Passport - (Page P22)

Destination Diary Americas and the Caribbean By Melissa Burdick Harmon Mexico is ripe with perfect beaches, vibrant sunsets, and delightful snorkeling, fishing, and golf. The Caribbean islands and Bermuda also offer all that, plus a delicious stew of varied cultures. Central America wins bids with its “green” focus and combined jungle and beach itineraries. Planners in search of an urban venue might choose Guadalajara or Buenos Aires, or one of the great Canadian convention towns offering lovely waterfront settings. A graceful stone arch rises from the green sea, framing the deep blue sky beyond. One of Hollywood’s hottest box office stars sips a margarita at the pool bar. Gray whales arc through the water. The tan and sage green desert rolls right down to the sea. The beaches are broad and beautiful. The weather is reliably perfect. Welcome to Los Cabos, a world of two villages—bustling beachfront Cabo San Lucas and the quieter, traditional Mexican town of San José del Cabo—on the southernmost tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The towns are connected by the cliff-topping Highway 1, a.k.a “The Corridor,” home to some of the priciest real estate and most quietly opulent hotels you will find anywhere. If it all sounds deliciously luxurious, it is. But that is only part of the picture. Los Cabos has a superb infrastructure for meetings and incentives—ranging from high-end properties that can be booked at less-than-high-end prices to truly value-priced all-inclusive resorts. Add to that the new zero percent tax for meetings, and it makes this “aspirational” dream destination available to many more groups than might have booked it in the past. Groups of any size will find a home there. Planners who need a 10,000-square-foot grand ballroom able to accommodate 1,000 guests for a banquet, can find it at the Melia Cabo Real. At the other end of the spectrum, Rosewood’s 71-suite, ultra-luxurious Las Ventanas al Paraiso hosts small meetings and executive retreats in a perfectly appointed conference room that seats 36. Groups tend to use the area’s glorious outdoor settings for their evening events. Stage a cocktail reception in a desert canyon. Book a beach party on the wide sands. Or create a fiesta on the traditional, old Mexico-style San Jose town square. Innovative DMCs constantly introduce new things to do. Learn-to activities let groups take cooking classes with top chefs, master some Spanish, or try a little tequila tasting. An art day can combine painting or photography classes with an escorted gallery tour. An environmental morning can mean participating in a sea turtle release. Fishing derbies are great group events, since Los Cabos ranks as one of the world’s top five fishing destinations—especially good for snagging marlin. Add to that the easy and affordable airlift, with non-stop or one-connection flights from virtually anywhere in the United States, and Los Cabos is a recipe for meetings magic. Los Cabos Great Convention Facilities Grow in Guadalajara Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, stands proudly atop a milehigh plain in the Sierra Madres. It embraces areas with a true old Mexico feel (the clay workshops in Tonatá delight groups) in the midst of the bustle of a big city. Most important for planners, it is also home to Expo Guadalajara, an ultra-modern exposition and convention center featuring sweeping blue glass, sleek modern lines, and a touch of Art Deco. Expo Guadalajara’s great facilities are now becoming even better with the addition of 141,000 new square feet of column-free exhibition space, all with a 29.3 ceiling height and state-of-the-art technology. That will increase the total available exhibit space by a full 40 percent. The center’s Expo Forum can accommodate 2,000 people seated, or 3,500 for receptions. There are eight hotels within three blocks of Expo 22 Successful Meetings/MeetingNews/Incentive / MARCH 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passport

Destination Diary Europe
Americas and the Caribbean
Charting Their Course
Show Me the Money