Shopping at Latin America’s best airport

aeropueto Internacional de cancun duty free

Cancún is easily Mexico’s biggest tourist destination, offering a wide range of attractions from ancient Mayan ruins and coral reefs to night-clubs, theme parks and glitzy shopping malls.

Unsurprisingly, given the party city’s thriving tourism business, Cancún international is Mexico’s second biggest airport, handling over 12.4 million passengers in 2010, which makes it the largest airport for international passengers in Latin America.

Privately operated Cancún International is rated very highly by its mainly American and European passengers. It has won the coveted Airports Council International title of ‘Best Airport in Latin America & the Caribbean’ for the past two years, for instance. And the good news for shopaholics is that its two terminals • Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 (Terminal 1 is no longer in use) • offer travellers a decent range of stores and restaurants, blending in some tried-and-trusted international brands with some local retail flavour.

Now we have to admit that downtown Cancún tempts visitors with a wealth of shopping options, from high quality shopping malls offering luxury brands to typical tourist t-shirt shops and open-air markets bursting with authentic handicrafts. No airport store could hope to compete with this retail cornucopia of course, but Cancun international does offer enough choice to provide travellers with a last-minute opportunity to purchase a gift or souvenir.

And of course there is always the lure of duty-free prices. Spanish firm Aldeasa runs the duty-free concession in both Terminals 2 and 3 and offers a solid range of fragrances, cosmetics, liquor, tobacco, confectionery and fashion accessories. The selection of tequilas, as you might expect, is particularly impressive.

When it comes to local souvenirs and gifts, one of the best stores at the airport is Los Cincos Soles, which also runs a waterfront store in town (www.loscincosoles.com). With shops in both terminals, this retailer sells a wide range of colourful Talavera pottery; pewter picture frames, trays and serving dishes; onyx sculptures, wind chimes and chess sets; hand-blown glass; and highly decorated wooden Olinalá wooden boxes.

Señor Froggs, also with outlets in both terminals, is a very different proposition. Aimed at the young ‘Spring Break’ American holiday-makers, who head to Cancún each year, this US bar chain uses the tagline, “where anything can happen”, and has become popular enough to boasts its own merchandise stores. If that hasn’t scared you off, you will find all sorts of branded nick-nacks in Señor Froggs such as glassware, clothes, magnets, photo-frames and playing cards.

Moving quickly upmarket, Pineda Covalin (both terminals) is a Mexican fashion retailer set up by two young designers, who like to integrate traditional Mexican patterns and images into their designs (www.pinedacovalinaz.com). These stores sell a colourful range of silk ties, scarves, handbags, shoes and jewellery, which really stand out from the international fashion brands often found at other airports around the world.

Mexican leather is considered as some of the best in the world and Rogers Boots (Terminal 3 only) has a reasonable reputation for selling a broad selection of authentic quality leather goods such as belts, wallets, briefcases and of course boots of all shapes and sizes. It is worth mentioning that Rogers Boots has a downtown store too.

If you managed to lose your shades while on holiday or feel the need to buy a more fashionable pair, Sunglass Island (sunglassisland.com) is well worth paying a visit. With stores in both terminals, Sunglass Island stocks a wide range of brands including DKNY, Diesel, Ray-Ban, Prada, Coach, Tom Ford, Ferrari and Burberry to name but a few.

Other shops at Cancún International worth mentioning include Watch my Watch (www.wmw.com.mx), which as the name suggests sells a great range of men’s and women’s watches; and two stores as American as apple pie: iconic motorcycle brand Harley Davidson and rock ‘n’ roll institution, Hard Rock.

If you need to de-stress or just relax before your flight, head to Xpress Spa, which has outlets in both terminals (www.xpressspa.com). This fast-growing US airport spa chain has outlets all over the US and is now expanding into Europe. As well as offering a range of reasonably priced 15-30-minute treatments such as neck and back massages, pedicures and facials, Xpress Spa also sell spa products such as soap and candles, as well as travel pillows, eye masks, and both wooden and electric massagers. Cancun International airport’s shopping guide http://www.cancun-airport.com/dutyfree.htm

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