When it comes to international meetings and incentives, bringing U.S. attendees to Mexico is a no-brainer for most planners. Flight connectivity is easy from most major metro areas, the weather is nearly perfect, and all-inclusive properties make coordinating group activities and general planning simple.
In 2019 and moving into 2020, Mexico’s most popular meeting locales are continuing to strengthen their hotel and resort offerings—especially in the luxury and all-inclusive categories—which is only solidifying these destinations as reliable (and fun) locations for group gatherings.
Following are the latest renovations and openings planners should take note of in Los Cabos, the Riviera Maya-Cancun region and Mexico City.
The unique combination of mountains, ocean and desert give Mexico’s popular beach destination on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula a stunning advantage. The good news for planners: Organizing a meeting or incentive in desirable Los Cabos just got even easier.
Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, noted several significant openings and updates from major hotel brands that put the region in a favorable position for meetings groups in 2020, following the expansion of its convention center in 2018.
Esponda expects the number of meetings in the region to grow. Los Cabos’ new spaces, coupled with an airport expansion to further improve air connectivity from U.S. destinations, give it a competitive edge.
[Related: Bleisure Adventures on Mexico’s Coasts]
“After Cancun, we have the most connectivity to the United States,” he said. “It’s also very safe here. That’s also a very important point for groups…there’s one survey from National Institute of Statistics conducts, and it says we are the third safest city in Mexico.”
Planners should keep the following updates in Los Cabos on their radar next year.
Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos
When Esponda and I chatted in late October, the Hard Rock Los Cabos (pictured at the top of the article) had just opened with a bang, kicking off with a star-studded party that featured a performance from Enrique Iglesias. It’s the fifth all-inclusive Hard Rock property to come to Mexico, and it brings game-changing meeting space with it.
“They have a very large meeting space—the largest ballroom in the destination, at 18,000 square feet,” Esponda said.
A total of 60,000 square feet of meeting space is available to planners for events, including outdoor spaces on the beach, plaza or by the pool.
The hotel is also home to two golf courses and many amenities characteristic of Hard Rock hotels, like restaurants, entertainment experiences, a spa and more. In a destination that often accommodates small to mid-size groups, Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos is primed to be a welcome option for larger corporate and incentive meetings.
[Read also: Expert Tips for Planning Meetings and Events Abroad]
Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas
Four Seasons brought its luxury to Los Cabos this fall and boasts a secluded location on two miles of beach. It’s the first Four Seasons marina resort, thanks to a private marina on property.
Photo: Four Seasons Costas Palmas rendering; Credit: Courtesy of Visit Los Cabos
As opposed to other properties in Los Cabos that are on the ocean but often prohibit swimming due to rough water conditions, the calm Sea of Cortez provides opportunities for guests to use the marina for access to nearby snorkel sites, go sailing, spend a day on a yacht and more.
These amenities cater well to incentive groups, but there are plenty for small corporate groups as well. All of its 5,860 square feet of flexible indoor venues are grouped in a single building right beside the main lobby. The resort can also arrange meetings on a sailboat, on the private beach, or on the Robert Trent Jones II golf course.
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
Attendees staying at Hilton Los Cabos in 2020 will be greeted with fresh outdoor, lobby and dining spaces, thanks to the recently announced multimillion-dollar renovation.
The reimagined property’s updates are immediately evident upon entering its lobby, which has an open-air courtyard, sprawling water features and a native elephant tree as the centerpiece.
Additional enhancements including 14 private plunge pool suites, an adults-only infinity pool, refreshed culinary concepts and an ocean-view fitness center. The new beach club concept has a beach bar, private cliff-side bungalows, massage cabanas and a fire pit.
This is all in addition to the existing meeting space on property, which can cater to groups as small as 10 to as large as 800.
Zadún, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Nestled in the sand dunes along the San Jose del Cabo coastline, the 115-room Zadún, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, opened in late October, just days following the Hard Rock Hotel grand opening.
Its top-end luxury rooms, suites and villas overlooking the Sea of Cortez are dubbed “desert sanctuaries.”
Event spaces at Nido, at the top of the resort, are set up well for small meetings and relaxed retreats. In contrast with the large Hard Rock Hotel, Zadún adds a serene, exclusive oasis to the Los Cabos area that’s hard to beat.
Cancun and Riviera Maya
Home to the alluring combination of tropical forests, white sand beaches and Mayan history, the east side of the Yucatan Peninsula continues to enjoy a development boom. Popular vacation spots Cancun and Riviera Maya beckon leisure travelers, incentives and business meetings to the state of Quintana Roo.
For meeting planners, the options are only getting more diverse. From a major convention center opening to new luxury properties, here’s the latest hotel openings and renovations in Cancun and Riviera Maya.
Barceló Maya Grand Resort
On December 15, 2019, the new adults-only, all-inclusive Barceló Maya Riviera, opens in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. It’s the latest addition to the Barceló Maya Grand Resort complex comprised of five resorts.
This December, the resort complex will also unveil Barceló Maya Arena, the largest convention center and meetings inventory in the region. The convention center originally slated for a May 2020 opening is ahead of schedule, and is set to be a game changer for big meetings in the Riviera Maya.
Video break: Danielle LeBreck was on site at Barcelo Maya Grand Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico and got the scoop on the new builds at the complex: An adults-only hotel opening in December 2019 and a 190,000-square-foot convention center set to open in spring 2020.
Its capacity is 8,000 and includes 190,000 square feet of customizable multi-purpose space for expos, conventions and events. For gala receptions with stunning views, there’s a 3,400-square-foot terrace, too.
Two New Tulum Hotels and Convention Center
By 2021, Riviera Maya’s Tulum area will have an impressive resort and convention destination. The 343-room Live Aqua Beach Resort Tulkal Riviera Maya is scheduled to open in December 2020, while the 734-room Fiesta Americana Tulkal Riviera is set to come online in spring 2021.
Photo: Live Aqua Beach Resort Tulkal Riviera Maya; Credit: Courtesy of Fiesta Americana Hotels & Resorts
In addition to their own respective meeting spaces, both resorts will have access to the Tulkal Convention Center, featuring a 3,000-capacity ballroom, a terrace that can host up to 1,000 guests, and a 400-seat theater.
Photo: Fiesta Americana Tulkal Riviera rendering; Credit: Courtesy of Fiesta Americana Hotels & Resorts
Tulkal is eight miles from Tulum, located on the Caribbean coast and surrounded by tropical forests.
Mexico City is having a moment. While it’s home to one of the largest population concentrations on Earth, mass tourism is just beginning to discover its world-class cultural draws. Between the exploding restaurant scene and its colorful street markets, colonial architecture and many museums, this mega metropolis has something to offer any group.
Mexico City has many direct flights from the U.S., making it easy to travel to for meetings and events, and the city continues to add meetings-friendly hotels to its already large inventory of properties that includes JW Marriott Mexico City, Hyatt Regency Mexico City, Hilton Mexico City Reforma and many more.
Umbral, Curio Collection by Hilton
In August 2019, downtown Mexico City debuted its first Curio Collection hotel by Hilton—a 59-room boutique hotel in a restored 1924 heritage building. It overlooks some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral. Zocalo Main Square is a convenient two blocks away. Museo del Templo Mayor, Chapultepec and Benito Juarez International Airport are less than five miles from the property.
Photo: Rooftop terrace at Umbral, Curio Collection by Hilton; Credit: Courtesy of Hilton Hotels
Ideal for small meetings and retreats, the property has one 375-square-foot room for intimate meetings and events for up to eight guests and a rooftop terrace for outdoor functions of up to 150 attendees.
Umbral is also the only hotel in Mexico City with an onsite gallery, featuring more than 100 pieces by local artists. Other unique features within the hotel include a library, a sound library with a vinyl record player, and a cinema that often plays selections from local film festivals.
Marriott International Launches All-Inclusive Platform, Bringing Four Properties to Mexico
Marriott International announced the launch of an all-inclusive platform in August. The company also announced that it plans to build five new all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, investing more than $800 million. The resorts are expected to open between 2022 and 2025.
More than 2,000 rooms are in the works across the five new resorts, four of which will be in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico:
- 240-room The Ritz-Carlton resort (2023 anticipated opening)
- 400-room Westin Hotels resort (2023 anticipated opening)
- 300-room Autograph Collection resort (2025 anticipated opening)
- 500-room Marriott Hotels resort (2025 anticipated opening)
All four brands will be on one oceanfront site dubbed “NIA,” spanning 220 tropical acres.
Each property will have an all-inclusive experience that’s in line with its brand; the Marriott Hotels brand; would cater primarily to families, for example, while the W Hotels brand would cater to adults.
“The diversity and global nature of our brands give guests the opportunity to find the perfect match for nearly any travel experience or destination,” said Tina Edmundson, global brand officer for Marriott International, in a statement. “By expanding our portfolio with this new offering, we are opening up a new way for travelers to explore our incredible brands—from Westin to W—through a new, all-inclusive lens.”
Read next: How Groups Can Give Back in Mexico With CSR Opportunities