Elite Traveler caught up with Renato Mendonca, President of Los Cabos Hotel Association.
ET: You just became the new president of the Los Cabos Hotel Association. Overall, how many years have you been in the hotel industry?
Renato Mendonca: I’ve lost count actually but probably around 35 years. This is my second time working in Los Cabos, however. I’m coming up on my fifth year here but I was here for three and a half years awhile back. Overall I’ve been in Los Cabos for about eight years now.
ET: With the tourism industry picking back up in Mexico, how has the Los Cabos Hotel Association been progressing?
Renato Mendonca: We have fifty members, with two new members currently joining us. We have some new projects coming up as well, so by the end of the year we should be up to 54 members. It’s an interesting group because we have had the opportunity to discuss the destination and put projects together to develop it. It’s a very bright group of managers that really care about the destination and getting involved in the projects. It’s a great association and I’m very happy.
ET: Los Cabos has become a global player in the luxury travel market, especially when it comes to activities like in golf and fishing. How would you assess Los Cabos’s current tourism outlook?
Renato Mendonca: Everything looks good but there is a lot more that we can do because, as is the case with attractions like fishing and golf, we sometimes have the tendency to rest on our laurels and take the fact we are successful in these areas for granted. I think there is a lot more to do, not only in those two areas but also in several other aspects of the destination. We have to keep working harder and harder. We have more money this year, so our bigger budget will allow us to go after new markets. It’s something we have talked about for years and now we are finally going to do it.
ET: Guests are coming to Los Cabos from all over world—not just the west coast—and coming for different activities, such as adventures, weddings and spas. As a global destination, what new attractions is Los Cabos offering travelers?
Renato Mendonca: Weddings are a fantastic opportunity for Los Cabos. After the crisis in 2008, in Mexico and all over the world, every business segment declined, except for one: weddings. This is one of the areas we are focusing on. There is a beautiful opportunity to transform Los Cabos into a wedding destination. A lot of people come from the U.S. and other parts of Mexico to get married in Los Cabos because sometimes it’s even cheaper to host a wedding here than in the States. So that’s something we have to work harder on. In the adventure market, Los Cabos has become a fantastic place. A lot of companies brought in ziplines and camels to ride in the desert. All of these are new options that give our tourists alternatives to the golf, fishing and beautiful beaches. Now we have other kinds of adventures to enjoy.
ET: What are some of the other interests tourists have been looking for?
Renato Mendonca: Los Cabos is also great for water activites, like surfing for example. This year we are, again, promoting an important surf championship and, for the first time, we are bringing Ironman to Los Cabos as part of the Ironman World Championship. Water sports are a good opportunity for Los Cabos. Diving, scuba diving, snorkeling. There are so many places in Los Cabos that are fantastic for those activities and people are coming from all over for that. Our resources for this all over Los Cabos are beautiful.
ET: Can you tell us about the variety of hotels Los Cabos is currently offering?
Renato Mendonca: One of the most interesting things about Los Cabos is that we offer a variety of hotels to suit a lot of different budgets. The most important thing, however, is the quality. I have had the opportunity to work in many different companies in Latin America and Australia, and working in the industry I traveled a lot, and I can tell you Los Cabos has some of the world’s top hotels. The actual hotels are extremely good but our man power is truly great. The Mexican people are fantastic, very service oriented, and thus help to make everything at our hotels top quality. Our gastronomy is great as well. The restaurants we have in Los Cabos are fantastic. Every hotel has a very good restaurant and very good spa. The spas are just incredible, featuring specific themes and more. You have all kinds of hotels—from all-inclusive hotels to the top luxury brands—so you have a wide variety of hotels for a wide variety of budgets.
ET: With the completion of the new convention center, is Los Cabos entering another stage of world travel prominence?
Renato Mendonca: The G20 gave us an opportunity to show the world a part of the planet that is not very well known. Los Cabos is very well known in North America but if you go to Europe or Asia or even South America, it’s not that well known so it’s our job to keep pushing and show the world Los Cabos. G20 was great for that. For a week or two we were in the eyes of the planet, on TV channels and in newspapers, and, of course, with G20 came the convention center. It’s a great opportunity for Los Cabos because before the convention center, Los Cabos didn’t have any place for meetings in excess of 1,000 people. Now we can hold events for up to 4,000 people, which opens up a completely new set of opportunities. Now we can start bringing businesses and conventions to Los Cabos that we did not have the space to host before.
ET: How is Los Cabos’s relationship with travel bureaus and the travel industry as a whole?
Renato Mendonca: Our convention business bureau is working a lot of projects, one of which is interacting directly with travel agents on Los Cabos education. We are bringing press and site inspections in and doing special training programs online so the professionals can understand and sell Los Cabos with more knowledge of what they’re selling.
ET: How does Los Cabos cater to the elite or luxury-minded traveler?
Renato Mendonca: Los Cabos sees quite a lot of private jets, which is something that is very important to us. It’s something we are used to so a lot of hotels cater to those private jet travelers. It’s amazing, sometimes when I return from a trip I am amazed by the number of private jets at our airport. It tells us that there is a very special segment of travel coming to Los Cabos for the deluxe accommodations we can offer. There is a whole set of hotels focused on this type of hospitality. We have some very high-end hotels that are well known around the planet, even independently of the brand they are associated with because of the kind of, high-quality, elite-specific services they offer.
ET: What would be your invitation to Los Cabos for any elite travelers?
Renato Mendonca: If you haven’t yet had the opportunity, come to Los Cabos – it’s a fantastic place. One of the things that amazes me about Los Cabos is the weather. It’s a place where you can enjoy sun year-round. And like I said, the quality of the service and the quality of the hotels you find in Los Cabos is up there with the best travel destinations on the planet.