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If it’s true that statistics don’t lie, the colonial beachside town of Mazatlan, Mexico, is roaring back to life, and meeting professionals are taking note.
“Convention center business is up 200 percent in Mazatlan,” said Frank Cordova, secretary of tourism for the State of Sinaloa, in a recent interview with TravelAge West.
At the heart of the city’s meetings industry is its $61 million Mazatlan International Center, a high-tech beachfront convention center that opened in late 2009.
“It is the most modern venue in Mexico’s beach cities and the best convention facility in the country, outside of Mexico City,” said Cordova.
Located near Mazatlan’s hotel zone in the city’s new Marina Mazatlan, the center has a total capacity of 20,000 people, and its main ballroom can hold up to 4,500 people. The facility was designed to maximize the views from its waterfront setting, a formula that seems to be working.
According to Cordova, the center had a 70 percent occupancy this year, which translates to 300,000 delegates. And those numbers are expected to increase in coming years. In a recent survey, conducted by the State of Sinaloa, some 92 percent of meeting respondents said they planned to return to Mazatlan within two years and/or would highly recommend the city to a friend.
The center has even earned itself two slots in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” It is home to the world’s largest mural painted by a single artist, an 18,000-square-foot painting depicting key moments in Mazatlan’s history. The convention center also holds the world record for the largest shrimp cocktail ever built — appropriate, in a city that calls itself the shrimp capital of the world.
When it comes to hotels, Mazatlan offers an inventory of slightly more than 11,000 hotel rooms. One of the city’s leading brands is El Cid Hotels, which operates four properties in Mazatlan. Collectively, El Cid’s Mazatlan resorts offer 1,200 rooms and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space.
The El Cid Marina Beach Resort, which received AAA’s Three-Diamond rating, offers guests a secluded hideaway, fronting a small marina. The resort features 200 rooms — most of which are suites with a full kitchen, living room and bedroom — and offers a more low key experience than some of the brand’s other beachfront properties. Rates at the El Cid Marina Beach Resort start from $169 per night, for two people, for an all-inclusive plan.
With plenty of entertainment venues and historic buildings for off-site events, a variety of leisure activities, including deep-sea fishing, and one of the largest boardwalks along the entire Pacific Coast, Mazatlan offers an ideal setting for a coastal meeting.