Big Things For Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit Richard Zarkin, Monica Garcia, Alfonso Sumano 11 FEB 2010: If Frida Kahlo were with us today you might spot her with paintbrush in hand, hunched over a canvas overlooking the dramatic Pacific Ocean along the Riviera Nayarit sun all ablaze. In the distance there would be a pod of humpback whales bobbing their heads and turtle hatchlings would be rushing to the surf returning to their aquatic homes.



So on a wintery blah-February day, the Mexico Tourism Board along with a representative from the Riviera Nayarit CVB aptly staged a media lunch at Frida’s restaurant in Toronto’s west end. Framed photos of the famous painter and wild terracotta original art pieces all set the ambience for this hot showcase of Mexico’s next new tourism destination.

Interestingly one of the smallest regions (the population hovers around 1.5 million population), Riviera Nayarit is luring big name luxury hotels to these soft powder beaches such as the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, St. Regis Punta de Mita Resort and the posh all-inclusive Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort located on Banderas Bay.

“We know when John Travolta is here because he parks his private jet,” smiles Richard Zarkin, PR manager for the Riviera Nayarit CVB describing some of the A-list crowd that like to schlep at the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita.

Other future hotel developments are the Ritz Carlton and Park Hyatt including several Mexican and European brands. Between 2008 and 2013, the Riviera Nayarit CVB reports it will increase its total visitor accommodations by 6,308 rooms.

Located on 307 km of beach along the Pacific coast, a hop skip and jump from Puerto Vallarta, the largely isolated area is turning into an eco-destination with a nod to four golf courses “with more to come” and sailing. “We’ll have 10-11 golf courses combined with Puerto Vallarta,” explains Richard.

Started three years ago, Richard explains: “We launched the brand Riviera Nayarit. We needed to get our own name. We have over 12,000 rooms with two thirds of those rooms being considered luxury.”

Positioned as a maritime destination ideal for nautical events, Riviera Nayarit will play host to several big sailing tournaments. Boating clients will love the new Marina Riviera Nayarit in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle which lays claim to fame as Mexico’s biggest marina. The internationally renowned Regatta Copa Mexico scheduled February 27 – March 13, is one big tournament to watch.

Clients with a penchant for outdoor eco adventure can whale watch from December till March, and participate in turtle hatchling release programs from June through December. For the culture types, there are traditional paper mache figures “mojigangas” making classes, jewelry classes and for those inclined, take a self-drive or a bus tour to the stunning Sierra Madres in the east. Dozens of colonial towns wait to be discovered.

Alfonso Sumano, the regional director for Canada’s Mexico Tourism Board reiterates an increase in Canadian arrivals. “Up to November 1,044,000 Canadians visited Mexico. If you look at the previous year 2008, that’s an increase by 7 percent. For a challenging year we feel really good about that,” he says noting that prior to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus from January till April 2009, “We were up 23 percent.”

But fortunately Alfonso observes this year looks amazing. “We have thousands of Canadians returning to Mexico for a lot of fun and enjoying the food.”

In closing, Richard notes, “You can get your clients to the Riviera Nayarit between six and seven hours.”

Over the next 20 years watch for major developments here.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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