puerto vallarta

Last week I highlighted what came out of Mexico’s main annual tourism conference, looking at new tourism initiatives in Mexico.

There’s also plenty going on for hotels as well, most of it good as the country celebrates are record year for international visitors in 2011—nearly 23 million. Occupancy in most resort areas is high enough to warrant new developments.

The most aggressive company right now at the high end is AMR Resorts, the umbrella company for the all-inclusive brands Secrets, Dreams, Zoetry, and Now. I was one of the first guests to check into the brand new Now Amber/Secrets resort in Puerto Vallarta, right before President Calderon stopped by for the grand opening. See a photo at the top. One side of the resort is adults-only Secrets, the other side is Now. What blew my mind is what the head of the company said in a press conference: “The is the first large resort to open in Puerto Vallarta city in 21 years.” (All the new development has been in Nayarit state, the Riviera Nayarit.) Secrets Los Cabos

The company is also opening Secrets The Vine in Cancun this summer, another newly built resort. This is on top of Secrets Huatulco, which opened at the end of 2011. Last, the company bought the highly regarded Marquis Los Cabos last year, did some sprucing up, and made it a Secrets as well.

On a hipper note, the Habita Hotel Group is opening what looks to be a very interesting concept in lodging in the wine country of Baja. Called Endemico, it’s going to be a collection of modern huts spaced out along a ridge. See more here. They’re also opening a new hotel in the historic district of central Mexico City.

New Names for Old Hotels in Mexico

The other big news from the conference came from Palace Resorts. They’re rebranding some of their all-inclusive hotels as Hard Rock hotels. Cancun  and Puerto Vallarta are switching over this summer, and this fall there will be a Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya. The change will involve more than the signs out front, with changes including in-room double Jacuzzis, better dining options, top-shelf drinks, and 24-hour room service. “All three will offer Hard Rock’s signature Rock Star Suites and will showcase an extensive collection of authentic memorabilia from international and local music artists, while incorporating diverse music genres throughout. Additionally, in keeping with the Hard Rock tradition, each property will host an ongoing schedule of live concerts, celebrity-driven soirees and other exciting on-site events.”

The company running Tides and Viceroy is changing the Mexican resorts branded as the former into the latter. So it’s now Viceroy Riviera Maya and Viceroy Zihuatanejo. We’ll have an updated review of the Riviera Maya one soon as we’ve got a writer checking out the upgrades. Most of the changes in Zihuatanejo are in the rooms, with additions of iPod docks, newer TVs, and other amenities.

There was one bit of distressing news. The lovely Ceiba del Mar in Puerto Morales is turning into a clothing-optional Desires resort. I’m not sure how that’s going to work since the pool complex is right on the beach, with everyone strolling by…