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With some two decades of experience in the travel industry, Abby Lagman — a travel advisor at A Destination Travel, a Virtuoso agency in Henderson, Nevada — has plenty of experience booking luxury travel, family travel and trips to the most popular destinations around Mexico.
Lagman has also found success in combining those three elements, creating memorable Mexico vacations for families who want luxury.
Here, Lagman offers some of her insight about this lucrative market niche.
How would you describe Mexico's appeal to families who want a luxury getaway? Mexico is a great choice for upscale families, because the destination as a whole is amazing — well-rounded with a wide variety of activities for everyone in the family, from young children to multigenerational travelers.
Mexico's appeal includes a broad spectrum of first-class resorts and villas with access to some of the most beautiful beaches; fine dining options with celebrity and up-and-coming chefs; amazing shopping with high-end luxury brands where our U.S. dollar goes further; and historical, spiritual, wellness and cultural draws. The options to customize are unlimited: Fathers can golf on incredible courses, moms can do yoga on the beach, and kids can visit spas for special treatments.
What types of experiences in Mexico are most popular for your upscale clients traveling with kids? Depending on the client and the adventure level, there are so many options, from riding camels or chartering private fishing boats in Los Cabos to swimming with whale sharks or sea turtles in Riviera Maya to a touring Chichen Itza with a private guide. Renting a catamaran for the day for some sun and snorkeling is a popular activity, especially in the crystal-blue waters of Cozumel or Cancun.
What about Mexico’s interior cities and towns?There is potential for more families to visit interior cities, depending on the interests of the family.
I sometimes send families to Mexico City. I have clients that go there on business and extend to make it a vacation with their family. It's usually paired with a side trip to Cancun or a coastal city. One of my favorite hotels there is Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City. They have great amenities for kids that can be arranged along with babysitting, if needed. The location is ideal as a home base, as it's close to museums, the zoo and other attractions for the entire family to enjoy.
Which coastal/beach destinations are most popular with your upscale family travelers? The three most popular destinations for upscale family travel are Cabo San Lucas, Punta Mita/Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Maya. Luxury resorts in these destinations have great spas, amenities, restaurants and service, along with a variety of activities outside the resort.
Which hotels do you find do an especially good job of appealing to upscale families? I enjoy booking clients at the three Grand Velas locations in the Riviera Maya, Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos. The one in Los Cabos is my favorite, as it’s very modern and beautiful, with great views and a great understanding of what families need.
The restaurants there are geared to the more sophisticated palate of my clients, as well as the palate of their picky children. With children’s activities during the day and sometimes in the evening, you don't have to feel guilty about having an adult dinner while the kids are enjoying themselves with their peers. The spa is also amazing, along with the family pools and the kids’ splash pad.
What types of activities are trending with upscale families who visit Mexico? It all depends on the family. Along with the fun water activities — swimming with the sea turtles and yacht or catamaran rentals for snorkeling or fishing — I find families like to immerse themselves in the culture and enjoy local experiences, as well. Sometimes we book private cooking classes for a family or participate in a sea turtle release program. There are so many different experiences, and the good thing is we can book private tours of many popular sites — such as Chichen Itza — that are a must see.
How imperative are children's programs? Hotel children’s programs are very important for luxury travelers visiting Mexico. The difference between an average and upscale children's program is the activities offered and the quality of the facility and the staff.I've done site inspections in all types of resorts, from three- to five-star, and one of the reasons Grand Velas is such a great family property is because of the upscale children’s and teens’ program.
They have a children’s and a teens’ club, and they are separate — which is very important. A 7-year-old has a different definition of a fun vacation than a 16-year-old does, and it's critical to please both age groups equally. For example, the teen club has activities such as learning how to be a DJ and all types of video games, pool tables and an illuminated dance floor, whereas the kids’ club has more age-appropriate activities, such as arts and crafts, reading and treasure hunts.