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New Convention Center and Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico, Hope to Fulfill Event Planner Demand
Barceló Maya Grand Resort is already a meetings-friendly complex, with five hotels and one onsite convention center.
Now, there’s more reason than ever to consider bringing your meeting to Mexico. Barceló Maya Grand Resort recently announced construction of an 8,000-capacity convention center and adults-only hotel.
These additions bring the total room count to 3,600 and doubles its meeting and event space.
On a recent trip at Barceló Maya Grand Resort, I got the scoop on the new builds and learned more about the all-inclusive resort’s offerings for meetings and event planners.
Barceló Maya Grand Resort’s New Convention Center
Barceló Maya Grand Resort already has one modestly sized convention center.
Why build a second one?
“In the past few years, we got a lot of RFPs and we saw the interest,” said Thomas Müller, assistant sales director for the resort. “The idea of an adults-only hotel was always in our plans. But when we looked back at the last two years and saw the revenue we lost because of the large groups we couldn’t accommodate, we decided to build the convention center.”
The new convention center, the Barceló Maya Arena, will be two stories and 190,000 square feet with capacity for up to 8,000 people. It will include:
- Exhibition space
- A theater
- Divisible large ballroom
- 3,400-square-foot outdoor terrace
Müller said it has created some buzz already, with advance requests for event bookings at the new convention center in 2020 and beyond.
“The largest group we have heard from so far is an IT company based in the Middle East with 8,000 attendees from all over the world,” Müller said, noting that Riviera Maya is easy to get to from multiple locations like Latin America, Canada, the U.S. and more.
Müller added that the U.S. and Mexico are the two biggest sources of the resort’s meeting and event business and he expects the new convention center—primed to be the biggest in Riviera Maya when it opens in spring 2020—to drum up even more interest from those locations.
The Sixth Hotel Onsite: Barceló Maya Riviera
Barceló Maya Grand Resort currently has five hotels on its property:
- Barceló Maya Caribe
- Barceló Maya Palace
- Barceló Maya Colonial
- Barceló Maya Tropical
- Barceló Maya Beach
The sixth hotel, to be named Barceló Maya Riviera, is the only hotel at the resort that will be for adults only and will be directly connected to the new convention center.
Barceló Maya Riviera Hotel Exterior Rendering, Credit: Barceló Maya Grand Resort
Other features at the new hotel include:
- 850 total guest rooms, over half with sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea
- Hot tubs in all room balconies
- 110 swim-up suites on the first floor—similar to the one I stayed in at Barceló Maya Caribe
- Five restaurants
- Five bars
- Four pools
The hotel is already taking bookings and will officially open in December 2019. It is ideal for convention goers being directly connected to Barceló Maya Arena.
Barceló Maya Riviera Hotel and Barceló Maya Arena Exterior Rendering, Credit: Barceló Maya Grand Resort
Müller noted that attendees can stay at any of the other five hotels on the property. Though not attached to the convention center, they are just a short walk or shuttle ride away—the resort has two double-decker shuttles operating around the resort during daytime hours.
Existing Meeting and Event Spaces at Barceló Maya Grand Resort
Prior to the announcement of the new convention center, Barceló Maya Grand Resort was already a popular hotspot for meetings and events. In total, the property is home to:
- 40 conference rooms
- 3 theaters
- Barceló Maya Convention Center
- 1.4 miles of beach that can be reserved for a variety of outdoor events
“What we currently do most here are congressional meetings and incentive meetings,” Müller said. “We also do a lot of weddings—about 600 to 700 weddings a year.” During my three-day stay at Barceló Maya Grand Resort, I counted close to 20 weddings.
Monte Alban Theater at Barceló Maya Palace, Credit: Barceló Maya Grand Resort
Müller hopes that on top of their current flexible meeting spaces, the addition of the second convention center will bring in more association meetings and large exhibitions.
Wellness Options at Barceló Maya Grand Resort
The wellness trend isn’t slowing down.
Barceló Maya Grand Resort has many opportunities for wellness activities throughout their property, giving planners options for organizing health-focused breaks for their attendees.
The U-Spa Wellness and Fitness Center is packed with advanced training equipment and various spa treatments for relaxation sessions. During my stay, I experienced the following:
Hydrotherapy Circuit and Massage: Hydrotherapy uses the physical elements of water to relieve pain. I hopped from hot tubs to cold tubs and into saunas and whirlpools during this circuit, then followed it up with a Swedish massage. I can report: It’s incredibly relaxing!
USpa at Barceló Maya Grand Resort, Credit: Danielle LeBreck
Fitness Center: As a marathoner, I’ve spent a lot of time in hotel fitness centers training on treadmills, bikes and ellipticals. This is one of the biggest fitness centers I’ve exercised in—you’ll never have to fight for a machine, and the equipment is high quality.
Barceló Maya Grand Resort Fitness Center, Credit: Danielle LeBreck
The resort can also arrange Zumba and yoga sessions on the beach. “We organized a private session of yoga on the beach for 1,000 people this past March,” Müller said.
Teambuilding Activities at Barceló Maya Grand Resort
In March 2019, the resort opened Ventura Fly & Ride Park, which immediately boosted the teambuilding capabilities of the resort. It also made Barceló Maya Grand Resort the only resort in Riviera Maya with its own amusement park. It’s complete with:
- Bungee swings
- Off-road Polaris vehicles
Ventura Fly & Ride Park at Barceló Maya Grand Resort, Credit: Danielle LeBreck
There are also tennis courts, beach volleyball, scuba diving outings, bowling and more available onsite. There’s even a large soccer field available if attendees want to split into teams for a tournament—staff members told me that professional soccer teams sometimes make an appearance at the resort and play on the fields.
Dining at Barceló Maya Grand Resort
Attendees can enjoy a global dine-around without leaving the property at Barceló Maya Grand Resort. There are currently 22 restaurants onsite, ranging from Mexican cuisine to Japanese, Italian and French restaurants.
The opening of the new Barceló Maya Riviera will add another five dining options, including four sit-down restaurants and one buffet.
I ate at these restaurants during my visit:
- La Trattoria: If you’re craving pasta, pizza or tiramisu during your stay, this Italian restaurant delivers. I enjoyed classic spaghetti carbonara for my main course.
- Tokyo: This hibachi-style Japanese restaurant serves up entertainment and tasty eats. I ate sushi, salmon, fried rice and veggies from the grill and a coconut jelly dessert. The hibachi seating is ideal for large groups dining together.
- Brasserie: Shrimp salad, fresh sea bass and crème brulee are just a few of the French-inspired dishes you can eat at Brasserie. My personal favorite item on the menu: A box constructed of chocolate filled with gourmet chocolates.
- Caribe Buffet: This is a classic buffet dining option, characteristic of most all-inclusives. The options are endless here, and it’s perfect for flexible morning and afternoon schedules. Each hotel on the property has at least one buffet.
All of these restaurants are large and can easily accommodate multiple group sizes.
Another added benefit is the variety—guests with different diets and tastes will find something that satisfies.
Why You Should Bring Your Event to Riviera Maya, Mexico
There are a few reasons to consider Riviera Maya, Mexico, for your event.
We know the concept of bleisure travel is trending up, and Barceló Maya Grand Resort couldn’t fit the bill better—Müller says he welcomes attendees to tack on a day or two before or after their big event. And, without leaving the property, attendees can incorporate leisure elements into their break time like sitting at the pool or relaxing on the beach.
Bleisure locations can incentivize attendance, so that's also worth considering.
In addition, the flights to Cancun International Airport from any Western Hemisphere location are pretty easy—I came from Minneapolis, and in total the journey was about four hours of flight time. A big perk of Riviera Maya is it operates in central standard time, which means limited jet lag for your Western Hemisphere-based attendees.
And finally, the weather is hard to beat in Riviera Maya, which has temperature averages in the high 70s year-round. Outdoor meeting spaces are increasingly popular, and Barceló Maya Grand Resort has plenty of options, with its stretch of beaches and selection of terraces.
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