In October 2013 the Aventura Spa Palace will become the Hard Rock Riviera, the third all-inclusive Hard Rock hotel in Mexico. The resort, just north of Puerto Aventuras, has 55,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 601-room Hard Rock Hotel Cancún debuted in August. The former Cancún Palace offers all-inclusive luxury accommodations, as well as five on-site restaurants, five bars and lounges, a spa and a 16,408-square-foot convention center.
The 495-room Secrets The Vine Cancún celebrated its official opening in August in the Hotel Zone. The adults-only luxury resort offers a 12,580-square-foot Secrets Spa by Pevonia, which includes a pool and a fitness center. The all-inclusive property has 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The 426-room Iberostar Cancún officially opened in February, a conversion of the former Hilton. Iberostar purchased the property and closed it in August 2011 to complete major renovations, including refurbishment of the lobbies and four new specialty restaurants. The new owners also constructed a theater and established clubs for both kids and teenagers. The resort has a 49,000-square-foot convention center and 60,000 square feet of outdoor event space, as well as seven swimming pools, a full-size soccer field, two tennis courts, a spa and a fitness center.
The Azul Villa Esmeralda debuted in late October, an 11,000-square-foot oceanfront villa with six bedrooms and event space for up to 40 people. The Riviera Maya property is adjacent to the 148-room Azul Beach Hotel, an all-inclusive boutique-style resort. Villa Esmeralda guests can take advantage of Azul Beach's amenities, including five restaurants, a fitness center and more.
The 287-room Gran Porto Real, in Playa del Carmen, is refurbishing all of its suites in time for the year-end holidays.
The 220-room Park Hyatt Riviera Maya is slated to open in 2016 in a mixed-use golf development. Plans include meeting space, three restaurants and a spa.
Mexican carrier Interjet now has twice-weekly service between Las Vegas and Mexico City.
Larger resorts in Cancún include the 2,457-room Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort; 678-room Gran Meliá Cancún; 601-room Hard Rock Hotel Cancún; 502-room Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancún; 495-room Secrets The Vine Cancún; 450-room CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort; 448-room JW Marriott Cancún Resort & Spa; 426-room Iberostar Cancún; 379-room Westin Resort & Spa, Cancún; 378-room Dreams Cancún Resort & Spa; 371-room Live Aqua Cancún; 365-room Ritz-Carlton, Cancún; 343-room Omni Cancún Hotel & Villas; 295-room Hyatt Regency Cancún, and 260-room Le Blanc Spa Resort.
Properties along the Riviera Maya include the 1,277-room Aventura Spa Palace; 1,080-room Gran Bahia Principe Coba; 956-room Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa; 858-room Gran Bahia Principe Tulúm; 769-room Occidental Grand Xcaret; 756-room Barceló Maya Palace Deluxe; 664-room ClubHotel Riu Tequila; 639-room El Dorado Royale, A Spa Resort by Karisma; 507-room Hotel Riu Yucatán; 491-room Grand Velas Riviera Maya; 446-room Iberostar Paraíso Lindo, and 432-room Iberostar Paraíso Maya. For more hotels, visit mcvenues.com.
Cancún Center: Conventions and Exhibitions; exhibit space, 152,852 square feet; meeting rooms, 37; (866) 891-7773
Hospitality tax, 3%; sales tax, 11%; total tax on hotel rooms, 14%. A VAT exemption, which eliminates sales tax, is available to congresses, conventions, fairs and expos held by foreign companies in Mexico. For more information, go to bit.ly/Sktx0W.
For a gastronomically stimulating activity, consider the Culinary Center at the Ritz-Carlton, Cancún. A 12-seat, U-shaped dining table sits in the middle of an ultramodern kitchen, where attendees can witness the creation of a unique five-course meal; the dishes are served as they're completed. Wine is paired with each course, making for an educational and enjoyable evening with one of the resort's chefs. The venue is available most evenings for US$150 per person. Cooking lessons are offered Wednesday afternoons or evenings, for US$120 per person. (011) 52-998-881-0808
Cancún Convention & Visitors Bureau, (011) 52-998-881-2745
Riviera Maya Tourism Board, (011) 52-984-206-3150