THE GREATER PORPOISE

Mexico 2016 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mauricio Martínez de Alva, Director General of Grupo Ventura Entertainment, on a history of developing swim-with-dolphin facilities, evolving into a wide-reaching entertainment brand in Mexico, and investments in the US.

Mauricio Martínez de Alva
BIOGRAPHY
Mauricio Martinez de Alva is responsible for operations for the operations of Ventura Entertainment, the second-largest outdoor entertainment group in Mexico. He previously served as Regional Director for Sales and Marketing for Westin Hotels Mexico, and later as Director General of Westin Cancun. Martinez is a graduate of the school of hospitality of Universidad Iberoamericana.

How has the company transitioned from Dolphinaris to Ventura Entertainment?

In the late 1990s I began working on a project to build a water park in Cancún. The project included a swim-with-dolphins facility among other attractions; we started with Dolphinaris. Two years later, we decided to do the same at Riviera Maya, which has the most spectacular swim-with-dolphins experience in the world by far. After this success story we decided to come up with a business model for smaller satellite facilities that would operate inside bigger resorts. We built one at Bahia Principe Resort, which today is a 3,100-room hotel, and another in Barcelo Riviera Maya, as in 2013 a group called Ventura, a private equity fund, acquired a controlling interest in Dolphinaris with the idea of using it as platform to kick off its plan.

What is the vision that you have together with Ventura?

We wanted to be the number-one entertainment and amusement company in Mexico, and to use Dolphinaris as a platform to make that come true. Within a short period of time, we put Dolphinaris and another brands under the umbrella of Ventura Entertainment. The expansion did not stop there; after the first year, we acquired La Feria in Mexico City, then Selva Magica in Guadalajara, and Selvatica in Riviera Maya, which is a zipline in the middle of the jungle that has been ranked as the best outdoor activity by Trip Advisor in Mexico. We want to become the number one entertainment group in Mexico. We are a balanced and diversified company, both financially as well as when it comes to the kind of attractions and facilities we offer to our visitors. The attractions that we offer range from dolphin facilities to ziplines in the middle of the jungle, an incredible water park, and virtual reality worlds for the whole family.

What is your strategy to become the number-one entertainment group in Mexico?

We decided to make major investments in attractions and facilities, but we also understand that our expertise and the combined knowledge of the people we have is necessary for providing an excellent experience and service to our visitors. The people that used to work in the parks before the merger with Ventura Entertainment continue working with us. What we want is to have strong staff in the area of amusement parks such as La Feria, and to build multi-parks, as we did with Ventura Park. We are going to add attractions and expand our businesses in the largest Mexican cities and a number of locations in the US. Today, we have yearly 2.1 million visitors, but within 12 months we want to grow to over 3 million.

Why did you decide to develop Ventura Park?

In our experience, wave pool water parks are not enough; they do not deliver the same results as theme parks. We wanted to create a robust product good enough for the whole family. After some research, we came up with the idea of Ventura Park, a water park and dolphin swimming facility improved with ziplines and go karts on the Caribbean shore, and a family entertainment center with virtual reality and a beach club. We have had a good response from our visitors, considering tourists and the local market. People are happy, because we have changed the cement and steel look associated with old water parks and revitalized it.

What are your plans for expansion to the US?

We are doing two things. We are developing a dolphin facility in Arizona like the other Dolphinaris that we have in Mexico. We are also working on an aquarium called Odysea in the desert, which we want to become the best in the country.