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Acapulco.

What goes around comes around, and in the case of Acapulco, the time is ripe for a revival. Thanks to a long-promised improvement program and a beefed up promotion campaign, Acapulco is back in the limelight-with more opportunities than ever for convention organizers.

The beaches have been illuminated and the beach peddlers have moved to indoor markets. Stringent controls have been placed on bay pollution, and a new marina is taking shape on the north side of the bay. Hotels around the city have completed multi-milliondollar renovations, and last year a new deluxe hotel debuted-the Sheraton Acapulco-on a hillside just east of downtown. A new 160-room Camino Real property is scheduled to open in the same area next year, and Marriott Corporation is also looking into construction in the Diamond Point area. Moreover, the city is spending $5 million to promote the resort's new look.

"We offer convention groups Mexico's largest and most modern convention facility plus nine international hotels, including some that are rated tops in the world," says Alejandro Gonzalez Molina of the Acapulco Tourism Board. He adds that entertainment options are plentiful-from golf, tennis, deep-sea fishing, and parasailing to dozens of restaurants, discos, and clubs.

But what makes Acapulco truly a one-of-a-kind experience is its dramatic setting: the Sierra Madre Mountains ring one of the world's deepest and most beautiful natural harbors. There's nothing quite like dining on a moonlit terrace high above the bay, toasting the twinkling green and white lights of the city before you. Unlike many newer resorts, Acapulco has character and personalidad There's no mistaking it for anywhere else.

Keep in mind, too, that meetings in Mexico are tax deductible. And Acapulco provides the added advantage of being centrally located: 2.5 hours by plane from Dallas, 3.5 hours from Los Angeles, and 5 hours from New York. No 'et lag for your attendees to worry about! A strong U.S. dollar, combined with weak hotel occupancies, make Acapulco a very good buy, even in high (winter) season. Then there's the near-perfect weather dependable sunshine and mild temperatures year round.

It all adds up to the perfect choice for conventions and executive meetings. "We have been around the world, and I can say with confidence that the Pierre Marques and Acapulco was the best convention resort our group ever experienced," says Dorothy Kender, executive vice president of the Building, Stone Institute a trade association based n Westchester, New York. Kender's group of 250 booked Acapulco for meetings in 1991 and 1992.

Few destinations have the guaranteed sunshine that Acapulco does, or the full range of activities, plus the value was unbeatable, says Kender. "We did a five-day program that included all meals, cocktail receptions, theme parties, a recreation program including golf and deep-sea fishing charters), and airfare for under $1,000 per person. Our guests couldn't believe what they got for their money." Kender adds that Acapulco also had a strong appeal among her international attendees, who particularly liked the resort's Latin ambience and range of recreation.

ASAE'S own Board of Directors met in Acapulco this past December. William R. Taylor, CAE and president of ASAE, said, "It was great to be back in Acapulco for the ASAE board meeting. The Acapulco Princess is a wonderful setting for a board meeting... just the right combination of relaxing ambience and first-class meeting facilities."

Acapulco offers a variety of first-class accommodations for convention groups-from executive retreats, to action-packed hotels along the Strip downtown, to resorts such as the 480-acre Acapulco Princess, a completely self-contained oceanfront property 15 minutes from downtown and only five minutes from the airport.

Undoubtedly one of North America's premier resorts, the Princess has earned the AAA FiveDiamond award for the last 15 years. Its spacious guest rooms and suites are housed in three towers, including a stunning Aztec pyramid shaped central building. Amenities include two 18hole golf courses (Golf Digest as ranked the Princess among the 25 greatest golf resorts), plus indoor and outdoor tennis courts and several large free-form pools, with cascading waterfalls and a swim-up bar. Restaurants range from casual fare at Chula Vista to fabulous French cuisine at Le Gourmet and a Mexican steak house at La Hacienda.

Says director of operations Christian Inden, "The Acapulco Princess has tremendous flexibility when it comes to convention programs. A group may want to have its own building or restaurant. Or they might want to be dispersed throughout the property. No matter what, each attendee enjoys the same high level of service that our regular guests do." Indeed, convention badges are rarely seen in the lovely open-air lobbies and corridors of the hotel. You're more likely to see peacocks and flamingos strolling about the lush, well-tended grounds.

As for meeting space, the hotel has plenty of it-more than a dozen meeting rooms, the largest seating 2,000 theater-style. Moreover, there are several custom built theme party areas, including ones designed specifically for small groups, such as the Mesa de Patron, a beautiful tropical courtyard accommodating up to 90 people.

Smaller groups may prefer staying at the Princess' sister property, the Pierre Marques. Built by billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty, the Pierre has a laid-back, country club ambience, with a three-story guest wing, a five-story tower, and the rest of the rooms in villas. Tucked behind the palms and mango trees that line the wide Revolcadero Beach, it features several lovely pools and the wonderful Pierre Bar overlooking the Pacific Ocean-voted by a Newsweek writer as one of five most romantic bars in the world. Facilities at the Princess and Pierre are available to guests staying at either hotel.

Numerous downtown hotels line the Costera Aleman, the city's main thoroughfare, offering action-packed beaches, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

NIGHTLIFE: Acapulco has plenty of it. Extravaganza is the resort's newest, glitziest disco. Also for the sophisticated crowd is Fantasy, smaller and attracting whatever celebrities are in town. Young folks head for Baby-0, and old Acapulco hands head for Bocactio's. Disco action starts after 11 pm. Groups can book tables in advance without difficulty. In Acapulco festive cocktails aboundtry the area's most popular creation Coco Ioco, a generous portion of rum mixed with Seven-up, and served (usually) in a coconut shell.

RESTAURANTS: Eating out is the most popular activity in Acapulco, thanks to the great seafood cuisine and spectacular bay views from many of restaurants. Casanova, for instance, serves up tasty light Italian dishes in elegant indoor and outdoor terraces high above the bay, overlooking the twinkling lights of the surrounding hills.

Coyucca 22, perhaps the most glamorous and expensive restaurant in town, feels like a film set: Doric pillars, sculptures, and an illuminated obelisk set the stage for seafood specialties enjoyed on bayside terraces. Long-time favorite Miramar features understated elegance, bay views, and continental cuisine. Among casual eateries, no doubt the most popular is Carlos 'n Charlies, featuring prankster waiters, Tex-mex food, and a boisterous crowd. Large groups are easily accommodated at El Campanatio, an old Spanishmission style restaurant overlooking the city. Roca Chica is the insiders' favorite for lunch. Mexican and Japanese specialties are served in breezy bayside palapas (thatched huts).

ONE OF A KIND: There's nothing in the world like the divers of La Quebrada. Every afternoon and evening divers leap from the 150-foot high cliff into the 15-foot water below. Groups can watch the 25-year-old spectacle, Acapulco's first tourist attraction, rom the terrace of the Mirador hotel. The sunset and evening dives are especially thrilling ! SHOPPING: Silver is a great buy in Mexico. There are also good values in leather goods, ceramic pieces, onyx items, and designer fashions. The large AFA craft shop is a good place to buy if you're short on time or don't like bargaining over prices. The biggest silver selection is found at Taxco El Viejo near La Quebrada. Good custom-made clothes with a Mexican look are found at Samy's in a tiny shop in Old Acapulco. Acapulco's classiest mall is found beneath a cool arcade at the Princess hotel. The Galeria Acapulco Plaza (downtown) is a new two story mall with boutiques and silver shops, and plenty of souvenir items.

ON THE WATER: Some say Acapulco is best seen from the deck of a boat. Groups of up to 150 can be accommodated aboard the Aka Tiki, Acapulco's most famous catamaran. Design your own program-a day cruise to Roqueta Island for some snorkeling and lunch, or an evening cruise with music, deck-top dancing, and buffet dinner. The Fiesta yacht, accommodating up to 300, also offers day or evening cruises of the bay. Tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and sailfish are big catches in Acapulco's waters. Fishing charters are plentiful. Up to five anglers can be accommodated on the Baracuda, for Instance, for about $225 a day, including lunch and tackle.

THEME PARTY IDEAS

With its stunning bay and mountain backdrop, Acapulco invites all sorts of imaginative theme events. Off-site parties con be held at Fuerte de San Diego, an 18th-century fort overlooking the city, where (with advance notice) you can throw a magnificent torch-lit formal dinner or a Mexican Fiesta.

The terrace of the Mirador Hotel is a great place to watch the cliff divers of La Quebrada or to throw a 1940s Party-the era when celebrities like Lona Turner and John Wayne made the Mirador the center of Acapulco's action. Or enjoy private picnics and cruises at Roqueta island, where guests can take jeep safari to nearby sights.

The Acopulco Princess offers several specially built theme party areas, including the Puerto Bello, a replica of a wooden dock and port town where Caribbean and pirate theme parties are held overlooking the Pacific Ocean. An authentic re-creation of a Mexican town square is the site of the Princess's Fiesto Mexicana theme parties, complete with life-size bell tower, colonial bandstand and archway, colored lights, strolling mariachis, buffet tables, open grills, and fireworks.

Las Brisas offers the magnificent La Concha waterside terrace and restaurant for receptions and themed events of up to 1,000 people, Every Friday night the resort throws a wonderful Mexican fiesta on the terrace above its El Mexicano Restaurant. The fiesta includes arts and crafts booths, where guests can barter.

GETTING STARTED:

THE ABCS OF ACAPULCO

CONVENTIONS

AIR TRANSPORTATION-. Dally nonstop service to Acapulco is provided out of Houston on Continental Airlines; out of Los Angeles on Mexicana, Delta, and Lacsa airlines; out of Dallas on Delta and American; out of Chicago on Mexicana. Mexico City is another major gateway for flights to Acapulco.

GROUND TRANSPORTATION: Taxi and limo service is available from the Acapulco International Airport, five miles from downtown. Numerous local travel agencies can arrange for bus charters and other ground transportation requirements.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Proof of citizenship is required, such as passport or birth certificate.

TAXES: A 10 percent value-added tax applies to all goods and services in Mexico. A departure tax of 12-$15 is charged on leaving Mexico by air.

TIME ZONE: Central (same as Dallas).

TIPPING: Ten to 15 percent is correct.

CLIMATE: Temperatures range from 70 to 89 degrees year round. Sunshine is abundant, with evening showers possible from June to October.

CURRENCY: One U.S. dollar is equal to about 3,000 Mexican pesos.

BUSINESS HOURS: Most shops open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., then 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

SHIPPING CONVENTION MATERIALS: Most planners work through their hotel in choosing a customs broker to expedite materials into the country. Any Mexican Government Consulate Office can also provide information and assistance,

MAJOR ACAPULCO HOTELS
 Acapulco Plaza 1,000 rooms
 Acapulco Princess 1,020 rooms
 Continental Acapulco 419 rooms
 Fiesta Americana Condesa 422 rooms
 Hyatt Regency 693 rooms
 Las Brisas 300 rooms
 Pierre Marques 340 rooms
 Radisson Pariso 422 rooms
 Sheraton Acapulco 235 rooms
 Villa Vera 80 rooms
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:A Meeting Planners Guide
Publication:Association Management
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:1965
Previous Article:Meeting abroad.
Next Article:The trappings of excess.


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