Category Archives: Travel

Mexico City Named No. 3 Most Inspiring City in the World

2014 GOOD City Index Names 50 Most Inspiring Global Destinations; Cities That “Best Capture the Elusive Quality of Possibility” Using A Criteria of Eight Attributes

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Mexico City is ranked No. 3 on the GOOD City Index (GCI), which ranks the most inspiring cities in the world. The annual list compiled by GOOD, media company that also publishes the quarterly GOOD Magazine, features cities that deliver on eight key attributes that “best capture the elusive quality of possibility,”: progress, civic engagement, street life, defining moments, connectivity, green life, diversity and work/life balance.

Zocalo, Mexico City, MexicoGOOD praised Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera for his progressive approach to city government and reports reasons why Mexico City is continuing to emerge as a top global destination. In addition to Mexico City’s rich cultural history and deep traditions, the capital city is gaining acclaim as one of the world’s most influential culinary destinations citing attractions such as Michelin-starred restaurant Pujol and gastro-hall Mercado Roma. Mexico City also gained recognition for its sustainability innovations such as its bike share program and key initiatives overseen by Mayor Mancera including mobile health clinics, free uniform distribution, arts discount program for teens, expanded bike lanes and technological advances.

“It’s a huge honor for Mexico City to be recognized as one of the most inspiring cities in the world on the GOOD City Index,” said Armando Lopez Cardenas, director of the Mexico City Tourism Promotion Fund. “We welcome visitors from around the globe to experience our great city again or for the first time, whether for business or leisure. Now is an exciting time to visit Mexico City.”
North American cities include Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Santa Fe in the U.S. and Montreal and Vancouver in Canada. The GOOD City Index is available online now at http://magazine.good.is/guides/good-cities-index-2014.

Mexico City is the country’s premier tourism destination, welcoming more than 12.5 million visitors a year. The ancient capital offers a vibrant, contemporary culture that combines pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern influences that span nearly seven centuries. With more than 160 museums, 30 distinct archaeological and historic sites, and 100 art galleries, the city is a mecca of fine art and treasures that speak to its vast history. The Mexico City Tourism Promotion Fund (Fondo Mixto de Promocion Turistica del Distrito Federal) supports and enhances city tourism. For more information and daily updates please visit/follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MexicoCityLive) and Twitter (@MexicoCityLive).

Waiting for Huatulco

By: Lisa Coleman

Exactly 30 days from today I will look over the Pacific from my private pool at the Dolphin Cove Villa at Las Palmas in Huatulco. It seems so cliché to use words like “amazing” or “breathtaking” to describe some of the places I’ve been in Mexico, but they do the job in a place like this. Two years ago, I celebrated my 50th birthday in Oaxaca City and Huatulco, and fell in love with Mexico all over again. It was my first time in Huatulco and it reminded me of why Mexico is part of who I am. Most of our readers (and all my friends) know that my heart has always belonged to Zihuatanejo. That town and its people have spent more than 20 years atop my list of favorites. Well, times are changing, maybe I’m changing (certainly getting older), but to be completely honest, my new crush is Huatulco. Villa8 Simple, elegant in all the right places, laid back just enough, safe, warm and embracing – that sums it up. For me, this is the Mexico that soothes my soul. This is the Mexico that feels like home. It’s all here. Huatulco is that place  you have to explain how to find on a map, and most of us are happy to keep it that way. It feels like Zihua did 25 years ago, and that’s a good thing. The energy is different here. Mexico savvy travelers know exactly what I’m talking about. The days are long and slow, the scenery is gorgeous, the water is perfect, the beer is cold and I can’t wait to get there!

Huatulco’s infrastructure was put in place by FONATUR (Trust for Tourism Development -Fondo Nacional del Fomento al Turismo), back in the 70’s. FONATUR is well known for creating and building Cancun, Ixtapa and Los Cabos, as well as the off-the-beaten path communities of Loreto and the Bahías de Huatulco (the Bays of Huatulco, which has been shortened to just Huatulco.) If you love the hustle and bustle of Cancun, this probably won’t do it for you. But if you like the pace of Zihuatanejo, and you’re charmed by Loreto, Huatulco will be right up your alley. It will remind you a little of Ixtapa in design, but with the coziness of Zihua. Huatulco dances to its own beat and it’s one special song.

I’d usually tell you all about the lodging along the coastline, but I’ve only stayed in one place, a perfect place to me: Las Palmas. With an extraordinary location, perched on a cliff with incomparable views of Violin Bay on one side and Santa Cruz on the other, it doesn’t get much better. Owned by Ron and Jackie Williams, who have become dear friends, Las Palmas is like your own private paradise. With only five casitas and three villas, you’ll be part of the family from the moment you arrive. (For more details read my previous post here: Huatulco and Las Palmas: A Match Made in Heaven.)

The countdown is on. I can almost feel the sand in my toes and the Pacific sunshine on my face. I know it won’t disappoint! See you soon Huatulco…

DSC01225

Hurricane Odile – a different view

by David Simmonds
From sheknows.com: “The name Odile is a French baby name. The French meaning of the name Odile is Wealthy.”
How’s that for irony? – there IS a lot of money in Cabo, probably the most expensive tourist destination in Mexico.
It’s been over a week now and the town at the end of the Baja highway, Cabo San Lucas, is still a mess, although repairs are in rapid progress. Neighboring San Jose del Cabo was hit too, as was the capital city La Paz, but it was “Cabo” that received the most direct, devastating  haymaker – a punch from which they will not completely recover for many months, maybe a couple of years. This was the strongest blow, a category three,  to hit the area in a long time and the ferocity took most by surprise.
In the aftermath the media often focused on the plight of the tourists, some 30,000, of them, who had their vacations so rudely ruined. I’ve seen and read numerous complaints from some of the unlucky travelers, who were apparently not aware of hurricane season. They recounted how horrible everything was, the inconveniences –  and then having to re-locate (gasp!) to different accommodations, and you know, all that heat without any AC, and they couldn’t go HOME RIGHT AWAY! There was a letter to the editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune that called it shameful of the US government not to use the US military to get the tourists back to their jobs and still – standing homes. They say they should have been “airlifted” because…well, I’m not sure exactly the rationale around that. There were no deaths and a few injuries from things like flying glass. It was an adventure that they will re-tell many times over cocktails. You can always count on Mexico for a good tale.
Forgive my lack of sympathy, but it is the local population of Baja Sur who are the only victims here, and that is where we should put all of our focus. The hotels, resorts and marinas will make the necessary repairs and contact their insurance carriers, as will the expats who have built and bought homes in the area. Mexico people, both native and transplants, are a tough lot. They live in an unforgiving desert in one of the prettiest natural settings I had ever seen when I first stepped off an old Mexican bus into the then tiny town in 1974. These people know what can happen when you live where hurricanes and chubascos brew. It’s part of the contract. They will learn from this and be better prepared for the next one. Because, one day, there will be a next one.
There are many organizations easily found on the web to make a contribution and I strongly suggest that you do so.  Here is one you can trust http://www.icfdn.org/index.php

Culture and Courtesy – Being a Better Traveler in Mexico

This post was previously published on Mexico Premiere. With Mexico travel season about to kick into gear, we have had several request to re-post it. Enjoy!

By: Lisa Coleman

I’m sure you’ve heard “when in Rome…. do as the Romans do,” but when stepping into a foreign country it’s really worth considering these words a bit more carefully. The saying originated in 387 A.D. when St. Augustine arrived in Milan and observed the Catholic Church did not fast on Saturday like it was done in Rome. He consulted the Bishop of Milan (St. Ambrose) about the matter who simply replied:  “When I am in Rome I fast on Saturday; when I am in Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of where you are.” That sentiment has stood the test of time and can really make a difference when visiting Mexico, or any other country for that matter.

I have traveled the world and feel there is nothing more frustrating than watching “ugly Americans” (Canadians are guilty, too!) being rude or disrespectful to the local people. Regardless of whether it’s an all-inclusive in Cancun where everyone speaks English, or an eco-hotel in the remote jungle of Chiapas, you are still a guest in Mexico… you are still visiting someone’s home.  As a citizen of the world, you owe it to yourself and your hosts to take the time to understand the basics of the Mexican culture and to embrace their hospitality with the respect it deserves.  I have seen bad manners exhibited many times in Mexico, so I am hoping to shed a little light on some common courtesies that may change your travel experience. At the very least, it will bring a smile to your Mexican hosts!
First, let’s talk about changing your mindset when you plan a trip to Mexico and switch from being a tourist to being a traveler.  What’s the difference? Plenty…

•    A tourist expects (and insists) everyone speaks English. A traveler tries to use even the most basic high school Spanish to make an effort.

•    A tourist is content to hang out at the swim-up bar getting lobster-red sunburn while becoming louder, drunker, and more obnoxious by the minute. The traveler heads into town, checks out the local markets, tries to make heads or tails of the menus at local restaurants and takes the time to stroll the streets, smile at the people and take in the flavor and color of the place they are visiting.

•    A tourist goes to the local McDonalds, American chain restaurant, or orders a hamburger at the hotel. A traveler will find out where the best local dishes are served and at the very least give them a try.

•    A tourist is content to be part of a group and to take large tours to all the most famous spots. A traveler tends to rent a car with a few other people (or solo) and explore the area on their own.
That list could go on forever, but you get the idea.

Always A TouristMexico is also far more formal than many would think. If you know anything about Mexican history, you know the Spanish had a tremendous influence on the people and culture of the country. The early Spanish overlords who came to Mexico in the 1500s brought the etiquette of the Royal Court of Spain, and many of those formalities still exist. As a rule, the Mexicans have maintained this cortesía, and it’s important that foreigners be aware and sensitive to not insulting the dignidad of the people they encounter.

The Basics
•    For starters, it helps to use Señor (Mr.) or Señora (Mrs.) with the men or women you encounter. Mexicans always address by social status and this immediately shows respect and will be a quick step in the right direction. (Señorita would be used to address a young, unmarried woman and is similar to Miss.)

•    In a restaurant, if you wish to call the waiter, you generally use the term Joven (Ho-ven). Though it means “young person,” it is an accepted term for all waiters. If you have a waitress, Señorita is appropriate. Snapping your fingers? Never.

•    “Please” (por favor) and “Thank You” (gracias) are a given if you’d like to ask an employee (or anyone for that matter) to do something. Look them in the eye and be sincere, it will take you a long way.

•    Americans tend to enter a room of strangers and only say hello in passing, if at all. They are usually casual, self absorbed and miss the almost constant greetings by their Mexican counterparts. Whether it’s in a public place with strangers, or with people you already know, say buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon) or buenas noches (good evening) to those you see. You’ll notice smiles right away.

•    Being humble is a cultural virtue often forgotten by visitors.  Mexicans will always welcome you when you arrive to your destination and refer to their home or even your hotel as su casa (your house). They are modest and truly want you to feel at home in their country. Keep an eye out for that and be sure to thank them for their hospitality.

•    If you can’t speak Spanish, don’t insult the local people by shouting louder and slower in English. It’s rude and it doesn’t change the fact that they don’t understand. They will appreciate any effort you make, regardless of your skill level.

•    YES it is customary to tip in Mexico.  Here is a great article for reference: http://gomexico.about.com/od/historyculture/qt/tipping_in_mexico.htm

•    Come to a church just as you would at home.  Be aware when entering and always take off sunglasses, baseball caps or hats. Wearing shorts is rarely an issue in the beach areas, but women should take care to wear a wrap or sweater to the waist to avoid showing too much skin, which could viewed disrespectful in such places.

•    The beach is the beach, but away from the resort areas shorts are very rarely worn by Mexicans on the street. Be cognizant of how you look and avoid drawing too much attention to yourself as a foreigner. Never wear shorts to a business event or to a restaurant outside the immediate resort area.
The Mexican culture isn’t overly complex. It’s built on simplicity, humility and courtesy. The people are tremendously warm and inviting, and genuinely care about their guests. Whether you’re a tourist, a traveler, or a little of both, take an extra few minutes to embrace Mexico at its core and I think you’ll come away with a deeper appreciation of a country waiting to invite you home.

Eat, Drink & Savor the Flavors of Cabo: 9th Annual “Sabor a Cabo” Food & Wine Festival -November 30 – December 6

Culinary World’s Finest Chefs Gather in Los Cabos for a First-Class Tour of Baja’s Best Food & Wine

Los Cabos, Mexico – A top-tier selection of the culinary world’s finest chefs will gather in Los Cabos from November 30 – December 6 in celebration of the destination’s 9th Annual  “Sabor a Cabo” (The Flavors of Cabo) food & wine festival. This highly anticipated gastronomic event is expected to be the largest since the festival’s debut in 2005 and for the first time in its history, will include a week-long series of ticketed events highlighting the renowned regional cuisine of Baja California Sur and the wines of Mexico’s celebrated Baja wine region.
panoramica 2013 (1)
The delicious weeklong festivities include a Country Side Taste Event on November 30 incorporating the local flavors of Baja; a Sunset Gourmet Gala served aboard a luxurious yacht on December 2 featuring a gourmet dinner prepared by Michelin Star Chefs; an Oktobeer Fest showcasing artisanal beer, local cuisine and music on December 3; a Wine & Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo on December 4 with 16 wineries, art galleries and restaurants participating for a family outing; and a Star Chef Dine-Around on December 5 featuring course meals prepared by celebrated chefs.

The main event will take place on December 6 from 5pm – 11pm and held at one of the destination’s most spectacular areas, the Sculpture Garden in Puerto Los Cabos. The event will consist of 50 participating restaurants and is expected to attract over 2,000 attendees, as guests from around the world are invited to dine beneath the stars and enjoy the “best-of-the-best” of international cuisine and wine.
comida 2013 (2)
“We are looking forward to welcoming the world’s best chefs to Los Cabos for the 9th Annual Sabor a Cabo event,” said Eduardo Segura, Managing Director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board. “Our destination has a rich and booming culinary scene that many people are still discovering. Events such as Sabor a Cabo highlight these offerings and provide us with a platform to position the unique products, sustainable brands and delicious flavors available in this particular region of Mexico.”

Confirmed to attend Sabor a Cabo are several world-renowned chefs including Federico Zanellato, Chef and Partner of NOMA Restaurant in Denmark (Ranked No. 1 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants) Richard Sandoval, Chef and Restaurateur of over 35 restaurants world-wide, including Pampano and Zengo in New York City (James Beard nominated restaurateur and participant in Bravo’s reality competition “Top Chef Masters”), and Dieter Koshina, Owner of Portugal’s Vilajoya Restaurant (Ranked No. 22 among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). Also on the roster is Roberto Alcocer, Chef/owner of Malva Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico; Najat Kaanache, Chef/owner of Souk Restaurant in Dallas, US and former chef of Spain’s El Bulli Restaurant; Thierry Blouet, Chef/owner of Restaurant de Los Artistas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and Eduardo Osuna, founder of non-profit organization Chef to the Rescue in Mexico.
comida 2013
Additional participants and chefs are to be confirmed in upcoming weeks. Furthermore, the destination’s tantalizing culinary scene will be highlighted through participation of Los Cabos’ top Executive Chefs from two of the most luxurious hotels in the region, Las Ventanas al Paraiso and One&Only Palmilla.

Travelers interested in attending Sabor a Cabo can purchase festival tickets by visiting www.saboracabo.mx. General admission tickets are $100 if purchased prior to September 30 and $125 if purchased after. For special lounge area access tickets are $150 and for a seat at one of the events VIP tables tickets are $1,000 per person.  All the money raised during the Sabor a Cabo event on Saturday December 6 will be donated to the Fire Department, the Red Cross and Children Foundation of Los Cabos.
For more information on Los Cabos, please visit: http://visitloscabos.travel.

Los Cabos, located at the tip of the 1,000-mile long Baja Peninsula, is home to award-winning hotels, resorts, championship golf courses, rejuvenating spas, world-class sport fishing, and was the host city for the G20 Summit of global leaders in 2012. With a unique landscape of dramatic desert and white sand beaches, Los Cabos is an exotic escape within easy reach of most U.S. and Canadian cities. For more information, images and videos from Los Cabos, please visit www.visitloscabos.travel, follow us on Twitter @LOSCABOSTOURISM and visit us on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Mexico Travel Tips

We have all seen them – or maybe we are them. The travelers who don’t quite get that every country has a different set of social rules – an accepted way of acting and doing things. In Mexico, at some of the more tourist areas, long-held customs are somewhat more relaxed, but should still be practiced for the most part. No bikini bottoms and tank tops in church, and no bikini bottoms anywhere for you guys! And please, don’t try to turn Mexico into the place you came from.

Fodor’s Travel has provided some of what you should know, from business meetings to tourist excursions. So “con permiso”, we think you might want to read this and become a more aware and less reviled traveler.

http://www.fodors.com/news/story_4054.html

Montecito Beach Village – Step into the Dream in Huatulco

By: Lisa Coleman

Flip through the pages of Architectural Digest or Robb Report and you’ll see that Mexico’s luxury villa market is making an impact. Quietly carving out a niche for distinguished buyers from around world, Mexico is on the move. Second home seekers and wealthy expats have discovered the beauty and perfection that can be found along some of most breathtaking beaches in the country. Ultra exclusive communities in Punta Mita (near Puerto Vallarta), Cabo San Lucas (Baja California), and Costa Careyes (between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo) are known worldwide by a discerning clientele. But it’s a small, unique development called Montecito in the beach town of Huatulco that is defining extraordinary.

Montecito 01

Huatulco is far different from its high profile companions. Considered and developed as an “ecotourism” resort in the early 1970’s, 70% of Huatulco is made up of ecological preserves. In 1988, then President Ernesto Zedillo converted most of the area’s preserves into a giant national park (protecting both land and marine life).  Huatulco prides itself in being a totally “green” resort. Mexico’s FONATUR (National Trust for Tourism Development), who built the resort town, still ensures that all new projects meet certain standards in order to maintain Huatulco’s Green Globe status.

Palmasview

At the center of Huatulco’s allure are a series of nine spectacular bays notched into 21 miles of shoreline hosting 36 beaches, countless inlets and coves, and arguably some of the most remarkable coastline on the Pacific. The main areas are: Tangolunda Bay, home to the big name resorts, an 18-hole golf course, and a smattering of nightlife. The bay of Santa Cruz has a bustling marina, an intimate village with beachside restaurants and bars, plenty of shops and a cruise ship dock. And, Chahue Bay (CHAH-way) located between the other two, with a marina, lots of new high-end condo projects and a public beach. About a mile inland, the charming hamlet of La Crucecita is a slice of pure Mexico. With a colorful and quaint town square, plenty of inviting restaurants and bars, a few excellent fresh seafood stalls to pick up the daily catch, and a brand new grocery store, the infrastructure is solidly in place. It’s not unusual to see a jet or two parked at palapa-topped international airport.

Montecito 12
Located at the east end of the resort on a private peninsula, Montecito Beach Village is an unforgettable collection of 2, 3 & 4 bedroom beach and oceanfront Villas. This low-density (only 30 Villas in total when complete) 12-acre masterpiece is quickly becoming one of the most notable developments in Mexico. Touching the shores of two beaches and hosting phenomenal views, Montecito is at home on an incredible piece of land. Designed by famed Mexican architect, Diego Villaseñor, whose past works include the Four Seasons in Punta Mita and the Four Seasons in the Dominican Republic (to name a couple), Montecito’s impeccable style was developed to promote sustainable, elegant coastal living.

22
Project Director and Managing Partner, Greg Glassman, describes the concept that makes Montecito so special, “We integrate the natural environment into the human habitat. We have created this development with minimal impact and we are fortunate to have the opportunity to develop such a unique community on this land. We are careful to protect and preserve all the flora and fauna on the property and create each Villa with nature in mind.”  Glassman further describes, “We strive to not only integrate our Village into the natural environment but the cultural environment as well. This kind of living experience can’t be found anywhere else.”

13 copy
And, I’d have to agree. There is an intrinsic perfection to everything here. “Architecture is about the art of living and the way to construct the human habitat,” says architect Diego Villaseñor. “I create spaces that resound in the soul and imagination, that give human beings a sense of protection, freedom and a place to be with themselves.”  Having spent time at Montecito, I can confidently say it’s a one-of-a-kind development.  It’s where I wander in awe and step into my own dream. This is the ultimate in beachside living. They haven’t missed a thing. Every detail is in place and every inch of the property is thought out.  It’s among the best of the best. For me, Montecito is a probably just a dream I can visit when I’m in Huatulco, but for those who can make a place like this a reality, they shouldn’t miss the opportunity.

Montecito 2

Montecito’s Phases 1 and 2 are in the process of completion. These phases will be comprised of 15 villas, two clubs (the Cala Beach Club and the hilltop Loma Lounge), and the management buildings.  Lifestyle perks include daily housekeeping, gardening, maintenance, pool cleaning, concierge, and cooking services.  Prices start at $1.2 million and they have already built and sold 5 villas in the past year.  (If you just want a taste, some of the villas at Montecito are available for rent. You can get info on the website. )

For more information visit: www.montecito.mx.