Two tour operators with strong ties to Mexico, Apple Vacations and Pleasant Holidays, are forecasting a banner winter season, based on forward bookings for 2013 and significant gains and growth in the Mexican market thus far in 2012.
Apple announced an expansion of its U.S. gateways and new vacation flights to eight destinations in Mexico, including the new service to Puerto Vallarta service from Lansing, Mich. (It is also launching new programs from Rockford, Ill., to Montego Bay and from Hartford, Conn., to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic).
The expanded offerings represent a 15% increase on air seats this coming winter season compared with last year, and include the three new U.S. markets of Austin, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City, Mo.
Apple is working with Sun Country Airlines, Frontier, JetBlue and AirTran, according to John Tarkowski, vice president of planning and sales development.
When Apple decided to shut down its airline affiliate USA3000 last year, the company negotiated a deal with Frontier to take over some of Apple's U.S.-Mexico contracts.
"We had to protect our gateways, so we signed a long-term lease with Frontier and expanded our other carrier relationships," Tarkowski said.
How Apple decides what new nonstop flights to offer to which destination from what gateway is based upon a combination of factors that includes feedback from and strategy sessions both with agents and consumers, according to Tarkowski.
"We meet frequently with our agent advisory board to discern trends and patterns in travel, bookings and sales," he said.
"Apple also does consumer surveys on all our flights; we meet frequently with our airline partners and discuss new properties and booking patterns with key hotel suppliers," Tarkowski said.
Tim Mullen, president, agreed, adding that "we try to make our customers' vacation experiences the best they can be. Many times it starts with where they want to go and how easily they can get there. This is where that experience begins."
Pleasant Holidays CEO and President Jack Richards also predicts a strong 2013 for Mexico.
"We've seen significant gains and growth all year," Richards said. "Going forward, bookings are tracking ahead and we are very optimistic. Mexico may have its best year ever in terms of visitors."
Mexico welcomed 23.4 million visitors in 2011, a record-breaking year, and is on track to top those numbers this year. It reported a 5% increase in arrivals from January through May compared with the same period in 2011.
Where Pleasant is seeing a particularly large surge in bookings is in the group market and the destination wedding segment.
"Both markets have come back strong," Richards said. "We're getting corporation business again, and the bridal bookings are robust."
Pleasant is putting a lot of emphasis on the luxury and high-end resorts, especially in the suite categories of accommodations.
"We are laser-focused and upselling in select properties," Richards said, adding, "We're not adding new destinations but are picking up new hotel inventory," including additions to Pleasant's AMResorts roster.
"The company is an important partner for us, and we see a lot of growth in those hotel programs," he said.
In fact, Pleasant is holding its annual sales meeting in Los Cabos later this year so that staff can personally visit the three Zoetry, Dreams and Secrets properties there (a second Secrets will open in November 2013).
Pleasant's current $250 airfare credit offer, valid on new bookings at 21 participating beachfront properties through Sept. 2 for travel through Dec. 22, "is selling well and is a good lead-in to the winter season," Richards said.
For Caribbean and Mexico news, follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.
In a recent edition of the Los Angeles Times Travel Show the expert travel and tourism writer praised the Riviera Nayarit, positioning it at the top of the list of where to travel for 2014.
Not content with placing the Riviera Nayarit among the most important destinations to visit in 2014 on his website, www.frommers.com, the internationally recognized travel and tourism expert Arthur Frommer took to the microphone at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show to praise the destination for himself.
During an event that took place in the Los Angeles Convention Center, Frommer used his turn on the stage to expand on on the many attractions of Mexico’s Pacific Treasures, this according to travel expert and founder of the “World Travel List,” Nicholas Kontis, in his article on www.huffingtonpost.com.
Nicholas described Frommer as the father of travel writing and the creator of the first modern travel guides, calling him the “incomparable Arthur Frommer.”
“As anybody with a pulse on travel knows, “when Frommer speaks, travelers, industry insiders and the world listens,” stated Kontis in his article.
During his speech, Frommer singled out Nayarit’s hundreds of kilometers of beaches, the more than 300 sunny days a year, visitor safety and the hotel infrastructure.
“Not too surprising that the Mexican government is on a mission to build up this 200 mile stretch of land into the next tourist gateway for foreigners traveling to Mexico,” states the article, echoing Frommer’s own words.
“The Marietta Islands are a treasure for snorkelers, divers, and fishermen and one of the many gems in the state of Nayarit. The once sleepy fishing village of Sayulita is now a ‘surfer’s paradise,’ and one of the many vibrant areas within an hour’s reach of Puerto Vallarta,” it continues.
Accordingly, Marc Murphy, the Managing Director of the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) commented that it’s an honor to have someone as important as Arthur Frommer not only publish articles on the destination, but also highlight the Riviera Nayarit during his presentations.
“It’s both important and revealing that Mr. Frommer chose to recommend the Riviera Nayarit in his own words, as this lends an incredible added value to the information,” said Murphy. “This is a great example of the positioning and reach of our destination, because what he says is nothing less than the true experience of the place.”
The Ventika Wind Project consists of two 126MW wind projects, creating a total capacity of 252 MW and making it the largest wind project in Mexico. AWS Truepower has assisted the project by providing lender support with a total value of $650 million, secured by co-developers CEMEX and Fisterra Energy.
The company has acted as the energy consultant and engineer in the debt financing for the project and is currently providing construction monitoring on behalf of the lenders and project sponsors through to substantial completion of the projects, expected in the second quarter of 2016. The projects incorporate 84 Acciona AW 3000 wind turbines and will play a vital part in achieving Mexico’s goal of 35 percent total energy generation from renewable sources and reducing CO2 emissions.
“The Ventika I and II projects are a major advancement in the development of wind energy in Mexico and Latin America, and also are a great example of the growing momentum of wind projects globally” said Joan Aymamí, Vice President, Latin America at AWS Truepower.
Craig Moller, Director of Due Diligence Services at AWS, added that the company is committed to supporting renewable energy growth in Latin America and therefore will continue to invest in Mexico and other countries in the region that are equally as committed to reducing carbon emissions and providing a sustainable source of energy for their country.
The energy generated by the Ventika projects will go to facilities belonging to FEMSA, DEACERO, Tecnológico de Monterrey and CEMEX under an approved self-supply scheme. The majority interest of the project was acquired from a subsidiary of CEMEX. Of the $650 million invested, 75 percent corresponds to debt and 25 percent to equity and the total joint commitment from Lenders is in excess of US$480 million. Fisterra (a subsidiary of Blackstone Energy Partners), CEMEX, and private investors contributed $162 million to the project via equity contributions and shareholder loans. Construction began in the second quarter of 2014 and commercial operation is expected by the second quarter of 2016.
The Federal (CJF) carried out the verification of service of restaurants, bars and clubs, to prevent abuses against consumers by imposing a fee required for gratuity or service.
The agency reports that in Mexico there is any formal provision requiring the consumer to cover additional payments for gratuity to the establishment or waiters.
However, some bad suppliers seek to obtain an additional gain under this concept, to establish unilaterally fixed amounts ranging from 10 to 20 percent of total consumption.
"These amounts are included in a misleading manner or notes on the tickets and consumption, in other cases, requiring the consumer directly by both the supplier of goods or services or, where applicable, by the waiter."
The Profeco states that it is intended that a practice-based Mexican consumer habits and customs, as a rule, even when the gratification known as "tip" is voluntary.
This reward is based on the degree of satisfaction that a consumer has the service that was provided by a waiter.
Remember that setting alone and unilaterally set the prices of food and drinks offered and such amounts and provide a reasonable profit.
In this context, the Profeco out in a statement that the check is to be exhibited in conspicuous food and beverage prices, and that they are respected and not deny or condition the sale of products or services.
Also not conducted in discriminatory practices, customer selection and booking of admission fee, and also delivered consumer vouchers.
Agency staff also verifies that alcoholic beverages offered meet business reporting requirements established by the Mexican Official Standards.
During the operation, the document verification done Profeco accounts that are charged, both at the time of the presence of officials of the institution as notes from previous days, to ensure they are not carried out methods or practices coercive commercial detriment of the consumer.
This, according to the provisions of Article 10 of the Federal Consumer Protection, as is the application of additional amounts or percentages to the total consumption gratuity.
[readon1 url="http://www.prensaglobal.com/notas/33259.html"]Source: www.prensaglobal.com - Translation by Suyapa Ajuria[/readon1
Mexico’s commercial real estate industry is experiencing a second wave of growth brought about by the creation of investment trusts, significant changes in regulations, competitive land prices and the economic development of new business centers across the country.
According to The Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals, the sector is expected to see a growth of 6% in 2014, which, according to its president, Martha Ramirez Gallegos, will exceed the predicted 2.77% GDP growth for this year.
In a recent annual survey conducted by The Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate- (AFIRE) Mexico was listed as the third highest emerging country for commercial real estate investments, following China and Brazil. Without a doubt, this real estate boom is reflected in the growing number of residential, commercial and industrial construction projects being carried out in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Queretaro, to name but a few. These are literally changing the face of the country.
Alestra’s largest data center in the country, in Queretaro, was chosen because of the available telecommunications network, the electricity supply, the proximity to the nation’s capital and the cost of land per square meter.
The Roots of Growth According to Jorge Castañares, business director for Aguirre Newman Mexico and specialist and professor of real estate, the creation of the Real Estate Investment Trust (FIBRAS) as well as the Capital Development Certificate (CKD) jumpstarted the second wave of growth in this sector; the first wave was experienced in 1994 when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed. “In 2005 the Rental Tax Law was modified, entitling certain legal and trust entities to a fiscal allowance enabling them to absorb said tax and allowing structured long-term investments,” Castañares explained. Currently there are eight FIBRAS operating in the country that invest in real estate through the Mexican Stock Exchange and whose value has been estimated in the region of 170 billion Mexican pesos (US$13 billion).
Mexico has again become attractive to the energy industry; the manufacturing industry and corporate industry, Castañaressaid. Moreover, several businesses are returning to Mexico after having previously moved their operations to China in search of cheaper labor. This does not mean that the salaries are now cheaper in Mexico, but rather that a better qualified work force has been made available, in closer proximity to the United States market.
At certain border cities, such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, traditionally known for their textile industries, things are gradually recuperating and statistics show that violence is falling. “Not as many businesses are leaving when compared with the situation as it stood a few years ago. On the contrary, they are returning to occupy some of the spaces that had been left empty,” states Victor Lopez Beltran, expert in Latin American businesses and Associate at Market Shanga (a strategies and operations consultancy firm).
As well as those already in place, over the last few years several industrial, logistic, business and techno parks have been built. These currently cover around 50 million square feet, spread out over 300 industrial parks of international quality. The amount of available office space has also shot up outside of Mexico City, in areas such as Toluca, Puebla, Hidalgo and the Bajio region. It is estimated that currently there are in the region of 4.5 million square meters of class A and B offices in Mexico, a figure that could well be doubled by the year 2020, states Castañares.
Valuable Space The real estate market is closely linked to the country’s economy. When the real estate bubble burst in the United States and Spain, for example, it set off a far-reaching financial crisis toward the end of the last decade. The global markets have stated to recover gradually, but the Mexican market has shown, at least to the experts, real signs of growth.
“As the economy grows, the rent or resale prices of commercial sites go up. Without a doubt, this is a good indicator of economic growth,” states Lopez. He affirms that the real estate sector is tied in to practically all economic activities, as, at the end of the day, they all need a physical space in which to operate. Land and office prices vary according to factors such as supply and demand, public services, available infrastructure, location, governmental support, size of the population and intended use (be it residential, commercial, industrial, etc.)
Early in 2014, ProMexico published a study regarding the price per square meter of land for industrial use across Mexico City and 52 other locations. The study, based on facts supplied by the Colliers International Real Estate Firm, revealed that the highest prices are in Queretaro, with an average of 2,793 pesos (US$262), rising to as much as 4,781 pesos ($370.86). This was followed by Mexico City’s Federal Disctrict, with an average price of 2,152.80 pesos ($167); Pachuca, Hidalgo, with 1,951 pesos ($151); Tijuana, Baja California with 1,799 pesos ($139.50) and Guadalajara, Jalisco with 1494 pesos ($116).
However, businesses that contract installation areas for commercial and industrial use can find prices ranging from $55 to $75 in the Federal Distict, $50 to $60 in Guadalajara or Monterrey and $40 to $50 in Querétaro.
Last February, Alestra inaugurated its fifth and largest data center in the country, in the city of Queretaro. According to Hector Sanchez Madera, Alestra’s manager and network and infrastructure engineer, the location was chosen because of the available telecommunications network, the electricity supply, the proximity to the nation’s capital and the cost of land per square meter. Locations such as Toluca, Puebla and the outskirts of Mexico City were also considered.
“It was an exhaustive search,” Sanchez stated, “in the end we found an extremely competitive price on an industrial park that set things in motion. It has huge potential for growth.” Sanchez noted that prices there are currently around $70 a square meter, which is considerably lower than the $150 needed to purchase a square meter in the Mexico City metropolitan area. Moreover, it was proving difficult to find a location with the dimensions required by Alestra for the new data center, some 16,000 square meters, with a view to further expansion.
In Tijuana startups and technology businesses also have shared spaces at their disposal, such as the BIT Center (Business Innovation and Technology Center). These shared spaces of up to 10,000 square meters can be used for commercial activities, attention to clients and exhibitions. The BIT Center opened in 2012 as the first space of its kind in Baja California and looks to strengthen small and medium size businesses in the IT sector, helping to increase their exportation potential, link the academy with the productive sector and generate solutions that promote the use of technology within the community through the constant training and development of the region.
The businesses have access to available spaces ranging from nine by four meters or more, all with internet connection, electricity, telephone connection, conference rooms, parking, security, and 24 hour access, amongst other services. These spaces cost an average of $14 a square meter.
Available Human Resources In recent years Mexico has experienced a marked tendency toward decentralization; in other words, more and more services and technology businesses are looking to base their companies in “secondary cities.”
During his career in real estate, Lopez has seen many companies make the decision to set up in these secondary cities, taking into account aspects such as price per square meter, required investment, taxes, government funding and available human resources. “Without a doubt, one of the biggest determining factors is availability of work force,” he stated. “It’s important there be adequately qualified personnel in the areas where the corporate or filial offices will be situated; for some firms it is also vital to find out how many engineers graduate each year.”
The level of training is an extremely important factor, even more so than wages. While salaries vary according to expertise, the salary of a call center operator, for example, is twice the minimum wage in the majority of cases. “The businesses do not intend to exploit the youngsters. Mexican legislation, as well as state and local governments, ensures that work regulations are met by all businesses,” Lopez added.
According to Jesus Palomino, general director at the Guadalajara Intel Design Center, the availability of human resources has been key to its operations. In Guadalajara there are an impressive amount of educational institutions. “This is where the second largest public university in the country is found, as well as some of the most important private universities. These keep us supplied with talent. It’s a cluster that is ready and willing to collaborate with the industry,” Palomino said. Currently, the Intel Design Center has 900 employees and is about to move into its new headquarters.
Bajio, the Place to Invest KPMG’s survey “Mexican’s Upper Management Outlook for 2014” reveals that 45% of the Mexican executives that are looking to expand their operations in Mexico over the next three years will do so by expanding into the area known as the Bajío region, which encompasses the states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Queretaro and San Luis Potosi.
“The fact that nearly half of the country’s executives are interested in investing in the Bajio region shows the possibilities for its economic and business growth over the next few years,” states Ricardo Arellano, the associate in charge of the KPMG office in Leon, Guanajuato.
The real estate industry has developed significantly in this area. According to Castañares, the area has become one region instead of four separate states. “They will be complementary states that offer commercial, manufacturing, hotelier and residential possibilities; they will become a macro region where complementary real estate services will be provided,” Castañares said.
There is amazing potential for growth for all the industries providing services to these kinds of industries. “They will be installed in an orderly way in this macro region, knowing where they are to be located and why,” Castañares added.
According to the specialists, the development and growth of this region, along with other parts of the Mexican Republic, has contributed to the progress seen in the real estate sector. Castañares said this has generated employment and is considered to be the driving force behind the economy. “The secret to real estate development is that it grows with the country,” he stated.
Although the general consensus is optimistic, the Economic Ministry’s recently revised expectations of 2.77% national growth have prompted conservative forecasts from experts. “If the country does not regularly increase by at least 3.5% over a reasonable period, it runs the risk of investors slowing down. The sector moves according to demand,” Castañares said.
So, the greatest challenge for the Mexican government is to accelerate the infrastructure plan required by the country, spend prudently, promote the creation of new businesses and thus generate employment, as sustainable growth is needed, Castañares added: “What is happening in the sector is extremely interesting, while, at the same time, it is worrying that the economic stability is generating only slow growth.”
Azimut Yachts Mexico was named the exclusive Azimut Yachts dealer for the region.
Azimut Yachts Mexico has a network of sales and service outlets in Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta.
“The Mexican market is of great importance for the Azimut Benetti Group,” the company said in a statement. “Since September 2014, when the Mexican office opened, four units have already been sold, including the brand-new Azimut Grande 112.”
The new Azimut Yachts Mexico headquarters will be inaugurated in Mexico City in February.
AT&T Inc agreed to pay $1.7 billion to acquire Mexico's third-largest wireless operator, Iusacell, as it seeks to grab a slice of a market with lower cellular penetration than the United States and faster potential growth.
Mexico's government earlier this year implemented reforms to shake up its telecom and broadcast market by weakening the dominance of broadcaster Grupo Televisa and billionaire Carlos Slim's cellphone and fixed-line company America Movil.
AT&T is looking to tap into the growing cellphone market in Latin America's No. 2 economy now that the government is encouraging foreign investment in the sector, Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told Reuters.
"Our focus in investing in Mexico is about the great environment from an investment perspective, the regulatory reforms, the growing population and middle class," Stephens said.
AT&T shares were up 0.57 percent at $35.11 in after hours trading.
The deal, which is subject to approval by Mexican regulators, will occur after Iusacell's owner, billionaire businessman Ricardo Salinas' Grupo Salinas, buys out its partner's 50 percent stake in Iusacell.
Iusacell said in September it would buy back that stake, currently held by broadcaster Grupo Televisa, for $717 million.
"Once we reached that agreement, we started...talking to several companies," said Grupo Salinas executive Luis Nino de Rivera. "One of them was AT&T. We initiated the discussions because we were interested in making good on the next step that we had to find for Iusacell."
Iusacell hopes to complete the sale in the first quarter of next year, he said. He did not mention which other companies Grupo Salinas spoke to about Iusacell.
The deal would be the second major acquisition this year by AT&T, which is also taking over satellite provider DirecTV for $48.5 billion. Prior to the DirecTV, AT&T deal held about 10 percent of America Movil. It sold the shares in June for $5.57 billion to a real estate company controlled by Slim.
The Iusacell deal may pave the way for AT&T to buy up more in Mexico. The company has been tipped as a buyer for America Movil assets that are up for sale as the Mexican operator tries to reduce its market share below 50 percent in order to skirt harsh penalties for dominant players introduced with the reform.
"It is hard to imagine you would go into Mexico and buy Iusacell all by itself. There is probably more of this story left to be written," said Craig Moffett, analyst at MoffettNathanson in New York.
AT&T also said it will trim its 2015 capital spending outlook to $18 billion from $21 billion.
Iusacell, Mexico's No. 3 mobile operator, serves 8.6 million customers and has struggled to gain clients in a market that is almost split between America Movil, with about 70 percent of the market and Telefonica with nearly 20 percent.
Including $800 million in debt AT&T is acquiring, the Iusacell deal is worth $2.5 billion.
Local legislators unanimously approved an initiative which creates a law to regulate the activities of real estate agents in Baja California.
The object of the law regulating the activities of real estate companies, is to prevent the frauds and abuses in the sector, as well as to eradicate practices such as selling the same property to several people, including, without being the legal owner of the real estate and it looks to eradicate the sale of protected areas and other bad practices which also prejudice our society.
The legislation creates a State agency which will regulate real estate agents in Baja California.
It makes the Secretary of Economic Development (SEDECO) as the executive in charge of applying the law, and will require that professional real estate agents get a license issued by SEDECO.
The law also establishes a Catalog of Penalties for violations of the law, and also regulations and procedures to apply the penalties. It conceives of a system of complaints and reports for users, operated by SEDECO, with respect to persons who perform as real estate agents, without being one.
The law has a rule to regulate foreigners who come to Baja California to carry out real estate activities, and who in many cases have no authorization to do so.
In order to spread the beauties of our destiny, journalists and cosignee agents are this destination, enjoying the variety of options for visitors
As part of a strategy to attract foreign visitors to Puerto Vallarta, arrived on Thursday a special flight with a total of 250 passengers from Canada, including journalists and travel agents whose main idea is to know the fate and spread it with complete confidence visit a country and a traditional destination like Puerto Vallarta.
Transat is the largest tour operator in Canada and this is the second most important country for Mexico's tourism sector recruitment.
It is noteworthy that the arrival of this flight will be an intense promotional work to bring more tourists to Puerto Vallarta and assure Esponda director Rodrigo Tourism Board in Canada, who said that Puerto Vallarta has all the elements required by tourists warmth, safety, friendliness and good service.
Also assure that Canadian tourism has increased considerably Mexico from 2006 to 2011, grew from 675,000 to nearly 1.6 million tourists, with an outlay of average stay 12 days, equivalent to two thousand dollars is the Canadian tourists growth has been steady, and endorses situation reinforces the message that there is security and confidence when visiting Puerto Vallarta.
For his part and on behalf of the Mayor of Puerto Vallarta Ramon Guerrero, Councilman Agustin Alvarez Valdivia welcomed Canadian group and noted that the city is committed to all its visitors this time is no exception and this trip is the result of promotions, are sindicatedo far are.
[readon1 url="http://www.noticiaspv.com/archivo/229738"]Source:noticiaspv.com - Translation by Suyapa Ajuria[/readon1]
Avocados from Mexico (AFM), today announced the launch of its in-store campaign “El Mejor Partido,” or “Best Game Ever,” in celebration of soccer’s biggest match. The program is designed to encourage the consumption of avocados during soccer celebrations.
The “Best Game Ever” campaign will run May 12 through June 30, 2014 and will target 800 high density Hispanic stores in key markets, including Texas, Chicago and various cities on the East Coast. The one-of-a-kind, fully integrated program will consist of branding, consumer promotions and in-store events. It will also highlight AFM brand ambassadors, professional soccer players, Jorge Campos and Pavel Pardo.
“Our goal is to reach Hispanic consumers with our avocados and share in the excitement of soccer’s biggest match,” said Alvaro Luque, president of Avocados from Mexico. “Avocados from Mexico are always fresh and always in season, working as the perfect companion for soccer celebrations with family and friends.”
As part of the campaign, consumers will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Campos and Pardo, as the pair will be making various in-store appearances in select cities, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York and Miami. The appearances will be supported by Spanish language radio remotes and giveaways.
Additionally, two lucky consumers will win the ultimate soccer experience when Campos or Pardo bring a BBQ to their home. AFM will also provide a top-of-the-line entertainment viewing kit to the two grand prize winners, complete with projector and screen.
By Polly G. Vicars No hitches, no foul-ups, no late deliveries, no rain, no wind detracted from this event. A diverse group, mostly Mexicans with a few of us gringos, mostly young folks with a few of us oldies were all united in our common joy for the occasion: the wedding of Yoanne Carrillo Jiménez and eldest Bambino, Gerardo Carlos Morales Salinas.
They elected to have a simple civil ceremony on the roof garden of our beautiful Condominios LaPalapa inviting only close friends and family. Husband and I were proud and happy to be asked to stand up with this charming young couple whom we have come to think of as "ours." The small guest list included fellow "Bambino Groupie" Margaret Tolton along with Producer/Director/Friend Blaine Selkirk, his lovely fiancé Mariele van der Hoeven and her children Celine and Vincent. Of course Carlos' mother, Noemi and his father Genero, brothers Lazzaro, Immer, Giorgio and cousin Luis, the remaining Bambinos, were on the list along with cousins Jacqueline and Roberto.
Yoanne's mother Amelia and brother Benjamin who flew in from Oregon and friends of the bride, Mariel and Xaret, from Colima, where she recently graduated from law school came to be a part of this happy event. Carlos' long time singing partner and close friend, Galdino, and classmates from his law school at CUC, Ignacia and Norma, Immer's and Luis' beautiful friends, Esmerelda and Ruth, and Lazzaro's Cristina and her mother Paula, who luckily were in town from Oregon, rounded out the happy group.
The backdrop for the ceremony was the blue sky and the sparkling waters of Banderas Bay. Yoanne was striking in her off-white, off-the shoulder dress that complimented her petite figure. Her artful bouquet of white roses added just the right touch. The smile on Carlos' face made it impossible to even notice that he was appropriately and handsomely clad. My friend Marta Huante-Robles, a professional photographer, recorded everything for Yoanne and Carlos and for you and for me.
Husband, Carlos, Yoanne and I stood before a white draped table graced by an arrangement of white roses that complemented those carried by the bride. A very attractive and gracious young female judge conducted the solemn ceremony, talking seriously to the young couple about the expectations and obligations of each of them as they entered this new phase of their lives as well as the joys they could anticipate in the years to come. She accorded the parents of Yoanne and Carlos, as well as Husband and me the opportunity to say what we felt about this union. I was too emotional to say anything more than that I thought they were perfect for each other, while the others expressed themselves more eloquently, they ended up saying the same: they were perfect for each other!
The four of us and the parents signed the many legal papers presented to us by the judge legitimizing that now Yoanne and Carlos were indeed husband and wife. After that legal pronouncement and the traditional kiss, Galdino brought out his guitar to serenade the newlyweds with beautiful music of love and joy causing a rash of Kleenex to be pulled out to dab the already teary eyes of many of us.
After Marta completed photos of everyone, we went down to Restaurant La Palapa on the beach for the wedding dinner, where Yoanne and I had labored over the seating arrangement for everyone. La Palapa made a special souvenir menu for each person with the names 'Yoanne and Carlos' on the front that added a very personal touch to the beautifully set table for this perfect evening. The waiters of this, my favorite restaurant, were especially attentive to our group as they all knew Los Bambinos and seemed to be pleased that we had chosen their restaurant for the occasion. Of course we enjoyed a drink or two as we feasted on a three-course gourmet dinner, impeccably prepared and served.
Then came the champagne that called for traditional toasts. Husband, who sometimes thinks he is one of the Bambinos, started, followed by one after the other of the guests who rose to salute the couple. Some were more loquacious, some more humorous, but all were meant to extend best wishes and happiness to this young couple. Next came the wedding cake, adorned with real white roses continuing Yoanne's theme. But before the cake could be cut and served, another tradition had to be upheld, "la mordida" (the bite). Galdino did the honors on this night. He put his hands on the couples' heads, pushing them down into the cake where they had to take the first bites accompanied by much laughter and anticipation of the delicious bites all of us would soon take.
As with all good things the celebration came to an end. I know that the feeling of happiness that both Husband and I felt in our hearts was felt by all who were with us. No one could have started her or his life together with more love from those who surrounded them at their wedding than beautiful Yoanne and handsome Carlos. This was, indeed a perfect Puerto Vallarta wedding!