by Andrea Doyle and Alex Palmer | July 11, 2018

Groups have plenty of reasons to head south of the border, with new properties and long-term building plans that are making it a good time to visit a number of the country's hot spots.

Favorite incentive spot Puerto Vallarta continues to offer standout venues. The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort recently introduced The Hacienda, a new, adults-only section meant to spotlight the culture and décor of Mexico, and which takes full advantage of its beachfront location. The 451-room, all-inclusive property offers more than 21,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 11,158-square-foot Jalisco Ballroom and a number of suite options.

Groups can also consider the 473-room Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center, which offers 17 meeting spaces. Or the all-inclusive Krystal Puerto Vallarta, with event spaces that can accommodate up to 1,500 people.

The classic beach destination of Acapulco is undergoing a billion-dollar renovation with the aid of Mundo Imperial, the tourism-focused division of Mexico-based investment firm Grupo Autofin. Those funds are going toward enhancing the port of Acapulco, installing one of the longest over-the-ocean zip lines in the world (debuted last year), renovations of such properties as the Pierre Mundo Imperial and Princess Mundo Imperial, and the construction of new projects, such as Turtle Dunes Golf Clubhouse, Hotel Prince by Mundo Imperial, and the eco-amusement park Aventura Guerrero. This "Master Plan" is expected to be complete by 2022.

Cancun Calling
A three-and-a-half-hour flight from the northeast and northwest corners of the United States, the city of Cancun has all the elements in place to service incentive groups. Riveting culture, sprawling beaches, first-class resorts and a bustling nightlife combine with affordability to make this a highly attractive group option.

Cancun remains an attractive option
for incentive groups

Two of the biggest properties attracting groups here are Marriott Cancun Resort and JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, sister properties that offer 898 guest rooms, a 35,000-square-foot Mayan-inspired JW Spa, numerous pools, a sprawling beach, first-rate restaurants and 88,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.

The city's advanced group offerings are about to get better as the Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres convention and visitor bureaus join together into one Quintana Roo CVB. (Quintana Roo is the northeastern section of the Yucatan Peninsula.) Dario Flota Ocampo, former president of the Riviera Maya CVB, will head up this new organization.

"Dario is the best choice the governor and secretary of tourism could have made. He has been in the industry for more than 25 years," says Andy Ortiz, president, Global Incentive Management DMC and past president, Meeting Professionals International's Mexico chapter. "It will be a one-stop shop, as one call will get you help with five destinations."

Ortiz points out that 90 percent of Mexican resorts are all-inclusive properties.

Xcaret Ecological Park Cancun has long been a favorite of incentive planners. Built around the site of an ancient well where the Mayans performed purification rituals, this renowned archaeological park features a nighttime show with more than 300 actors that highlights the history of Mexico with music, colorful costumes and dancing. During the day, there is a 72-degree Fahrenheit subterranean river on which to float, natural whirlpool baths, a botanical garden and butterfly pavilion, as well as an area where you can swim with dolphins.

A new addition is the 900-suite Hotel Xcaret Mexico, a five-star hotel that redefines the all-inclusive concept, as accommodations at the hotel also include complimentary access to Experiencias Xcaret's eight nature parks and tours. The resort features 10 restaurants, eight bars, and the Muluk Spa, with treatments performed in cabins set within natural rock caves.

Hotel Xcaret Mexico has a variety
of areas, indoors and out, for
incentive events and gatherings

Hotel Xcaret is the beginning of an ambitious 10-year plan for Destination Xcaret, an innovative tourism development that will span more than 914 acres and will have 6,000 guest rooms at its completion. Plans also include a stadium that will be able to accommodate 12,000 spectators, a convention center, a shopping center and a culinary destination called Pueblo del Río.

"What was an ambitious vision that began 25 years ago, today has become a dream come true. Hotel Xcaret Mexico invites travelers to celebrate history and culture," says Marcos Constandse, CEO of Destino Xcaret.

Haven Resorts Cancun by Hip Hotels is another new hotel being built in Cancun, set to open in September. Once complete, Haven Resorts Cancun will offer guests 333 rooms, five restaurants, two snack bars, nine bars and spa service. For meetings and events, the resort will have indoor and outdoor spaces.

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This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of Incentive.