Tourism rebounds along Mexico's Riviera Maya

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by ANGELA KOCHERGA

WFAA Border Bureau

Posted on March 17, 2013 at 10:09 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 17 at 10:11 PM

RIVIERA MAYA,  Mexico -- Tourism is rebounding along the Riviera Maya with many resorts seeing a big spike in occupancy this spring break.

“The beach is excellent. That’s what we come for to get some sun and relaxation,” said Francisco Posada of Dallas.

Posada, his wife and three children were on a joint vacation at the Mayakoba resort with another family from Dallas.

“We probably come down four times a year. It’s a very easy flight from Texas. It’s a two hour direct flight,” said Jaimie Gotlieb, of Dallas.

It’s a short flight but a world away.  

Mayakoba is home to three luxury hotels the Banyan Tree, Fairmont and Rosewood.

“When you want to go to dinner you can go by bicycle boat or by buggy or just walk,” said James Batt, Vice President of Operations for Mayakoba.

One hotel has seen a fifty percent increase in revenue over last year.

“The first two months of this year have been absolutely superb,” said Batt.

Along with white sandy beaches and turquoise colored water, the exclusive resort includes Eco tours by boat through the mangroves.

"It’s the jungle and beach and that really ads to the tranquility around here,” said a Daniel Slaughter, a doctor from Austin who chose the resort for spring break destination.

“ It’s by far the most beautiful,” said Slaughter’s 17 year old son Danny.

Security was not a concern.

“The whole Mayakoba area is a lot safer than a lot of places in the U.S, said Dr. Slaughter.”

The region is not included in the U.S. State Department travel warning for Mexico.

About an hour from the Riviera Maya there was a shooting Thursday in a working class neighborhood in Cancun. Gunmen burst into the La Sirenita, or little mermaid cantina, and killed seven patrons and injured four others. Authorities said the victims were members of a taxi drivers union.

The murders did not happen near the hotel zone where thousands of tourists were spending spring break.

Most resort areas have been spared the kind of drug violence seen elsewhere in Mexico.  

“The security issues, thankfully, horrible as they are and have been, have never really been in this area anyway,” said Batt.

But even here the number of visitors had dwindled the past few years. Now Americans are returning and they are spending more money on luxury travel as the economy improves.

“Our occupancies follow the Dow Jones,” said Batt.

Proximity is another plus for the Maya Riviera.  

“Until I came to work here I didn’t really realize it. Now, I commute between Houston and this extraordinary place,” said  Batt.

Batt makes the trip to work at Mayakoba every two weeks.

While many Americans were enjoying a vacation at the beach, he flew back to Houston to spend spring break with his family.

“It’s good on both ends. I love coming back here and I love going back to the family,” said Batt.

E-mail akocherga@belo.com

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