Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Hotel updates (and Funjet Vacations' blog mention) in Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter

Excerpts originally printed in Travel Weekly's Mexico E-letter on November 30, 2005:

Travel Weekly Newsletters, Mexico

"SOL MELIA HOTELS & RESORTS announced reopening dates for its hotels in Cancun and Cozumel following Hurricane Wilma. According to the hotel company, the Paradisus Riviera Cancun and the Melia Cozumel will reopen on Jan. 14, the Gran Melia Cancun will reopen on March 31 and the Melia Turquesa will reopen on June 30. A number of changes are also planned as the resorts reopen. " Read more here...

"IN RELATED POST-HURRICANE NEWS, Funjet Vacations, a leading tour operator to Mexico, launched a Web log, or blog, dedicated to providing agents and customers with updates on resort openings and other tourism developments in the Riviera Maya, Cancun and Cozumel as the destinations prepare for the high season in the wake of Hurricane Wilma. The blog is located at http://rivieramayaupdate.blogspot.com It features interviews with locals, photos and video of hotels and tourism attractions in the affected area, as well as a forum for discussion about the progress being made in the aftermath of the hurricane.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Update on Aventura Spa Palace from Travel Weekly

Originally printed in Travel Weekly on November 21, 2005:

Palace Resorts sets reopening dates for resorts in Riviera Maya
By Jorge Sidron

MIAMI -- Palace Resorts reopened the North section of its Aventura Spa Palace resort in the Riviera Maya following Hurricane Wilma, and several of its other properties are scheduled to come back online.

The North section of the Aventura Spa Palace features some 900 of the resort's 1,266 rooms, as well as the spa. The rest of the resort is scheduled to open Nov. 30.

Although the Aventura Spa Palace is normally an adults-only property, the company said it will allow children through Jan. 8 in order to accommodate guests with prior bookings at other Palace properties that welcome children but are currently closed.

As for other Palace Resorts properties affected by the hurricane, the company said it will reopen Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort on Dec. 15, five days earlier than originally planned. The golf course is slated to open Nov. 30.

The Sun Palace, Cancun Palace and Beach Palace, all in Cancun, will reopen next summer after extensive renovations. Palace's newest property, the Playacar Palace, will open Dec. 15, while the Cozumel Palace will reopen next summer.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Photo update of the Riviera Maya

As weeks go by, it has been very exciting to hear more and more reports about all the wonderful progress occurring in the Riviera Maya.

After a recent business trip there, Funjet's Regional Sales Manager Hilde Mason summed up her experience by saying:

"All I can say is AMAZING! It is amazing how much work these people have (done) to get the destination to look as well as it does. On the drive back from the Playa area I noticed the trees were showing signs of greenery when only 3 days earlier they had been bare. It was so neat. It was like springtime. I pointed it out to the (travel) agents that were with me and we were all in awe of how quickly mother nature rebuilds. It will be back completely sooner then anyone thinks."

Now check out these great pictures from the Riviera Maya Tourism Board. Visitors are wasting no time exploring the area and experiencing the selection of activities and tours:




From horseback riding to golf outings, it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Funjet's Riviera Maya blog mentioned in ModernAgent's "Travel Pulse Daily"

Click on the link below to read the article published in today's edition of ModernAgent:

Funjet Vacations Creates Riviera Maya Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Third Annual Latin Jazz Festival draws crowds of over 3,000 into the Riviera Maya

This weekend, large crowds from all over the world flocked to the Riviera Maya to attend the Third Annual Latin Jazz Festival. Showcasing the musical talents of local and nationally renowned jazz artists from all over Mexico, the popular festival drew over 3,000 attendees ranging from locals and dignitaries to international tourists from as far away as Sweden. Indeed, this weekend represents a perfect example of the area’s rich culture and vibrant music scene, we couldn’t be happier to report on the festival’s great success.

Funjet Representative Zephne du Plessis was also in attendance, and was thrilled to report back to us on her weekend.

“The atmosphere throughout the festival was just wonderful and, from what I could tell, people were literally mesmerized by the talent and personality of each performer,” Zephne said. “The artists were incredible and really captured the imagination of everyone in attendance. By the end of the show, the crowd was so overwhelmed they just kept shouting ‘otra, otra, otra.(more, more, more)’ It was a very powerful experience!”

Check out these pictures (see below) photographer Richard Kohler took for us at the festival:




Monday, November 21, 2005

Video of hotels in the Riviera Maya

In an effort to provide travelers with the most up to date imformation of the status of the Riviera Maya, we recently sent some camera crews down to Mexico to film some of our hotels as they appear today.


Follow this link to Funjet Vacations' Riviera Maya page, then click on the image (pictured above) to view the video within a new pop-up screen. (Note: If your computer currently blocks pop-ups, simply hold down the "CTRL" button while clicking on the video link to enable the the pop-up.)

Photo update of pool and beach at Royal Porto Real Resort & Spa

The following pictures were taken at the Riviera Maya's Royal Porto Real Resort & Spa on Saturday, November 19th, 2005.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Alltournative ecotours give travelers a first hand look at the beautiful Mayan culture and landscapes

When you’re on vacation in the Riviera Maya, one of the best ways to experience the destination is by learning about its rich culture and beautiful landscapes first hand. We’ve had some great experiences with Alltournative, a company that offers expertly planned tours and exciting adventures that provide travelers with the opportunity to interact with genuine Mayan communities and the spectacular outdoors.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures and testimonials from the group that went on one of Wednesday’s (November 15th, 2005) snorkeling expeditions:


“Everything was beautiful, even after the hurricane we had a great time.” (Maureen Raitz and Ronald Gretz Jr., USA)

“We loved everything, I want to come back next time. Friendly people, great food, and we felt safe. We’ll see you next time with friends.” (Dawn Curtin and Amy Edginton, USA)

“This was an amazing experience. The tour guide was excellent and we would do again, and again, and again.” (Vanna and Onno Mellema – Canada)


“Even after Wilma things are beautiful, with warm water, warm sun, great food and excellent service. COME TO THE RIVIERA MAYA.” (Ken and Conniis, USA)


Unaffected by Hurricane Wilma, Alltournative continues to run daily tours through the area and is a great option for any visitor who wants to really explore and experience the Riviera Maya.

(All photos courtesy of Alltournative)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Riviera Maya locals await visitor arrivals with excitement

We’re happy to report, that as revitalization efforts continue in the Riviera Maya, the Mexican people become increasingly excited to welcome new visitors back into the area.

Funjet representative Zephne du Plessis took some time this week to visit some of the shops, restaurants, and entertainers in downtown Playa del Carmen, and she was pleased to see that things are quickly returning to normal.



“It is great walking through the streets of Playa del Carmen” du Plessis says. “As far as you can walk friendly faces are there welcoming you into their town, inviting you into their stores, and proudly showing off their merchandise.”


Zephne also got a chance to speak with some of the colorful street performers unique to Playa del Carmen. Luis “THE GREAT EAGLE” reiterated how wonderful it is to see people coming back into the city and supporting the destination. He also asked her to pass along this message to prospective travelers: “Luis ‘The Great Eagle’ is waiting for you to come back.”


From the busiest of shopkeepers to the unforgetable entertainers, the friendly people of the Riviera Maya have not let Hurricane Wilma get the better of their positive outlook or their gracious spirit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Photo update of El Dorado Seaside Suites

The following pictures were taken at the El Dorado Seaside Suites on Tuesday, November 15th, 2005.




Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mexico’s top cruise destination welcomes cruise ships post-Wilma

This week, residents and visitors of Cozumel are celebrating the arrivals of the first cruise ships since Wilma with a week-long celebration called the “Festival del Mar Caribe,” or “Caribbean Sea Festival.” Over the next few days, tourists arriving on a total of 12 passenger cruise ships will dock in Cozumel’s port to a fan fare of cultural music, dance performances, local artisans, roving mariachi bands, street vendors and a personal welcome letter from Cozumel mayor Gustavo Ortega.

Cozumel is Mexico’s, and the western Caribbean’s top cruise port; and, true to form, the friendly people of Cozumel will continue to share their warmth and hospitality with the thousands of guests arriving each day.



Monday, November 14, 2005

Nightlife quickly getting back to normal in the Riviera Maya

It’s nice to see nightlight returning to Riviera Maya's popular 5th Avenue strip.




This past weekend, the shops, bars, and restaurants were crowded with people having a great time. Our representatives in the area spoke with Angelo Minos, owner of Om lounge bar, who says his club is seeing seven-nights-a-week partying with people enjoying music and his delicious food.

Funjet representative Zephne Du Plessis was also happy to report that at 11PM on Saturday, fashionable hot spots like Blue Parrot and Minos’ Om were packed with young and not-so-young fun-seekers.

“With the local bars staying open until 4AM, thrill-seekers are having no problems finding a good time” du Plessis says, “and after a night on the town, nothing beats a warm slice or pizza at little restaurants like Pizza Pazza and Pizza Banana.”



Whether you're in the mood for good food, great music, or fun-filled shopping, the Riviera Maya’s 5th Avenue is the place to be.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Update from Bill La Macchia, Jr. – Chief Operating Officer of The Mark Travel Corporation and owner of Funjet Vacations

I’m back! As I said yesterday, after I met with the Governor, I was busy checking out Cancun and the Riviera Maya and wanted to share some of the pictures I took with you.



This is a local restaurant in Cancun – the area hardest hit by Hurricane Wilma. Even though they are in the midst of repairs, the sign says “Abierto” – which means, “Open.” The restaurant, despite the damage, was very busy with customers who didn’t mind a little work going on around them.

I can’t believe how fast they are making repairs. Even in two days, I saw a lot of progress. Workers are moving quickly to replace street lights, fix entrances and clean debris.



This picture was taken at The Royal Sands in Cancun. Vacationers are already back enjoying the sun and swim time. Some of the beaches did suffer damage, but you can see here that people don’t mind the pools!

Here is a picture of me with the Governor of Quintana Roo, Mexico - Felix Gonzalez Canto. Quintana Roo includes Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya. You can tell from the Governor’s expression that he truly is upbeat about the recovery efforts and how they are on-track to have 75% of the hotels open by mid-December. This is truly amazing when you consider what has happened over the past three weeks and how much action has already taken place. People are working aggressively and the hotels want to get tourists back right away.


This is me; the Governor; a local businessman; and the State Secretary of Tourism, Gabriela Rogriguez. Hotel owners, restaurants and businesses have committed to be ready for tourists by December 15. There is a pride in the people of Quintana Roo in getting their businesses open. The mindset of the people is clean the streets and continue – get ready to get back to work. The people of Mexico are some of the hardest working, most industrious people I’ve ever met. I believe them when they say they’ll be “Abierto” – open for business.

Thanks for reading my update. We’ll keep posting the latest information and pictures here. If you have information to share also, feel free to post here on our blog.

~Bill

Third annual Latin Jazz Festival scheduled for November 17-19th

This Sunday, Funjet Vacations will resume flight services into Cancun and the Riviera Maya. With speedy recovery efforts well underway, there will be a host of fun activities available for visitors over the next few weeks.

Guests traveling before November 17-19 will arrive just in time to attend the third annual Latin Jazz Festival of the Riviera Maya. Organized by The Riviera Maya Tourism Board, this popular event showcases some of the best voices in Mexico's national Jazz scene. Held in Central Park (in front of the Hall Center), it is open to visitors of all ages and will feature the talents of a wide range of popular artists including Iraida Noriega, Magos Herreral and local favorites, Aguamala.

For more information about the festival please visit: http://www.rivieramaya.com/eng/en-Events.htm

Thursday, November 10, 2005

“Estamos Abiertos – We are Open”

The Mark Travel Corporation’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, Bill La Macchia, Jr., is in the Riviera Maya right now assessing the Riviera Maya in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma. (Mark Travel is the parent company for Funjet Vacations).

Today La Macchia met with the Governor of Quintana Roo, Felix González Canto, and Secretary of Tourism, Gabriella Rodriguez. He said the meeting was very positive, with the Governor concluding, “Estamos abiertos,” Spanish for “We are open.”

First-Hand Account from the Riviera Maya

La Macchia has been touring the Riviera Maya region for the past two days. Here is a recount of the visit, in his own words.

I am very pleased and happy with the progress they are making in the recovery effort. Nobody should have any hesitation in booking a winter vacation to the Riviera Maya. The Playa del Carmen and 5th Avenue area is already open and ready for business. I spent last night here at the Royal Porto Real and you wouldn’t even know a hurricane went through the area.

The rest of the Riviera Maya, south of Cancun, is also much better than I expected. Right now, more than 50% of the properties are open and fully-operational. By mid-December, the Governor of Quintana Roo and hoteliers say 75% of the hotels will be fully open and they are on-track for 95% operational by year-end in Maya Riviera.

I’ve been driving around and have seen it myself. The scaffolding is up, trucks are making their way, and people from all over the state are coming into Cancun to help with the recovery. There should be no hesitation to book a vacation here for this winter. People from other countries are already here enjoying the destination. In some places, you would never know there was a hurricane.

In others, there is so much activity and rebuilding – it’s exciting to see, and it’s going to be better than ever before.

I’m flying back tomorrow and will have some photos to share with you then.

~Bill

The Governor of Quintana Roo (which includes Cancun, Cozumel and the Riviera Maya) Felix González Canto welcomed La Macchia to the region. The Mark Travel Corporation is the largest tour operator to Mexico and the Governor wanted to detail for La Macchia, personally, the progress on the recovery efforts and plans to bring tourists back to the region.

Tomorrow, we’ll post some comments from the Governor and photos of him with Bill.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Riviera Maya is awaiting your visit: First-hand pictures & information

In case you don't know Funjet Vacations, we're the number one vacation company to Mexico, so we were very concerned about the impact Hurricane Wilma had upon our travelers, friends and employees in the Riviera Maya. Just days following the hurricane, we sent teams to the area to help and assess the situation, and we wanted to share what they found.

We're happy to report that the Riviera Maya is open for business! Our teams in the area are reporting that much of the area is unscathed and just finishing some clean-up. Of course, there are areas that were hit hard by the hurricanes, but this site has been set up to show you where you can still book with confidence if you are traveling soon to the Riviera Maya.

We have heard, through our employees and hoteliers in the Riviera Maya, that they expect 70-80% of the region's hoteliers to be fully functioning for tourists by mid-December. However, we prefer to let the pictures speak for themselves and show you what we know is open for business.

We hope you find these photographs and posts helpful in making your own travel decisions.

For the most detailed and up-to-date information on the status of resorts in the area, please visit http://www.funjet.com/ and click on the Hurricane Wilma Updates on the home page.

Safe and happy travels!

Mayan Riviera resorts with recent pictures

Here is a list of the Riviera Maya resorts for which we have recent pictures. All of these properties are welcoming guests, and they're eager for you to see that they survived the recent hurricane in very good shape:

Monday, November 07, 2005

Royal Porto Real Resort & Spa: October 29th, 2005

The following pictures were taken at the Royal Porto Real Resort & Spa on Saturday, October 29th, 2005, less than a week after Hurricane Wilma left the area.







Click here for Funjet Vacations updates on Riviera Maya resorts following Hurricane Wilma.

Click here for more information on the Royal Porto Real Resort & Spa.

Riu Yucatan: October 29th, 2005

The following pictures were taken at the Riu Yucatan on Saturday, October 29th, 2005, less than a week after Hurricane Wilma left the area.





Click here for Funjet Vacations updates on Riviera Maya resorts following Hurricane Wilma.

Click here for more information on the Riu Yucatan.

Riu Playacar: October 29th, 2005

The following pictures were taken at the Riu Playacar on Saturday, October 29th, 2005, less than a week after Hurricane Wilma left the area.







Click here for Funjet Vacations updates on Riviera Maya resorts following Hurricane Wilma.

Click here for more information on the Riu Playacar.