Mexico Resorts to Nature

Article excerpt

WHAT'S THE BEST WAY to lure upscale tourists to Mexico these days? Grupo Posadas thinks it has the answer: by throwing in romance, adventure, mystical Maya rains, and the lure of science--from astronomy to zoology--along with all the normal amenities of luxury travel. That's the rationale behind Explorean, the fourth and newest brand to be unveiled by Grupo Posadas--already the largest hotel chain in Mexico and Latin America.

"We're very proud of being the first to introduce this alternative vacation concept in Mexico," says Gaston, Azcarraga Andrade, president of the fifty-one-hotel conglomerate. "The Explorean opens the doors to a unique kind of vacation that seeks to not only capture the beauty of nature and climate, but also allows visitors to take something special home from their experience."

The first property in Posadas' new lineup, the forty-room Explorean Kohunlich, opened in March in a densely forested area thirty-two miles west of Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo. The resort itself is situated on seventy-one acres of forest and is adjacent to the archaeological region of Kohunlich, one of Mexico's most important Maya rains. The second, the eighty-room Explorean Costa Maya, is located on a twenty-one-acre mangrove forest on a mile-long pristine beach on the Caribbean coast, about 250 miles south of Cancun. It is scheduled to be inaugurated this spring, not far from the fishing village of Mahahual, often used as a jumping-off point for diving expeditions.

Given recent tourism statistics, the decision to unveil Explorean couldn't have come at a more opportune time for Posadas and the Mexican tourism industry. In 1998 just under twenty million tourists visited Mexico, generating revenues of US$7.85 billion. According to the World Tourism Organization, this made Mexico the leading tourist destination in Latin America, and the seventh most popular destination in the world. Tourism revenues this year are expected to top $8.1 billion, said Mexico's tourism undersecretary Hector Flores, adding that 75 percent of the $2.2 billion worth of private investment in tourism infrastructure this year will be used to build luxury hotels. At the same time, the state of Quintana Roo plans to lure tourism revenue to its poorer southern half by developing its coastline below the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. …