In Mexico's Riviera Maya, the strip of fast-developing coastline south of Cancun and north of the Mayan ruins at Tulum, the 446-room Iberostar Paraiso Lindo opened last November followed by the December opening of an adjacent convention center designed to accommodate up to 1,000 people. The main ballroom has 15,683 square feet of space that can be divided into six rooms, high-definition projection screens, 42-inch plasma screens, and a Dolby Surround Sound system. Across the hall from the ballroom are four boardrooms, each divisible into two. Two other all-inclusive Iberostar properties, the 424-room Iberostar Paraiso Beach and the 390-room Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, are within a two-minute trolley ride of the convention center, affording planners access to more than 1,200 guest rooms, a dozen pools, and more than 10 bars and 18 restaurants. Iberostar now has 11 all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and plans to open two new hotels on the Riviera Maya in 2004 and 2005. www.iberostar.com
Sandals Resorts, a couples-only all-inclusive resort company, is merging two of its Jamaica properties, Sandals Ocho Rios and Grande Sport Villa Golf Resort & Spa, to create the 522-room Sandals Grande Ocho Rios Beach & Villa Resort. The Grande Sport complex will close this May for an extensive $10 million refurbishment that will encompass all public areas, including conference facilities. A new restaurant will be built, giving guests nine dining options. Ultimately, guests will have a choice of beachfront rooms or secluded villas and suites with 90 private and semi-private pools. A “Stay at One, Play at Three” concept will allow guests at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios to enjoy the amenities of Beaches Boscobel Resort & Golf Club and Sandals Dunn's River Golf Resort & Spa. www.sandals.com
Beaches Negril Resort & Spa in Jamaica opened the 6,000-square-foot Signature Spa in February and an 18,0000-square-foot water park in May. Beaches Resorts is the family-oriented all-inclusive offering in the Sandals Resorts group.
Club Med has spruced up guest rooms and added new sports offerings at many of its villages. Club Med Columbus Isle, Bahamas, has introduced a new type of top-tier accommodation: deluxe oceanfront rooms face the beach and include premium linens, a DVD player with a selection of blockbuster movies, and stocked mini-refrigerators holding complimentary beverages and snacks. Club Med Sandpiper — Florida has debuted 27 marina family suites consisting of two connecting upgraded rooms, each with its own access door and special family-friendly amenities. Last winter, Club Med launched a Web site dedicated to meeting and incentive planners, which includes such features as detailed meeting specifications for all facilities worldwide and information on marketing collateral for promotional materials. The Rent-A-Village program allows groups to take over an entire Club Med Village. www.clubmedgroups.com.
Located in southern Utah, on the eastern edge of Zion National Park, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offers the all-inclusive experience for corporate groups. The resort, which spans 8,000 acres, shares about 10 miles of common fence with the park. The views from the property, at 6,500 feet above sea level, include the world-famous Zion Narrows, comprising the slot canyons that converge to form Zion Canyon. Guests are served meals in a ranch-style meal hall, and only need to sign up to participate in the many activities, which include all-terrain vehicle tours, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, paintball, rappelling, swimming and hot tub, and tennis. The resort's new conference rooms have high-speed Internet access, surround sound, and large-screen projection televisions, and can accommodate 35. Guest accommodations range from multi-bedroom mountain homes, to cabin suites, to cowboy cabins, which sleep six bunk-style. The resort is owned and operated by the Neeleman family; one of the owners is David Neeleman, CEO and founder of Jet Blue Airways. www.zionponderosa.com