MEDIA ARTICLE - August 2010
PARADISE IN RIVIERA = MAYA
Riviera Maya aims to be a top choice for =anadians travelling to Mexico; offers beaches, archaeology, = nderground rivers, ecoadventure, and more
Offering the perfect blend of Mexico and the Caribbean, =istory and modern flair, Riviera Maya is the destination where =aradise is forever, according to its representatives.
"I feel very proud of having this beautiful =estination," said Guillermo Eguiarte, director, Mexico Tourism Board in =oronto. "We are committed to promoting Riviera Maya because we are =onfident that this destination will provide you with more =lients."
Representatives from Riviera Maya and the Mexico Tourism =oard, along with a number of suppliers, hosted travel agents and =edia last night to spread the word about all that is offered in =he destination.
With its beaches, jungle, caves and archaeological sites, =iviera Maya will offer your clients something new each time they =isit.
From snorkelling to zip lining, fishing and bird =atching, and dining to shopping, visitors will continue to be enlightened =y the wonders of the destination.
"Every year I go to Riviera Maya, it's a new Riviera =aya," Eguiarte said. "It's growing, it's changing."
In 2009, 551,292 of the 1,222,739 Canadians who visited =exico specifically visited Riviera Maya to discover the ever-expanding options available.
Guaranteeing =00 per cent satisfaction from your clients, Eguiarte said that =ending them to Riviera Maya will only mean more business for you, as =hey return and praise the destination through word of mouth, =ncouraging friends and family to book their next Mexican vacation to =he area.
In addition, to assure your business keeps growing as you =ell the destination, Riviera Maya has recently launched a new =ravel agent portal, where you can become a certified =pecialist.
With lessons on everything from basic geography and =limate to accommodations, spas and golf, the new agent site is a =ne-stop shop for agents to get all the information they need to make =heir clients' next trip to the Riviera Maya unforgettable.
With four modules, each exam takes about 20 minutes to =omplete and upon finishing, your score is automatically tabulated, =o you can print your certificate only moments after clicking =93submit."
Another online tool for agents is the destination's =ebsite, rivieramaya.com. With e-brochures, maps and a calendar of =vents detailing what's going on throughout the destination, the site allows travel agents to provide clients with the =ost up-to-date information available, so they do not miss =nything on their next visit to Riviera Maya.
For guests wanting to share their experience with the =orld upon returning home, Hola Riviera Maya (holarivieramaya.com) =s an interactive website for clients to post blogs, pictures and =ore for others to see.
A walk through Riviera Maya
Orlando Hidalgo, a representative from Riviera Maya, took =uests on a walk through the main attractions of the area, =ighlighting the latest and greatest.
First off, Hidalgo noted that the destination is perfect =or honeymooners, singles, friends and even families.
The water is very calm because the island of Cozumel =erves as a barrier, making the water safe for children, he said.
In addition, the Great Mayan Reef, =he second largest reef formation in the world, sits off the =oast of Riviera Maya, a great choice for any water enthusiast.
"This lends for wonderful scuba diving, snorkelling and = plethora of available water activities," Hidalgo said.
Although the beaches and ocean =re a big attraction, the wonders of the Riviera Maya reach far =eyond the shoreline.
Puerto Morelos, which Hidalgo describes as laid back, =uiet and very unpretentious, offers your clients a chance to interact =ith the flora and fauna, while also offering the Underwater =atural Park.
The Crococun Zoo, which is home local =ildlife, allows guests to venture into the natural tropical forest =nd confront the crocodiles, monkeys, snakes and other wildlife.
Guests can request a guide at the entrance, =hich will give them the unique opportunity to hold crocodiles, =onkeys, boas, baby deer and parrots.
Another highlight of =uerto Morelos is the Botanical Gardens, which sits just beside =rococun, making it a perfect destination for a day-long family =dventure.
The habitats in the gardens range from mangrove swamps to = semi-evergreen tropical forest. With three kilometres of =arked trails, walking through the Botanical Gardens allows guests =o see the natural herbs and plants the Mayan people often rely on.
In addition, Puerto Morelos, located only meters =rom the coral reef, is also home to tropical fish, dolphins, turtles =nd corals providing your clients with a great destination for =iving, snorkelling, scuba diving and more.
Playa del = Carmen
As you head south down the coast from Puerto Morelos, you =ill reach Playa del Carmen, (commonly referred to as Playa) =hich is a transit point for the ferry to Cozumel.
Although Hidalgo noted that a trip to Cozumel is =nexpensive and good for a day trip, it is important to remind clients that =he ferries do stop running at a certain time in the =vening.
"Just remind them to check the schedule and the time =or when the last ferry is," he recommends.
For those looking to spend time in Playa, the destination offers =uxury hotels, small, personalized establishments, bars and =hopping centers, restaurants with traditional and international =uisine, cultural and recreation centres, water sports and golf.
The main attraction in Playa is 5th Avenue, which is its =ub for shopping, dining and the nightlife.
Hidalgo =ecommends Playa for those clients looking for something "not in the =eart of it all" where they do not have to depend on transit, so they =an simply walk out of their hotel to dine, shop and sightsee.
"This is a place where you can walk =o everything and it's all very central," Hidalgo said.
Enthusiastic about the cultural and =ersonal experience of 5th Avenue, Hidalgo recommends: "Have your =lients get out and experience some of the local flavour and the =ightlife that the Playa area has to offer."
Xcaret, pronounced esh-Karet, is an ecopark featuring the =rea's ecology and Mayan history. Guests can relax on the beach, =loat down subterranean rivers and swim with dolphins.
The main attraction of Xcaret is extensive underground =iver systems, accessible through sinkholes, that your clients can =xplore by swimming and snorkelling.
Also hosting a zoo, aviary, the chance to swim with =olphins or visit the manatee, a new activity now available for clients =n Xcaret is the opportunity to swim with sharks.
In addition, each evening Xcaret hosts a "Spectacular =exico" show, which Hidalgo said is "the Cirque du Soleil of Mexico."
With over 260 artists performing a celebration of the =raditions and history of Mexico, the show takes places just as the sun =s setting. A journey through time, guests will witness =nterpretations of events such as a Mayan baseball game, the Conquest of =exico, love stories and more.
Inspired by the evening performance, Hidalgo said it is =ot a sight to be missed.
"It's almost like going to Paris and not seeing the =iffel tower," he said.
In addition, Xcaret has a new neighbour with the recent =pening of the new eco-adventure park, XPLoR.
With 11 zipline trails, underground cave systems that =uests can paddle through on small rafts and ATV trails venturing =hrough the jungle, XPLoR is guaranteed to be a full-day fun time for =our clients looking to get the most out of Riviera Maya.
Akumal, translated to mean "place of turtles," =s still a nesting ground for the reptiles but is also "an area of =eautiful beaches and calm waters," Hidalgo said.
With fresh water currents flowing through caves and =nderground rivers, Hidalgo noted that the destination makes for =onderful diving, as the surrounding three bays create a natural =arrier from the waves.
In addition, coral formations are close to shore, so =ravellers don't have to swim far into the ocean to see =t.
"It's a wonderful, wonderful destination," Hidalgo =aid.
With no large properties on the settlement, he recommends =hat for clients looking to stay in Akumal, it is important to =eserve with four to six months anticipation, especially during peak =eason, to guarantee them a place to sleep.
Xel-Ha, pronounced Shell-HAH, appropriately translates to =ean "the place where water is born."
A natural aquarium with fresh water currents, springs and = underground rivers, Xel-Ha is surrounded by caves, jungles =nd small archaeological sites.
This all inclusive attraction combines fresh and ocean =ater, a variety of fish and tropical marine life, making it a =norkeler's paradise.
In addition, the destination provides many trails for =iking and biking, suspension bridges and the chance to swim with the dolphins.
Recommending that agents book Xel-Ha =or their clients as a stand-alone experience, Hidalgo noted =hat it is best enjoyed as a full-day =enture.
An archaeological site with over 60 well-preserved =tructures located on the sea, Tulum has recently been repaired to =nhance your guests' experience.
Although the ruins are still =he same, there is now clearly defined walking paths, an abundance of =reen space and a renovated welcome centre, to ensure your clients =et the most out of their visit to Tulum.
As a =uggestion to give your clients a more valuable experience, "My =ecommendation is that if your clients are going to spend part of the day in =ulum, have them take their bathing suit," Hidalgo said, noting =hat it gets very hot while touring the ruins and the beach is only = short walk away. "Clients love you for the recommendation."
Tulum at Night, which takes =lace at sunset, is also a recent addition to the Tulum =xperience.
"[It's] a whole other experience," Hidalgo said. =93It's an absolutely incredible experience."
A sound =nd lighting show, which clients experience with personal headsets =or the audio, the performance is meant to take participants =ack to the time when the Maya lived there. Experiencing the show in =roups of 10 with a guide to lead the way, the 45-minute =alking tour evokes "emotions and splendour," making for an unforgettable experience.
"It's just an =ncredible visual and sensory experience," Hidalgo expressed. "You =otally forget that you're in the here and now, and you go back in = =ime."
Another archaeological site of the Riviera Maya, guests =ill experience ancient temples, pyramids and the Mayan culture =hen visiting Coba.
To indulge in all the site has to offer, guests =an rent bikes or pay someone to pedal them around, in =rder to uncover all that there is to see as part of this land mass.
"How cool is it to ride a bike through =n archaeological site?" Hidalgo =uipped.
Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve
The Sian Kan Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO site, is a 3.5 =illion acre reserve that is "probably one of the most diverse =iosphere reserves on the planet," Hidalgo pointed =ut.
"It's an absolutely awesome and incredible place," he said.
Because the reserve is meant to be a =ull-day experience, Hidalgo recommends that it is perhaps not for =irst time visitors.
But, "If [your clients are] ecology =uffs and if their deepest desire is to commune with nature, then this =s at the top of the travel list," he =aid.
Offering the "most beautiful and pristine beaches off the beaten =ath," the reserve is home to nature, birds, local plant life and more.
To summarize what Riviera Maya has to offer from one point to =he other:
Accomodations: Guests can enjoy anything =rom remote, relaxed and very tranquil settings to all inclusive =esorts. Hidalgo recommends that depending on how long your clients =re staying, they could perhaps do both to experience the =estination from different perspectives.
Families: There are a range of =ctivities for families, including swimming, diving, horseback riding and =cotours, as well as calm water, making it safe for children to enjoy =he ocean.
Weddings: As = new development in Riviera Maya, local governments are now =aving English employees working in the licensing office, allowing =our clients looking to get married to do so within 24 hours of =illing out the forms.
Golf: For avid golfers, Hidalgo =ecommends booking a property with golf course on site. There are six =8-hole golf courses and 1 nine-hole course in the Riviera =aya.
Spas: The spa experience in the =estination offers a combination of world class spa facilities blended =ith Mayan tradition, so your client is guaranteed a unique, =ranquil experience.
Ecoadventure: Riviera =aya offers the opportunity to participate in "any ecoadventure =ou could think of," Hidalgo said, from the jungle to the =cean, including: ziplining, horseback riding in jungle, ATVing in =ungle, rappelling, snorkelling, diving, deep sea fishing and more.
He recommends that travel agents prebook as many of =hese activities as possible.
It will make it more very =njoyable if your clients are all set when they get down =here, he noted.
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