Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Mexico City’s other edgy hotels are much smaller by comparison. The minimalist-chic Hotel Habita is housed in a six-storey, mid-century building that is “wrapped” in frosted glass and topped with a bright pool and bar area on the roof. Its newer sister hotel, the Condesa DF, in the newly cool colonia of the same name, is 2012’s “trendiest hotel” according to travel review site TripAdvisor. The hip Hotel Brick is housed in a carefully restored, English country-style manor house with modern touches like Kiehl’s bath lotions, flat screen TVs and a French brasserie in the lobby. Blending a raw industrial edge (and a rooftop pool) with the grandeur of the city’s centro historico (historic centre), the brand new Downtown Mexico hotel celebrates minimalism among architecture from the 17th Century.
An increasingly likely stop on most business travel itineraries is the colonia of Santa Fe, located on the western edge of the city centre. This modern urban zone is comprised of glass and steel skyscrapers, a giant shopping mall, convention centre and office parks that house Fortune 500 corporate offices and global hotel chains. In May, the city’s newest luxury hotel, the Presidente InterContinental Santa Fe opened on a hillside there with 111 rooms offering commanding views of the city, and similar to its in-town sister property, a giant lobby buzzing with six bars and restaurants.
The district’s burgeoning local food scene is centred in upscale Polanco, where Chef Marta Ortiz turns out what many consider to be the finest Mexican food in the country at Dulce Patria, a re-envisioned cantina located next to Las Alcobas. Nearby, the much-celebrated Biko offers a whimsical interpretation of Spanish cuisine — such as foie gras topped with a tuft of cotton candy. Mexican nouvelle cuisine, , such as skewers of baby corn served from a hollowed out pumpkin full of smouldering husks, is the highlight at the small but extremely popular Pujol, recently named one the 50 best restaurants in the world. Business travellers and local execs frequently celebrate deals in the quietly classy, Mediterranean-inspired Reforma 500, or sip fine tequilas in the colonial atmosphere at El Bar, tucked among the archways of the courtyard at the Four Seasons. Locals and visitors alike still flock to Astrid & Gaston, an upscale Peruvian restaurant with outposts across Latin America.
Off the clock
Take a walk! Over the last decade (with the help from foundations created by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim), the city’s government has cleaned up, modernised and protected the area along the central spine of its most majestic boulevard, the Paseo de la Reforma. On the western end of the Paseo is the wealthy enclave of Polanco and the forested Chapultepec Park, the district’s popular green lung, which is home to a zoo, plus several museums and historical sites. The Paseo’s tree-lined mid-section is lined with many of the city’s tallest buildings, and historic monuments and fountains pepper its central median. To the south are the increasingly popular colonias of Condesa, Roma and San Angel, which have superseded the once-popular Zona Rosa as the centre of Mexico City’s bohemian nightlife scene. (A word of caution: as in most major cities, take your walks during daylight hours and use authorised taxicabs at night.)
The business travel “scene” in Mexico, as in many other Latin American countries, is very social. Your Mexican counterparts (residents refer to themselves as chilangos) will want to get to know you on a social level before they do business with you. As a result, visitors should expect invitations for lunch, dinner or cocteles (drinks) in the district’s many outdoor cafes when the weather is pleasant (so bring your sunglasses). When the weather turns bad, the action moves to the city’s expansive hotel lobbies, especially those located in “the four giants” on the southern edge of Polanco: the JW Marriott, Presidente, Hyatt Regency (formerly the Hotel Nikko) and the W hotel.