Carmen Laborin // © 2011 Carmen Laborin
No one knows honeymoons in Mexico quite as well as Carmen Laborin, director of romance for the Mexico Tourism Board. TravelAge West had a chance to talk to Laborin and get the inside scoop on some of the country's unique offerings when it comes to romance in the region.
"Mexico is a world-class destination offering many unique and distinct experiences for every type of traveler," said Laborin.
In addition to having several of the top sun and beach destinations in the world, Mexico has 30,000 archeological sites, 110,000 monuments, 31 UNESCO World Heritage sites and is second only to the U.S. in its number of spas, said Laborin.
While she didn't want to single out any one destination, Laborin said that her honeymoon favorites for a beach destination include Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya and Acapulco.
"[These destinations] are all diverse in terms of water, activities and feel," she said. "Everyone should experience at least these four beach destinations in Mexico."
When it comes to inland destinations, Laborin recommends Oaxaca and San Miguel de Allende as her personal favorites.Where to Stay
Mexico offers more AAA Five-Diamond award-winning properties than Canada, Hawaii and the Caribbean combined, said Laborin. But that doesn't mean that a honeymoon in Mexico is too expensive for the average client.
"Mexico is absolutely affordable," said Laborin, "particularly when a couple is on a budget. Mexico has always been perceived as a great value to U.S. tourists, so as the economy has made it challenging for many people to travel abroad, Mexico remains a popular and desirable travel destination. It's close to home, yet far from ordinary; the exotic appeal is included."
For those looking for an affordable experience, Laborin recommended a variety of destinations.
"Oaxaca is an amazing destination and a favorite for its gastronomy. Merida is filled with color, music and folklore, and Veracruz and Chiapas offer magnificent beaches and rivers," she said. "These destinations are filled with adventure from river rafting and ziplining to bike tours or romantic horseback rides and bonfires on a luxury campsite. And, they are all affordable, with stylish hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Laborin also recommends cities such as Campeche, Acapulco, Ixtapa, San Carlos and La Paz.
For clients who really want to escape, Laborin recommends a few off-the-beaten-path hotels such as Hacienda de Los Santos in Alamos; El Tamarindo in Costa Alegre; Sitio Sagrado or Posada del Tepozteco in Tepozltan; Hacienda Lomajim in Jalisco; Nirvana in Atotonilco; Hacienda Xcanatun in the Yucatan; Hacienda Uayamon in Campeche; Hotelito Desconocido in Careyes; Capella in Ixtapa; Hacienda Santuario Centro or Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende.
"I could go on and on with this list," she said. "Once you get to any of these hotels, you don't want to leave the property. There are so many wonderful places I could recommend, the kind of places that make you want to be in love every day of your life."
One of the most popular activities for honeymooners is a trip to the spa to relax and unwind after the months of planning before the wedding. Mexico has more spas than most other countries in the world, apart from the U.S. Spas in Mexico have specialized in blending ancient techniques and local elements such as cocoa, coffee, spices and more resulting in a truly special experience.
Other activities for couples include, cooking classes, Latin dance lessons, golf lessons, photographic excursions, genuine market tours, golf, horseback-riding lessons, volunteering, sunbathing on one of the Mexican islands, moonlit dining and star gazing.
"Like the saying goes, 'it takes two to tango' and, in Mexico, its all about the love," said Laborin. "Clients can learn to salsa or cumbia dance. In Mexico, people even dance closer than they do in many other places. It's truly a romantic activity."
Laborin recommends dancing lessons at Danzon in Veracruz. Clients can learn to salsa dance in Playa del Carmen at Solexico or at La Bodeguita de en Medio.
Another romantic suggestion Laborin has for a couple is a culinary experience.
"How about a cooking lesson for two or in a small group?" she said. "A visit to Mexico is about trying out new flavors and savoring many different palettes -- just like in a couple's life. Going to the local market together and, then, learning something new and enjoying the result of the experience, such as the lovely meal you cooked, is priceless."
Some suggestions for culinary experiences include a cooking lesson in Merida with Los Dos or at Catherwood. Clients can also head to the Sazon Cooking School and Boutique by Casa Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende. For a candlelit table for two by the beach or a river with a saxophone player, head to the River Cafe in Puerto Vallarta or enjoy dinner and a performance on Vallarta Adventures' Rhythms of the Night tour, which transforms the island of Las Caletas into a mystical paradise.
When it comes to more adventurous activities, Laborin suggested the following: snorkeling in Riviera Maya with Phantom Divers, swimming at a fresh-water sinkhole arranged by Amigo Yucatan DMC, river rafting with Mexico Verde in Veracruz, horseback riding with Blue Mexico in Huatulco, learning to surf in Punta Mita with Tranquilo Surf and whale watching in La Paz with Journey Mexico.