Let’s meet in Mazatlan

Story and photos by Bob Schulman

 Mural on Mazatlan’s convention center is made of a half-million small ceramic tiles.

On the eve of its 5th anniversary, western Mexico’s Mazatlan International Center (MIC) last week hosted its largest convention to date and expects to finish the year with a record half-million delegates to meetings, conventions and other functions.

MIC Commercial Director Raul Llera.“We’ve been recording a very healthy 20-percent growth rate (in attendees) for the past few years,” said MIC Commercial Director Raul Llera. He said local officials are hopeful that the MIC’s ongoing success will spark the construction of nearby convention-friendly hotels, restaurants and office buildings.

Opened on Nov. 13, 2004, the convention complex covers a 15-acre site

edging a sprawling new marina and a golf course a short ride inland from the resort city's beachfront hotels.

Llera said the MIC is the only convention center to hold two Guinness World Records. One is for the largest mural by a single artist: an 82-foot-high artwork covering an 18,000-square-foot side of the MIC.

The principal characters in the mural – a bearded man surrounded by fish, a mermaid and a deer – are said to depict a visit to the area by conquistador Hernan Cortes. “Cortes was supposed to have seen mermaids while he was here,” Llera explained, “and also the big gamefish for which Mazatlan is still world-famous ...the deer comes from the meaning of our city's name, place of the deer.”

The mural is made of a half-million small ceramic tiles, hand-placed over the year before the MIC opened.

 View of Mazatlan’s Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) from a tower of the El Cid Hotel.

The second Guinness record was awarded for the globe’s largest shrimp cocktail, which weighed 1,187 pounds. Sponsored by the Mazatlan Hotel Association, it was displayed at the MIC on Sept. 27, 2011, during a function to mark that year’s World Tourism Day.

Held late last month, the MIC’s largest convention so far was the annual conference of the Forum of Agricultural Industries, attended by 7,000 delegates.

Among major future events on the books are 50 meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, expected to draw some 6,500 delegates.

More info: Check out features of the MIC at www.mazatlaninternationalcenter.com. The Mazatlan resort city’s site is www.gomazatlan.com.                               

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