Mexico is a hot spot for value

October 12, 1997|By NEWSDAY

What's this fall's No. 1 vacation choice among value-conscious consumers? The American Society of Travel Agents says warm-weather honors go to Mexico.

The weather is glorious, the music romantic and the dollar exchange rate about as good as it gets -- close to 8 pesos per buck.

The Mexican government also has been making an all-out effort to make the country safer and more appealing to foreign visitors while also protecting its ancient ruins and environment from mushrooming development. (Among planned resorts: an all-inclusive property in Mexico's Mundo Maya archaeological zone.) More than 40 percent of new federal highway construction is aimed at linking tourist attractions. Twenty airports are being remodeled or improved. Nearly 12,000 hotel rooms have been added in the past two years, and several luxury resorts are scheduled to open by early next year.

In Cancun -- which travel agents said is their clients' top international warm spot -- rooms have been added at several resorts. The Ritz-Carlton Cancun was named Mexico's best hotel in a recent survey of Gourmet magazine readers (other Mexican favorites were Cancun's Marriott Casa Magna, the Four Seasons Mexico City, Las Hadas in Manzanillo and Acapulco's Las Brisas).

Acapulco, once the glamour spot of the western hemisphere, is back in the running. About $25 million was spent last year to clean up its bay; ocean quality now is monitored daily, and the beach is groomed each night.

However, some cautions remain necessary in a country still marred by corruption and extreme poverty. The U.S. State Department says crime continues to increase, especially in urban areas. The most frequently reported crimes involve taxi robberies.

Mexico information is available from the U.S. State Department, (202) 647-5225, or http: //travel .state.gov) and from Mexico Tourism, 800-44-MEXICO.

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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