Prevue November/December 2011 - (Page 48)

a marriott duo CANCUN [ON LOCATION] ALEXIS QUINLAN We test drive Marriott’s ‘Site at Your Leisure’ The early morning ride out is a blast, passing schools of stingrays, several massive manta rays, pelicans bobbing for breakfast, and giant turtles frolicking in translucent waters off Cancun. Solo Buceo Diving is taking us on their Whale Shark Excursion to swim with these beasts that are neither whales or sharks. They’re the world’s largest fish—stretching to 40 feet—here for their annual migration. We don life vest and mask and wait. At the cue, I practically fall on a 20-foot polka-dot whale shark! The gentle giants are like dappled limos vrooming past as we snorkel in pairs above. Boating back, still high on the adventure, we had to remind ourselves that what we just did was real. Our group is here to scope out two Marriott properties situated along the Hotel Zone: the 450-room CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort and 5diamond, 448-room JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, connected via a pathway between their ballroom areas. “It’s a win-win for planners,” says Joaquin Cruz, hotel manager. “They get two distinct hotels with 900 rooms for big meetings, great rates and loads of meeting space two miles south of the convention center.” Total meeting space tops 31,000 sf. THE COMPLETE PACKAGE Straightaway, we fell for the old Mexico ambience of CasaMagna. The lobby’s high arched walls, heavy oak furnishings and wrought iron chandeliers pay homage to colonial elegance, while the rooms have beautiful wood-frame mirrors and desks, modern citrus fabrics and fab Marriott bedding. The 90-pax Sasi Thai is an open thatch-roof restaurant with sunset views and fusion dishes like pad thai and Thai-spiced steamed mussels. Meat eaters love the zesty beef carpaccio, and I was very impressed with how well the chefs accommodated one vegan, one gluten-free and one gal who was simply seasoning averse. The man to thank was sous chef Dominic Esposito, whose cooking cred includes luxury resorts in St. John and Orlando. “I like a challenge,” he says, with a smile and shrug. marriott.com; iitdmc.com.mx CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Next door, the JW Marriott had us at its mammoth, marble entrance. One of only two 5-diamond JW Marriotts in the world, the lobby dazzles with tropical floral arrangements and gorgeous views from the grand Palladian windows. Afternoons, the lobby bar is a proper tearoom; at night its jazzy live music scene is the draw. “Everybody shows up here sooner or later,” says Cruz, so we nestled into tall wicker chairs and talked until the wee hours. First-class touches abound in the large, streamlined and newly renovated rooms: super-comfy slippers, flatscreen TVs, iPod radios, deep tubs and a balcony/terrace for all. For VIPs, Club 91 offers private bespoke service on the penthouse. Cancun’s only 4-diamond restaurant, the 80-pax Giustina offers handmade pasta, heavenly pastries, candlelight and roses, and a 12-pax private room. And we may never forget the breakfast at 200-pax Sedona Grill with made-to-order omelets, tropical fruit smoothies, super fresh guacamole and miso soup (very popular). Lunch is also delish—we reordered venison tacos and grouper tostadas twice at one sitting so everyone could try. “We really win at dining in the site inspections,” brags Cruz. “We’re confident if a planner experiences the place, they’ll return with a group—it’s a done deal.” He adds that half the planners who do the “Site at Your Leisure” inspections—offering free rooms and $400 to spend onsite—close the booking before departure. Our DMC, International Incentive Travel arranged dinner at La Habichuela, the Cancun standard that blew us away with their local shrimp in tequila sauce. The restaurant overlooks the ocean, like so much around here, and a portion of its floor is glass revealing evidence of a pre-Columbian excavation. Everyone got slinky for our last night at the CocoBongo Show & Disco nearby. There was plenty of dancing before, after, and during the show rich in Cirque-style trapeze artists, plus 20-ft videos of Ginger Rogers, Michael Jackson and even ourselves. 44 | prevue magazine http://www.marriott.com http://iitdmc.com.mx

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue November/December 2011

Planner's Pick: Sheraton Nassau
Planner's Pick: Buenos Aires
Fresh Meets: Park Hyatt
Good Business: Hilton Head
Bureau Buzz: Washington DC/Anaheim/Detroit
On Location: Paws Up, Montana
On Location: The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas
Meetings + The Muse
Meetings + The Muse
Mexico, Now
Mexico, Now
On Location: Marriott Resorts, Cancun
On Location: Marriott Resorts, Cancun
On Location: Starwood Resorts, Los Cabos
On Location: Starwood Resorts, Los Cabos
The Next Latin Boom
The Next Latin Boom
Barcelona
Barcelona
Queensland
Queensland
On Location: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
On Location: Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado

Prevue November/December 2011

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