MICE / Executive Interview: Velas Resorts’ Jorge Meraz Ibarra / Meetings Alliance

Executive Interview: Velas Resorts’ Jorge Meraz Ibarra

Nov. | 2018. Velas Resorts offers planners and their clients the most sophisticated luxury all-inclusive resort experience in Mexico’s beach destinations. The group’s five properties have received a total of 48 AAA Diamond awards, including the prestigious Five-Diamond Award. The Grand Velas Resorts in Los Cabos, Riviera Maya, and Riviera Nayarit are also part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ Legend Collection.

Jorge Meraz Ibarra, director of cluster group sales for Velas Resorts, about the brand’s offer within the country’s dynamic meetings, Incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) market.

Meetings Alliance [M.A]: What are Velas Resorts strategies for attracting US meeting professionals to their properties in light of this year’s travel advisories?
Jorge Meraz [J.M]: A major emphasis for us in on the fact that as the U.S. State Department Advisory wrote this year, Mexico is as safe a tourism destination as France, the UK and Spain. And as relates to Velas Resorts specifically, we have an unblemished safety record. We have extensive security personnel and protocols — even on site physicians, are self-contained, and offer airport transfers and group tours through vetted Grand Velas partners. This is one of the reasons we consistently host guests from major multinational companies and international conferences. In fact, just this year we hosted the President of Mexico at Grand Velas Riviera Maya and previously we hosted a Summit of Presidents from the Americas. These messages have resonated with MICE professionals and, in fact, this year is shaping up to be the best ever at our resorts.

M.A: What sets a meeting or event at a Velas resort apart from the rest of the top properties in the principal MICE destinations? What would be the key selling points for a planner to present their client when proposing a meeting at a Velas Resort?
J.M: The design of our concept as a luxury all-inclusive is the essence of our WOW factor. Though guests who come stay with us for the first time have heard the word luxury all-inclusive and have certain expectations, they’re wowed from the start with the dramatic architecture and quality, the magnificence of the spaces. A guest room is not just a guest room, but an over 1000 square foot suite. Our restaurants are comparable to the top restaurants in major capitals in the world both in cuisine and service. Then there are the state of the art spas. And speaking of service, they’re impressed with the personal attention and butlers who, by the way, were recently trained by the English butler institute. And finally, the infrastructure of the meeting spaces are designed for a hotel double or triple the size for the rooms we have. These are the most enduring WOW features. Plus, since we have a very large percentage of repeat business, we have to enhance the experience every time, making it different and memorable.

M.A: What is the latest news/updates in the Velas Resorts meetings offer? Any future plans you’d like to share?
J.M: Besides the quality and value mentioned earlier, what sets up apart from our other luxury competition are our exclusive experiences and how we take what the usual and make it extraordinary—from meeting breaks to destress and stimulate creativity, to special amenities at check in and departure, food and beverage tastings, and unique concierge services.

At the Grand Velas resorts, we’re upping the ante with new insider micro adventures for executive meetings. These day trips offer C-suite execs staying at the resort with luxury options to discover some of the country’s rich heritage. A helicopter to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal and colonial city of Merida, visit to one of Mexico’s oldest tequila houses in Tequila to learn traditional and modern tequila making processes, and private jet to Ensenada to Baja California’s top wineries for special wine tastings and to make one’s own vintage are offered.

MICE / Executive Interview: Velas Resorts’ Jorge Meraz Ibarra / Meetings Alliance

Velas Resorts offers planners and their clients the most sophisticated luxury all-inclusive resort experience in Mexico’s beach destinations.

In consideration of perpetually-connected executives, Mexico’s Velas Resorts now offer Cellphone Concierge services for meeting and convention attendees. The “Beyond All-Inclusive, Beyond All Compare” service allows execs to leave their phone with a professional concierge, who filters incoming calls and messages, only alerting execs when there’s an urgent matter. Prior to scheduled meetings, executives will be asked to specify which calls must be answered and which email contacts their personal concierge should respond to in a timely manner. The service is ideal for multitasking pros that want to focus on their conferences in a world where it can be difficult to disconnect from technology. The service is available at Casa Velas and Velas Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta and the Grand Velas Resorts in Los Cabos, Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit.

Groups meeting at the AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit also now have a new way to de-stress and stimulate creativity: Dreamcatcher Workshops. The mindful meditation introduces small groups to the 2,000-year-old tradition of weaving dreamcatchers. Participants will learn about the meaning and history of dreamcatchers and then how to create their own. The handicraft is traditionally made with willow wood wrapped in colored yarn and decorated with various objects, most commonly feathers. Known as the ‘Huichol Eye’ which means ‘The Eye of God’, this ancient craft process has been present for centuries amongst the native populations of the Coras and Huicholes in the Mexican Pacific states of Jalisco and Nayarit.

At Grand Velas Los Cabos we offer a behind-the-scenes insider tasting experience. After grabbing a handcrafted welcome cocktail or glass of premium wine, the gastronomic magic of Kitchen Fiesta begins when groups embark on an epicurean tasting tour within the resort’s expansive gourmet kitchen. With stops in three of the resort’s kitchens and signature restaurants, the activity allows participants to explore all of the resort’s “Beyond-All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare” fare with a progressive specialty tasting. With food, creativity and presentation comparable to that of top restaurants in world capitals, the experience allows groups to explore and savor a worldly fusion of flavors without leaving the comfort of the resort.

After a long day of meetings at Casa Velas, attendees can enjoy craft beer tastings. This weekly event held in the boutique resort’s botanical garden showcases four regional artisanal beers paired with local fare from appetizers to desserts. Included in the resort’s nightly rate, guests will also be provided with an artisanal beer rating card to evaluate each beer based on taste profile and preference and enjoy a selection of mixed drinks crafted with herbs and other ingredients from the resort’s botanical garden.

At Velas Vallarta, groups can take a break with new Straw Mosaic workshops to learn the pre-Hispanic technique of Arte en Popotillo. Originally used to adorn temples, houses, and schools, among others, the art is made by spreading a thin layer of beeswax from Campeche, a Mexican state on the Yucatán Peninsula, on a surface and then placing dyed popotillo in a pattern using one’s fingernail to get a desired length. Straws from different grasses are now used to make the popotillo, such as wheat, oats, barley and rye, while originally the grass came from the wild Cambray plant which grows in the Mexican state of Hidalgo in Central Mexico.

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