Castillo de Chapultepec
Meetings in Mexico City combine rich history and cosmopolitan culture with luxury hotels, green meeting spaces and food to die for. We visited the ICOMEX trade show last year at the World Trade Center in downtown Mexico City with 250 meeting planners, DMOs and representatives from a wide range of group venues for both large and small groups.
The night before the big show there was a welcome reception at the Papalote Museo del Nino, which focuses on communication and working together through interactive science, technology and art exhibitions for children. The venue was covered with trees and bushes including a large cocoa tree in the middle. The neon purple lights and quick beat of Bombo drums provided a stimulating environment around the outdoor patio that seats 500 pax, with a large stage in the center for performers.
After making our way through the flock of greeters, everyone is welcomed by a small girl in a red hooded cape. She’s in a small hut illustrating how the Aztecs made chocolate, where she hands each guest a small morsel that we’re encouraged to pair with a Chilean cabernet. The first piece has Mexican spices, really giving the dry wine an earthy bite. Next, a sweeter piece is filled with vanilla. Following that, the appetizers include churros and marinated pork tortillas.
Then things get lively. A colorful group of performers begin a traditional Aztec presentation, slowly banging on drums on the dark stage and eventually screaming at full volume with a dramatic crescendo of drums and percussion.
“When you come to Mexico City, you can embrace the magical history and modern world all in one place,” says Carlos Collado, director of Mexico City CVB. “Mexico City has everything and more, unique culture, infrastructure, worldwide connectivity, great value and quality hotels.”
MEXICO CITY CULTURAL VENUES
The National Anthropology Museum by architect Ramirez Vacquez is filled with hundreds of artifacts from Mexico’s ancient history. The center courtyard is constructed around a gigantic fountain that pours water over the center. The sky-high ornament is an illustration of rain and water and was created by Jose Chavas in 1964, to symbolize the city’s former existence as a lake.
“What can be more precious than rain to us?” asks our guide Jose Alfredo with DMS Mexico DMC, who handled logistics during this fam. The facility showcases original Aztec calendars, tools, sculpture and jewelry. And there’s a large courtyard that can host cocktails for up to 400 pax.
The magnificent Castillo de Chapultepec is surrounded by 1,695 acres of trees and wildlife on a high hill in the heart of Mexico City. To get to the old castle, you take a small green tram running up the slope that delivers you onto a stone terrace with panoramic views of the whole city.
The gorgeous French Colonial building was the setting for a scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. The spectacular 360º view provides a great topic of conversation facilitating easy networking, or it can be just a quiet, peaceful spot to exhale.
Inside the grand entrance, the massive staircase, beautiful stained glass and chariots appear as if we’re awaiting Emperor Maximilian’s arrival. The “Retablo de la Independencia” mural by Juan O’Gorman is overwhelming in its beauty, complemented by many other paintings illustrating a part of Mexico’s history. On the second level, the marble bathtubs, two baby grand pianos, large oak dining table and red velvet wallpaper have been lovingly preserved. The checkerboard terraces are large enough to host 200 people for cocktails.
In the center courtyard there is a tower where, according to Alfredo, Galileo once mapped the universe. The stone tower is so high that we’re blinded by the sun as our eyes blink towards the swaying Mexican flag at the top.
And on the third level, there’s a large covered area seating 180 for outside dining and dancing. The upper levels have been enclosed partially with glass walls to protect the landmark, and there are some walkways for networking among the pretty gardens.
Learn more about our journey through the castle in our online story.
MODERN MEXICO MEETINGS
The BANAMEX Convention Center welcomes 50,000 visitors simultaneously with full catering services and a state-of-the-art kitchen. There is 366,000 sf of column-free space and a wonderful amount of natural light, along with an aggressive series of sustainability initiatives.
“You’ll never feel like you’re trapped in a box,” says Mauricio Best Calderon, director of business development, “The staff follows a green checklist to use every day in their professional life at work and in their personal life at home.”
For dinner, check out IZOTE in the posh Colonia Polanco neighborhood. The open kitchen setting has white linens and fresh flowers on every table, inviting guests inside with the smell of steaming tortillas. Try the squash blossom soup and steamed chicken enclosed in a banana wrap.
“This is the same way that we prepare tamales,” says Eric Alvarez with Destination Management Services Mexico. “It’s very different to see it with chicken, but it’s very delicious. The Aztecs started cooking it like this, and we never stopped.” The dish that stands above the rest was a marzipan dessert with orange coulee and a sprinkle of golden dust. The presentation is dramatic and light on the palate. IZOTE is available for buyouts for up to 75 diners.
MARQUIS REFORMA HOTEL & SPA
For convention attendees, the 209-room Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa is ideally located on the primary Paseo de la Reforma avenue in the heart of the city’s financial and cultural district. The guest rooms consist mostly of junior suites with marble bathrooms and in-room workspaces. The hotel has three dining locations including our favorite, Niksan, a new Japanese/Mexican fusion restaurant that opened last spring.
The hotel is well known for its 16,000-sf Spa Marquis wellness facility that offers a holistic experience with Mexican chocolate, wine, gold and silver to revitalize the senses and escape to a world of natural tranquility.
For meetings, attendees are welcomed by a large marble staircase that leads to the 17,700 sf of meeting and event facilities. There are three ballrooms and 10 meeting rooms with Italian marble and Murano chandeliers, an outdoor plaza and a high-tech executive lounge.