As the Romance Director for the Mexico Tourism Board, Carmen Laborin has seen her share of dramatic brides, extravagant weddings and whirlwind romances. After several years as a wedding planner, Carmen’s talents and experience are now melded into her passion for Mexico and her love of coordinating the perfect wedding; providing her services as Romance Director with the Mexico Tourism Board to people traveling to Mexico. Whether they are looking for the ultimate wedding, the perfect romantic getaway or the adventure of a lifetime, Carmen can help make it happen. With an extensive resume covering everything from Resort Sales Director to Special Projects for the Federal Communications Commission in Mexico, the lovely Ms. Laborin combines her professional experience with her sincere desire to share the country she loves, and still calls home. I chatted with Carmen recently about her current position as Romance Director, and her thoughts on the future of tourism and travel to Mexico.
Describe what you do as a “Romance Director”
I like to say I’m a facilitator, a tourism promoter, but very much a conductor (of like an orchestra). So with the help of many professionals in Mexico, I try to direct those wanting to travel to Mexico. I try to shorten the breach between prospective travelers to Mexico for special groups and the actual Mexican destinations. In my case, the type of facilitation I provide regards groups traveling for familiar or social occasions, such as bachelor or bachelorette parties, a vow renewal group, destination wedding, or an anniversary celebration. The type of travel in which you would take family and friends for not merely a leisure trip, but with a more specific goal in mind, requiring some special attention or particular activities planner for that matter.

As the Romance Director, do you ever get complaints from guests that their visit wasn’t ‘romantic’ enough? You know what I mean…not romantic enough.

I don’t recall any complaints, but I think only because in Mexico, romance is soaring. Mexico is a lovely country and a place for lovers. In most corners of any Mexican towns the central streets play host to numerous displays of music, singing and dancing whilst street vendors do a roaring trade in providing snacks for the joyful pedestrians. The settings, the serenades, the flowers, the sunsets, the benches where thousands of couples sit and share a break (and more) after an afternoon stroll. It’s all romantic. The amazing resorts, boutique hotels or bed and breakfasts are a delight for couples, a palette of hundreds of options to choose from. Their guests delight on afternoon tequila sipping on a colorful patio, have breakfast on their lake view balconies, enjoy salsa dancing classes or a private cooking lesson. Their dishes are later served for them on a candle lit, beach front table. There are plenty of romantic spots in Mexico as well as hundreds of activities to share with your significant other.

You’ve mentioned that Mexico is ideal for non-traditional, exotic weddings. Give me an example of an exotic wedding.
The word Exotic means “strikingly unusual” or ”foreign origin or character.” So I would say Mexico itself is an exotic location. Whatever you plan in Mexico will turn out pretty memorable, that is a guarantee. Every detail; from the music, to the food, to the venue, to the traditions, would play into the celebrations of Mexico’s uniqueness. There are a number of local customs and places, not to mention the local people that can be an inspiration for any special event celebration. How about a shamanic ceremony at the Sumidero Canyon’s Grijalva riverside with dazzling waterfalls as a backdrop? Or perhaps a universal wedding ritual on an archeological site in Yaxchilán, with monkeys howling and jumping from one tree to another while you observe in awe. And these are only two places in the majestic state of Chiapas! I haven’t even mentioned the beachfront ceremonies in the gazebo, with gray whales jumping in the background. How about a wine-carrying donkey on a street parade, to guide you and the couple’s guests from the ceremony venue to the reception site, while sipping some of the beloved Mexican beverages; sometimes wine, sometimes tequila and sometimes mezcal, all local of course.

O.K. Carmen, I need your help: My girlfriend (or significant other) and I just don’t have that spark anymore. Where can we go in Mexico to get it back? Where will we fall in love all over again?

If I had a week in Mexico with my beau, I’d choose to go to a location where I could enjoy both the beach and the colonial city. In a week, I could easily do both. If I was coming from the west coast, a super easy flight would be to  Baja Norte and enjoy Ensenada’s beach and the Valle de Guadalupe wine country. Maybe I’ll head out the last couple of days to the number one spa worldwide: “Rancho La Puerta” in Tecate, Baja Norte for a few days of love and splurging. Another great option would be a trip to Baja Sur, headed to San Jose or Cabo San Lucas for the beach fun, dining, high end properties and royal pampering. Then I would head to La Paz for a closer feel of a Mexican town and sample it’s amazing food. I would also visit Todos Santos, a cute little place with great food, beach proximity and a genuine ‘old town’ feel.. For superb outdoor and water activities on the deep blue Sea, you could enjoy Puerto Peñasco, Sonora; “The World’s Aquarium,” this side of the Sea of Cortez, depending on where you choose to stay.
Large wedding parties are considering Mexico for their lavish event, but the latest headlines make them hesitant. What do you tell clients about traveling to Mexico?

There are many misconceptions about Mexico, and many times one small issue can be blown out of proportion. Sometimes misconceptions arise just from a lack of proper information; in our case it is very related to the geography. Yes, simply geography; for that is important to understand our country, a friendly neighboring country that is, for the most part, misunderstood. From the bottom of my heart I encourage people to let themselves be free from any conditions, to leave fear aside so they can go out and travel. See life as it is outside the natural boundaries. Let yourself be happily surprised by the hospitality, traditions and warmth of our people. I encourage you to challenge yourself and give yourself permission to create lifelong memories, in places you’ve only dreamed of, with the ones most dear.