Rising Tide of Growth Laps Mazatlán’s Shores

MAZATLÁN, Mexico – Tourism in the Pacific coastal city of Mazatlán continues to thrive, as the destination welcomes major developers, international sporting events and a growing number of visitors.

“Travelers here have a unique opportunity to experience the best of both worlds,” says Carlos Berdegue, vice president, Mazatlán Hotel Association and Tourism Board. “On the one hand, they enjoy a modern destination, with spectacular hotels, restaurants and nightlife. On the other hand, they experience the rich culture and history of Mazatlán through our vibrant Historic District and scenic rural villages, some of which date back to the 16th century.

Resorts and Hotels On the Rise
Visitors find much that’s new and in the works in this destination known as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” Mazatlán has more than 90 hotel and condominium properties, including nearly 50 four and five-star resorts. The destination expects to have more than 10,000 hotel rooms available throughout the city by yearend, compared to 9,400 in 2007. That’s good news for the 3,767,476 visitors expected here this year, up 9 percent from 3,456,400 in 2007.

Accommodations are available to fit all interests and budgets, from charming beachside cottages and haciendas to luxury resorts with spas, championship golf courses, award-winning restaurants, high-tech fitness centers, lively bars and more.

D’Gala Mazatlán Hotel opened in March 2008 in Mazatlán’s Zona Dorada – the Golden Zone or glittering, oceanfront resort district. The AAA Three-Diamond hotel houses 89 elegantly appointed rooms and suites and a banquet room accommodating 120 people. D’Gala’s gourmet restaurant, Las Lupitas, serves fusion cuisine, and its wine cellar boasts more than 130 premium brands from around the world.

In the fall, 2008, the Villas at Estrella del Mar Golf and Beach Resort Mazatlán will open 56 luxury guestrooms, six junior suites and two master suites. Still to come there: two restaurants, a bar meeting space, business center, pool and spa.

The Villas of Estrella del Mar are situated on more than three miles of private beach just south of Mazatlán. All rooms are unique, offering ocean or garden views. The Villas are part of Estrella del Mar, an oceanfront, luxury resort situated in an 816-acre gated community with lush tropical landscaping. Guests enjoy one of Mexico’s top-rated golf courses, the resort’s Robert Trent Jones, Jr., 18-hole championship course; clubhouse with bar; and turtle sanctuary, offering guests the opportunity to learn about the endangered sea turtles under the supervision of the onsite marine biologists.

Also slated to open in Oct. 2008 is the spa at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay, one of Mexico’s top 20 resorts, according to Conde Nast Traveler, 2007. The all-suite, luxury property spans 20 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the area called Nuevo Mazatlán or New Mazatlán. Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay mixes neoclassical and Mediterranean design in charming, freestanding villas surrounded by vibrant tropical gardens. The property houses 258 suites, each with a private balcony or terrace and stunning ocean view. Among the resort’s other offerings are premier restaurants, bars, state-of-the-art fitness center, two free-form pools, children’s pool area and two Jacuzzis.

Much more is in the works in New Mazatlán, including Diamond Beach. This 1200-acre, master-planned community is located northwest of Mazatlán on the Pacific Coast at the southern extremity of the Sea of Cortez. Diamond Beach plans call for luxury and boutique hotels, a signature golf course, condominiums, an Olympic-size saltwater pool and more.

Back in the Golden Zone, Hotel Playa Mazatlán offers the new EduVentura Center for visitors eager to explore the region’s history and natural attractions. Located at the south end of the hotel, EduVentura offers a three-wall climbing circuit; rappelling systems and two zip lines, all surrounded by waterfalls and tropical foliage with ocean views. Also at EduVentura, a Temascal, the ancient steam bath, provides a glimpse of Mexico’s history and natural attractions, especially when followed by a refreshing swim in the nearby cavern. Equipped with classrooms and work circuits, EduVentura is specially designed for schools and corporate groups. The oceanfront Hotel Playa is near the Golden Zone’s shopping, dining and nightlife, while the charming cobblestone streets of Old Mazatlán are only 15 minutes away.

Inland from the far end of the Golden Zone, work has begun on the Marina Mazatlán project to develop land surrounding the marina. Plans include new high-rise luxury hotels, residences, signature golf courses, a huge convention center, shopping, restaurants and recreational areas.

Part of the project, a portion developed by El Cid Resorts, is already open. The property, El Cid Marina Beach Hotel & Yacht Club, offers a Mediterranean-style hotel with 204 suites overlooking the marina. The resort boasts a new adults-only beachfront Mediterranean day lounge with massage tents, mega Jacuzzi and expansive sun deck surrounded by palm trees. Here, guests sip tropical drinks and relax, while enjoying glorious Pacific sunsets.

Sport Fishing Part of the Lure
Many visitors are drawn here by Mazatlán’s reputation for world-class sport fishing.

“The waters off our coast teem with Pacific sailfish, marlin, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and dorado,” Berdegué explains. “Anglers do not go away empty-handed.”

The city recently was selected as the site of the International Sport Fishing Federation’s 2009 World Championship. El Cid Marina Beach Hotel and Yacht Club will be the host hotel, and the adjacent El Cid Marina Mazatlán will be the official marina for the event tentatively set for next Oct. 31 – Nov. 7, 2009. Fishing buffs are expected to participate from an roughly 40 countries, including the United States, Angola, France, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Italy, England, Austria, Slovenia, Sweden, Egypt and Germany. More than 45 teams are expected, having gained spots in the World Championship in qualifying tournaments held throughout the year.

New Flights, New Tours
Fishing enthusiasts and other travelers from Canada will find Mazatlán more accessible now, thanks to new WestJet service from Calgary and Edmonton. These nonstop flights from the leading Canadian-based low-cost carrier began, Dec. 22, 2007. They open up service not only from Calgary and Edmonton, but also throughout Canada.

The WestJet flights add to the direct flights available to Mazatlán from other cities, including: Los Angeles (Delta, Mexicana and Alaska Airlines), San Francisco (Alaska Airlines), Denver (Frontier Airlines), Seattle (Alaska Airlines), Houston (Continental Airlines), Phoenix (U.S. Airways), Salt Lake City (Delta Airlines), Detroit (Northwest Airlines), Minneapolis (Sun Country Airlines, MLT Worryfree Vacations Charter Flights).

Once in Mazatlán, visitors will discover a new tour, the Huana Coa Canopy Adventure. This scenic canopy tour begins and ends on the grounds of the Los Osuna Blue Agave Plantation in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains, about 45 minutes from Mazatlan. Included in the tour are twelve platforms mounted in the trees and hilltops of the semi-desert tropical forest. Under the careful supervision of guides, travelers move from platform to platform, using horizontal traverses; a nature walk; a flexible, elevated walkway; and a vertical descent.

Adventurers travel from the 130-year-old Blue Agave plantation home to the platforms in an all-terrain, military vehicle, passing over trails with up to 50-degree slopes. Throughout the drive, guides explain the region’s flora and fauna. The Canopy Adventure ends with a tour of the Los Osuna Blue Agave Distillery.

Travel Writers to Convene in Mazatlán
Among the visitors to Mazatlán early next year will be major travel writers. The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Western Chapter recently selected the city as the site of its annual meeting, January 13 – 23, 2009. In addition to business and professional development sessions, members will have a choice of two tours, one to Copper Canyon and the other to the colonial city of Cosalá.

The Barranca del Cobre or Copper Canyon, in the southwestern part of Mexico’s Chihuahua state, is deeper, longer and more remote than the Grand Canyon. Writers will take a tour on the Copper Canyon Railway, widely regarded as one of North America’s most scenic railways. With its 36 bridges and jaw-dropping switchbacks, the railway offers stunning vistas on its daily journey from sea level to 8,000 feet.

Cosalá is located two hours outside Mazatlán in the Sierra Madre Mountains. The town’s name means “Place of the Beautiful Landscape,” derived from the surrounding mountains and lakes. Dating back to the 16th century, this hidden gem treats travelers to historic and ecological wonders. In Cosalá’s well preserved Historic Center and Zone of the Monuments, visitors stroll along cobblestone streets, admiring centuries-old buildings, including luxurious estates, palaces and museums. Not far from town, they take in spectacular mountain scenery along with hiking trails, waterfalls, crystal-clear streams, petroglyphs, mining towns and more.

About Mazatlán
Mazatlán is located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains. As Mexico’s second largest coastal city, Mazatlán has nearly 600,000 inhabitants. The city is divided into two main areas: Old Mazatlán and Zona Dorada or Golden Zone, with a seven-mile coastal road between the two. Mazatlán has an international sport-fishing reputation. Sites of interest include: the Angela Peralta Theater, Archeological Museum, Republic Plaza, Ocean Museum, Botanic Garden, San Jose Chapel and the world’s second-tallest lighthouse. Transportation is available via the local “pulmonías” or four-person open-air vehicles that have become a symbol of the city. Visit Mazatlán on the World Wide Web at http://www.gomazatlan.com.