Riviera Maya Entertains – And Educates
with Martha Chapman

The Air Canada Vacations table was a popular spot.

Busy training agents:  Claudia Pacheco of Mahekal Beach Resort

Sunwing Travel Group’s
Lorraine Brisbois

Laura Monk of Westjet with some keen agents

The Old Mill is a Toronto landmark, a high-end retreat where the city’s waspy elite dines in mock tudor elegance. But earlier this week, the emphasis was not just on the famous food: it was on education, Mexican-style.

A group of tourism reps, including the enthusiastic and informative Orlando Hidalgo of the Riviera Maya Promotion Office, gathered to provide really useful information on updates on the region, and how to make yourself a hero (or heroine) to your clients.

The evening comprised dinner followed by roundtables with each of the tour operators and hotel reps, eagerly attended by agents clearly keen to soak up as much info as they could on this perennially-popular destination.

As we dined on salad, soup and salmon, Orlando shared many excellent tips including these top five:

l) For first time clients, it helps to explain that the Riviera Maya is not a resort town, like Acapulco, but a region actually stretching 160 km south of Cancun. So travel times are important when they’re considering their activities.

2) The famous attraction of Xel-Ha (“shell-ha”) has gone all-inclusive. Which means that for $69 US your clients should spend a whole day at this huge freshwater lagoon and park. They can swim, snorkel, hike, bike and dine at 6 restaurants (and enjoy unlimited liquid refreshments). Clients should try to make it a full day – and not be tempted to combine it with nearby Tulum, unless they get a really early start on the day – as it closes at 5 pm.

3) Speaking of Tulum, there’s a very cool new way to see the ruins called Tulum at Night, which combines a sunset tour limited to 10 people per group, each using multilingual headsets, enjoying illuminations of the ancient buildings. “An incredible visual and sensual experience,” Orlando said.

4) The ruins at Coba. In a nutshell? “Yes, rent the bikes. They’re only $5, the terrain is flat as a pancake and it’s an incredible way to travel between the ruins.”

5) Another cool new attraction is Xplor Adventure Park (at last, an X pronounced like an X!). With 11 zip lines (including one through waterfalls) it sounds like a complete blast for the A-type client. Big tip: tell clients to wear bathing suits and water shoes – their flip flops will never survive the journey.

6) And the last piece of good news: the region is adding English-speaking staff in their wedding licensing office, which will allow the residency period to be reduced to 24 hours. Olé to that!


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