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Business Travel Guide: Mexico City, Mexico

 


The geographical, political and economical importance of Mexico as an intercontinental bridge has turned it into a vibrant, dynamic and cosmopolitan megalopolis where business and trade are at the top of the agenda. However controversial or difficult to evaluate, the North American Free Trade Agreement signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has suffered from global changes since its implementation in 1994; the openness of Mexico's economy is a testament to its historical ability to adapt. Recent political changes have resulted in a national and international focus on the economy and the fortification of relationships with overseas partners at both ends of the supply-demand chain. The federal government's desire to bolster its ever-closer ties to the U.S. is dependent on innovation in security, infrastructure and education to improve the quality of life of a developing Mexican population. The clash of social classes and the constant struggle between modernity and tradition that appears to play out on every street corner creates an incredible cultural backdrop to an avant-garde and sophisticated city that thrives on contrasts. Mexico's capital, known as the D.F. (dey efe), represents the natural entryway for the North American market. A booming manufacturing economy and a strong and durable base of natural resources that is slowly opening up to foreign partnerships, provides the city with a crucial position in the concert of nations.



Facts to Know Before You Go

Currency: Mexican Peso

The Mexican Peso (MXN) is freely converted into any major international currency. It is highly recommended not to obtain your Mexican pesos outside of Mexico, since the exchange rate tends to be, in most cases, unfavorable. Better to get your pesos right upon arrival in Mexico City, at the international arrivals terminal of the airport with major overseas bank branches, ATMs and exchange bureaus or at the front desk of your hotel.

Many high street banks in Mexico are now recognizable global brands such as HSBC, Scotiabank and Santander and even some of the local-sounding ones are owned by multinationals (e.g. Banamex by Citibank). All have an extensive network of ATMs throughout the city. Major international credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club) are accepted at most of the city's commercial outlets, restaurants, shops and hotels.

Traveler's checks are easily exchangeable as well, but not necessarily preferred. Pesos can easily be exchanged back into dollars at the airport. Keep in mind that unlike in many Mexican beach resorts and border towns, U.S. dollars are rarely accepted as means of payment in Mexico City, except for tips at hotels.

Transportation:

Benito Juárez International Airport is Mexico City's major point of entry for most business travelers to the Mexican capital. Public transportation, taxis and private cars will take you to any part of the urban sprawl, but taxis are your best bet, considering the overcrowding in buses and the subway. Be sure to get one of the Authorized taxis (yellow and white colored), Sitio 300 being most convenient. You'll need to pay for the service in advance. Right after passing through immigration and customs you'll find a ticket booth on your left hand side (also yellow and white colored) where you'll be asked your destination, upon which the rate is based (between $20 and $45 to the major business districts). Upon paying, you'll get a paper ticket to be handed to the driver, and told where to board your taxi (all the way to the left, as you look from the arrivals terminal towards the street). Tipping taxi drivers is completely at your discretion. Do avoid getting an unauthorized cab directly on the street (usually old Volkswagen beetles, green and white colored).

Information:

The only English daily newspaper in Mexico City is The News, offering Mexican and international coverage and a decent business section. It is available on newsstands, in the citywide cafeteria chain, Sanbourns, and in airports. International editions of major U.S. newspapers are offered at the same locations, plus some news outlets, mostly in the Polanco, Lomas, Santa Fe and downtown areas. The major newspapers in the city are El Universal, Reforma, Milenio, El Economista, El Financiero, Crónica and La Jornada, which is the most liberal of the dailies at this level. For the intrepid Spanish reader, a large number of subject-specific and politically one-sided publications, (e.g. Esto or Record for sport and El Sendero del Peje for left-wing banter) are widely available.

Expansión is the top business magazine in the country, with in-depth analysis of the economic and financial markets of Mexico and Latin America, although it is only available in Spanish. Chilango, published on a monthly basis, has amongst its contents the Mexico City edition of Time Out Magazine, with a concise but rewarding English section.


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Where to Stay

Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.
Paseo de la Reforma 500
Col. Juárez
52 55 5230 1818
www.fourseasons.com/mexico


Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.
A grande dame on Mexico City's hotel scene, the Four Seasons has a remarkable internal courtyard, an oasis of tranquility contrasting with the city's hectic rhythm. Its location on Mexico City's most important thoroughfare, Paseo de la Reforma, is one big advantage for the business traveler, given its proximity to the major business, commercial and entertainment areas of the city. Superior and deluxe rooms offer multi-line phones and high-speed Internet connections. The Business Center is open 24/7 and provides printing and color scanning services, plus two boardrooms (reserve in advance). The Spa and Health Center, right next to each other, are perfectly juxtaposed with the bar on the courtyard level, with one of the best tequila reserves around town.

JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City
Andrés Bello 29
Col. Chapultepec Polanco
52 55 5999 0000
marriott.com
JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City

Home to the most important private business meeting center in town, the Club de Industriales, this hotel provides spectacular views over Chapultepec Park, and—on non-smoggy days—over the entire city, especially from one of the five Terrace Suites located on the top floors. When it comes to business trips, the JW Marriott keeps its reigning place among the city's choices. It accommodates a whole executive floor with 54 rooms on top of twelve junior suites and a presidential one. All rooms have wireless plus broadband Internet connections and two telephone lines. The executive floor rooms and all of the suites have 24/7 access to the lounge, where amenities such as continental breakfast and butler service are readily available. Meet a business partner in the Lobby Lounge for a drink or blow off steam in the spa or fitness center.


Novotel Mexico Santa Fe
Antonio Dovali Jaime 75
Col. Centro de Ciudad Santa Fe
52 55 9177 7700
www.novotel.com

Novotel Mexico Santa-Fe

Ten years ago, Santa Fe, located in the hilly westernmost part of Mexico City, was nothing more than the site of a prestigious private university. Once the most important litter dump in town, today this area of D.F. is synonymous with affluence and business. From Coca-Cola to 3M Worldwide to Standard & Poor's, almost all the important names in business are moving here, but there still aren't many accommodation options in this financial center. The Novotel has more than 100 rooms that come with Wi Fi Internet and Juda view ports. Seven conference rooms with capacity for up to 150 people and the major advantage of being blocks away from one of the best shopping malls in the city (Centro Comercial Santa Fe), make the Novotel a sure bet when business brings you to this side of town.


Hilton Mexico City Reforma
Av. Juárez 70
Col. Centro
52 55 5130 5300
www1.hilton.com

Hilton Mexico City Reforma

Located in the heart of the historic center, this Hilton offers luxurious rooms and impeccable service. The large, well-equipped rooms are comfortable and well-appointed, and the special corner rooms feature amazing views. The grand lobby houses a lounge and multiple restaurants, including Los Dones Restaurant that serves a daily buffet that could include anything from authentic Mexican to Oriential and seafood. Up on the roof, the relaxing Terraza Alameda indoor/outdoor terrace is the perfect place to unwind and the indoor pool is perfectly heated year-round. The gym is massive and features flat screen TVs for each cardio machine, and the spa has a Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam rooms. The hotel is within walking distance to many attractions such as the Zocalo, the Bellas Artes museum, and the National Cathedral. It is also in front of Alameda Central Park, which is the perfect place for a walk after a long day. The hotel is just steps from Paseo de la Reforma, and close to a subway station.


W Mexico City
Campos Elíseos 252
Col. Chapultepec Polanco
52 55 9138 1800
www.starwoodhotels.com

W Mexico City

The W brand has proven to cater to business travelers with a twist (think "Sensory Set Up" meetings with aromatherapy), and this first Latin American outpost is no exception. All of its 237 rooms, including the apartment-like Lofts and Presidential/Extreme WOW Suites, offer an oversized work area, wireless broadband Internet connections, fax, scanner and printer, plus the usual W Whatever/Whenever 24-hour, butler-style service. Cherry colored rooms with pretty comfortable hammocks go along perfectly with the in-house Away Spa, offering a wide range of massages, body and facial treatments. The W has a respectable number of meeting rooms, and its Sunday brunch at Solea restaurant tends to be pretty rewarding. To wrap up your stay, the W hotel, ideally located in the heart of Polanco's upscale shopping and entertainment district, houses the Whiskey Bar, a fine place to mingle among Mexico City's beautiful people for a drink or two.


Where to Dine

Au Pied de Cochon
Campos Elíseos 218
Col. Chapultepec Polanco
52 55 5327 7756

12/20
$$$$$


Adjacent to the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel, right down in Campos Elíseos, another top-of-the line Polanco street, Au Pied de Cochon is a sure bet for all kinds of purposes during a business trip. Open until late at night, it provides a good spot for the after-drinks munchies. At lunchtime it is a preferred place for expats and locals alike, dealing with serious issues, from mergers to bankruptcy. And at night its stoic ambience offers the perfect background for a smart or casual business dinner; it's also pretty romantic, if you need to consider that option as well. Yes, you guessed right, pork is among its specialties.


Bakéa
Sierra Ventana 700-5
Col. Lomas de Chapultepec
52 55 5520 7472

13/20
$$$$$

With only fifteen tables, an internationally awarded menu inspired by Basque, French and Mexican cuisines and a discrete, hard-to-find location, Bakéa is arguably one of the best—if not the best—restaurants in the city. Owner and executive chef Vicente Etchegaray has consolidated a small culinary emporium that well deserves a visit, especially while in the city for business. Their dreamy crème brûlée will definitely soften even the toughest client.


El Cardenal
Palma 23
55 21 81 15-17

14/20
$$$$$

Regarded as the best Mexican restaurant in the city, El Cardenal serves refined versions of national classics like Chilaquiles (fried tortillas in a tomato and chili sauce) and delicacies such as Tortilla de escamole (ant larvae omelet) and Maguey cactus worms in an upper class setting The menu offers a huge choice that also varies in accordance with seasonal availability of fresh ingredients, e.g. cuitlacoche (known as Mexican caviar), to create specialty dishes. The restaurant started in the heart of the Downtown area (Centro Histórico) and now an El Cardenal also resides in The Sheraton Centro Histórico Hotel & Convention Center, Mexico City with an equally young sibling in the business area of Lomas de Chapultepec. They are full at lunchtime, so reserving a table is a must.


El Malayo
Plaza Rio de Janeiro 56
Col. Roma Norte
55 14 76 86

15/20
$$$$$

For those whose business interests may involve the media or pop culture industries, this is a new target for your ¨be seen¨ expense account. The menu at El Malayo changes every month in order to offer exquisite dishes from across the entire South East Asia region. The tom yum soup with seafood, grilled scallop salad in lemon-grass dressing and organic chicken in green curry are noted favorites. In a tucked-away but easily accessible and finely decorated location, El Malayo enjoys an undisturbed view of the fountain and public art that set off the beautiful Plaza Rio de Janeiro. This relaxed establishment provides a very quiet setting for an important business lunch or dinner in a chic neighborhood.


MP Taberna Bistro
Andrés Bello 10
Col. Chapultepec Polanco
52 55 5281 0592

14/20
$$$$$


The first restaurant of Mexican nouvelle cuisine's top representative, chef Mónica Patiño, has been a meeting place for the city's smart set for years. It's been keeping up its high standards, and given its privileged Polanco setting, business types are especially drawn here at lunch time. The menu boasts a surprisingly tasty "merger" between Mexican ingredients and pan-Asian recipes. Service is impressive and personal; the restaurant is considerably small but has a rewarding Japanese-like garden, which is refreshing in the hot and steamy springtime, when tables can be arranged there.


Shu
Santa Fe 55
Col. Lomas de Santa Fe
52 55 5292 4834

14/20
$$$$$


Following a boom of Asian-inspired restaurants all over the city, Shu is becoming the focal point for the business-oriented community in Santa Fe. From the renowned Japanese chain Suntory, Shu is the incarnation of a renewed concept which brings the hip vibe of 21st-century Tokyo to the heart of Mexico, wrapped up in a very selective sense of goût. In the lobby of the Fiesta Americana Santa Fe, it has floor-to-ceiling windows, which give the whole place a glowing atmosphere. Strictly Teppanyaki tables sprawl in the black-and-white dining room. There's a perfect wine cellar, which is no reason to underestimate their fine sake selection.



Off the Clock

Chapultepec Park
www.chapultepec.org.mx

Chapultepec Park

Every city needs a pair of lungs, and Mexico City is no exception. A former royal palace, the seat of an empire and, at one time the scene of a brutal confrontation between American and Mexican forces, Chapultepec Park provides the city with much needed CO2 and a very diverse set of entertaining options. The Castillo, the former residence of Maximilian of Habsburg, now houses the National History Museum. Here you also find the National Museum of Anthropology, the Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Chapultepec also boasts a major zoo and the oldest roller coaster in the country. The perfect backdrop for all these museums are more than 1,600 acres of greenery, along with lakes, running paths and plenty of picnic space. Even if it's just for a run, a short walk, a quick lesson on the country's history or a much needed break from business meetings, Chapultepec provides the ideal answer. Its proximity to Polanco makes it also handy for those staying on the hotel strip there.

Museo Dolores Olmedo
Av. México 5843
La Noria, Xochimilco
52 55 5555 0891
www.museodoloresolmedo.org.mx

Museo Dolores Olmedo

Founded in 1994, this enchanting museum—a former hacienda in the once remote town of Xochimilco, now part of the big megalopolis—is home to the biggest private collection of works by Mexican maestro Diego Rivera. Dolores Olmedo, who used to live in this house, was the most important collector and promoter of Rivera's work; Olmedo posed for Rivera on several occasions, and some even say they were lovers. Olmedo managed to open the museum, her lifelong dream, before her death. Along with 137 paintings of Rivera's and 25 from his former wife, Frida Kahlo, the Museo Dolores Olmedo has a rich collection of pre-Hispanic pieces pertaining to different cultures from central Mexico and some religious art from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Among the highlights of the museum are its extensive gardens, where you can meditate about Mexico's millenary culture among peacocks and xoloescuintles—an endangered species of hairless dogs, dating back to the Aztec Empire, and hard to spot outside select zoos.

Restaurant Bar Alfonso
Motolinía 18
5521 0290

Restaurant Bar Alfonso

An excellent example of high class Cantina culture, Restaurante Bar Alfonso's is located behind the French-Colonial architectural jewel of the Central Post Office in the exciting Centro Histórico (Historic Center or downtown) area, which is being rejuvenated by Carlos Slim. Recently reopened, this drinking hole was originally frequented by the ruling Spanish classes, a nationalistic trend that still reigns more in style and on the classy menu than in exclusivity. Spanish wines fill the select wine list; staff prepares fantastic traditional Spanish cuisine like Paella and Gambas al ajo (shrimps in garlic). High ceilings and the original Colonial bar furniture create a smart, Mediterranean atmosphere that is often supported by live music.

Terraza del San Angel Inn
Diego Rivera 50 y Altavista
Col. San Ángel Inn
52 55 5616 1402
www.sanangelinn.com

Terraza del San Angel Inn

San Angel used to be a small provincial town in the outskirts of Mexico City, just like Tacubaya or Coyoacán. Now all of these little towns have been swallowed up by the city. San Angel, however, has managed to preserve the flavor of a tiny provincial village, with cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, picturesque churches, former haciendas and plenty of jacaranda flowers during springtime. Walking through San Angel is refreshing, especially in a city as chaotic as Mexico City. Saturdays are especially lovely with the weekly Bazar del Sábado Market, around San Jacinto square, where you can get everything from elaborate handicrafts to upscale jewelry and valuable paintings. The perfect way to experience some of San Angel is the terrace of San Angel Inn, a splendid restaurant, strong on Mexican specialties, housed inside a former hacienda. The terrace is surrounded by lush vegetation and welcoming colonial arches. There's a fountain in the middle and plenty of cozy couches, chairs and tables. Sipping a good añejo tequila here while listening to mariachi music (a group is generally performing at sunset) is what Mexico is all about. Next to San Angel Inn is the Casa Estudio Diego Rivera, the former studio of Mexican painter Diego Rivera, built by modernist architect Juan O'Gorman.

Zinco Jazz Club
Motolinia 20
Col. Centro
52 55 5512 3369
www.zincojazz.com

Zinco Jazz Club has positioned itself at the top of entertainment options in the city for those who enjoy live music, especially jazz. Housed in the former security vaults of a bank, Zinco's acoustics and atmosphere are unique. With a rich program that includes out-of-town performers every Thursday night, Zinco is the right place if you're in the mood for a smooth and easygoing night. A light snacks menu and a wide selection of drinks, predominately scotches and bourbons, are provided by hip waitresses, most of them Argentineans. Be sure to make a reservation if you want to get a seat—Zinco is frequented a lot, regardless of the day of the week.



Going to Mexico? Check our Guide.
Mexico City 72-Hour Vacation

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