Mazatlan Fiesta

The 13th annual Gran Fiesta Amigos celebrates the city’s tourism boom

By: Heather Burgett

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Mazatlan is seeing a tourism boom
related to its colorful history.
In November, The Mazatlan Hotel Association and the State of Sinaloa hosted the 13th Annual Gran Fiesta Amigos de Mazatlan, honoring national and international travel partners. Mazatlan has much to celebrate with its steadily rising visitation numbers over the past four years. Since 2004, when the city’s occupancy rate was at a mere 41 percent, it has consistently jumped an estimated 10 percent each year. The Hotel Association which credits an extensive public relations and advertising program expected to close 2007 at nearly 70 percent occupancy, making Mazatlan one of the top hot spots for Mexico tourism.

Since 2002, the historic coastal city, originally founded in 1531, has undergone an extreme facelift. Tourism recently became the top local industry, surpassing the longtime reign of the city’s phenomenal fishing business. (Mazatlan is still recognized internationally as the shrimp capital of the world, with a fleet of over 2,000 boats.)

The four-day fiesta kicked off with a dinner catered by Los Arcos Restaurant in Machado Square, the art and cultural hub of the city, as well as the heart of the newly restored 180-block Historic District. “In Mazatlan, what’s old is new,” said Javier Paez, marketing and public relations manager of the Hotel Association.

This district is home to the 130-year-old Angela Peralta Theater, a renovated city treasure that hosts world-class theatrical performances like “La Boheme.” Located in the plaza itself are landmark restaurants like Pedro y Lola’s and El Tunel, a family-run eatery since 1945.

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Guestrooms Outside the Historic
District, there is plenty of sun
and sand to enjoy as well.
The next evening, another gala dinner was held at the The Inn at Mazatlan, complete with fireworks and a 14-piece band playing the region’s own brand of Latin music called “Banda” a cross between polka music, brought here by the Germans during the Gold Rush, and mariachi.

The Annual Deer Awards ceremony on the final night was held at El Cid Marina Beach Hotel & Yacht Club, honoring airlines and tour operators for their contributions to Mazatlan’s growing popularity. Golden Deer Award recipients included Frontier Airlines, which now has direct flights from Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, opening up connections throughout the West and Midwest, and tour operator Pleasant Holidays. Guests of the fiesta were also treated to a variety of tour and excursion options from Pronatours, including day trips to nearby picturesque pueblos in the Sierra Madre mountains, such as El Quelite, La Noria, Cosala and Copala.

With numbers continuing to rise, there will undoubtedly be more to celebrate at the next Gran Fiesta Amigos.


There are three main areas to stay in Mazatlan: the Malecon (Boardwalk), the Golden Zone and the Historic District.

The Malecon runs along the beach and features the Best Western Posada Freeman Express, silver shops and plenty of nightclubs. The Golden Zone (“Zona Dorada”) is a strip along the ocean where accommodation options abound, from the popular Hotel El Cid and The Inn at Mazatlan to Hotel Los Sabalos and the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort.

Charming boutique hotels in the Historic District include the newly opened Casa Lucila, with just eight bedrooms, and bed-and-breakfast options, such as El Meson de Cynthia, Hotel Machado and Royal Dutch Casa de Santa Maria.

And, if guests don’t mind staying 20 minutes outside of town, the lush beachfront five-star Emerald Bay Resort is worth the drive.

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" In September 2007, the national airport operator of Mexico announced a 23.8 percent increase (since September 2006) in total passenger traffic to the country, singling our Mazatlan as one of the top drivers for that growth.

" Mazatlan has the good fortune of sharing the same latitude as Hawaii.

" One reason agents might want to send clients to Mazatlan includes the annual Carnaval Mazatlan, the third largest Mardi Gras in the Americas after New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro, attracting as many as 400,000 revelers every February. The Carnaval, dating back to 1823, takes place along Mazatlan’s mile-long oceanfront malecon which recently was renovated with wider sidewalks, new lighting and city-themed monuments.

" Golfers have a choice of courses at El Cid Golf & Country Club and Estrella Del Mar. Other entertainment options include a bevy of hotel spas, city tours (complete with a stop to see death-defying cliff divers), shopping, art galleries, sailing, surfing, parasailing and kayaking. Mazatlan is also known as one of the world’s best sport-fishing locations, especially for billfish: think mahi mahi, marlin, sailfish, swordfish, tuna and wahoo.