of the environment.

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Alaska Airlines Offering Fares on New Flights From San Jose and Sacramento, Calif., to Guadalajara, Mexico

$119* introductory one-way fares now available for service starting in December

SEATTLE /PRNewswire/ — Alaska Airlines is now offering fares for sale on its new service between San Jose, Calif., and Guadalajara, Mexico, starting Dec. 15 and between Sacramento, Calif., and Guadalajara, starting Dec. 16, 2010, subject to government approval.

Summary of new service:

Date City Pair Departs Arrives Frequency
Dec 15 San Jose-Guadalajara 10:50 p.m. 5 a.m. Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun
Dec 16 Guadalajara-San Jose 7 a.m. 8:50 a.m. Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat
Dec 16 Sacramento-Guadalajara 11:15 p.m. 5 a.m. Tues, Thurs, Sat
Dec 17 Guadalajara-Sacramento 7 a.m. 8:50 a.m. Wed, Fri, Sun

Times are based on local time zones.

Introductory fares start at $119* each way for tickets purchased by Oct. 28, 2010, for travel completed by March 9, 2011. Fares are available for booking today at www.alaskaair.com or by calling 1-800-ALASKAAIR (1-800-252-7522 or TTY/TTD line 1-800-392-0228).

The new flights will be operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating 16 passengers in first class and 141 in the main cabin.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers” in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008, 2009 and 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Studies(SM). For reservations, visit alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at alaskaair.com/newsroom.

*Terms and conditions for introductory one-way fares: Tickets must be purchased by Oct. 28, 2010, for travel starting Dec. 15, 2010, between San Jose and Guadalajara, and Dec. 16, 2010, between Sacramento and Guadalajara. Travel must be completed by March 9, 2011. All flights do not operate daily; see summary of new service above.

General terms and conditions: 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. Travelers are responsible for the following taxes and fees, as applicable: Airport Passenger Facility Charges of up to $9 (amount depends on itinerary), Federal Segment Tax of $3.70 per segment (takeoff and landing), and September 11 Security Fee of $2.50 per enplanement.

Additional fees for Mexico travel: U.S. Immigration User Fee of $7, U.S. Aphis Fee of $5, U.S. International Transportation Tax of $16.10, Mexico International Departure Tax of up to $33 (fluctuates with dollar-peso exchange rate), Mexico Tourism Tax of up to $24 (fluctuates with dollar-peso exchange rate) and Mexico Transportation Tax of 4 percent of the fare (fluctuates with dollar-peso exchange rate). Additional U.S. taxes may apply to itineraries involving a U.S. stopover lasting more than 12 hours.

Other important information: All fares, taxes and fees are in U.S. dollars. All taxes and fees shown are based on one-way travel and may be doubled if traveling roundtrip. All fares, taxes and fees are subject to change without notice and other restrictions apply. Tickets are nonrefundable. Changes made at alaskaair.com incur a $75 per person change fee and any difference in fare. Ticket changes made through an Alaska Airlines reservation call center or airport ticket counter incur a $100 per person change fee and any difference in fare. A $20 baggage fee will apply for each of the first three checked bags. Additional fees apply to check more than three bags and for overweight or oversized items. See checked baggage policy at alaskaair.com for more details.

Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort To Track Adopted Endangered Sea Turtle’s Journey Through The World’s Waters

MIAMI, FL.  – Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort is committed to the conservation of the region’s natural wildlife. In an effort to preserve the endangered sea turtles, the resort has adopted an Olive Ridley sea turtle and will follow its journey via satellite.  Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort has partnered with local environmental authorities and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) so that both experts and guests can learn about the sea turtles’ migration paths in the ocean; an initiative that will assist in the conservation studies of these endangered species.

Every year, between July and November, adult sea turtles arrive ashore to Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort where they lay eggs, and head back to an endless voyage through the ocean. The resort is a proud co-founder of the Los Cabos Sea Turtle Protection program and every year, certified hotel personnel patrols 3.5 mile stretch of beachfront; they carefully remove the turtle eggs from their nests and keep them safe in a special corral. This year the resort has protected over 17,624 turtle eggs, which will be later released. Renata, an adult Olive Ridley sea turtle, named by the resort’s facebook fans, was released yesterday after a special “Fiesta for Renata” hosted on-property.

Resort guests and locals where part of an educational celebration as they watched Renata embark on her journey through the world’s waters. Guests and wildlife aficionados are encouraged to track Renata’s adventures at http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/index.shtml?tag_id=78514&anime=1.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is considered the most populous of marine turtle species but, with sharply declining numbers in recent years, is still in danger of extinction with sharply declining numbers in recent years.

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About Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels is the stylish, forward-thinking global leader of hospitality that welcomes guests in more countries than any other full-service hotel brand.  The Hilton brand currently includes more than 530 hotels and resorts in 76 countries, and plans to serve travelers in 80 countries by the end of 2011.  By offering innovative products, services and amenities, Hilton enables travelers to be at their best 24/7, whether traveling for business or leisure.  Start your journey at www.hilton.com

About Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites and mid-priced hotels.  For 91 years, Hilton Worldwide has been offering business and leisure travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value.  The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands.  Its brands are comprised of more than 3,600 hotels and 599,000 rooms in 81 countries and include Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.  The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®. For more information about the company, visit www.hiltonworldwide.com.

Local Non-Profit Launches Language School in Punta Mita

Local Non-Profit Launches Language School
 
 Punta de Mita, Nay. –  Tres, dos, uno! The countdown is on as PEACE Language School prepares to open their doors on October 25th. Expats and tourists are signing up to culturally and linguistically integrate themselves in the Mexican way of life while supporting communities throughout the bay.
 
“This is not your typical classroom,” says Adriana Giselle Martin del Campo, Language School Director. “Students who were once embarrassed to attempt Spanish with locals emerge enthused and confident in their knowledge. They’re able to re-enforce what they learn every day in the real world.”
 
The PEACE Language School Programs have been customized to meet the needs of English speaking tourists and expats in Mexico by blending vocabulary and grammar with cultural activities catered for everyday use abroad. Through three levels of Survival Spanish ( 2 and a half hour, five-day courses,) taught by experienced, bi-lingual teachers, students will learn how to ask for directions, use Mexican currency, request help, order food and know what to do in case of an emergency. Students will also receive important cultural tips that will enrich their visit including activities such as salsa dancing, Mexican slang, Mexican cooking or learning about Mexican history, art and music.
 
One-on-one classes, group courses and one week intensive workshops are offered upon request.
 
Schedule:
 
Monday through Friday 9 am to 11:30 am

Second week of every month: Punta de Mita
Third week of every month: Puerto Vallarta
Fourth week of every month: Sayulita
 
Contact peacelanguageinfo(at)peacemexico.org for more information or to register for class.
 
 
PEACE: Protection, Education, Animals, Culture and Environment, is a nonprofit organization established in 2005, made of four main programs which focus on education, entrepreneurship, animal well-being and community engagement in the coastal regions of Nayarit, Jalisco and Quintana Roo, Mexico. Through innovative and community-based programs, PEACE is working to improve the quality of life in local communities throughout the Bahía de Banderas and beyond. For more information, please visit http://www.peacemexico.org/.
 
For more information contact:
Becci Burchett
PEACE Mexico
becci@peacemexico.org

WHEN NATURE CALLS… GO TO MEXICO!

Whale watching

MEXICO CITY, October 9, 2010 – Ecotourism travel in Mexico is about to get a lot more exciting in the upcoming winter months, as the country prepares for the migration of both the infamous gray whale and the incredible monarch butterfly. Starting in November, the two species will trade in the cold weather of their natural habitats for sunny Mexico, giving plenty of reason for nature lovers to do the same.

Mexico is one of the only places in the world where one can enjoy the unique opportunities of getting up close and personal with curious and friendly gray whales and experiencing the unforgettable sight of a forest carpeted by millions of monarch butterflies. Why is Mexico so blessed? Because its land is a unique mosaic of ecosystems, ranging from desert in the north, to pine forests and snow-capped mountains in the middle, and tropical jungle in the south. Add to that 6,000 miles of coastline along the Caribbean, Pacific and Baja California coasts, and you could have the most varied natural landscape on the planet!

Mexico’s 18 million acres of ecological preserves, 147 protected areas, dozens of biosphere reserves and national parks are home to 30,000 species of flowering plants, nearly 1,000 species of birds and more than 1,500 kinds of reptiles, mammals and amphibians, making the country a haven for nature lovers the world over.

Mexico is one of the world’s five richest countries in terms of biological diversity. It has a greater variety of plants and animals than any country except Brazil, Colombia and Thailand. It is home to more reptiles than any other nation, and to the second largest number of mammals and amphibians. Some of its well-known treasures include the jaguar, quetzal bird and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, but Mexico also has more unique species than any place in the Americas.

The country is also deeply committed to sustainable tourism practices, particularly those that deal with environmental care and support to local communities. In fact, the Mexico Tourism Board recently became a member of the newly created Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which aims to promote sustainable practices in all tourism activities. Travelers are encouraged to visit Mexico’s natural sites, as visitors can contribute significantly to the livelihood of these areas by supporting local businesses and caring for the surrounding natural areas.

Protected Species

During the winter months, more than 10,000 California gray whales also make the trip, abandoning the freezing waters of the Bering Sea near for the warm waters of the Baja California Peninsula down the Pacific Coast. Although the whales start their migration in November, the peak time for whale-watching is January through late March or early April, after the calves are born.

During these months, boat excursions are available all along Baja California to view these magnificent creatures. Gray whale watching takes place all along the coastline of the Baja Peninsula, but the Bahia Magdalena is one of the most popular destinations due to its proximity to the La Paz and Loreto International Airports. Lindblad’s Special Expeditions offers eight-day cruises featuring whale-watching at Magdalena Bay. Meanwhile, Baja Ecotours offers a five-day group air expedition departing from San Diego and arriving in San Ignacio Lagoon, where travelers can then enjoy the whale watching experience of a lifetime. RED Sustainable Tourism offers a conservation adventure in the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Laguna San Ignacio, home of the Whale Sanctuary of Vizcaino, a UNESCO World Heritage site. During this one-of-a-kind adventure, visitors can see California gray whales up close and personal.

Along with gray whales, humpback whales also migrate south during the winter from their arctic feeding grounds to breed and rear their young in the warm, protected waters of the Bahia de Banderas in Puerto Vallarta. Tours are available to view these magnificent creatures, as well as wild dolphins and a variety of other exotic sea creatures. For more information on humpback whale watching tours, please visit www.vallartawhales.com or www.vallarta-adventures.com/tours/whale-watching.

A Royal Experience

In one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena, some 250 million monarch butterflies migrate annually from southern Canada and the northern United States to the Oyamel mountaintop fir forests of the central Mexican state of Michoacan and the sanctuaries of La Mesa and El Capulin in Mexico State, where they hibernate for winter and mate in the spring. Although the butterflies can be visited any time between November and March, the best time to see them is in February and early March, right before their offspring head north. The monarch butterfly sanctuaries of El Rosario and Sierra Chincua surround the mountain village of Angangueo, a 45-minute drive from Zitacuaro. Zitacuaro is two hours by bus or car from Morelia and three hours by bus or car from Mexico City. The monarch butterfly migration is so enchanting that the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, located northwest of Mexico City, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

 
Sea Turtles
  
Like clockwork, endangered sea turtles find their way to the tropical paradise of southern Mexico’s Pacific Coast to lay their eggs. The Pacific resort city of Huatulco, in the state of Oaxaca, is the ideal destination to view this phenomenon. Mazunte Beach is the site of the National Mexican Turtle Center, created by the Mexican government in 1991 for the protection, study and preservation of sea turtles, who were facing extinction at the time.

Organized tours, like those organized by Natural Habitat Adventures, are available for eco-travelers wishing to help patrol the beach, witness these fascinating creatures laying their eggs and observe how the hatchlings quickly scurry for the safety of the ocean. The states of Michoacán and Guerrero are also popular destinations for sea turtle watching. Along with gray whale conservation efforts, RED Sustainable Tourism has several wonderful sea turtle conservation adventures as well. The first, the Magdalena Bay Sea Turtle Conservation Adventure takes place at Magdalena Bay on the Pacific Coast of the Baja California peninsula. Here, travelers can join a local group of fisher-conservationists on a journey through Magdalena Bay to participate in a sea turtle conservation project. While on the trip you will monitor sea turtles; explore islands, dunes and mangroves; bird watch and star gaze. Another RED trip is the Mazatlan Sea Turtle and Crocodile Conservation Experience where nesting sea turtles, crocodiles and old sustainable fishing techniques await. In the Verde Camacho Natural Sanctuary, one of Mexico’s premier Natural Protected areas, visitors can patrol sea turtle nesting beaches, release sea turtles, participate in beach and estuary nature walks, go on a mangrove boat tour and engage in traditional fishing. Yet another option is the Mazatlan Safari and Sea Turtle Adventure at the Verde Camacho Nature Sanctuary. This one-day safari allows visitors to release sea turtles, go on a mangrove boat tour and observe nature.

Other Popular Destinations for Ecotourism

Chiapas

The southernmost state of Chiapas is home to the Cañon del Sumidero (Sumidero Canyon) Ecotourism Park, an immense botanical garden filled with orchids, bromelias and ceiba trees, as well as crocodiles, jaguars, pumas, great curossaws, black spider monkeys and wild boars. The park also features 3,300-foot vertical stone walls carved out by the Grijalva River, which can be toured by boat or raft. Travelers are encouraged to visit www.sumidero.com or www.ecoaventuramex.com for more information.

Within Chiapas’ Lacandon Jungle, one can find the villages of Naha and Metzabok, where visitors will discover blue lagoons, Mayan ceremonial sites and experience community tourism. Here, visitors can find threatened or endangered animal species such as the curassow, the harpy eagle, jaguar and quetzal. In June 2010, this natural wonder was included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Travelers can rent canoes, participate in a guided tour or stay in an ecotourism camp during their visit.

Another great eco-tourism adventure in Chiapas can be found in the Parrot’s Sinkhole (La Sima de las Cotorras). This sinkhole is located near the Selva El Ocote Biosphere Reserve and measures 160 meters across and 140 meters straight down. Here, one can admire paintings of warriors, animals, as well as a small forest at the bottom of the sinkhole housing thousands of parrots.

At sunrise and sunset, the parrots enter and leave the sinkhole, an amazing marvel to witness. Camping, parrot watching, rappelling and horseback riding are popular activities at this site.

Laguna Verde in the municipality of Coapilla, is a beautiful lake whose water changes color according to weather conditions at different times of the day; when it’s cloudy, the lake appears to be green, during the early morning hours it’s blue, under the sun of the early afternoon it’s silver and during a clear evening it’s ochre (a copper hue). Laguna Verde is great for hiking and a camping safari, as well as kayaking and mountain biking.

Surrounded by a valley of sugar cane fields, mountains and forest are the gorgeous Chiflon Waterfalls (Cascadas del Chiflon). The most impressive waterfall is a curtain of water formed by the San Vicente river, which opens up to turquoise colored pools, ideal for swimming. A two hour drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez, the waterfalls are great for wall climbing and mountain biking.

Other amazing ecotourism centers in Chiapas include the Centro Ecoturistico Las Nubes (The Clouds Ecotourism Center), Centro Ecoturistico Guacamayas (The Macaws Ecotourism Center), Centro Ecoturistico Tziscao (Tziscao Ecotourism Center) and the Centro Ecoturistico Grutas de Rancho Nuevo (Rancho Nuevo Caves Ecotourism Center)

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean and comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical ecosystems in the state of Quintana Roo. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve consists of lowland forest, flooded savannas, mangroves, and a portion of the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef – the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. The Reserve is also home to 800 plant species and houses 350 bird species, as well as jaguars, pumas, ocelots, spider and howler monkeys, crocodiles and several types of turtles. In addition, the reserve also houses 23 different archaeological sites of pre-Colombian ultra.

Sian Ka’an Community Tours is an organization that is deeply committed to ecologically sustainable tourism, which distinguishes them from other tour operators in the Reserve. Tour itineraries ensure personalized experiences (in small groups of course) that minimize ecological impact, tours that provide adventure and education about the challenges to conservation within the Reserve and providing genuine cultural exchanges. Sian Ka’an Community Tours offer different experiences throughout the Reserve, such as “mayaking,” a bird and natural history tour, fly fishing and a sunset boat tour.

Durango

In the Mapimi Biosphere Reserve in the state of Durango, nature lovers can hike to their hearts’ content through the agave and cresote-filled landscape as well as visit the mystical Zone of Silence, where no radio wave can penetrate. The mountains, deep canyons and desert create a gorgeous setting for hiking, mountain-biking and camping.

Tamaulipas

Tamaulipas State, located just south of Texas, is home to the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, which spans 357,000 acres and includes tropical jungles and mountain forests.  With elevations reaching 7,500 feet above sea level, El Cielo (“Heaven”) is appropriately named. This is an ideal location to go camping, hiking, mountain biking, or discover the diverse flora and fauna of the area. Bird watching is another popular activity to engage in while visiting El Cielo. This is a great way to explore the reserve and learn about species such as the ornate hawk-eagle, white-crowned parrot and the red-loried parrot, among others. Furthermore, El Cielo is a butterfly hotspot, allowing visitors to get up close to several different beautiful species. In the southern region of Tamaulipas, visitors can travel through Playa Miramar, an attractive beach destination which hosts several fishing tournaments throughout the year. To learn more about El Cielo, please visit http://elcielo.tamaulipas.gob.mx or http://www.elcielobiosphere.org.

Veracruz

For those eager to learn about the flora and fauna of Mexico, the state of Veracruz, located on the Gulf Coast, is the ideal location.  Boat tours are available for viewing the exotic plant and wildlife near the Laguna de Catemaco, a natural lake formed in the crater of an extinct volcano. Veracruz is also home to the Veracruz Reef System, which extends from the port of Veracruz to Punta Anton Lizardo. It consists of 17 reefs and is one of Mexico’s most important marine parks due to its abundant coral formation. The Reef System is also the habitat of diverse mollusks, as well as numerous fish and crustaceans. Covering 52,238 hectares (129,027 acres), and 132 feet (40 meters) deep, this is an ideal spot for scuba diving.

Veracruz also features several other locales for nature lovers, such as Nanciyaga, an ecological reserve where one can observe turtles and crocodiles; the Special Reserve of Los Tuxtlas, a biosphere reserve whose biodiversity makes it one of the most important natural areas in the country; and “El Salto de Eyipantla,” a spectacular waterfall whose zone harbors wild boar, deer, opposums and ocelots.

For more information about Veracruz, please visit http://portal.veracruz.gob.mx/portal/page?_pageid=313,4407690&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL.

Chihuahua

One of Mexico’s greatest natural wonders, the Copper Canyon (Las Barrancas del Cobre), is actually a series of interconnecting canyons, some them deeper than the famous Grand Canyon in Arizona. Part of the western Sierra Madre mountain range, the canyon’s terrain ranges from below sea level to more than 10,000 feet at its peaks. Because of that, the canyon features three completely different ecosystems: cold evergreen forests grace the canyon tops, warmer-weather chaparral fills the plateau on the way down and tropical desert dominates the canyon floor. Mexico’s tallest waterfall, the 984-foot Cascada de Basaseachi, is found here, along with a variety of plant life.

What If The Shoe Was On The Other Foot? Some Thoughts On Violent Crime And Tourism

By Lola

What if CNN headlines blared “Drug Violence Claims 4 Lives In Popular Vacation Destination” every time a gang-banger (any color, any race) shot up a rival gang’s sidewalk in Los Angeles? What if Fox News ran a constant ticker that read “Murder Chose Chicago 131 Times This Year” and held forms discussing why the city should be boycotted? (In fact, September in that city ended last week with 30 homicides. Nearly 20% of the victims were teens.) Should travel warnings be issued for the Windy City? Should we close up California because, according to the LAPD, even though overall gang crimes fell 12.2 percent, 31 more people were shot [this year] in suspected gang crimes, an increase of 4.9 percent?

I wouldn’t be lying if I said the US has more violence than other first-world countries—and that’s been a fact even before drug use in this country escalated to the point where every enterprising dealer south of the border wanted a piece of the action. We have more robberies, rapes and assaults here. We glorify violence in our movies and our TV shows. We breed serial killers. Meth labs are popping up like daisies in the suburbs (and we all know how sweet and mellow meth-heads can be). We are now even venturing into suicide promotion with the sudden spike of bullying in our schools.

So… honestly. Where are our travel warnings?

Are you mad yet? You should be. This is a great country. It’s a beautiful country. And if you stay away from the scary section of town, if you don’t deal drugs, if you aren’t a hooker and you steer clear of shady bars, chances are you’ll have a ball and be safe as houses in every city, coast to coast. It’s not a guarantee, though, because even in this great nation of ours, innocent lives have been claimed in crossfire. But the police scanners certainly won’t keep me from enjoying the fall weather along the Navy Pier in Chicago or spending a weekend of pure fun in Los Angeles.

So why should I cancel my visit to Puerto Vallarta? Or forget my plans to visit Mexico City for a week?

I shouldn’t. And neither should you.

Yes, be careful. Yes, take normal precautions. No, don’t go to the locus of the cartels for a drive or a drink.

I know I’m not the only one out there who thinks this way. I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness, but sometimes it sure feels that way. So, I’m doing what I can with the tools I have.

Here are just a couple of links from like-minded people. I know there are many more of you out there. Raise your voice. Let it be heard. Thousands upon thousands of people in Mexico depend on tourism for their livelihood. People who can’t feed their children become desperate. And we all know about desperate people. Please help reverse this desperation by looking beyond the headlines.

Thanks for your time.

Lola

The Economist Blog: “Mexico: Safer Than Canada”

Mexico Boutique Hotels Blog: “Travel Warning for the United States?”

Mexico’s Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit Earn 26 AAA Diamonds in 2011

Grand Velas Riviera Maya & Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit Top the Charts with AAA Five Diamond Awards

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Recently announced, Mexico’s all-inclusive Velas Resorts have earned a total of 26 American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Diamonds for 2011.  The four luxury all-inclusive properties are located in three of Mexico’s top beach destinations, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

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Grand Velas Riviera Maya, for the first time since opening in late 2008, and Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, for its fifth consecutive year, were awarded the 2011 AAA Five Diamond Award for lodging.  The two are the only family-friendly all-inclusive properties in North America that merited the award.

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit’s three gourmet restaurants, Frida (Mexican Cuisine), Lucca (Italian-Mediterranean Cuisine) and Piaf (Traditional French Cuisine), were also awarded AAA Four Diamond awards for fine dining.

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The resorts’ sister property, Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta received the AAA Four Diamond Award, for its fourth consecutive year.  Casa Velas, a boutique hotel and ocean club located on the Marina Vallarta Golf Course, is the only adults-only all-inclusive golf resort in Mexico to receive this award.

Every year more than 60 AAA/CAA tourism editors visit over 60,000 lodgings, campgrounds, restaurants and attractions throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.  Tourism editors conduct unannounced evaluations, scrutinizing such areas as cleanliness, ambiance, amenities and service.  Only an estimated 0.25 percent of the estimated 60,000 properties will receive the Five Diamond Award each year.
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About Velas Resorts:
Mexico’s all-inclusive Velas Resorts in Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit have earned 26 AAA Diamonds and numerous other esteemed international awards for their services and facilities.  Among them are Virtuoso’s “Best Spa of the World”, Condé Nast Johansens’ “Most Excellent Resort” and the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences’ 5 Star Diamond Award.  Velas Resorts offer spacious luxury accommodations, world-class spas, a la carte gourmet cuisine at a selection of specialty restaurants, and an unparalleled hospitality experience.