“Blimps and slime and games and toons and laughs.”
The inscription on a wacky-green pillow sitting on a tangerine-orange sofa in the zany (but glamourous) lobby of the brand-new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya said it all.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts' 14th annual Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant Sales and Marketing Forum Awards (known as GIVC for short) kicked off on Monday (Sept. 27) in Mexico's Riviera Maya region with a focus on fun, celebrating partnerships and preparing for the years ahead.
“It’s an appreciation event for our travel partners and all that they do,” Liz Fettes, chief marketing and sales officer for Premier Worldwide Marketing, the exclusive sales and marketing provider for Karisma, told PAX at last night’s welcome dinner in the SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired “Aqua Nick” waterpark, where a drone light show and ribbon cutting also took place.
Until Sept. 30, travel professionals from all over the globe – from Canada to the United States to Mexico to Europe – will participate in breakout sessions, trend updates, immersive on-property experiences and put-your-hands-in-the-air parties that recognize hard work and achievement.
The highly-coveted event, notably, rewards more than 200 of the company’s top-earning producers and suppliers in several categories including the highest recognition, Hall of Fame.
“Every single travel agent was forced to reinvent themselves,” Fettes told PAX, reflecting on the past 18 months, which has been rife with coronavirus-related challenges.
Many travel advisors, Fettes said, have “gone above and beyond” to get consumers back into the market and travelling again.
“You can just see their dedication, resilience and endurance,” she said.
Ready to play?
GIVC 2021 unfolds at the recently-opened, family-friendly, five-star, all-inclusive Nickelodeon Resort Riviera Maya, which rolled out the orange carpet to welcome its first round of guests on Aug. 1.
A special ceremony was held last night night mark the hotels opening – the gathering was attended by the founding family members of Grupo Lomas, which owns the resort, as well as the Governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez.
The brand's first all oceanfront swim-up suite resort, the 280-suite, whimsically-designed property is a nod to all things fun and Nickelodeon, from slimings and character experiences (watch for sightings of SpongeBob SquarePants and his buddy Patrick Star) to 90s elements that both kid and adults will love.
The words “Ready to play?” glow above the hotel’s front desk lobby, which includes a giant golden pineapple structure – a nod to SpongeBob SquarePants' house under the sea.
It’s the place to snap that first picture.
There’s also a majestic wall of shelves holding miniature statues of much-loved Nickelodeon characters, from SpongeBob to Rugrats to Rocko's Modern Life and more.
Every 581-square-foot room comfortably accommodates families of five, complete with two full bathrooms and sprawling views of the Caribbean Sea from an oversized balcony, which has access to an infinity plunge pool.
Suites feature design elements that will get kids (and grown-ups) excited, such as art pieces pulled from Nickelodeon’s show archives and furnishings inspired by the brand’s iconic bright colours and characters, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob (who you’ll see a lot at this resort) and Dora the Explorer.
There’s also three specialty suites, including a 3,000-square-feet, two-bedroom Big Kahuna Suite, which has custom pieces, such as a sideboard inspired by the signature purple glasses of Chuckie from Rugrats and neon artwork of the phrase "Happy Happy Joy Joy," the hit song from The Ren & Stimpy Show.
The Lair Suite is a rooftop penthouse paying homage to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that can accommodate up to seven guests.
And the Pineapple Suite, which is also featured at the inaugural Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts property in Punta Cana, is the resort's signature dwelling.
Inspired by SpongeBob's underwater home, the penthouse combines luxurious accommodations and modern amenities, with all of the fanciful trappings of Bikini Bottom, the undersea city where SpongeBob and his pals live.
The resort’s Aqua Nick waterpark is the showstopper –with 2,000-square-feet of slides, 1,820-square-feet of river rides, and more, this colourful, wet and wild facility has quickly won the hearts of kids and parents already – so much so that guests are reportedly spending entire days at the waterpark alone.
There are six restaurants on site – including Nick Bistro, Piazza, where guests can enjoy the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' favourite foods, like pizza and calzone, the retro-inspired Good Burger and Le Spatula, where walls are adorned with show art and cuisine comes straight out of Bikini Bottom.
The "wow" factor
The property, which was built from the ground up, is pure “wow,” as Fettes put it, and while it was designed for families, guests of all ages, from young fans of the brand’s TV shows to nostalgic adults who grew up watching Nickelodeon, will be captivated.
“When you first walk in, everything is grandiose,” Fettes said, commenting on the resort’s luxury vibe (“Zany glam” is what I, personally, am going with). “Every single detail, from the lithographs to rooms to handpicked art…You can just feel that it has that extra elevation and extra luxury.”
Participants at GIVC 2021 will have plenty of time to experience the resort for themselves, Fettes said.
The week will also include an island-inspired pool party at Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun and a gala awards dinner at El Dorado Royale.
“We want to make sure they get the full guest experience,” Fettes said.
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more from GIVC 2021 in Mexico!