Riviera Nayarit Casts a Wider Net

The luxury destination is broadening its message to attract families and nature lovers

By: By Mark Rogers

The Details

Riviera Nayarit Convention &Visitors Bureau

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Riviera Nayarit is on a mission. In the two years since its creation as a designated tourism destination, Riviera Nayarit has successfully raised its profile as an upscale vacation spot — especially with its high-end resorts and world-class golf courses in Punta Mita. Now, Riviera Nayarit is trying to cast a wider tourism net with the message that this destination appeals to a broad range of travelers.


The town of Sayulita appeals to nature lovers and surfers. // © 2009 Everett Harper

“We’ve promoted Riviera Nayarit as a luxury destination, but it’s not just for luxury travelers,” said Marc Murphy, director general of the Riviera Nayarit Convention & Visitors Bureau (RNCVB). “We have a wide variety of hotels, making the destination affordable for all. It is exclusivity at a reasonable price.”

Range of Activities
Riviera Nayarit stretches along 192 miles of Mexico’s Pacific Coast and is comprised of a surprising variety of towns and natural areas, offering a wide range of accommodations, from luxury resorts to backpacker inns. Nuevo Vallarta has plenty of four- and five-star hotels that can provide luxury on a budget. The laid-back surfing town of Sayulita has a suspended-in-time hippie vibe, while La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is the site of a 400-slip marina and appeals to sailing enthusiasts. History buffs and eco-tourists often find their way to the port town of San Blas where they can tour historic sites and explore protected mangrove sanctuaries.

Activities with wide appeal for eco-minded families include whale watching during the winter mating season, turtle releases and bird watching. The region also has sandy beaches that are wide and gently sloping — perfect for families with small children. Active travelers can zipline, swim with dolphins and sea lions, surf or hire charters for superlative deep-sea fishing. Another highlight is the chance to shop for colorful traditional Huichol handicrafts.

“A major misconception is that there’s a security issue in Riviera Nayarit, but it is far from the border, where the violence occurs,” said Murphy. “Also, there’s a tendency to consider Nuevo Vallarta as being part of Puerto Vallarta. Although we share an airport, we are a separate destination.”

Looking ahead to the future of tourism in Riviera Nayarit, Murphy remains optimistic.

“Major changes in the U.S. and Canada are the current booking patterns,” said Murphy. “While we used to see bookings six months to a year in advance, it’s now more common to see bookings four to eight weeks in advance. They’re booking closer to their travel date so they’ll find better deals.”

The major markets for Riviera Nayarit are California, Texas and the Midwest.

“We haven’t seen cancellations in the region, although we have seen some bookings pushed into 2010 or 2011,” noted Murphy. “While some hotels are cutting rates, others are counting on value-added offers to attract guests.”

Impressive Growth
According to the RNCVB, Riviera Nayrait presently has 20,000 rooms, the majority of which are of the bungalow variety. By 2013, an additional 5,000 rooms will be available. Hotel companies with construction projects underway include Capella Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Iberostar Hotels & Resorts (with three resorts), Grupo Mayan and Hyatt (with two properties).

This year, Imanta Resorts opened in September in Punta Mita, with three other major vacation real estate developments poised to open by the end of 2009.

Reel Riviera Nayarit
The RNCVB is also making an effort to attract agents by offering an online program that provides them with the opportunity to earn Riviera Nayarit specialist status and a host of benefits.

It also recently launched part one of its humorous and informational “Travel Truth or Dare” online video program, geared toward updating travel professionals about Riviera Nayarit’s hidden treasures and value. The two-part, reality-television-meets-game-show experience gives travel agents a platform from which they can better understand and sell this up-and-coming region. While watching the video, agents are invited to submit answers to a short series of questions in order to provide feedback and opinions to the RNCVB.

Upon completion of viewing the video series, travel professionals are awarded specialist status and receive rewards and benefits, including Nayarit Fast Cash bonus commission certificates, exclusive benefits for clients and preferred status for fam trips as well as other exciting incentives.

For a one-minute video overview and more details on the video program, agents can visit the RNCVB’s Web site,at RivieraNayarit.com/TODTrailer.