By Shelagh McNally
“South of the border” is being rediscovered as a popular new meeting destination. Mexico offers an exciting blend of landscapes, cultures, unique and colorful attractions, exotic beach resorts, charming colonial cities, and a cosmopolitan capital. Mexico experts say diversity is one of its most alluring qualities.
“Guadalajara is definitely a popular city with our attendees because it is so beautiful with great nightlife, hotels, and dining, along with shopping. The markets are incredible,” says Adam Lawhorne, president of Meeting Incentive Experts based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are two famous markets filled with quality, hand-made merchandise.
As part of Mexico’s heartland, Guadalajara is also famous for two distinct and popular products that have become true icons for Mexico: Tequila and Mariachi bands.
“Everyone really enjoyed the trip to the nearby town of Tequila to see precisely how tequila is made at the local factories,” Lawhorne explained. “Our tour guide knew so much history about the area. Participants also enjoyed the Mariachis. They are everywhere, strolling, and singing in the streets. They really added something to the trip,” explains Lawhorne.
His group stayed at the very modern but equally grand El Presidente Intercontinental Hotel. This 12-story hotel has been dubbed the “Crystal Pyramid” because of its stunning glass façade that looks beyond to the Sierra Madre Mountains.
“The Fiesta Americana arranged for a cocktail reception in the Presidential suite with Mexican food and beverages. There was a destination presentation and orientation to give attendees some ideas on optional activities. The suite itself was so gorgeous, it looked out onto the bay and everyone enjoyed having it available,” says Lawhorne, discussing one of his many trips to Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta’s proximity to natural wonders also proved ideal for Lawhorne, who held teambuilding exercises in the Sierra Madre mountains. “We traveled up the mountains in Mercedes trucks to visit the Mexican families living there and to take a palapa building workshop (thatched roofs made from palm leaves.) We then did a great team-building exercise that was a tug of war over a waterfall.” The company took advantage of Banderas Bay and turned a sailing trip into a valuable lesson.
“One half of the team was on one luxury sailboat, the other half on a second luxury boat. Then we had a regatta where both teams used wind power to sail out to a point on the bay. It was terrific because everyone had to work together with the captain. It really put the team together,” he explained, “Puerto Vallarta is the most popular destination for incentive travel because it offers companies an excellent infrastructure.”
Those looking for tranquility come to Los Cabos, the newest west coast destination located on the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula. The land here is stark and beautiful desert that overlooks the rugged coast along the Sea of Cortés. The peninsula ends at a rocky point known as El Arco (the arch) “It’s definitely quieter in Los Cabos,” says Lawhorne. “We did an executive retreat there that was really successful.”View Wishlist