Bucerias Project statue, Riviera Nayarit
Mexico’s Pacific Coast continues to flourish
Mexico’s Pacific Coast boasts some of the most luxurious destinations in the world, with rich culture, magnificent hotels, fabulous beaches and fantastic nightlife.
The area consists of two strips—the Baja California Peninsula, stretching from the California border to Los Cabos at the southern tip, and the western mainland, extending from the head of the Gulf of California near the Colorado River Delta in Sonora to the border with Guatemala, near Tapachula.
Some areas along the strips have become particular favorites of meeting planners. All feature awe-inspiring beaches and hotels, as well as their own unique qualities.
Los Cabos consists of two cities, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and features Land’s End, a famous rock formation just off the coast, as well as an intriguing Art District.
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico Pacific Coast’s newest major beach destination, features 192 miles of pristine coastline as well as dozens of seaside coastal towns and pueblos. Puerto Vallarta is known worldwide for its cobblestone streets and vibrant downtown area, with stellar restaurants and nightlife.
Each of these areas—as well as many others along the strips—is experiencing robust growth, including new and renovated hotels and resorts, cutting-edge restaurants and amazing attractions.
This growth makes the destinations all the more attractive to meeting groups, but it’s happening so quickly that it’s difficult to keep track of everything. Smart Meetings has summarized some of the main developments to help planners arrange trips to Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Most of the information pertains to new and renovated properties; for other attractive lodging and meeting options, consult the Major Meetings Venues listings following this story.
Mexican sweat lodge at JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa (Photo by JWMarriott.com)
A longtime favorite of meeting groups, Los Cabos, dubbed Nature’s Playground, is the fastest-growing beach destination in Mexico. It features ultra-luxury hotels, some of the best golf courses in Latin America, world-class sport fishing and 350 days of sunny weather each year.
Los Cabos was struck by a major hurricane, Odile, in September 2014, which required a major rebuilding effort. “But what we thought could take years to rebuild was up and running a few months later,” says Pablo Armenta, MICE travel manager for the Los Cabos Tourism Board.
Some significant new properties also have emerged.
Overlooking El Arco and the Bahia San Lucas horizon, The Cape, a Thompson Hotel opened in Cabo San Lucas in June 2015. It offers 161 guest rooms and a surfing beach, salon and fitness center. The property also features 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, which celebrated its grand opening in March 2015, is located where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean converge. The property boasts 299 guest rooms, seven restaurants and bars, 10 pools and the 21,000-square-foot Jasha Spa and 33,831 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Mar Adentro Cabos, Los Cabos
Mar Adentro Cabos, a 198-room property that is looking to redefine modern luxury in San Jose del Cabo, also opened recently. Located near parks and plazas, it features two restaurants, a pool, a spa and three conference rooms.
Breathless Cabo San Lucas Resort & Spa, which opened in December, is a chic property in Cabo San Lucas that boasts 169 suites with spectacular ocean and marina views, gourmet dining, a world-class spa and 4,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Two additional properties are worth noting.
Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All-Inclusive Golf & Spa is constantly renovating its 536 guest rooms. It also has 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and is a prime golf resort.
A 111-room property in Cabo San Lucas, The Resort at Pedregal, will be debuting The Art of Taste, a food and wine festival Oct. 26–30 to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. The property boasts 2,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Venice of Mexico
Spa (rendering) at W Hotel Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit
Riviera Nayarit, known as The Venice of Mexico, attracts groups partly because of its wide range of accommodations, including chic luxury resorts, eco-tourism, boutique hotels and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns. All of its major resorts feature state-of-the-art meeting facilities and exciting team-building activities, including surfing lessons, deep-sea fishing and ATV tours.
Hard Rock Hotel Nuevo Vallarta, located in the heart of Riviera Nayarit, recently opened Sanctuary Convention Center, a 12,900-square-foot meeting space. This essentially tripled the 348-room property’s event space to 19,217 sq. ft.
Riviera Nayarit’s newest hotel, W Hotel Punta de Mita, opened May 31 in the Los Veneros development of Punta Pita. The oceanfront property offers 119 guest villas, a 4,000-square-foot spa, a gym, a bar, a swimming pool and 2,368 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The recently renovated Grand Sirenis Matlali Hills Resort & Spa, situated on the Colinas de la Bahia de Banderas hills, is a boutique property offering 40 villa-style accommodations. The property features a contemporary, colorful beach design and a Spa Makawe, offering treatments using natural elements, honoring the ancient knowledge of herbal healing.
AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is undergoing a total renovation that will be completed this year. Upgrades to the 267-suite property include improvements to the oceanfront Azul restaurant, modernization of 133 suites, and enhancements and additions to the world-class spa. The property offers 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including a 10,000-square-foot convention center.
In addition to the hotel and resort development, at the end of 2015, construction began on an inner harbor project in the beach town of Bucerias. To complement a new marina, the town is building a boardwalk lined with new stores, restaurants and bars, as well as another boardwalk for coastal fishing.
Also, Cirque du Soleil is partnering with Grupo Vidanta, a leading developer of world-class resorts and tourism infrastructure in Mexico, to construct and operate a 300-acre theme park in Nuevo Vallarta.
“Built to inspire dreams and fantasy, the experience will include a water park, nature park and an outdoor evening show for as many as 3,000 to 5,000 spectators,” says Richard Zarkin, public relations manager for Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Each experience within the entertainment park will be designed and performed by Cirque du Soleil artists.”
The park is expected to be completed in 2018.
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Featuring great weather, excellent air connectivity and outstanding restaurants, Puerto Vallarta, also known as Party Vallarta, is one of Mexico’s primary meetings destinations. Boasting more than 250 hotels with a total of 22,500 guest rooms, it hosts more than 350 congresses, 400 meetings and 600 incentive trips per year—and the totals keep increasing.
“Several international hotel chains have come to Vallarta—Fiesta Americana Grand, Hyatt, AM Resorts, Tafer Group and Hilton, among others—and Puerto Vallarta has proven to be a consistent destination with quality, identity and personality,” says Miguel Hernandez, CMS, the CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Puerto Vallarta.
“We understand the trends and expectations of our markets, and work on a daily basis to have festivals, new activities and new tours, and upgrade our inventory and services in order to satisfy our buyers and loyal clients,” he adds.
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, one of the city’s most important properties that opened recently, is situated on Las Estacas Beach. The all-inclusive resort features 335 luxury accommodations, including 14 swim-up suites and eight suites with private plunge pools. Hyatt Ziva also includes four gourmet restaurants and an international buffet, as well as a spa, five pools, live entertainment and 6,500 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive Adults Only
Located just minutes from downtown shops, galleries and restaurants, Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive Adults Only resort offers 443 guest rooms—all with private balconies and sea views—a wide range of international dining options, a spa and a fitness center. The property, which opened in September, also provides 12,783 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space and 13,000 sq. ft. of outdoor meeting space.
Hotel Mousai, the first and only AAA Five Diamond resort in Puerto Vallarta, is nestled into a hillside overlooking Banderas Bay. The property blends imagination, contemporary design and inventive functionality throughout its spaces.
The hotel features a wide array of activities, including wine tasting, tequila tasting, a Zen walk, Kundalini Yoga, paddleboarding, kayaking and star gazing. It has 2,808 sq. ft. of meetings space, divided between a conference center and meeting room.
Food Truck Park, Puerto Vallarta
New attractions have opened in Puerto Vallarta, including the Food Truck Park, which offers visitors the choice of eating at several artisanal food trucks in the heart of the hotel zone.
La Isla Puerto Vallarta shopping center also recently opened and Puerto Vallarta’s port is undergoing a $20 million restoration that will include the opening of a new welcome center, an aquarium and a tequila tasting center over the next five years.
The City of Peace
Groups looking for a peaceful destination with plenty of outdoor activities often head to La Paz.
“We like to call La Paz ‘The Gateway to the Sea of Cortes’ and the city of 365 different sunsets,” says Sandra Felix, general director of La Paz Board of Tourism. “La Paz honors its name, the City of Peace, with the calmness of the Sea of Cortes, the marine abundance and the tranquility of the Pacenos [people of La Paz].
“What makes La Paz different from other destinations is the amount of activities and adventures. In just one day, you can swim with whale sharks, dive with sea lions, kayak with dolphins and paddleboard during sunset.”
La Paz also has become an increasingly popular tourist destination. The city now boasts more than 2,000 hotel rooms, a convention center and several fine-dining options.
The four-star Costa Baja Resort & Spa, situated on the Sea of Cortes, offers 115 guest rooms, Espiritu Spa, a Gary Player-designed golf course and 19,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Set on a beachfront surrounded by a lagoon, Grand Plaza La Paz-Hotel Resort & Suites has 54 guest rooms and 18,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. La Concha Beach Hotel & Condominiums, a 10-minute drive from downtown, features 107 sea-view guest rooms, a restaurant, bar, pool and 305 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The 124-room City Express La Paz—a beachfront hotel with a marina, fitness center and pool—added a new meeting room for 200 people this year, and is now able to accommodate 270 people.
Sorstis Restaurante (Photo by Sorstis Restaurante facebook page)
An exciting new restaurant, Sorstis Restaurante (pictured), opened in La Paz during the past year. Its pizzas, seafood, Mediterranean decor and friendly staff have been receiving rave reviews.
In addition to the plethora of new hotels, resorts and interesting attractions, many more will be opening along Mexico’s Pacific Coast during the next few years. This very exciting growth phase will keep attractive options coming for meeting planners and their groups.
Pearl of the Pacific
Mazatlan, dubbed La Perla del Pacifico (the Pearl of the Pacific), boasts two stunning marinas and two distinctive areas—the traditional Old Mazatlan (or Centro Historico) and the more modern Nuevo Mazatlan. Old Mazatlan has become a must-see area for groups recently due to a restoration project focusing on its glamorous buildings from the 1800s.
The northernmost part of town, Nuevo Mazatlan, features two marinas, two golf courses, shopping centers, Mazatlan International Center (a convention center) and several outstanding hotels.
The convention center, which opened in 2009, is a 25-acre facility centrally located in the new marina area. It is close to major hotels and offers 95,400 sq. ft. of meeting space. During the first quarter of 2016, the convention center underwent a one-month light refurbishing.
El Cid Resorts’ four hotels—El Cid Castilla Beach, El Cid El Moro Beach, El Cid Marina Beach and El Cid Granada Country Club—have recently been renovating guest rooms and most public areas. The hotels offer a combined total of 1,120 guest rooms and El Cid Conference Center provides 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The legendary, 400-room Playa Mazatlan Beach Hotel has been completely renovated and now offers a 24-hour all-inclusive program. The property boasts three swimming pools and 23,000 sq. ft. of flexible function space, including nine event rooms.
Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan Beach Resort (pictured) and Pueblo Bonito Emerald Estates Luxury Villas don’t have meeting space, but are top choices for lodging due to their high-quality features and convenient location. Together, the properties provide 623 guest rooms and have a permanent room renovation program to maintain top quality. They also have added all-inclusive options.
Major Meeting Venues
Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabos
Five Star resort located by Sea of Cortes; 350 guest rooms, all with private balconies; five restaurants; four swimming pools; 28,201 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 10 meeting rooms.
Esperanza–an Auberge Resort
Forbes Five Star, private beach property tucked between two scenic bluffs on the Baja Peninsula; redesigned in 2015; 57 guest rooms; five championship-level golf courses; more than 2,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos All-Inclusive Golf & Spa
Rated one of the Top 50 Golf Hotels in the World by Golf Digest; 526 guest rooms; more than 15,000 sq. ft. of event space; signature wine treatments available in Somma Wine Spa’s 15 rooms.
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
375 guest rooms, all with private balconies offering views of Sea of Cortes; golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II; Eforea Spa; 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
All-inclusive property with 619 guest rooms, including 34 swim-up suites; 35,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; 12 restaurants, bars and lounges.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort
Forbes Five Star hotel located between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of the 1,000-mile Baja Peninsula; 83 guest rooms; spa; fitness center; pool; 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort
Adults-only property set along the Pacific Coast; 500 guest rooms; five gourmet restaurants; spa; 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Resort at Pedregal
AAA Five Diamond property located on the southernmost tip of Baja California Peninsula; 111 guest rooms; Luna Y Mar Spa; 2,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Barcelo Puerto Vallarta
Situated on exclusive Mismaloya Beach, just south of the city; surrounded by mountains; 316 guest rooms; four pools; more than 6,908 sq. ft. of meeting space.
CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
Nestled between Sierra Madre Mountains and Banderas Bay; 433 guest rooms; Ohtli Spa; fitness center; more than 8,800 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta
AAA Four Diamond, all-inclusive property on Banderas Bay; stunning views of Sierra Madre Mountains; 229 guest rooms; four restaurants, buffet and cafe; 6.600 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive & Spa
Situated on Banderas Bay; 291 guest rooms; El Mexicano restaurant; Bikini Swim-Up Bar; eco-friendly Nakawe Spa; 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
All-inclusive property; located 5 miles south of Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR); 259 guest rooms; Ki Spa; 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Puerto Vallarta International Convention Center
Sits on 42 acres; five-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta International Airport; 105,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 54,000-square-foot Gran Salon Vallarta.
Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta
AAA Four Diamond resort; within walking distance of famous El Malecon boardwalk; 271 guest rooms, all with a private terrace or balcony; 6,900 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center
Near Banderas Bay; captivating views of Sierra Madre Mountain Range; 473 guest rooms; spa; two free-form pools with swim-up bars and live mariachi music; fitness center; 13,000 sq. ft. of event space.
The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta
Beachside setting, across from Marina District; palm-tree studded grounds; 280 guest rooms; oceanfront and indoor spas; two pools; fitness studio; tennis; 16,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 10 rooms.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita
Located in picturesque fishing village; casita-style luxury hotel; 173 guest rooms; tequila tastings; cultural center; two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses; 9,492 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
AAA Five Diamond, all-inclusive property; $20 million renovation included new wellness suites and upgrades to spa and gourmet restaurants; 267 guest rooms; 32,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta
In Riviera Nayarit, near beach; 348 guest rooms; six restaurants; Rock Spa; 18-hole golf course; new Sanctuary Convention Center tripled meeting space to nearly 19,217 sq. ft.; all-inclusive meetings include F&B, receptions and Wi-Fi.
Iberostar Playa Mita
Located near Punta de Mita; Five Star Premium Gold, all inclusive hotel; 452 guest rooms; four specialty restaurants and buffet; 7,000 sq. ft. of convention space.
Paradise Village Beach Resort and Spa Nuevo Vallarta
Set on a gorgeous beach at the end of a private peninsula; 693 guest rooms; Plaenque Spa; more than 15,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; specially designed catering menu on request.
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
Luxury resort; 120 guest rooms; personalized butler service; two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses; Remede Spa; 4,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 2,657-square-foot Astor Ballroom.