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Business Travel Guide: Guadalajara, Mexico



Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city, is also the capital of the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of mariachi music, Mexican rodeo, and tequila. It's a sprawling urban center of almost two million people, including a sizable international community, and boasts vibrant cultural scenes. Expo Guadalajara, a massive exposition and trade show complex considered to be the country's most important convention center, hosts more than 80 events a year and has stimulated the local government's commitment to continue investing in Guadalajara's infrastructure, especially for business. Known as Mexico's Silicon Valley and a place where multinational corporations have set up shop, this cosmopolitan city is friendly, charming, and well-prepared for the business traveler.


Facts to Know Before You Go — Guadalajara Business Travel


Currency: Mexican Peso

The local currency is the Mexican peso, which has been remarkably stable for the past decade. For the best exchange rate, get your pesos upon arrival at Guadalajara International Airport at one of the international bank branches, ATMs, or exchange bureaus located in the international arrivals terminal. You may also exchange money at the front desk of your hotel, but keep in mind that exchange rates tend to be less competitive than banks, and smaller properties will often limit exchanges to $100 USD. Two of the most important banks in Mexico, Banamex (linked to Citigroup) and HSBC, have an extensive network of ATMs throughout the city.

Major international credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express) are accepted at most of the city's commercial restaurants, shops, and hotels. You can also withdraw money from ATMs using these cards for a nominal surcharge.

No need to worry about ending up with extra pesos in your wallet before heading home; you can easily change them back into dollars at the airport. It is important to keep in mind that unlike other major destinations in the country, such as the capital, beach resorts, and border towns, U.S. dollars are rarely accepted as means of payment in Guadalajara (except for tips at hotels).

Transportation:

Gudalajara's Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (GDL) is located 15.5 miles from downtown Guadalajara. The most convenient and reliable way of getting into town is via an authorized taxi, which you will find lined up on the street as soon as you exit the terminal. Before boarding one, you will need to buy a voucher at a dispatch booth located in the arrivals lounge; the price will depend on the destination, ranging from $15 to $25 USD for destinations within the metropolitan area. When taking any taxi, be sure to bring the name, exact address, and telephone number of your destination with you.

All the major rental car companies, including Avis, Thrifty, National, and Hertz, have counters in the airport. You will need to present a valid driver's license and a credit card (debit cards are not always accepted) in order to secure a rental. Car insurance is mandatory in Mexico, and insurance provided by your credit card company is not always accepted. If you plan on renting a car, it is recommended that you contact the rental company prior to arrival to inquire about local rental policies for foreigners.

Limo and private car service are also available upon arrival. Prices start at $50 USD for a one-way trip into town. One recommended service is Servicios Ejecutivos Turisticos (tel: 52-33-2825-1286).

Information:

The English language daily newspaper in Guadalajara is the Guadalajara Reporter, formerly published as The Guadalajara Colony Reporter. The major Spanish newspapers are Mural, El Informador, Milenio and El Occidental.  The monthly Expansión is the top business magazine in the country, with in-depth analysis of the economic and financial markets of Mexico and Latin America.

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Where to Stay — Guadalajara Business Hotels



Gardet Boutique Hotel
Pedro Moreno 1543
Colonia Lafayette
52 33 3587 2943


A first floor room opening out into the Gardet Boutique Hotel patio
After an intense day of negotiations, the Gardet Boutique Hotel is an ideal place to retreat and forget that you're in town for business. This fifteen-room inn is housed in a historic nineteenth-century mansion in Colonia Lafayette, where it's literally steps to restaurants and shops. The hotel's patio is perfect for reading and relaxing, as is its sauna and its solar terrace. Gardet also has an on-site chef who specializes in Slow Food, raw, and organic dishes. A plus is that the hotel also offers guests shuttle service to and from the airport.

Hilton Guadalajara
Avenida de las Rosas 2933
Colonia Rinconada del Bosque 
52 33 3678 0505 
www.hilton.com


A room at the Hilton Guadalajara
The Hilton Guadalajara is an obvious and ideal choice for business travelers because of its location within the Guadalajara World Trade Center and its proximity to Expo Guadalajara. Each of its 450 guestrooms is equipped with three, two-line telephones with voice mail and high speed wireless Internet, the latter imposes a daily access fee. For the most demanding clientele, Hilton Guadalajara has two executive floors and a private lounge where American breakfast, evening appetizers, cocktails, and French pastries are served. A business center with private secretaries and offices is available, as is audiovisual equipment for presentations. A fitness center with Precor equipment and a steam room round out what this hotel offers. On-site restaurants include Angus Steak House and Los Vitrales, which services breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Vinifera Wine Bar offers more than 60 tequilas.

Hotel Villa Ganz
Lopez Cotilla 1739
Colonia Lafayette
52 33 3120 1416
www.villaganz.com


The Hotel Villa Ganz is known for its exceptional attention and service
Though it is no longer a well-kept secret since appearing on the Travel Channel in 2007 and a host of "Best of" lists in 2008 and 2009, Villa Ganz remains the most appealing address in town for business travelers who want a personalized service experience a chain hotel can't offer. Housed in a sprawling 1930s residence, Villa Ganz offers the most spacious rooms in the city and, without question, the most exceptional attention and service. Hostess Sally Rangel trains her staff personally in the art of hospitality by exposing them to the best food and accommodations in Guadalajara and Mexico. Villa Ganz's ten suites are arranged around a lush garden, which gives the hotel a quiet, solitary allure. Wireless internet is available throughout the hotel and, for travelers without laptops, complimentary computer access is provided in the lobby. One of the indulgent amenities is the availability of a personal chef, who provides services to individual guests and business groups of up to twenty people. The hotel is conveniently located near banks, bookstores, and a number of services useful to the business traveler, including DHL, FedEx, and other mailing services. A 24-hour pharmacy is nearby, and for the health-conscious, Villa Ganz offers complimentary passes to a gym that's just one block away.

Presidente Intercontinental Guadalajara
Avenida Lopez Mateos Sur y Moctezuma
Colonia Ciudad del Sol 
52 33 3678 1234 
www.ichotelsgroup.com


A spacious room at the Presidente Intercontinental Guadalajara
An imposing fourteen-story building, quite tall by the city's standards, the Presidente Intercontinental Guadalajara resembles a glass pyramid. With the largest hotel meeting space in town, the hotel has 423 rooms and 47 suites, all of which are well-equipped for business travelers. Wireless internet service is available for a daily fee. Business guests can take advantage of the on-site business center, which in addition to copying, faxing, and courier and secretarial services, provides mobile phone rentals. Guests who stay in the Executive Club rooms enjoy free newspaper delivery, valet service, and complimentary daily continental breakfast and cocktail hour. The hotel's restaurant, Frutas y Flores, is a 24-hour casual dining spot with both buffet and a la carte options.

Quinta Real
Avenida Mexico 2727
Colonia Vallarta Norte
52 33 3669 0600
www.quintareal.com


A well-appointed room at the Quinta Real
When the Quinta Real opened in 1986, it set a new standard in Mexico for business travelers. Today, it continues to be one of the most impressive properties in Guadalajara. Set amid fountains, acacia trees, and bougainvillea, the hotel is reminiscent of a colonial-era hacienda, featuring antique-style furniture, original works of art, local crafts, stucco ceilings, and ivy-covered pink stone walls. A business center with two meeting rooms accommodating more than 300 people, 76 suites all with internet access, and proximity to the city's top business centers are some of the most important assets of this hotel. Suites are spacious, with colonial-style decor, balconies over the gardens, and well-appointed desks with pleasant work areas.

Where to Dine — Guadalajara Business Restaurants


Cocina 88 
Avenida Vallarta 1342
Colonia Americana
52 33 3827 5996
www.cocina88.com

Modern Mexican
19/20
$$$$$


The elegant dining room at Cocina 88

Cocina 88 is among the most upscale restaurants in this gastronomic city, and even business people who have enjoyed meals at the world's finest establishments are likely to be impressed. First-time guests are treated to a waiter-led tour of the fish and meat pantries, with most of the ingredients sourced from Mexico. You'll choose your own cut, prepared to order. You'll also tour the wine cava, featuring an extensive selection of Mexican wines, largely unknown outside the country. The restaurant is set in a magnificent chateau, built during the 1860s French occupation, right in the middle of Colonia Americana, an address for many of Guadalajara's top shops and residences. It is spacious and comfortable, and a business dining room can accommodate up to 60 guests. Cocina 88 is rightfully known as the most innovative kitchen in the city, emphasizing fresh, local plates that blend contemporary techniques with traditional Mexican ingredients, such as agave and tequila.


El Sacromonte  
Pedro Moreno 1398
Colonia Americana 
52 33 3825 5447
www.sacromonte.com.mx

Mexican
17/20
$$$$$


The bar at El Sacromonte

A favorite with locals and out of town foodies, El Sacromonte is synonymous with fine Mexican dining in Guadalajara. Located in a former residence decorated with bull-fighting memorabilia and steeped in mariachi music, this restaurant is notable for its creative menu where old-time Mexican favorites like mole and enchiladas share the table with more daring plates, such as rose petal quesadillas and the smooth, smoky chipotle-Roquefort soup. The colorful dishes are perfectly matched with the decor, mainly based on handcrafts, and the start lanterns hanging from the ceiling around the courtyard provide a private ambiance, despite the crowd. Live music is a perfect accompaniment for sipping tequila and closing a good deal. Reservations are a must, as the city's top movers and shakers, from politicians to soccer players, frequent El Sacromonte.


I Latina
Inglaterra 3128
Colonia Vallarta Poniente Zapopan
52 33 3647 7774
www.ilatinarest.com

Mexican/Asian Fusion
15/20
$$$$$


The bar at I Latina

Not the first place you'd think of for a business lunch or dinner, I Latina is surprisingly appealing, especially for casual meetings with the young and hip high-tech business crowd. The restaurant offers a menu that fuses Mexican favorites with Thai flair. And although the food is excellent, this is also a great place to enjoy "una copa" (a drink) as the cocktail list is inventive (try the Suntequila, a blend of tequila, maracuya — passion fruit — juice, and grapefruit juice). Located in the upscale suburban district of Zapopan, I Latina is an ideal location if you are doing business in the northern area of town. The trendy spot is popular, so reservations are recommended. You can also reserve the entire space for banquets.


La Estancia Gaucha #2
Avenida de las Americas 1525
Colonia Providencia
52 33 3817 1808
www.laestanciagaucha.com.mx

Argentinian
17/20
$$$$$


The dining room at La Estancia Gaucha #2

Guadalajara has no shortage of Argentinean restaurants, but La Estancia Gaucha #2 (yes, there's a #1, also in Guadalajara), is the favorite of local and out of town business makers looking to impress colleagues. Thick, juicy cuts of steak are thrown on the parrilla (grill) and sizzled to perfection. Empanadas are a favorite entrada (appetizer) at La Estancia Gaucha. On Sundays, diners enjoy house-made ravioli, a specialty. The service here is attentive but unobtrusive. Reservations are highly recommended.


Suehiro
Av. La Paz 1701
Colonia Americana
52 33 3826 0094
www.suehiro.com.mx

Japanese
17/20
$$$$$


Teppanyaki at Suehiro

Undoubtedly, Suehiro is the best place for Japanese delicacies in Guadalajara, and has held this status for more than 30 years. It is ideal for lunchtime business meals, with private Teppanyaki tables seating six-to-eight people and a most rewarding interior garden. The restaurant has a special bar section, suitable for more informal meetings, where appetizers are served along with an extraordinary selection of sake and Japanese beers. The spacious setting is well arranged and service is gracious. Soy sauces with a twist of jalapeno are a must for accompanying any order of sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki, or tempura. In addition, Suehiro offers a private business dining room with a maximum capacity of 40 people. The room is equipped with wireless internet, television, projection screen, and a sound system. Reservations must be made in advance.


Off the Clock — Guadalajara Business Entertainment


Casa ITESO-Clavigero
José Guadalupe Zuno 2083
Colonia Americana
52 33 3615 8347
www.casaclavigero.iteso.mx

La Casa ITESO-Clavigero, designed by influential architect Luis Barragan

Luis Barragán was Mexico's most iconic twentieth-century architect, whose use of color, perspective, and inner spaces defined the country and his epoch. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, but with an impressive style all his own, Barragán put his mark on the country's architectural history. One of his most representative works is in Guadalajara's artistic and cultural heart, the Colonia Americana district. La Casa ITESO-Clavigero, designed in 1928 by the Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, belongs to his first period of work. Its design fuses Mexican traditional architecture, regional North African architecture, and European influences. Away from the crowds, the Casa ITESO-Clavigero is one of Guadalajara's well-kept secrets. Once a private residence, it is now the cultural center of ITESO University, with interesting temporary exhibits and a lively cafe. It's open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Small private tours are offered if reservations are made in advance. Admission is free.

Instituto Cultural Cabañas  
Calle Cabañas 8, Plaza Tapatia  
Colonia Centro  
52 33 3668 1640

Erected at the turn of the nineteenth century, this imposing building housed what used to be the most populated hospice in Mexico for more than 100 years. Based on designs by renowned architect Manuel Tolsa, who was also the primary urban planner for modern Mexico City, the Instituto Cultural Cabanas is a tranquil epicenter in busy downtown Guadalajara. It has large gallery spaces where the city's annual Cultural Festival takes place, but the real draw here are the massive murals painted by Jose Clemente Orozco, especially "Man of Fire," his masterpiece which crowns the cupola. No matter how many times you visit, you'll find something new in Orozco's works. Contemplate his art in the almost complete silence of the center, which UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and on Sundays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

El Parian  
Tlaquepaque 
www.tlaquepaque.gob.mx

El Parian in Tlaquepaque

Once a small artisan village on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque has been absorbed by urban sprawl and now lies halfway between the city center and the airport. Easily accessible by taxi or public transit, Tlaquepaque proudly houses what could be considered the ultimate Mexican market experience. A restaurant/bar/mariachi plaza inserted in the old heart of the town, El Parian will make you feel like you've stepped back in time to pre-revolutionary Mexico. A favorite of locals is La Casa Fuerte.
 
Parque Mirador Independencia
Calzada Independencia

Located at the very end of Avenida Independencia in the northern outskirts of town, is this impressive public park, which surrounds one of the most rewarding views in Guadalajara, the Barranca de Oblatos. A deep canyon shaped by the Santiago and Grande rivers, Barranca de Oblatos is an escape from the city and is home to many endemic animal species. It's particularly popular among bird watchers. The park has well-marked jogging trails with magnificent canyon views. The best times for visiting are dusk and dawn, not only because the park is less crowded, but also for the beautiful reflections of the sun on the canyon.

Tequila Tours

An agave field near Tequila, Mexico

Only 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) from downtown Guadalajara is Tequila, the small picturesque town in the midst of the Sierra Madre mountain range where the famous Mexican liquor is produced. Most of the country's prominent tequila makers call this town home, and their doors are open for visitors to take a close look at the production process of this liquid delicacy. Tequila is a perfect escape if your business trip keeps you in town for a weekend. Visit one of the major distilleries, each of which hosts its own tours: Sauza or La Cofradia. The drive alone is worth the trip; ringed by mountains, including the Volcan Tequila (Tequila Volcano), and covered in fields of blue agave, the landscape is photogenic. It's little wonder that Tequila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.


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* El Parian image by Carolina Barrera Rodriguez

 PDGP072506
(Updated: 03/21/13 CT)

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