The Peso Plummets: Why Now Is The Perfect Time To See Mexico
With the value of the Mexican peso continuing to plummet– last week it dropped to 17.27 against the U.S. dollar – there’s never been a better time for bargain hunters to travel to the destination.
Those bargains of course, come with some caveats. “Basically, everything in Mexico now costs fewer dollars, except many hotels have always quoted and booked rates in dollars to insulate themselves from currency fluctuations,” said Ben Gritzewsky, an independent travel consultant with FROSCH who lives in the Yucatan’s capital city of Merida. “Those hotels are even more profitable now, because when the hotel takes payment from guests they convert the charges back into pesos. Consequently, there is more profit for reinvestment and a great deal of hotel development, so the range of choices is huge and the quality is excellent.”
Nonetheless, with hotel development of course comes increased competition. “The occupancies are high, but with lots of competition there’s plenty of discount promotions, especially at the well-known beach resorts,” Gritzewsky said.
Still, Terry Denton, author of the popular travel blog Travel By Terry, said the value of the weak peso is very little on the minds of the majority of Americans traveling to Mexico. “Since most of the people we send are buying very inclusive packages in U.S. dollars, they are not even cognizant of the exchange rate,” said Denton, executive vice president of Fort Worth-based Travel Leaders/Main Street Travel with five location in north and east Texas. “One exception would be travelers going to Mexico for the express purpose of doing serious shopping.”
Because hotels are generally priced in U.S. dollars, Adamarie King said it is indeed often difficult to promote hotel savings to travelers. “However, when dealing with suppliers, the key is to push a bit and go for that extra discount or value-add,” said King, owner of Connoisseur’s Travel, an affiliate of Travel Experts.
Arguably, some of the best bargains are in luxury segment. “While Mexico has been viewed as a relative bargain destination since far in the past, recently hotel pricing has risen to meet levels of other luxury destinations and Mexico has become a world-class destination in the sphere of luxury travel,” said King. “At this moment in time – and given the very favorable exchange rate – there are perhaps the best bargains to be found at the high end that we have seen for years – especially when it comes to food and wine, insider access and expert private guiding experiences.”
Mexico City serves as a case in point. “Mexico City is the primary cultural destination of Latin America, and even in this world capital, at the poshest levels the prices are low – whether you think in U.S. dollars, euros, rubles or shekels,” Gritzewsky said. “I’m encouraging clients to look beyond the lowest price and upgrade to a ‘reasonable’ price in order to enjoy the best of the best. They can splurge on fine dining, shopping, or a hot air balloon excursion over the pyramids and still have money left in the budget.”
In Merida, Gritzewsky said that five-star dining experiences with acclaimed chefs can be had for $90 per person, including drinks. A market taco with beer can be had for a mere $3.
To work toward ensuring the best savings, Gritzewsky said travelers should be cognizant of the fact cash exchange rates reflect the currency fluctuations, but are generally not as good as the banks’ wholesale rates.
“The difference is more painful when you exchange large amounts, but by using credit and debit cards for larger purchases, you will also save. Cards are widely accepted and ATMs are everywhere,” he said. “Since the exchange may well reverse its course, I’m also encouraging clients to plan more activities in advance and to prepay their arrangements as much as possible.”
While Mexico'a tourism is flourishing, Gritzewsky believes that peso’s plunge will boost business still further. “Hopefully, it will motivate more Americans to realize how very far their vacation dollars take them into Mexico’s treasures,” he said.
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