Culturally Infused Mexico City

written by | Posted on January 31st, 2014

Culturally Infused  Mexico City

Outdoor space at the Maya room at the Museum of Anthropology.

We’ve made it simple for you. We’ve penned a 3-day getaway, including what to see, where to eat and where to stay, in one of the most fantastic cities in the world, Mexico City. All these tidbits combined create a getaway that completely embraces the marketing campaign, Live It to
Believe It
, which was developed by the Mexico Tourism Board and which includes Mexico City as one of the main destinations within the campaign. As Mexico City’s Minister of Tourism Miguel Torruco noted in an interview with Recommend’s managing editor, Deserae del Campo (posted on recommend.com), “the inspiration behind the campaign was to showcase different aspects that might be surprising to the traveler. In the case of Mexico City, there are many characteristics to the huge metropolis that can be unexpected, such as the gastronomy, the nightlife and the historic attractions. We want to showcase the many experiences available to ‘Live in Mexico City’ because we know that many times, once a traveler has been here, they want to come back again and again.” As a repeat traveler to Mexico City from a very young age, I must admit that Mexico City surprises with every visit, and when it’s a luxury stay, well, it’s even more fabulous.

1st day

WHERE TO GO: There are 172 museums and counting in Mexico City. One of the must-sees is the Museum of Anthropology, home to one of the world’s largest collections of archaeological and anthropological artifacts from pre-Hispanic Mayan civilizations to the Spanish conquest, and located in the famed Chapultepec Park (one of the world’s largest parks within a city). Tell clients to go directly to the exhibit rooms dedicated to the Aztec and Maya cultures. While exploring the Maya room, they need to stop to admire the recreation of Pakal’s tomb, and then step out into the room’s outdoor space, where they’ll find, among other structures, the Cougar Temple. This outdoor space—one of many—is one of our favorite spots in the museum. In the Aztec room, there’s no denying that the most popular and most impressive piece is the Aztec Calendar, Stone of the Sun, a carved basalt slab that dates to the late-1400s and which was discovered buried beneath the city’s Zocalo, or the city’s main plaza (great photo-op).

WHERE TO EAT: Stampa del Mar, located in the trendy Roma neighborhood, is an intimate space with a bygone ambiance, and a favorite with locals. Tell seafood lovers they can enjoy seasonal oysters in the shell, crab claws and clams, and on Thursday evenings, the restaurant offers a chef’s night, in which chefs prepare a special menu.

TAKE A STROLL: A walk through Polanco, one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, is a delight, with an eclectic mix of street names that mirror famous philosophers, scientists and authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Dumas and Lord Byron. Here, visitors will be rubbing shoulders with some of Latin America’s wealthiest citizens, as they hang out at trendy art galleries, high-end shops—think Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Gucci (all three of these, by the way, are located on Avenida Presidente Masaryk)—chic cafes, neighborhood parks and restaurants. Polanco’s nicest eating spots are located next to Lincoln Park, an area that come nighttime gets very lively. For high-end, one-of-a-kind jewelry, recommend clients with deep pockets take a detour to Peyrelongue Jewelry Shop, and TANE, which specializes in silver design; both are located on Avenida Presidente Masaryk.

2nd day

WHERE TO GO: Located in an Art Deco building in the city’s historic neighborhood, the Museum of Popular Art—yes, it’s another museum, but the city is made for museum-hopping—is a wonderful space full of color and delightful exhibits that well-heeled clients with culturally curious children will love. Opened in 2006, this institution, which promotes and conserves the country’s folklore and handicrafts, explores the origins and significance of popular art throughout Mexico with displays that feature pottery, ceramics, glasswork, metalwork, woodcarving, papier-mache, basketry, weaving, textiles and traditional dresses. Tell clients to peek into the Day of the Dead exhibit—it’s one of the most unique spaces in the museum. The gift shop, meanwhile, is a wonderful place to get those must-have souvenirs.

Museum of Popular Art

A detail of the day of the Dead exhibit at the Museum of Popular Art.

WHERE TO EAT: It’s off to the Roma neighborhood again for a home-style dining experience at Rosetta, a converted mansion serving up great Italian fare. If they can, clients should reserve a table in the high-ceilinged covered patio, but even if they get a table inside they’ll be admiring the architecture and subtle floral motifs as much as the culinary delights (our carb-free diet was tossed out the window here).

TAKE A STROLL: Your clients can’t leave Mexico City without taking a stroll through the historic center and that includes admiring the buildings that encircle the Zocalo, one of the world’s largest public plazas and filled to the brim with historical significance. In this heart of the city, tell clients to explore the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral, Latin America’s largest Catholic church; the National Palace, home to artwork by one of Mexico’s greatest painters, Diego Rivera; and the Templo Mayor site, one of the main Aztec temples. The streets that lead to the Zocalo are also home to historic buildings, including one of the most stunning of all, the House of Tiles, or Casa de Azulejos, a former mansion completely covered in blue and white Puebla tile.

3rd day

WHERE TO GO: Once clients have explored Mexico’s past via its museums, they can hang with local artisans at the Bazaar del Sabado in San Angel. This lively Saturday fair is full of colorful handicrafts of all sorts—from handmade Nativity scenes and magnets, to bracelets, unique pillows and handmade, homeopathic soaps, as well as all manner of art pieces. Even if your clients aren’t in the mood to buy anything—although once they visit the bazaar they won’t be able to help themselves—they’ll still want to take a stroll through the various crafts markets that make up the bazaar, as well as the colonial neighborhood, San Angel, in which it resides. Here in San Angel—considered one of the city’s “Magical Neighborhoods”—they’ll find narrow cobblestone streets, tree-lined plazas and sprawling haciendas.

WHERE TO EAT: Just a short walk away from the bazaar is Paxia, which offers a truly unique dining experience. Here, the presentation is just as important as the sublime culinary creations coming out of the kitchen. Serving contemporary Mexican cuisine with a twist, this is a restaurant where every morsel needs to be savored and where each meal is an intricate creation that chef Daniel Ovadia has poured his heart and soul into. A must!

Handicrafts come in all forms at the Bazaar del Sabado.

Handicrafts come in all forms at the Bazaar del Sabado.

TAKE A STROLL: Recommend a leisurely walk along Paseo de la Reforma, one of the city’s main boulevards. If there’s one thing to see along this avenue it’s the Angel de la Independencia, a 150-ft. column surmounted by a winged Victory and constructed between 1901 and 1910 to commemorate the first century of Mexico’s independence from Spain. One of the best ways to see it is when it’s lit up at night.

where to stay

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the 240-room Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F. is located in one of the best places from which to enjoy the city, along Paseo de la Reforma (a 5-minute walk from the aforementioned “angel”). According to Victoria Campos, the property’s director of sales and marketing, “Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F. is the only luxury property in Mexico City that can provide [travel agents’] clients with a unique and authentic Mexican experience. It’s a true urban oasis in the heart of the largest city in the world. Guests are cared for with warm and discrete, personalized service where the staff anticipates their every need.”

Within that urban oasis Campos mentions, there’s yet another oasis that Four Seasons guests will appreciate—the property’s tranquil and private garden courtyard. Book your clients a room that looks out over the courtyard—they’ll be sending you “thank you” emails from D.F. This floral-filled paradise is truly lovely; we recommend visitors take some time to stroll through this pretty setting.

The hotel offers a variety of accommodation options, including 40 suites, as well as the Deluxe rooms that we called home during our stay in the capital. The Deluxe rooms, which come with a king-size bed or two doubles, can accommodate up to two adults and two children and are quite spacious, with an ample bathroom and plenty of closet space, as well as a sitting area where, when nighttime falls, guests can sit down and listen to the music coming from the courtyard bar/restaurant below.

Onsite amenities include the Reforma 500 restaurant, where the breakfast menu is quite extensive (we highly recommend clients stay in for their first meal of the day and Campos recommends the Champagne brunch on Sundays). Of course, this being a Four Seasons, there is a spa, but tell clients that it’s a small space with just two treatment rooms. A nice touch is the outdoor pool, though. Clients interested in golf can ask the concierge to arrange a visit to the Club de Golf Bellavista, located north of the city and offering golf, tennis, a pool, and a restaurant. The overall service? No complaints on our end…of course, those en-suite thick terrycloth bathrobes helped. Average room rate is $460 to $490.

Note to travel agents: Campos says the best time to visit the city is during Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

must-sees

Jumex Museum in Nuevo Polanco, this new museum showcases art by world-renowned artists
International Lights Festival Mexico (November), when the historic center’s neighborhoods, buildings and interior spaces are lit up both culturally and literally
• The Museum of the Purpose of the Object, or as it’s known locally, the MODO Museum
• The cutting-edge kurimanzutto gallery, showcasing avante garde Mexican artists

getting there

Benito Juarez International Airport is the main airport hub, and is easily accessible from many U.S. cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., with flights on Aeromexico, American AirlinesDelta Air Lines and Interjet, among others.

For more information on Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F., call (800) 819-5053 or visit fourseasons.com/mexico; for Mexico City visit visitmexicocity.com.mx.