Q&A With Travel Impressions’ John Hanratty

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Cozumel Palace.
Cozumel Palace.

For our April issue, which focused on island stays around the world, we highlighted Mexico’s offshore islands: Isla Holbox, Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. That led us to interview John Hanratty, executive v.p. & COO of Travel Impressions.

Paloma Villaverde de Rico (PVR): Why should travelers headed to Mexico stay on the islands, such as Cozumel, Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres?

John Hanratty (JH): While Mexico is a very diverse country with many unique destinations, one unifying theme is Mexico’s well-deserved reputation for world-class service and hospitality. Beyond this, travelers looking to enjoy a laid-back island atmosphere might consider heading to Cozumel, Holbox, and Isla Mujeres, where quiet days lend themselves to tranquil relaxation and exploring nature at its best.

Cozumel in particular is filled with some of the best scuba diving around, while Isla Holbox exudes serenity with impeccable surroundings to soothe vacationers in need of rest and relaxation. Isla Mujeres has a bit more action than Isla Holbox for clients who seek to combine relaxation with excitement.

For guests staying on the island of Holbox, Travel Impressions recommends CasaSandra, a boutique hotel known for its culinary prowess. With only 19 rooms and luxury villas—and all the creature comforts one expects—CasaSandra provides an exclusive atmosphere conducive to total relaxation with fabulous service in an intimate setting.

The 62-room, couples-only Palace Isla Mujeres is a great option for travelers looking for upscale amenities and extraordinary service. And due to its size, the resort is a great option for those considering a destination wedding.

Travel Impressions offers numerous all-inclusive Cozumel resorts in its portfolio, including magnificent properties from well-reputed brands such as Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Palace Resorts and Secrets Resorts & Spas.

PVR:  Is it better for travelers headed to Mexico for an island stay to have already visited the mainland and stayed at destinations such as Cancun? In other words, who is the target clientele for an island stay in Mexico?

JH: We find that most Cozumel vacationers have already fallen in love with Mexico during previous visits, while Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres are perfectly suitable for first-time visitors seeking relaxation in a laid-back island atmosphere. Scuba divers and golf enthusiasts are a good fit for Cozumel, while Isla Holbox and Isla Mujeres are ideal for those looking to escape for much-needed pampering and relaxation.

PVR: What are the main points of attractions on these islands?

JH: Travelers headed to Isla Mujeres should be sure to visit El Garrafon, known for its crystal-clear waters and incredible snorkeling opportunities. Impressive coral reefs and Sleeping Sharks Cave make excellent diving sites for those wishing to delve a little deeper, while casual swimmers can enjoy a dip with the local dolphins. There are also Mayan ruins to be found in the island’s jungle.

Similarly, Isla Holbox is also full of natural highlights. The island is separated from the mainland coast of Mexico by a shallow lagoon which gives sanctuary to thousands of flamingos, pelicans and other exotic birds and creatures—a nature lover’s dream. During the summer, guests may also have the chance to swim with the elusive whale shark. Sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing and snorkeling are also very popular in Isla Holbox.

Cozumel offers an abundance of marine activities ranging from scuba diving to submarine tours, while those who prefer dry land can enjoy a round of golf or fine dining at any of the islands 300 delectable restaurants.

PVR:  How do visitors get to the islands?  

JH: For Cozumel, one can fly directly to Cozumel, or fly into Cancun and take the ferry from Puerto Morelos. The ferry takes 28 minutes from pier to pier.

For Isla Mujeres, travelers can also fly into Cancun with two different options for ferries to the island. For Isla Holbox, we recommend an overnight stay in Cancun with transportation provided by Travel Impressions to the northern part of Cancun (about a 2.5-hour ride) in the morning, followed by a ferry to Isla Holbox.

PVR: Why should travel agents opt for a Travel Impressions tour?

JH: Consumers choose Mexico because of its reputation for beautiful properties, superior service, local culture and great value. Agents booking Mexico on behalf of their clients choose Travel Impressions because our knowledge of the destination, product portfolio and supplier relationships are second to none. We have the expertise they rely on to ensure their clients return satisfied. Travel agents who prioritize customer retention book with Travel Impressions as they trust us to deliver the full package—quality, service and value. This is especially true in Mexico where Travel Impressions has devoted significant resources to become one of the leading tour operators for the destination.

PVR: What is it about an island vacation that captivates travelers so much?

JH: Many island visitors are people who live stressful lives and work long hours. Time for rest, relaxation, and family is not always in abundant supply. These “type A” couples and families have usually spent a few vacations trying to see and do it all, only to realize they return to their busy lives in more need of relaxation than the moment they left. That’s when they make the determination to spend their next vacation doing as little as possible, and use the time to relax and enjoy each other. Once they truly get away from it all, they often find that a book and margarita by the beach or fun family activity, followed by a relaxing spa treatment or sumptuous island meal, is just what the doctor ordered. The laid-back attitude of the local culture becomes infectious, and before long, guests find themselves at peace for the first time in years. By this point, they’ve already become an island vacationer for life.

For more information on Travel Impressions, visit travimp.com.