INNOVATIVE TOURISM ATTRACTIONS TO DEBUT IN MEXICO

By Bob Schulman

Dozens of new or upcoming tourism draws were unveiled in recent newsletters from some of Mexico’s leading resort areas.  Among notable attractions will be:

Cancun – Attention fresh fish lovers: The folks at eastern Mexico’s Villa Del Palmar Cancun luxury resort have come up with your ultimate dish. It’ll be offered at a weekly beachside gathering of the resort’s guests, at which local fishermen will show up with the day’s catch. Just choose the fish that looks like the tastiest treat for your palate, select the way you want it cooked and then set up a serving time with the chef.

Cancun edges the Mexican Caribbean. Photo courtesy Cancun CVB.

But wait, there’s more: While you’re there, the chef will show you how to make ceviche, Mexico’s traditional seafood salad – in this case, made of raw bits and pieces of the freshly caught fish, cured with some citrus juice and spiced up a tad with peppers and the like. After the chef’s course you’re invited to become a ceviche gourmet by whipping up your own serving (and of course eating it to make sure you learned your lesson).

Riviera Maya and Cozumel – The latest attraction on this 70-mile-long stretch of talcumy beaches south of Cancun gets you out of the sun and into the ice. The Ice Age, that is -- at a newly opened museum in Akumal (roughly half way between Playa del Carmen and Tulum). Called the Dos Ojos Park Ice Age Museum, the exhibits spotlight the remains of prehistoric humans and animals that lived in the area’s caves and sinkholes.

Hotel-resorts dot the shoreline of the Riviera Maya. Photo by Bob Schulman.

Over on nearby Cozumel Island, experienced divers “with a passion for adventure” are invited to participate in nine dives duplicating the journey of  underwater explorer Jean-Michel Costeau back in the 1960s. The dives (requiring AOWD certification) will be among top events of this year’s four-day “Cozumel Scubafest,” set to kick off Dec. 8.

Los Cabos – Will you be staying around these parts at the tip of western Mexico’s Baja Peninsula between Sept. 30 and Oct. 4? If so, and if you enjoy having your funny bone tickled, drop by the mega-resort’s annual “Cabo Comedy Festival,” this year to include performances by dozens of top laugh-getters. Besides the stand-up acts, the fest will offer panel discussions by leading comedy writers, producers and cast members.

Sunset da Mona Lisa Restaurant over looks Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Bob Schulman.

Also on tap at Los Cabos will be “Green Fest,” slated for Oct. 9-11. Billed as “the first sustainable festival combining entertainment, sports and outreach on environmental awareness issues,” the event will spotlight concerts, workshops and other activities using electrical energy produced by “pedal power” from bicycles. Everyone’s welcome to join in.

Mazatlan – Expected to be a big hit with sports buffs vacationing in Mazatlan will be a US$9 million “Sports City” planned to feature a professional football stadium with bleachers for 8,000 fans, an Olympic-size swimming pool and a skating rink. Rounding out the sports facilities will be three volleyball courts, a racquetball court and four multipurpose courts. The attraction is planned to open in the fall of 2016.

Part of the ‘Zona Dorada,’ Mazatlan’s main hotel-resort area. Photo by Bob Schulman.

All told, more than US$50 million has been pumped into tourism-related projects around Mazatlan over the past few years. You’ll see the results just as soon as you step off the plane at the city’s spruced up international airport – they spent US$8 million there alone -- or off the gangplanks on its renovated cruise docks.

Later, as you meander around the 180 blocks of the town’s Historic District, you’ll see more of the investment at work in hundreds of facelifted mansions, art galleries, sidewalk cafes, museums, jazz clubs, boutique hotels and even a restored neo-classical opera house.

Acapulco – Twenty gay and lesbian couples recently said “I do” at a wedding on western Mexico’s golden sands here, marking the iconic resort’s first collective same-sex marriage rite. Local officials say one of Acapulco’s beaches – the Playa Condesa, about half way along its three-mile-long main resort area – has long been known as the first gay beach in Latin America.

Acapulco Bay is one of Mexico’s first resort areas. Photo courtesy Acapulco CVB.

In another headline, Guerrero (Acapulco’s home state) has become the country’s first state to certify LGBT tour operators. Over 100 gay-friendly hotels and other establishments are in the process of being certified in Acapulco, Taxco and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, marketed as the “Triangle of the Sun.”

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