The December issue of the Journey Mexico Newsletter is out! Our headline story covers the upcoming international events that will be held in Mexico and our hotel promotion this month, Casa Grande & Esperanza, are both exclusive to Journey Mexico. As always, you will also find the latest hotel & industry updates, fun facts, and latest news from Journey Mexico.
We are proud to announce that for the third consecutive year, Journey Mexico has achieved a spot on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America, ranking 21st in the Travel Industry.
Weathering past storms such as “The Swine Flu” and the unrelenting negative reports of Mexico pouring out of the United States, Journey Mexico has continued to provide unforgettable travel experiences to a continuously growing number of discerning and sophisticated travelers. 2010 was a record year for Journey Mexico, and 2011 is poised to accomplish even more as interest in Mexico continues to rise.
In a stagnant economic environment, median growth rate of 2011 Inc. 500|5000 companies remains an impressive 94 percent. The companies on this year’s Inc. 5000 list report having created 350,000 jobs in the past three years, and aggregate revenue among the honorees reached $366 billion, up 14 percent from last year.
For other Journey Mexico accomplishments, visit Journey Mexico: In the Press
Journey Mexico is proud to announce that our Copper Canyon Semana Santa Hiking Trip has been selected as one of National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s 2011 “50 Tours of a Lifetime,” and will be featured in the May/June 2011 issue of National Geographic Traveler. The Copper Canyon Semana Santa Hiking Trip is the seasonal version of our classic, award winning Copper Canyon Hiking Tour, which runs several times each year.
The National Geographic team spends countless hours researching the most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided, and most sustainable tours across the globe before choosing their 50 Tours of a Lifetime list. “The outfitters we selected continue to find new ways travelers can connect with places and people,” notes senior editor Norie Quintos, who headed up the project. “More and more, it’s about human interaction.
National Geographic Traveler magazine has been surfacing the best tours and outfitters for travelers for the last six years, as part of the magazine’s mission “to propel readers out of their armchairs and into the field.”
Here’s what some of our recent travelers had to say about the Copper Canyon Semana Santa Hiking Trip:
“Urique Canyon was awesome. We would love to explore other regions in canyon system. We loved the hiking, camping, and trips to the Semana Santa celebrations. The trip was very well planned to minimize long car rides, and the train was fun. Our guide Alejandra was excellent with great connections in local towns. She was very professional, patient, and knowledgeable. Everything was wonderful. Great food, great accommodations, great experience!” – Jeanne Bennett
“We had spectacular scenery, great weather, and friendly and informative guides. All of our hotels had unique characteristics and the tour accommodated our varied interests. Alejandra was excellent. Very informative, helpful, flexible, and fun to be with. Our Copper Canyon Semana Santa Trip was a great adventure!” – Anonymous
“Our guide was terrific! She was very knowledgeable about a wide range of topics. Her expertise and thoughtfulness made our trip very enjoyable and fun.” – Penny McLeod
“Holy Week activities were especially enjoyable. I loved learning and seeing the local Indian culture. Campsites offered breathtaking views and Alejandra was always pleasant, friendly, and receptive to our input. She made guiding look easy.” – Barbara Berger
As part of the annual Journey Mexico retreat week, the entire JM staff dines together at one of the many delicious restaurants here in Puerto Vallarta. This year’s dinner was held at Blanca Blue, which is the beautiful restaurant inside Garza Blanca Preserve Resort and Spa.
The evening began with cocktails on the veranda outside of Blanca Blue, which overlooks the ocean. Blanca Blue’s signature cocktail, “The Perfect Sunset,” was indeed the perfect compliment to the breathtaking sunset that enfolded before us.
Inside, we were treated to a special menu designed specifically for Journey Mexico, offering appetizers of either Tomato Tartar with French beans or Shrimp Ceviche Acapulco style, main courses of Steak topped with Nopales and a side of Camote in a maple marinade or grilled Bay Snapper with Prosciutto in an orange reduction sauce, and desserts of either fresh plums poached in port with custard brioche and vanilla ice cream or warm chocolate cake with a peanut butter and vanilla milkshake.
Needless to say, the courses were INCREDIBLE! Blanca Blue also matched a variety of wines from their award winning wine selection to each of the dishes and treated us to tasty dessert wine as well. The ambiance in Blanca Blue captures the essence of tranquility, and I speak for everyone when I say that the evening was picture perfect.
Many thanks to Miguel Andres and Blanca Blue for such a memorable night!
Each year, Journey Mexico runs several scouting trips throughout different regions of Mexico to find and inspect new hotels and resorts, discover new adventure opportunities, and to create new friendships with locals eager to share the beauty and warmth of Mexican culture with our clients. Team members Zachary Rabinor, Matteo Luthi, and Jennifer Celis have recently returned from a tour of Colonial Mexico, Baja California and the Copper Canyon, and we’re excited to add their findings to our trips to those regions and share their experiences with our clients.
Also on the trip were partner travel experts from AAA Vacations (USA), Abercrombie & Kent (USA), Abercrombie & Kent (UK), Bear & Bear Travel/Tzell Travel Group (USA), Bella Vacations / Valerie Wilson Travel (USA), Brownell Travel (USA), Black Tomato (UK), Destinations and Adventures (USA), FVS Travel (UK & Germany), Last Frontiers (UK), ProTravel International (USA), Steppes Latin America (UK), and Original Travel (UK).
The 17 day Journey Mexico 2010 Colonial Mexico/Baja California/Copper Canyon FAM Trip began in Mexico City where we unwound after their flights at Las Alcobas, the new and elegant boutique hotel strategically located in the hippest and most vibrant section of the city.
Over the next 6 days, we explored Mexico’s Colonial Heartland, a destination for inquisitive and sophisticated travelers, in search of authentic contact with Mexico’s rich and multi-layered history, culture, and people. From the pre-Columbian past through the colonial era and on to modern day integration of the old with the new, the colonial heartland boasts a deep cross section of Mexico’s engaging and colorful history.
On this journey into the heart of Mexico’s independence and revolutionary past we shared an intimate experience with the history and lore of the colonial heartland. We began with unexpected explorations of the highlands of Michoacán where the independence movement intertwines with Purépecha traditions and handicrafts that are coveted worldwide. We delved into pre-Columbian times in Morelia and Pátzcuaro where the friendly locals were glad to share a smile and invite us into their workshops to browse the rich crafts traditions that have continued unchanged for generations. Through out the Heartland, we was welcomed into subtle luxury at exquisite properties such as Villa Montaña Hotel & Spa in Morelia, Casa de la Real Aduana and Casa La Siranda in Patzcuro, Villa Maria Cristina in Guanajuato and Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel de Allende; we also made the most of our time inspecting many other hotels in each destination.
Then it was back to Mexico City and the gorgeous St. Regis Mexico City overlooking one of the city’s most beloved landmarks La Diana Casadora. The following day, we transferred to the Mexico City airport for an internal flight to Los Cabos where we inspected Ventanas al Paraiso, Capella Pedregal, before enjoying a memorable and lavish dinner and evening with the enchanting staff of Esperanza Resort before retiring for the night in our spacious suites.
Leaving Los Cabos, we traveled to the “Pueblo Mágico” of Todos Santos where we had lunch at the Hotel California, inspected the Todos Santos Inn and then arrived to the newly opened Guaycura Boutique Hotel, which is now without a doubt the best hotel in this lovely town. Our gracious hosts invited us to a rooftop cocktail at the newly finished lounge and prepared an exquisite dinner; we all enjoyed an amazing night’s rest. Shooting across the peninsula to La Paz, we took a boat ride to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Espiritu Santo Island to explore the unfathomable turquoise water and myriad bays, and snorkel with sea lions in the Sea of Cortez, which Jacques Cousteau called, “The World’s Aquarium.”
From La Paz, we boarded in a 13 seater Cessna Caravan 208 to Los Mochis in Sinaloa state where we stayed for the night in the Hotel Santa Anita. The following day after exploring the bustling markets full of everything from beef to boots and cowboy hats to ostrich skin boots, we on to the colonial gateway of the Copper Canyon and newly named “Pueblo Magico” of El Fuerte to inspect the Hotel el Fuerte, and the newest hotel and certainly the most elegant, the Hotel Torres del Fuerte. Inspection work was followed with some fun on an El Fuerto River float trip and a visit to some petro glyphs of the area before an inspection and check in to the historic Posada del Hidalgo where we spent the night after dinner and some dancing with Zorro (native of El Fuerte)!
From El Fuerte, we boarded the world famous Chihuahua al Pacifico 1st Class train and began our adventure through dozens of tunnels and over the countless bridges of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The first stop was at the Posada Barrancas Mirador for breathtaking views and a site inspection. The group continued on to Creel stopping at the best look out points in the area including Piedra Volada & Mriador la Escalera, where they will be opening a cable car and a series of adventurous zip lines with a projected opening of the end of the year.
Next, the group explored the Valley of the Mushrooms and Monks as well as the Arareko Mission and Lake followed by a visit to a local crafts cooperative and a sight inspection of the Quinta Mision Hotel and The Lodge at Creel. On Sept. 15th, we took a switchback ride through the mountains to the timeless, wild-west, canyon bottom pueblo of Batopilas where we celebrated El Grito, the kick off to Meixco’s Bicentennial celebration of independence.
The following day, we explored the impressive “Lost Cathedral of Satevo” and took an aerial tour of Copper Canyon via a small, private plane; arriving to the cozy and rustically charming Sierra Lodge, we ventured of on a hike to the Cusarare Waterfall before relaxing with a roaring fire, one of the best meals of the trip and some lovely music in the peaceful pine forests of the High Sierra of the Tarahumara. Awaking in the peaceful lodge, we headed across the high plains to the capital city of Chihuahua for inspections at the new boutique hotel Casa San Felipe Real, the Hotel Soberano, and the Hotel San Francisco.
The Colonial Mexico/Baja California/Copper Canyon FAM trip was a huge success, and Journey Mexico would like to thank all of our partners who made the trip so memorable. Below is a brief description of the hotels that we stayed in during the trip:
The St. Regis Mexico City – A commanding presence within the city’s center, The St. Regis Mexico City is ensconced in the sleek, 31-story Torre Libertad. It overlooks the Paseo de la Reforma in the heart of one of the city’s most exciting zones.
Esperanza an Auberge Resort – At the end of a continent lies this tranquil Cabo resort retreat, where the body is healed, the soul is revived, the senses are awakened, and the spirit soars to new heights. In the finest Auberge tradition, Esperanza hotel offers accommodations that deliver the utmost in comfort, style, and atmosphere.
Guaycura Boutique Hotel & Spa – The Guaycura experience combines a totally personalized quality service with an astonishing architectural design, exquisite décor, and unique art work. Our location is privileged; we offer the best view in town toward the verdant palm trees of a colorful oasis and the sea beyond it. The Guaycura Hotel has a special style and personality that blend with its variety of facilities and services.
Posada de las Flores La Paz – A place reserved for those people who are always looking for the best. An exclusive ambiance which blends the comfort of this era with the luxury and tradition of an Antique Mexican House. Every detail has been carefully chosen with the basic elements of the Colonial – Mexican decoration. It is an excellent example of a boutique hotel.
El Angel Azul – El Angel Azul is a La Paz landmark with more than 140 years of history and is considered by the INAH as an historic monument. This B&B-Hotel is quietly secluded in central downtown La Paz, in short walking distance to the waterfront, restaurants, shops, and museums.
Hotel Santa Anita – When visiting los Mochis, don’t stay just anywhere. Santa Anita is a modern hotel with 110 air conditioned & cable TV/Internet rooms and suites, known for its comfort and elegance. The Santa Anita Hotel offers the quiet and awesome splendor of the Copper Canyon Mountain Hideaways.
Posada del Hidalgo – Posada del Hidalgo is a beautiful colonial mansion. This attractive structure was built in 1890 by Don Rafael Almada, a wealthy and influential “alcalde” (mayor) who spent five years and 100,000 gold pesos on its construction. The “Casa Vieja” section has 12 beautiful rooms with thorough modern amenities in the colonial design, surrounding tropical garden and a beautiful ramada. The newer style rooms face the spacious and breathtaking garden, typical of the old tropical colonial houses.
Hotel Mirador – The Mirador Hotel is located near the highest point of the Copper Canyon. It holds unique distinction that all rooms have a private balcony overlooking the canyon featuring awe-inspiring scenery from the rim of the Canyon. This hotel is surrounded by pine trees and appears to be “etched out” of the natural rock itself; each of its 48 rooms and suites has a private terrace where you can enjoy one of the finest views of the Copper Canyon.
Best Western Lodge at Creel – Formerly the Pension Creel, this fully renovated and modernized lodge gives you rustic charm and relaxing comfort in the frontier logging town turned burgeoning tourist hub of the Copper Canyon Creel. With 15 years of service, the Best Western Lodge at Creel is the only international chain in the Copper Canyon.
Real de Minas - The Riverside Lodge is a fascinating 100 year old hacienda that has been modernized. Situated in the heart of Batopilas, it is an island of tranquility with multiple Riverside Lodge courtyards overflowing with bougainvilleas and rooms filled with antiques. Located near the town’s plaza, this hotel has 8 rooms with private baths, and a handsome courtyard.
Sierra Lodge – Right on the Continental Divide, at 7,600 feet, nestled against the side of a small pine-scented valley with a stream rushing by the front door, is the beautiful 22 room Sierra Lodge – a rustic jewel built of rich-toned varnished logs. Located just about 25 minutes outside of Creel, the lodge is in the heart of some of the most beautiful Copper Canyon country we’ve traveled!
Quality Inn Hotel San Francisco - Located in the heart of Chihuahua´s downtown area (right next to our beautiful Cathedral), our hotel is literally surrounded by Chihuahua´s most important historical, financial and commercial area with convenient access to business community.
Villa Montana – Rising over Santa Maria hill, Villa Montana is located in an uptown area only 15 minutes from Morelia Historic Center. Its 36 luxury secluded villa-style suites, colonial designed with antiques, feature stunning views and gracious gardens and patios – a truly remarkable experience.
Casa de la Real Aduana – This small luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of Colonial Patzcuaro. This stylish hotel is housed in a 16th century manor that has been designated a historical landmark, close to Patzcuaro’s celebrated lake, surrounded by Purhepecha Indian villages, pre-Hispanic pyramids and Colonial convents.
La Siranda Casa Hotel – This traditional colonial house in the heart of Patzcuaro’s historic center was recently transformed into a beautiful “Casa-Hotel” with five suites and breathtaking exteriors. It combines tradition, refinement, and tranquility with a sense of exclusivity, and its origin dates back to the 18th century when it was built as part of what were orchards of the Convent of Santa Catalina of Siena.
Villa Maria Cristina - Fine taste pervades this hotel with impeccable attention to detail, offering the cozy and stylish atmosphere of an aristocratic home. Its 13 spacious suites with wooden floors and marble bathrooms are decorated with French furniture, creating an atmosphere of elegant intimacy.
Casa de Sierra Nevada – This luxury boutique hotel and cooking school in the heart of historic San Miguel de Allende caters to the most discriminating world traveler. Its charming suites offer the ultimate Mexican experience, and its cooking school, Sazon, offers the finest instruction in traditional Mexican cooking!
Las Alcobas Mexico City - an aesthetic marvel designed by renowned power duo Yabu Pushelberg in the fashionable Polanco district of Mexico City – warmly welcomes an international business and leisure clientele. Our upscale property provides premier in-room spa amenities and personalized services to our guests, ensuring that your stay at our Mexico City hotel is not just comfortable but artfully enthralling.
Travesias is Mexico’s premier Luxury Travel & Lifestyle magazine, dedicated to those addicted to travel and staying on the cutting edge of the luxury travel lifestyle. Travesias has chosen Journey Mexico as Mexico’s Best Operator for 2010, which is an extreme honor as everything printed in Travesias is written by those who have actually experienced the narration first hand. We are honored that such experienced experts have chosen Journey Mexico as Mexico’s best operator!
Journey Mexico President, Zachary Rabinor and his wife, JM Co-Founder Rebecca Scotti, and Director of Operations, Matteo Luthi and his wife Fabiola, and Journey Mexico’s lead guide in Mexico City, Juan-Carlos, were all present last night in Mexico’s capital for the presentation of the award.
Again, all of us at Journey Mexico would like to extend sincere thanks to the undeniable beauty, the rich culture, and the incredible people of Mexico who have made all recent achievements possible!
Viva Mexico!!!! To celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, Rebecca surprised the office with an array of delicious tamales, which we happily devoured. Included flavors were: rajas (green pepper), pollo (chicken in a spicy red sauce), and costilla (pork rib in spicy red sauce).
From everyone in the office, muchas gracias Rebecca!
Journey Mexico president, Zachary Rabinor, is a member of Departures Magazine’s Luxury Advisory Board. The Luxury Advisory Board provides Departures with key insights and information on style, real estate, culture, dining, travel and much more.
For more information about luxury travel advising and luxury travel planning in Mexico, you can contact Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org
Journey Mexico was fortunate to have a great intern, Monica Marchak, working in our Puerto Vallarta office this summer. Monica currently attends Western Washington University and has been living with her aunt and uncle here in Vallarta for the summer. In addition to interning at Journey Mexico, Monica has also been studying Spanish at her aunt’s school, The Spanish Experience Center.
Although her internship is finished, Monica’s summer is far from over. From Mexico, Monica will be traveling to New York and then to Bordeaux, France. From all of us at the Journey Mexico, happy travels and thanks for a great summer Monica!
Journey Mexico has been busy expanding our website it include partner villa, hotel, and yacht profiles (It’s still a work-in-progress, but you can view several locations that have already been entered by clicking on the View Villa Profiles button on our Experiences > Villas page.)
Over the past two weeks, several members of the Journey Mexican team have been visiting newly added partner locations here in Puerto Vallarta. Last Friday, we took a full tour of the gorgeous Garza Blanca Preserve, Resort, and Spa and had a wonderful lunch in the hotel’s restaurant Blanca Blue. Resort general manager, Miguel Andres Hernandez, was kind enough to dine with us as well as give us a tour of Garza Blanca’s award winning wine selection.
Yesterday, Vanessa Cole and Shannon Beston of Journey Mexico partner Vacation Villas of Mexico led us on a tour of several beautiful villas in downtown Vallarta. We have to give special thanks to Raquel Brooks of Casa Tabachin and Yvonne Kalman of Casa Yvonneka for welcoming us into their lovely properties and for the delicious hors d’oeuvres, lunch, and conversation. Check back shortly to view profile pages with photos and videos of both Casa Tabachin and Casa Yvonneka!