Maxine MacPherson, Managing Partner UK Global DMC Partners & Managing Director AbleMaxx
Having never been to Mexico, despite having placed some very successful events into the region, my perceptions were mixed. 2 weeks in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, for both the Connection and a personal vacation, allowed me to experience the region as a delegate and an individual leisure traveller…and I’m glad to report that the destination really does have something to offer everyone. An incredible variety of hotels, a variety of activities for all abilities and ages, culture and outstanding natural beauty.
Our journey started with clients in the Riviera Maya at the Fairmont Mayakoba. Just 40 minutes from Cancun airport, the long drive through the forest area makes for an impressive entrance. This luxury resort has been designed around a network of waterways meandering through 24 acres of rainforest, housing 401 rooms and suites and 7 F&B outlets. What’s really impressive is the event space with 2 outdoor event lawns and nearly 28,000sq.ft of indoor event space. Bicycles and buggies make it easy to travel around the resort and the Willow Stream Spa, El Camaleon Golf Club and Jimmclean Golf School, laguna boats and beach water sports make you wonder if you ever need to leave the resort!
But leave the resort you must! With our own Global DMC partners Connection event, held in Cancun at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Resort & Spa, 80+ global clients were given the chance to explore a plethora of optional activities in the area. There was something for everybody including zip-wiring over the jungle coastal waters, jungle speed boats and cookery lessons to learn how to make THE BEST guacamole and salsa. Further afield trips to Tulum and Chichen Itza, significant historical archaeological sites built by the Mayan people, provide an earnest taste of culture.
But if that’s not your thing, there’s plenty of adventure to be found allowing you to enjoy the natural beauty of the region and there is a keen and proactive interest in preserving the integrity of this nature. Both the Fairmont Mayakoba and Belmond Maroma (I’ll come back to that!), undergo Coral Reef Restoration Projects which involve constructing nurseries alongside the coral reef which themselves contribute to the stabilisation and protection of coast, water quality and nursing and feeding habitats. Trips can be taken to the reefs and the Fairmont Mayakoba provide corporate planting experiences whereby you can brand your seed containers and be recognised as being part of the restoration works.
We visited the beautiful Cenotes of the region, exploring the underground rivers that run alongside the coastline, snorkelled in the lazy rivers of the parks and had fun experiencing the local towns and sampling the beautiful Mexican cuisine - and no you cannot eat too many avocados here it seems. But my favourite activity by far was swimming with Whale Sharks off the coast of Cancun, past Isla Mujeres. These beautiful creatures come into the coast to feed in pods between July and mid-September and, with carefully experienced guide, we had several opportunities to swim alongside them with snorkels. With some of them reaching up to 40 feet, it makes for a very inspiring and memorable experience.
I ended my trip with some relaxation at the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa in Myakoba and frankly, would happily still be there a month later! The jungle experience really does meet beach bliss and with 63 rooms and suites makes for THE perfect exclusive incentive retreat. There is no shortage of unique experiences here starting with the beautiful Kinan Spa, grounded in ancient rituals and a holistic approach to well-being and taking great pride in the product from their indigenous Melipona stingless bee. I was glad to have experienced their signature Temazcal experience which takes place on the beach, a purification ceremony guided by air, fire, earth and water. Just think Shaman, drums, chants, hot volcanic coals in an enclosed beach sauna, lots of sweating and connecting with your inner-self finished with a run into the sea. Once purified, my partner and I then indulged with a beer on the beach, a tequila sampling session and cookery lesson! The resort offers bike tours, reef excursions and a plethora of cultural experiences 5 days just can’t do justice to but my favourite was experiencing the release of baby turtles on the beach. Mother turtles find their way back to the resort which remains home for their nests. To help with the survival of the hatchlings the eggs are protected in hutches and released regularly into the sea each evening.
So many wonderful experiences, too little time….Mexico is a one stop shop for the perfect conference or incentive….and will most certainly be back for another vacation.