Xcaret reveals US$2bn plan to diversify beyond adventure parks
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Xcaret reveals US$2bn plan to diversify beyond adventure parks

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It has to be a very natural, beautiful place
– Miguel Quintada Pali

Award-winning Mexican attraction Xcaret has revealed plans to expand into new territories within Central and South America and is working on a number of new offerings that will diversify its existing visitor portfolio.

The company’s 8-year, US$2bn plan envisages 12 new hotels, a convention centre, shopping plaza and a 12,000-seat stadium.

Speaking in the latest edition of Attractions Management, the company’s founder, Miguel Quintana Pali, outlined how he intends to augment the eight different experiences already set up under the Xcaret Experiencias Group umbrella.

The original Xcaret park, built on the site of an old Mayan port, features a river that flows through a Mayan village, a subterranean sluice, a beach offering activities such as Sea Trek and Snuba in the reefs, a museum, equestrian show, Mesoamerican ball game and an open theatre.

Among the existing additional attractions is Xel-Há, a natural aquarium and turtle reserve, and Xplor, an adventure park in the jungle with zip-lining, cave explorations and amphibious vehicle excursions. The most recently developed attraction is Xavage, which is opening in April 2019, offering thrills such as speedboat rides, zip-lining, white-water rafting and off-road driving.

However, Pali told AM that he would like to replicate the Xcaret experience in countries such as Columbia and Venezuela: "It could be done, but you can’t do it on just any piece of land. It has to be special, meaning it has to have a rich landscape with rivers, caves and lagoons and it has to be a very natural, beautiful place," he said.

"For Xcaret, 500 years ago it was a Mayan port. Back then, people from across Central America came to visit. This is a historic place with a natural backdrop. To make something similar for a new culture would be the main challenge."

Pali also revealed plans to expand into the neighbouring state of Yucatan, as well as to create a new boat service from the neighbouring island of Cozumel, 18km away.

"Right now, we’re planning to develop new parks at our home site," he said. "We’re also looking at expanding into Yucatan, which has a rich history, with colonial towns, churches, monasteries, cenotes and haciendas. Xcaret doesn’t have a lot of these things, so it’s something different we could offer.

"We have a number of new offerings also in the works, including fishing experiences and tours to the island of Isla Mujeres. We’re also soon buying a couple of 600-passenger boats, to bring passengers from Cozumel, which welcomes cruise ships on a daily basis, so could be a big draw for us."

Xcaret has a development philosophy that respects the environment and makes use of natural features rather than destroying them to make way for its plans. This was most vividly demonstrated at its new five-star 900-suite hotel, which sits on the Mexican coastline, surrounded by a wild jungle.

"When our new hotel was first conceived, the engineers made a plan from an office, almost never visiting the site. In their plan, they would have taken out all the trees, built the hotel and then planted the trees again," explained Pali.

"Using our development philosophy, we did it the other way around. We inspected the land and made a map with all the area’s main trees. We worked out their size and position, then worked around them so as not to hurt the environment in respect of our eco-friendly mission."

Xcaret’s success was rewarded at this year’s IAAPA show in Orlando, where it picked up a prestigious Applause Award, which honours parks whose management, operations and creative accomplishments have inspired the industry with foresight, originality and sound business development.

Pali described it as an honour to be named as a finalist, let alone to actually win the award, but he is clearly driven to take the enterprise forward, saying: "To get this prize for doing what I love to do every day and to represent my country, made me feel very rewarded. It was something that I never expected.

"We still have a lot of things to do to grow. I’m 72 years old and my plan is to continue doing what I’m doing until God permits me and I have the health to do it. I plan to never retire and be working hopefully until 80 or 90 years old."

To read the full article see Issue 1 2019 of Attractions Management here.

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Award-winning Mexican attraction Xcaret has revealed plans to expand into new territories within Central and South America and is working on a number of new offerings that will diversify its existing visitor portfolio.
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