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New mega-resort, more hotels, golf courses, high-speed train on tap in Mexico

Mazatlan's main hotel strip is called the Zona Dorada.
Mazatlan's main hotel strip is called the Zona Dorada.
Bob Schulman

Visitors to Mexico’s top resorts will be getting a lot of “Z’s” later this year and in 2015. What’s happening is, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is dramatically expanding its new Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva brands, both offering high-end all-inclusive lodging (Zilara is for adults, Ziva caters to families). Two of the properties are already open – the Zilara (formerly THE Royal) in Cancun and the Ziva (formerly the Barcelo) in Los Cabos – and a Ziva (also formerly Dreams) is set to open in Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 1. A Ziva Cancun (formerly Dreams) is slated to debut in 2015.

Z’s are also planned to open in Montego Bay, Jamaica: the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall and the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall (formerly the Ritz Carlton Rose Hall), both on Nov. 1.

Briefings on the Hyatt developments were among 21 press conferences held during the recent Tianguis travel trade convention on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. In other sessions, reports from Mazatlan and Los Cabos detailed ongoing growth at these western destinations. The latter resort area now has 58 hotels with a total of 14,000 rooms – figures set to rise next year with the addition of five more properties with 1,300 more rooms. Also in the works at Los Cabos are two more golf courses slated to open this fall – bringing the resort’s overall tally to a whopping 14 championship courses.

Vacationers arriving at the Mazatlan airport will be able to get to their beach hotels much quicker when a new, 17-mile turnpike skirting the city debuts later this year. Drive time from the airport to Mazatlan’s main hotel zone will be cut to just 20 minutes vs. nearly an hour on the old road. Meanwhile, the city’s recently improved dock area will be welcoming a fourth cruise line this winter with the addition of Mazatlan to Princess Cruises’ ports of call.

In the same state, Sinaloa Minister of Tourism Frank Cordova said the first hotel in Mexico’s newest mega-resort at Playa Espiritu is expected to open in December. Located about 20 miles south of the Mazatlan airport (in the opposite direction of Mazatlan), Espiritu is planned for development over a 30-year period and may someday rival the country’s largest resorts.

In another news session, Cirque du Soleil unveiled details of its first permanent show outside the U.S. Developed with Mexico’s Grupo Vidanta, the 70-minute “intimate theatrical experience” will be presented at a 600-seat dinner theater being built for Cirque du Soleil on the Riviera Maya near the Grand Mayan Resort. The project will debut Nov. 21.

Federal officials said planning remains on track for a high-speed rail system to run across eastern Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula from Merida to Cancun. The train will stop along the way at archaeological sites such as the famous ruins of Chichen Itza, and at colonial cities such as Izamal and Valladolid. Later extensions of the initial route may run down the western Yucatan to Campeche and down the eastern side of the peninsula to the ruins of Tulum and possibly as far south as Chetumal (the capital of the state of Quintana Roo) near the border with Belize.

A record 8,000 delegates attended this year’s 39th annual Tianguis event. Most were “suppliers” (representing Mexican resort areas, individual hotels, airlines, ground operators and the like) who came to meet nearly 850 “buyers” (mainly wholesalers or tour operators who put air and ground packages together for sale to the public through travel agencies) from the U.S., Canada and 59 other countries across the globe.

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