There’s much about Merida that invites event attendees to explore while there: The gorgeous colonial center is steeped in history; the cool evenings are made for outdoor cafés and concerts; and its unique gastronomy and variety of culinary options that can be included in programs as dine-arounds or authentic Mayan cooking classes for groups.
Part of Merida’s charm for meeting planners is its strategic location: the city is just a four-hour bus ride or short 20-min flight aboard a domestic airline (MAYAir) to the Cancun International Airport and Quintana Roo’s stunning coastline. A perennial favorite of the MICE industry, Quintana Roo’s building boom sweeping down from Costa Mujeres through Cancun into the Riviera Nayarit has resulted in a laundry list of excellent all-inclusive properties with fantastic beachfronts for planners to book their groups for post event fun.
This year alone will see the opening of Now Natura Riviera Cancun (553 rooms), the Dreams Vista Cancun Resort & Spa (232 rooms), the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Cancun (898 suites), the Margaritaville Island Reserve by Karisma (148 rooms), and The Fives Oceanfront – Puerto Morelos (115 suites)—just to name a few. Note: the latter is not all-inclusive, but The Fives has an excellent grasp on incentive travel and can organize great team building activities including beach yoga, wine tastings, private dinners, and more.
Organized activities or simply downtime on a lounge chair on the incredible white sand beaches facing the brilliant-blue water of the Caribbean are incentivizing on their own, but Cancun and Riviera Maya also offer an incredible variety of attractions that will make your program a memorable one. For example, groups can go snorkeling and diving in one of the world’s second-largest coral reef, kayaking through the Sian Ka’an biosphere or birdwatching at Isla Contoy and the Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Local DMCs can also organize daytrips to the extraordinary Mayan ruins of Uxmal, Chichén Itzá, Cobá and, closer in, the beachside Tulúm. Dips in freshwater sinkholes (cenotes) are on the menu, plus adventures in underground rivers, dolphin swims, sea turtle release events, and more.
This is also the land of Grupo Xcaret and their magnificent theme parks—a must for groups—incuding adventure and eco-parks likde Xel-Há, Xcaret, Xplor, Xenotes Oasis Maya, Xoximilco and Xichén. There’s even a Cirque du Soleil show, Joyà, a jaw-dropping show in a custom-built theater that can seat up to 600 guests.
Quintana Roo has an impressive collection of golf courses, many of which are part of the luxury resorts that extend along Highway 307. The courses are open 365 days a year and are ideal for friendly tournaments. Among the top three choices are El Camaleon Golf Club at Mayakoba, a Greg Norman course that hosts the OHL classic; the gorgeous Nicklaus Par Three Experience at Riviera Maya in the Vidanta complex; and the par-72 Jack Nickalus Signature Golf Course at The Moon Palace.
Just offshore from Cancun and Riviera Maya, the islands of Isla Mujeres and Cozumel should be added to the program as a daytrip at th every least. There are boat charters and trimarans available, many with cocktails on the way back, popular with groups. Cozumel’s spectacular coral reefs have made the island a pilgrimage for scuba divers from around the globe to its over 40 dive sites, while on land ancient Mayan ruins are waiting to be explored and ATVs are ready for jungle adventures. Isla Mujeres excels at windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling and diving, and also has an archaeological site. Both are well known by anglers worldwide for their deep-sea fishing.
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