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It is 2 a.m. in Acapulco, and the party is just getting started. A lively crowd has gathered at Barba Roja (Red Beard), a popular outdoor nightclub built to resemble a pirate ship. The staff is putting on an energetic show, while throngs of people dance, sing and belly up to the bar.
Even a brief downpour does nothing to dampen the party spirit. Most patrons are huddled together under the bar’s meager awnings, while a few have taken over the performance stage to keep on dancing.
It’s a diverse crowd made up of locals as well as a healthy dose of domestic and international visitors. American faces are noticeably absent, however. U.S. travelers continue to bypass Acapulco while the city struggles with its media image as a result of drug-related violence.
Although the past few years have been difficult for Acapulco — which was once one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations — visitors are slowly coming back.
Netzah Radilla Peralta, Acapulco tourism secretary, recently announced that Acapulco had an occupancy of 74.5 percent in 2012, which represents an increase of 17 percentage points over 2011.
“The rise in occupancy is due to increased security measures implemented by the state government, resulting in a more stable and peaceful environment for visitors,” said Javier Aluni, secretary of tourism for the state of Guerrero.
Occupancy rates showed a bump in December, with levels reaching a near-capacity 98 percent, the highest occupancy rate in 10 years. The number is at least partially attributed to the city-sponsored Imperial Mega Fair, one in a string of tourism promotions planned for the coming year. The 24-day fair featured a lineup of 20 high-profile concerts, including a sold-out performance by Placido Domingo.
The city is rolling out a number of other campaigns and, in conjunction with the state of Guerrero, has also launched the “Sun Triangle” initiative, designed to promote Guerrero’s top destinations — Acapulco, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco.
The city is also banking on a favorable spring break season and has teamed up with StudentCity, a tour operator specializing in high school and college student travel.
As Acapulco works its way toward recovery, there are plenty of savings to be found for clients, making this an ideal time to consider a trip to Acapulco.
The Fairmont Princess Acapulco, listed as one of the top 25 resorts in Latin America by Travel & Leisure, is promoting rates starting from just $128 per night. Clients who may have lingering concerns about safety will find this resort — which is secreted away on its own 480-acre campus on Revolcadero Beach — a perfect hideaway.
For guests who prefer to stay a little closer to Acapulco’s nightlife and dining options, the four-star Grand Hotel Acapulco & Convention Center (formerly the Hyatt Acapulco) has magnificent views of Acapulco Bay and is featuring special winter rates starting at just $79 per night.
With increased safety, great deals and new partnerships, Acapulco’s rebirth with U.S. visitors might not be far off after all.