Amex Travel Planner – Cancun

Copy Challenge: Cancun has a reputation as being a “party hardy” place–specifically for Spring Breakers. My challenge was to bring in a different crowd–the sophisticated, affluent traveler (Conde Naste, Travel & Leisure readers) who needed to see a less hedonistic & more cerebral Cancun that appeals to a visitor’s finer senses, vs. their baser instincts. In addition, Amex and the Cancun Hotel Association wanted me to re-present Cancun in fresh language that re-contextualizes it as a world-class destination, on a par with Greece, Tahiti and Bali — not as the cheap Mexican alternative to those destinations.

Client: American Express Travel

Agency: Bates & Lee                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Product: Amex  Travel Planner – Direct Response Copy

Copy Challenge: Cancun has a reputation as being a “party hardy” place–specifically for Spring Breakers. My challenge was to bring in a different crowd–the sophisticated, affluent traveler (Conde Naste, Travel & Leisure readers) who needed to see a less hedonistic & more cerebral Cancun that appeals to a visitor’s finer senses, vs. their baser instincts. In addition, Amex and the Cancun Hotel Association wanted me to re-present Cancun in fresh language that re-contextualizes it as a world-class destination, on a par with Greece, Tahiti and Bali — not as the cheap Mexican alternative to those destinations.

(Text-Only version found below the PDF of this Amex Travel Planner)


Text Only.   Includes 7  (seven) copy blocks, or sections, of long-body copy.  Note: Headers were not written by me—they were already inserted in the planner by agency’s CD.  (Speaking personally, I do not like this header because of the phrase “Unique to Itself”.)

If you wish to see the original, unedited copy in which there is more attitude (that the agency loved but had to remove since Amex is, understandably, more conservative) then see: Amex Travel Planner – The more adventurous version (minus the five attorneys).

Note: For an easier read in this text-only version, I created more paragraphs. In the published piece, it was more continuous text, but broken up by graphics.


Unique to itself,

CANCUN is a place of natural wonders.

Cancun. It’s unlike any other place on earth. Edged by the deep aquamarine Gulf of Mexico on one side, and the clear cerulean blue Caribbean sea on the other, Cancun, the “Golden Snake,” straddles between the primeval and the modern world, creating a constant dramatic tension that is sensed, but never seen – hidden, like the Yucatan’s hundreds of underground rivers that the ancient Mayans believed, provided windows to other world.

Present-day descendants of the Mayans will tell you the gods still linger at the ruins of Chichen Itza, Xcaret and Chacmul. Mythical deities like Xtabay, the forest goddess, who, with her haunting song, was said to have lured solitary travelers deeper and deeper into places of raw, natural beauty so magical they could never return to the mortal world. Today, when you explore Cancun, you’ll find it no less difficult to return. Swim with exotic fish in the translucent sea, or dive into azure-blue cenotes. Or, simply stand in awe at the ruins of Chichen Itza. One thing you will be certain of: Cancun holds far too many natural wonders to fill just one vacation.

The Yucatan peninsula is alive with a CULTURE that thrives in simultaneous view of the ancient world of Maya and Toltec, Old World Spain, and the luxuries of a modern international hot spot.

Those who prefer life on a scale so grand it constantly challenges their ability to comprehend it will revel at the stony, silent ruins of Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum – monuments to men that give a good glimpse of the highly dramatic architecture built as homage to Mayan kings. Names of places, such as “Palace of the Moon,” or “Star Watcher,” and other such celestial nomenclature linked warring rulers with the divine. But as distinctive as the sense of place, so is the culture of the Yucatan. The stunning accomplishments of the Mayans are still evident today. While Europe was still in the dark ages, the Mayans were building causeways, mapping the stars, developing sophisticated mathematical systems, creating the only true writing system in the Americas and— on noteworthy level–cultivating chocolate.

No national endowment for the arts program was needed in ancient Mayan culture; art was ubiquitous, powerful and colorfully woven into all facets of life. Ordinary life was portrayed along side cosmic rituals, both in murals and on pottery. Add to this the conquering history of the fierce Toltecs and the Spanish Conquistadors who called this ancient place, “The New World,” and you’ll find a little of the DNA trail that leads to present-day Cancun and its Mayan people. It has been said that “The Yucatecans speak in Spanish and think in Maya’n.” Ask local villagers how to pronounce the unpronounceable names of the area, such as “Xcaret.” A child will giggle, pronounce for you, “Sh•ka•rét,” flash a dazzling smile and point toward the jungle. Stop and take a photo. You’ll likely be invited inside their thatched roof oval hut, called a Naj (Nah) for a meal of sweet Mayan fruit and fried chaya. You’ll find no gated suburban communities here. Everyone welcomes you – eager to share with you the land they call home.

More shimmering shades of BLUE than there are names for, even in several languages.

The many-hues-of -blue waters of Quintana Roo have it all – above and beneath. Put on a snorkel and mask and they come alive as home to a host of exotic, exciting and mostly edible, underwater inhabitants. In certain places you’ll only have to stick your head in the water to discover an undersea world filled with Butter Hamlets, celestial Angel fish, coral-munching Parrot Fish and striped Sergeant-Majors that seem to salute with patriotic precision, then play hide-and-seek with you amidst the spectacular coral reef considered one of the most beautiful – and fragile – in the world. Venture off to one of the Dolphin Discovery Cove Centers at places like Isla Mujeres, where queenly dolphins with names like Olympia and Regina will deign to give you a kiss on the cheek followed by a free ride – up high and across the water. A pure “endolphin” rush– bar none. But perhaps the most unique underwater experience is not in the sea at all, but in cenotes (say-nó-tays), or sinkholes. After visiting the spectacular seaside ruins of Tulum, which is a must, make it a point to dip – or dive – into one of these clear, vividly colored pools that seem much too extraordinary to have simply appeared. Then, at the nearby outdoor eco-aquarium of Xel-Ha (Shel-Há), try on the new exciting hybrid sport of Snuba, a cross between scuba diving and snorkeling. Finally, for the Cancun equivalent of an ancient transcendental experience, end your day seated at the swim-up bar in your hotel pool, imbibing your choice of beverage while rolly-polling backwards in the water, ears half in and half out, listening to the hypnotic pulse of a flamenco guitar while you float, eyes fixed straight up at the magnificent sky. Even the Mayan Kings could not duplicate such an otherworldly experience.

Cancun inspires romance in the soul and indulges the body in LUXURY at its finest.

Luxury and romance do have a way of going together. You’ll discover both of these indulgences at any one of the many stunning resorts in Cancun. Your choice of accommodations ranges from modest to grand and everything in between. Each hotel is unique, offering a host of luxurious amenities to please even the most sophisticated world traveler. For those of you who like to eat their way through the holidays, you’ll find you have a lot in common with at least one part of the population: Mexicans are among the world’s most celebrated foodies. Mornings start with a real breakfast of eggs, spicy sauce and bean-rich fare that includes, as a side dish, some of the Yucatan’s fantastic fruit – perhaps their greatest symbol of abundance. As the day unfolds, enjoy local yummy Yucatan dishes like sopa de lima, cochinita pibil (marinated, tender chicken baked in banana leaves), or a fabulous fish dish dubbed tikin-xic (tick-in-shick). For international cuisine, you can’t miss at any of the renowned hotel restaurants. To really get you in the mood, Cancun’s prescription is simple: Take a half a day of outdoor activity, followed by an hour or so lounging beneath a beach palapa or about the pool bar. Then perhaps an indulgent deep-tissue massage, topped off by a night of dancing, dancing and more dancing, and Olé! Love is not just in the air, it’s coursing through your veins. Cancun simply begs your senses – all of them – to be indulged. And surrender is a luxury much too long denied – don’t you agree?

The mysterious ruins of an ancient city still overlook this pristine coastline, perhaps the coveted RESORT of kings centuries ago.

Kings, everyone pretty much all agree, know how to do it right. Long ago, Tulum was, by some archeological accounts, the place of first resort for kings. Thousands of years later you’ll still finda few ruling monarchs there, laid back, looking royally relaxed and not particularly inclined to go back to their palatial buildings and obligations of office. Happily, Cancun invites both the royal and the work-weary to guiltlessly give into inertia, enjoying the talcum-white beaches and turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean – without having to pay a king’s ransom to do it.

Many of the fabulous resorts sharing this legendary shoreline offer an all-inclusive option for visitors, wrapping meals, beverages and accommodations (inclusions vary) into one attractive package. Choosing the all-inclusive option may, depending upon the resort, also let you enjoy such easily accessible, one-stop planned activities like kayak tours of a lagoon, on-site, non-motorized sports, introductory scuba lessons in the pool, daily social activities, evening entertainment with fabulous floor shows, Kids Clubs and a host of other non-stop activities that engage both body and soul. On the other hand, if you happen to be one of those cocooners who consider hanging out under a beach front palapa listening to the champagne surf dissolve into the sand with a good book, a cool drink and an ocean breeze your own personal definition of “all-inclusive,” just remember… the choice is yours. After all, you are royalty in Cancun. And, if ever there is a place that invites you to “live large,” this is definitely it.

When we DREAM of a tropical paradise, these are the beaches we dream of.

In Cancun, sun-worshipers are rewarded with one of the world’s most spectacular settings to acquire “the perfect tan,” limited only by proper sunscreen and personal interpretations of modesty and public decorum. After all, where else can you bronze your body in an exotic foreign land, while still nuzzled so comfortably close to the good old  U.S. of A.? Cancun’s white sand beaches, besides the translucent sea, are undeniably one of the greatest accoutrements of the Mexican Caribbean. Made up of fine powdered fossils, the sand is soft like a baby’s bottom, and remarkably, doesn’t seem to retain heat. Which means that even when the sun sears the unprotected, you won’t have to go towel-hopping your way into the waves, looking a little too touristy for your own good. How long do these pristine white beaches extend? A long, long way. And there are plenty of them – for all tastes. Beaches on the leeward side, protected by Isla Mujeres, are said to be better for swimming. Windward Caribbean beaches are more picturesque, with broad sand, warm waters and strong surf. All in all, the Quintana Roo shoreline, which faces the Caribbean, is acknowledged to have some of the best beaches in the country – and some world travelers say, the entire planet. Better still, all of this sun-and-sand worship, just a short distance from Miami, can be enjoyed year round. After all, the Yucatan’s weather is undoubtedly the reason why birds – and kings – choose to go south for the winter.

For many, Cancun is a blue doorway to that place within themselves they will always regard with fondness. Call it adventure. Call it romantic. Remember it as PARADISE.


About seekandfind

I'm a strategic storyteller/copywriter who is divinely wired to be idea-driven, strategic minded & cause motivated.

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