A pulmonia, or an open-air cab, is a common mode of transport in Mazatlan. // © 2014 Mazatlan Tourism Board
Feature image (above): The Mexico Tourism Board and Travel Weekly hosted 25 agents in Mazatlan. // © 2014 Mazatlan Tourism Board
Travel Weekly, a sister publication to TravelAge West, recently teamed with the Mexico Tourism Board to bring 25 travel agents to Mazatlan and give them a firsthand experience of the nicknamed “Colonial City on the Beach.”
“This was not your typical Mexico that we were introduced to,” said Debbie Muir, sales manager of Royal Blue Travels by Travel Authority. “This was a Mexico that I had not experienced before. Instead, it focused on the cultural aspects of this beautiful country.”
Highlights of the fam included a boat excursion on Mazatlan Bay to Deer Island; touring La Vinata de los Osuna, a tequila factory; visiting the quaint town of El Quelite; and touring Old Mazatlan, the city’s historic district. Perks during the visit included a choice of shopping tours; spa treatments; or a round of golf at either Estrella del Mar or the course at El Cid Resorts Mazatlan, which also included the option of a golf lesson.
Muir appreciated the timing of the fam, since it enabled the group to experience authentic Day of the Dead celebrations. She also enjoyed insider experiences such as salsa making classes led by a local restaurateur.
“I live in Florida, which has a significant senior community,” Muir added. “They are well-traveled and crave new cultural experiences. For them, Mazatlan will be a great introduction to the ‘new Mexico.’”
The host hotel for the fam was Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, where agents checked into suites with special VIP amenities. During the fam, agents had the opportunity to get up-to-speed on Mazatlan’s hotel product, with site inspections of El Cid Castilla Beach, El Cid Marina Beach, Playa Mazatlan and Riu Emerald Bay.
“Prior to the trip, I offered Mazatlan solely as a beach destination,” said Scott Kinniburgh, an independent contractor with Two Scots Travel, an affiliate of Travel Planners International. “I’ll now be offering Mazatlan as a colonial city on the beach, rich in history, cultural events, adventure and gastronomy.”
After participating in the fam, Kinniburgh would recommend Mazatlan to clients who are honeymooning, looking for a romantic experience, traveling with a multigenerational family, seeking an adventure and showing interest in colonial history.
Restaurants that hosted the group included La Casa Country, Diego’s Beach House and El Presidio, which is located in Old Mazatlan in a historic, restored home.
“I will also recommend Mazatlan to those who suffer from food allergies,” Kinniburgh said. “All of my meals were prepared fresh and natural per my requests and free from gluten contamination.”
Rebecca Gardner, an agent with Master Travel Planner, will be recommending Mazatlan as a medical tourism destination, something she can attest to from personal experience.
“I decided to do my dental work in Mazatlan and will come back for a week in December to finish it,” Gardner said. “The dentist was amazing.”
In Kinniburgh’s opinion, must-see sites and activities include the historic architecture of Old Mazatlan; a ride in a pulmonia (Mazatlan’s iconic open-air cab) along the Malecon esplanade; a day trip to Deer Island; fun at the zipline course at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure; and a visit to the nearby town of El Quelite.