Wellness travel and health tourism in Mexico: Spotlight on luxury pairings

A new spotlight illuminating Upscale Luxury Resorts will prove a great bonus when planning wellness travel and health tourism in Mexico

Mexico now boasts seven AAA Five Diamond Restaurants. Having been on the Diamond Rating Team some 40 years ago, I have tremendous respect for what goes into earning such an honor.

Among them the following spectacular resort restaurants are in “the club”:

  • Carolina at The St Regis Pinta Mita
  • Fantino and the Club Grill at the Ritz Carlton, Cancun
  • Le Basilic at the Fiesta American Grand Coral Beach
  • Le Chique in the Azul Sensatori Mexico in Puerto Morelos
  • Cocina de Autor, int he GRand Velas Riviera Maya
  • Passion at the Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla

Up and comers include the Fairmont Mayakoba, The Cape, at Los Cabos, and One & Only Palmillia in Los Cabos featuring an open kitchen which also partners with Huerta Los Tamarindos to get fresh farm to table produce. Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos is bringing out a new barbacoa offer and guests learn how with hands on cooking experiences featureing pre-hispanic techniques used by the Tlaxcalan people to cook the meats. These new tourism developments can only mean that wellness travel and health tourism in Mexico, particularly in Los Cabos, will create excellent pairing opportunities to call itself a “medical tourism destination” where it sells something more than a “cheap surgery appointment at a licensed hospital”.

For a little “algo mas”, Villa La Estancia will offer a Chef’s table at La Casona where the chef creates themed menus paired with international wines in front of private parties (think Benihana entertainment with more flair). Thompson Playa de Carmen, opening soon, will be a lifestyle resort. It will feature traditional prehispanic foods like Chicatana ants, different chiles, and cacao, made by ancestral techniques.

The Mexico Medical Tourism expo in December, which will occur in Puerto Vallarta is a low budget conference that has not progressed.  in fact, it has gone backwards, in recent years attracting fewer and fewer attendees, suppliers, facilitators, and now with the announcement of Carlos Arceo Real at an event in Argentina, no expert speakers.  As in the past, the event strategy will likely also dismiss or overlook these pairing strategies because its organizers simply don’t get it or can’t sell interest to established tour operators, hotel and luxury resorts, restaurants, attractions and other stakeholders that could enable horizontal and vertical integration of the health and wellness tourism product to create a branded and distinctive destination strategy. It is apparent with this latest announcement, that the organizers still believe that the attraction in Mexico is cheap surgeries and dental procedures, lower cost prescription medications and eyeglasses. They don’t understand the importance of creating a destination experience in Mexico, and they don’t pay their bills ( they owe and several others quite a hefty sum, I’ve discovered, so they are going to be scraping the bottom of the barrel after their 5th year. A pity.

It is time for a new Mexican Medical Tourism conference organizer (hint hint – perhaps I know who might be so inclined….) to disrupt the status quo and give the stakeholders a chance to advance a strategy, show stakeholders how to vertically and horizontally integrate, educate them, and give them an opportunity to thrive, instead of simply lining the present organizers pockets from which he doesn’t pay what he owes to those that have helped him along the way. A pity – and an opportunity.

Destination strategies to improve wellness travel and health tourism in Mexico include

  • Enabling policies
  • Reinvention
  • Organic Marketing
  • Competitiveness
  • Leveraging existing stakeholders and suppliers to create experiences
  • Collaboration

None of the last 5 medical tourism conferences in Mexico, nor the ones arranged and abandoned by the industry trade association in the USA some years back have ever ventured this far into sophistication. Perhaps they are all waiting for Manaña and someone to do it for them.  Horizontal integration involves owning or collaborating with a range of companies and suppliers at the same production level. Neither can do medical tourism or wellness travel alone. Each has a piece of the puzzle – think of it as the raw goods to make a wellness travel and health tourism product in Mexico. Rather than think surgery and appointments, (the raw goods) they should be talking – especially at this stage of the game — about integration, process transformation (the selling part), program management ( the government and PPP potential involvement) an IT strategy to coordinate process and measurement and outcomes, analytics and business intelligence (to whom are they selling, how much and how to sell more) Business Strategy, Mobile Social Media Marketing, CLAST preparedness, and building a national strategic framework. I’ve recommended this to Mr Arceo-Real for years, and it has fallen on deaf ears every time. I’ve recommended it to the government in 5 Mexican states, to the media in four outlets, and nobody cares.  Now that he has announced publicly that there will be no experts, only facilitators I have to ask, why will they go? What will they bring back? Without the product, what can they sell?  Cheap surgery and sunshine?



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