Club Med Ixtapa Pacific recently unveiled its newly built conference center, giving meeting and incentive planners a fresh reason to consider the Mexican resort for their next group gathering.

The well-designed, 6,500-square-foot facility can accommodate 600 attendees and includes a main hall, multiple breakout rooms, and a wide-open, attractive lobby painted a rich red, complete with a skylight for natural lighting, leather seating, and a central water feature. Its soaring ceilings are high enough to feature performers from the resort’s Flying Trapeze and Circus School for event entertainment.

Club Med celebrated the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by about two dozen meeting and incentive planners, with Bruce Tepper, vice president at travel and tourism consultancy Joselyn, Tepper & Associates, performing the honors. “I was surprised by how attractive the new conference center is,” said Tepper. “It’s beautifully designed and spacious, and certainly worth considering for a meeting or incentive.”

Other meeting planners in attendance concurred. “I’ve never been to Ixtapa nor to a Club Med, but this is very different from my expectations. It’s very viable for meetings, and I will take that back to my clients,” said one planner for a MICE company out of Chicago.

One concern for some planners was the issue of safety, due to media coverage of drug violence affecting other parts of Mexico. Each said that once they arrived, however, they realized that the area, and the resort in particular, are safe, and they believe they would be able to educate their clients about any misperceptions.

"Everyone was very impressed with the overall quality of the center itself and how it further complements the uniqueness of Club Med’s all-inclusive concept, especially for the corporate meeting clientele in today’s economic environment where expenses and budgets are everyone's primary focus,” said Robert Cao, Club Med’s director of groups. "In the past we have lost group bookings that found Ixtapa Pacific a desirable destination, but did not visit due to the lack of conference facilities,” he added. “We wanted to fulfill the demands for our clients that were looking for the all-inclusive value for their group in an ideal destination.”

Club Med Ixtapa, which is located between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the shores of the Pacific Ocean on Mexico’s west coast, is popular with families; however, the conference center is set away from the busiest areas of the resort, ensuring few distractions for attendees. The conference facility also has state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is available in public areas as well, although outside the meetings area it can be spotty. All rooms, however, have a personal computer for connecting to the Internet.

The Mexican hacienda-style resort also completed a recent makeover, and offers 298 updated rooms, including 15 large ocean-view suites that come with their own concierge and private beach, and are ideal for incentive winners and VIPs.

In addition to all-inclusive pricing, groups have access to a dedicated on-site coordinator, sports and fitness facilities (where you can even book trapeze lessons), teambuilding activities, and several excellent dining options (don’t miss the signature white-chocolate bread for breakfast), from the casual buffet-style El Canto main dining area, to the elegant La Luna Azul, a large grass-roofed pavilion surrounded by lush gardens.

Groups also can take advantage of the many and varied activities offered by the resort each day, or organize private ones. Not surprisingly, the welcome-night tequila-tasting event was particularly well received.

For off-site excursions, there’s a guided tour of nearby Zihuatanejo for learning about the area’s history as well as picking up fresh locally grown coffee beans and silver jewelry in town. Groups also can rent Club Med Ixtapa’s catamaran, which holds about 80 people, for a day of snorkeling and exploring Zihuatanejo Bay, where it’s possible to spot sea turtles—and even hold a squid—while swimming in the turquoise waters.

Find more on Club Med Ixtapa’s new conference center and meetings at the Club Med Web site.