Jalisco has long been famous as the birthplace of tequila and mezcal, but tourism officials are about to begin promoting another, lesser-known agave spirit: raicilla. Javier Aranda Pedrero, director general of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, filled Travel Agent in on what’s planned, as well as other tourism updates from the destination.
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“We’re going to feature raicilla at the International Gourmet Festival,” Pedrero says. That event runs from November 23 – December 2 in Puerto Vallarta.
Sometimes also called “green agave,” raicilla has is said to a have a stronger vegetable flavor than other agave-based spirits, such as tequila or smoky mezcal. In addition to the Gourmet Festival promotion, resorts in the Puerto Vallarta area are also working to incorporate it into cocktails.
“We’re recovering a lot of different, historic recipes from the area,” Pedrero says.
For clients who wish to try a tasting or distillery tour, two small towns within easy day trip distance of Puerto Vallarta – La Ponderosa and San Sebastian del Oeste – are a good bet. Local destination management companies can make the necessary arrangements, Pedrero says.
The drink isn’t NEW to Puerto Vallarta, but it’s new to many people as one of Mexico’s under appreciated, and under marketed, beverages. Puerto Vallarta hopes to change that. The move to bring raicilla in the spotlight will cap a strong year for tourism in Puerto Vallarta and the state of Jalisco.
“It’s been a very good year,” Pedrero says, noting that hotel occupancy has been up 4 percent year over year for the first half of 2018, and that arrivals from the United States, in particular, have grown 50 percent.
In terms of air travel, the airport in Puerto Vallarta has seen an increase of almost 4 million passengers over the past three years as airlift has grown. For example, Finnair launched a new flight from Helsinki last year, and this December will see the addition of a new direct flight from Panama.
“That really opens up the South American market for us,” Pedrero says.
From the United States, this year also sees the debut of new flights from San Diego and Los Angeles, as well as additional frequencies from American Airlines.
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In hotel news, the 55-room, adults-only boutique Hotel Amapa, which is part of Design Hotels, is set to open this winter in the Colonia Amapas neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta. Many of its guestrooms will have private balconies, and there will also be a wellness pavilion for meditation, reflexology and massages on site.