Travel News

Travel News

By Judy Newell

Mexico Travel News

Playa Espiritu Resort Takes Shape Near Mazatlán

A massive Mazatlan-area resort project that has been in the works since 2008 has been guaranteed funding from the Mexican government through at least 2018, as the country looks to capitalize on recent tourism momentum to create what Mazatlan’s tourism minister is labeling “the new Cancun.”

Playa Espiritu, which is being developed on about nine square miles of coastal land some 50 miles south of Mazatlan, is slated to have 100 hotels totaling 44,000 rooms–more than all of Cancun, which has 32,000 units–and will feature more than seven miles of beachfront, retail and entertainment centers, a golf course, a convention center, and a nature preserve. It is an easy one-hour drive on the highway that connects Mazatlan and the new destination.

About a quarter of the almost $1 billion earmarked for the project has already been committed. The first phase, totaling 10,000 rooms, is slated to open by the end of 2018. The project reflects the Mexican government’s confidence in both the resurgence of international tourism visits and the willingness of more travelers to explore Mexico’s Pacific Coast as a resort destination.

Largely as a result of the strengthening U.S. dollar, weakened peso, and decline in headlines about crime, Mexico climbed back in 2014 into the United Nation World Tourism Organization’s top 10 internationally visited countries. Visits jumped 20%, to 29.1 million.

About $1 billion is being invested in Mazatlan’s Golden Zone tourism area in the form of improved roads, sidewalks, and signage. A resurgence in cruise visits has also helped. Mazatlan welcomed almost 200,000 cruise passengers last year, more than double the number of cruise visitors in 2014.

Unlike destinations such as Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, which have a history dating back centuries, Cancun and its infrastructure was first developed by the Mexican government in the 1970s, sparking widespread private investment. Ixtapa, which is located about 600 miles southeast of Mazatlan on Mexico’s West Coast, was also born out of Mexican government financing in the 1970s.

Mexico has come a long way from the “dark years” of 2009 to 2013, and all current and planned tourist areas might well benefit from Mexico’s growing image as a “safe and secure” global destination, especially amid terrorism concerns in Europe, health-related issues in Africa and political instability in the Middle East.

International News

A Perfect Sunday Promenade in Spring

Columbia Road Flower Market is a 200-meter-long, sweet-smelling paved street that locals in London visit on a lazy, sunny Sunday. Essex-based local growers usually come in at 4 in the morning and stay until late afternoon.

Located near Haggerston Park, the 52 green stalls enchant the crowd on a weekly basis, typically buying seeds and delicate blooming petals in a flea-market vibe. As it originally opened back in 1869. It revives the best visuals of eighteenth-century London.

If you arrive right after lunch, you might stumble on a street jazz concert and enjoy remarkable discounts because merchants give a 50% discount right before the market ends. This promenade is paved with traditional perfume stores and little mews with quaint cafes. During the summer, prosecco is served outdoors and makes Columbia Road Flower Market the best spot in town to see and to be seen.

Words of the Wise and Well-traveled

“Travel…the best way to be lost…and found…all at the same time.”–Brenna Smith

Deal of the Week

Take a South Pacific Cruise and Get a Tattoo

The Aranui 5 offers a unique cruising experience as a hybrid cruise/cargo ship deep in the South Pacific, and now the vessel can take travelers even deeper, so to speak, by getting a traditional Polynesian tattoo during a shore excursion.

The new Aranui 5 set sail in the winter of 2015 and was custom built with passenger comfort in mind. Guests embark on a voyage of discovery following the paths of Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thor Heyerdahl, and Jacques Brel. The all-Polynesian staff and crew welcome guests to these exotic, captivating islands they call home.

“The best vacations leave lasting impressions, but some of our passengers go a step further and opt to imprint a symbol of their experience directly on their skin,” said Jules Wong, marketing director for Aranui. “We aim for full cultural immersion, and this is one of the many ways travelers can take a piece of the Marquesas home with them.”

A limited number of the ship’s 254 guests will have the chance to be permanently marked by a native artist where tattooing is believed to have originated. In Polynesian culture, tattoos represent everything from significant life events to religious importance.

For those less interested in such extreme endeavors, other shore excursions include hikes, sacred ritual site and pearl farm visits, art appreciation, snorkeling, picnicking, and even stopping at Paul Gauguin’s grave.

Fourteen-day itineraries leave from Papeete, Tahiti, for Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago and Bora Bora in the Society Islands, as well as Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva, Tahuata, and Ua Huka in the Marquesas Islands.

The fully air-conditioned Aranui 5 passenger freighter features 103 cabins, four bars, two lounges, a library, video and computer room, boutique, outdoor swimming pool, fitness room, full-service spa and two elevators. Prices for the 14-day cruise start from US$4,678 per person, plus taxes and include all meals with complimentary wine, guided excursions, picnic, and meals on shore.

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She designs journeys that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email judynewell@perfectjourneys.net. Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores, Car. a Dolores Hidalgo.; hours MonFri, 11am4pm. View the latest travel specials on the website perfectjourneys.net.

Sources: Travel Weekly, La Compagnie, CPTM

 

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