If you have ever been to Baja California Sur you might have noticed that the sun shines most days. Understanding the necessity of developing clean energy into the 21st century, a 247 acre plant has recently opened in the capital city of La Paz that will service the electric needs to 164,000 residents, or 64% of the La Paz population. Country-wide, 25% of Mexico’s electricity is currently supplied by clean energy sources, and will increase in the coming years. An abundant, cheap source of energy is a key ingredient to spurring the economy, including tourism. Read here for the full story http://www.banderasnews.com/1404/nr-powerplantgoesonlineinmexico.htm
By: Lisa Coleman
The term “destination restaurant” was coined in France by the world famous Michelin Guide. This distinguished label was given to an establishment significant enough to reach beyond the borders of the community to draw in their customers. If the restaurant had two stars it was “worth a detour” and if it had three stars it was “worth a journey.” The nine restaurants that make up the unforgettable gourmet dining experience at the Camino Real Polanco in Mexico City indeed have enough stars to make them “worth a journey.”
I must admit when I first planned my layover in Mexico City to write this article, the idea was to focus on things to do and see within only 48 hours. However, after an unforgettable evening at this hotel, I knew I’d have to rethink things. I’m a big fan of the Camino Real chain and had always wanted to stay at the Polanco property, but I had no idea what was in store when we checked in.
First, if you’ve never been to this hotel, it’s in a central location to explore the city and every one of the 712 rooms and suites come with all the bells and whistles. The chain’s namesake originated from 16th century Spaniards who called the route that led into the capital of “New Spain” the “camino real.” In modern times, the Camino Real group has 20 properties throughout the country and symbolizes everything that’s “quality” about a stay in a Mexican hotel. The first Camino Real property was opened in Guadalajara in 1958. The Polanco location, showcasing the unique pyramid-esque architectural design of Ricardo Legorreta, opened in 1968. A number of reviews have called it a “hotel-museum” because of its unusual look and its world-class art collection. In addition to all of that, the Camino Real also boasts some of the finest dining in all of Mexico City.
Keeping in mind the city is filled with fabulous restaurants, I really didn’t know what to expect when I was invited to a “gourmet dine around” at the hotel. My husband and I were joined by two very good friends who have been residents of Mexico City for many years and are (what I would consider) extremely knowledgeable critics of what’s what about the dining scene around town. (Since one of those good friends is the world famous “foodie,” Cristina Potters, of the renowned blog Mexico Cooks! – I knew our little adventure would have to be pretty special to impress her.)
We started out at the Blue Bar just off the main entrance to the hotel. Our hostess, the wonderful Diana Miller of Grupo Real Turismo, welcomed us with a tasty Pear Bellini (pear nectar, pear brandy and some chilled extra dry champagne) and only a hint of how the evening was to unfold. The Blue Bar is slick and modern with a portion of the seating built on a translucent floor over a shimmering blue pool. The ambiance is a mix of modern and eclectic, but it’s a true lounge atmosphere and the drink menu reflects the same, with its variety of signature cocktails and martinis that will tempt even the most discerning sippers. We also sampled some fine tequila before moving on to the food fest that was ready to unfold.
It’s surprising that all the restaurants are tucked away from the lobby, so when you’re checking in at the front desk their location isn’t easily discernible. What a treat to have such a gastronomic extravaganza under one roof… and all only a few steps apart. Our first stop was the María Bonita restaurant. The namesake of this seductive looking eatery comes from Mexico’s most iconic actress and movie star, María Félix. María was the quintessential diva and was known worldwide for her beauty and elegance. The restaurant is bathed in deep colors and has an intimate feel. We sampled the mini tostaditas de aguachile which is made with raw shrimp cooked in lime juice. (If you’re a shrimp lover it’s a MUST!) The menu is comprised of an unusual blend of traditional Mexican favorites interwoven with some modern and innovative recipes. The fifteen different kinds of tacos along with entrees featuring fresh fish, shrimp, beef and “all you can eat” Pozole (a well known Mexican stew made with pork) will be sure to satisfy your cravings.
Next on the tour were the flavors of Spain at the Centro Castellano. The restaurant itself has been in Mexico City since 1949 and has had a location at the hotel since 2001. The simple, yet colorful and inviting décor resembles that of a local “hostería” (inn) that might be found along La Rambla in Barcelona. Our treat was perfectly prepared roasted octopus, ham croquettes and a nice glass of the tasty house wine. The menu here is authentic Spanish fare with hearty seafood paella and fresh huachinango (red snapper) along with plenty of roasted goat, veal, lamb and pork entrée selections. The portions are generous and the atmosphere is bright and lively. Next time I visit, I’ll need to try the sangria!
It’s not often that I’m totally awed by a restaurant, but that’s what happened at the Beefbar. Sleek and sassy, it’s easy to see why this place is packed all the time. One look at the menu proves that it would rank amongst the finest steak houses in the world. We started with a quick tour of the open kitchen, which was incredible to say the least. Massive stainless steel ovens were custom designed for the restaurant to cook the beef at extreme temperatures. This method sears the outside of the cut while leaving the inside tender and juicy. A seemingly endless array of carpaccios, tartares, ceviches and tiraditos are prepared to order behind the ice-cold raw bar. (FYI: A tiradito is a raw fish dish similar to ceviche, but in a spicy sauce. It originated in Peru and reflects the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cooking.) Beefbar’s Executive Chef, Eduardo Morali, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York and brings his sophistication to the menu. In addition to every cut of meat imaginable, including corn-fed aged (22 months) American Black Angus Premium beef and Kobe Style aged (30 months) beef, there is also fresh fish (Róbalo, Chilean Sea Bass and Red Snapper) and exceptional pasta entrees (think Foie Gras Ravioli with a port reduction and Wild Mushroom Risotto). The menu also boasts such originals as Churros with Truffle Oil followed by a Praline and Caramelized Banana Soufflé for dessert. It could take years to try it all! My chef husband said this place makes “Ruth’s Chris look like fast food.” On a side note, check out the bathroom… it might be one of the coolest I’ve ever seen!
By this time, we were all overwhelmed with the extraordinary quality of each of the restaurants… it was only getting better. Dipping into the Japanese side of things, we arrived at Morimoto. Multi-level and visually stunning (modern meets traditional Japanese), this restaurant was meticulously designed by world renowned Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Morimoto, who grew to fame on Iron Chef America, spent a year making sure every element of the restaurant was perfect. (We would soon discover the food was equally as impressive.) The main floor is covered in an elegant marble while the remaining levels are done in French oak. The 75-foot glass ceiling is truly unique. Morimoto’s culinary vision began in 1980 when he opened his first restaurant in Hiroshima. His first venture outside of Japan was in Philadelphia in 2001. Morimoto now has locations in Napa Valley, Boca Raton, inside the Taj Hotels in Mumbai and Delhi, Waikiki and in 2014 he will open locations in Chicago and South Beach. Morimoto is notorious for using the most sophisticated kitchen equipment to ensure the fish served is always completely fresh, including two medical-grade “super freezers” that keep fragile and seasonal cuts like toro (tuna belly) at -112 degrees Fahrenheit (- 80ºC) so the fish can be frozen without the cells being damaged. All of that said… the food is brilliant. Chef Pablo Peñalosa Najera runs the open expo kitchen and expertly executes all of Morimoto’s signature dishes. The Buri Bop (yellow tail over rice prepared tableside and served in a stone bowl) is amazing. All the finest fish makes the menu and there’s always something a little unexpected in the ingredients. Where else would foie gras and wasabi share the same plate? My suggestion: try it all!
The adventure continued at Bice Bistro. Bice is global chain with humble roots. Started in Milan, Italy in 1926, by Beatrice “Bice” Ruggeri, the restaurant boasts the same traditional Italian favorites that have been in her kitchen for decades. The goal of the Bice brand is to maintain the neighborhood feel of a “trattoria” while always remaining true to the inspired recipes of its master chef. After running a successful restaurant in New York for many years, Bice began to expand and now has locations worldwide, all with same style and menu basics. The décor at the Camino Real location is modern, inviting and minimally decorated. Open 24/7, Bice gathers Mexico City’s late night dinner crowd who enjoy the house specialties with a Mediterranean flare, fine Italian standards and pizzas prepared in a wood burning oven. We tried a trio of pastas (Ravioli di Granchio, Fetuccini Alfredo and Spaghettoni Emilia); each was al dente to perfection and the flavors weren’t overpowered by heavy sauce. I have eaten at the Bice Bistro in Scottsdale, Arizona as well and can attest to the consistency of their quality from location to location.
With stomachs almost full and taste buds overwhelmed, we finally made it to our last stop. The China Grill is a busy, seen-to-be-seen kind of restaurant. Full of beautiful people to highlight the beautiful, sleek décor, it’s no surprise the menu is top notch as well. The original China Grill opened in New York in 1987 and was an immediate hit. More than 25 years later the legend lives on in both New York and Mexico City. The name can be a bit deceptive because even though there are plenty of Asian dishes on the menu, it fancies itself a restaurant with “global cuisine.” You’ll find a hint of Italian, Japanese, French, American and Chinese blended into a very special menu. Inventive selections range from Tempura Tuna Sashimi in hot mustard champagne sauce and Merguez Lamb Sausage Pot Stickers with curry and lemon oil drizzle to Black Tea Smoked Sea Bass with grapefruit and Thai basil salad, Papaya Marinated Rib-eye and an Australian Rack of Lamb in a Lotus Leaf. Since this was the end of our extravaganza, we were greeted with a fantastic dessert. Our Bananas in a Box (caramelized bananas atop caramel rum ice cream) was decadent, delightful and the perfect end to a perfect evening.
Our “destination dining” experience was extraordinary and will be another in a long list of unforgettable evenings in Mexico. My foodie friends and chef husband had been rendered speechless… and that’s a tall order! It’s no secret you eat well in Mexico City and I can promise you won’t be disappointed if you add any of the restaurants at the Camino Real to your list. ¡Buen provecho!
There is no argument that Mexico has made tremendous strides in many areas the past 20 years. Manufacturing increase has been a huge success and tourists from around the world have come to know Mexico as a top destination. And after 71 years of stagnation with a one-party rule by the PRI, there is now a growing middle-class.
Mexico City specifically is a good example of success, with more theaters and museums than New Your City, and is considered by many to be the capital of Latin America with a vibrant business and social scene. Some of the credit has to go to Marcelo Ebrard, the PRD liberal party mayor from 2006 to 2011. He was voted as “worlds best mayor” in 2010 by the Project World Mayor.
Now Ebrard seems to be positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 2018 citing the need for a change in direction to address some of the country’s failures. Read what he has to say in this article from the Latin American Herald Tribune http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=1560033&CategoryId=14091
Mountain Biking, Yoga, Beaches, Volunteering and… Kids
On 8-Day Family Escape to Mexico
TORONTO, Ontario, Oct. 7, 2013 – A real tropical adventure for adults that’s also kid-friendly? One Canadian mountain bike adventure company has come to rescue fat tire fanatics who love their kids – and their passion for an active escape.
Frustrated by a fruitless search for such adventure, Mike Brcic, president of Sacred Rides Mountain Bike Adventures and a father of three young children, decided to take matters into his own hands and develop an adventure that he could take his own family on – and not get bored. The result is the company’s new Ultimate Family Adventure on the sunny Pacific Coast of Mexico.
The company that helped pioneer mountain bike adventures in 13 remote and exotic destinations internationally and in Canada announces December through April, 8-day family multi-sport adventures on the coast and in the mountains north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. See: www.sacredrides.com/multisportrides/mexico/ultimate-family-adventure.
Every morning mom and dad can get their adrenaline kicks on local jungle and mountain trails while kids aged 4 and up are supervised by trained ‘childminders’ in age-based, fun-infused activities. Afternoons target family togetherness and fun: ocean safaris, surfing lessons, horseback riding, cultural interactions through volunteer opportunities and more.
The trip includes accommodation (kids stay in parents’ room), meals, guided daily mountain biking, child minding, family activities, a horseback adventure, a panga (fishing boat) journey to Marietas Islands National Park (see dolphins, turtles, manta rays and grey whales), and all transfers including airport pick-up and dropoff at Puerto Vallarta airport.
The adult rate is $2195 CAD per adult; this includes a mountain biking package for one of the adults (to allow flexibility for families with only one mountain biking parent) and one child for every 2 adults booked. Additional children cost $899 CAD, including accommodation, meals, transport and activities.
One 2014 date has been set, March 1 to 7 with more to come. Custom group departures are available December through April for groups of 4 or more. Interested parties are asked to contact the Sacred Rides office at email@example.com or 1-888-423-7849.
The adventure is all based out of the spectacular Playa Escondida hideaway resort on a jungle-fringed private beach one hour north of Puerto Vallarta, just outside of the friendly and fun town of Sayulita.
Later in the week, after spending the afternoon in the chilled-out town of San Pancho, the families will head into Sayulita for dinner and a salsa lesson for the whole family at one of the local restaurants – learning to swing their hips like the locals do.
Following lunch on Day 5 in the town of Los Ayala, participants will take a short drive to a nearby village where the afternoon will be spent volunteering with a local community project. It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce kids to some of the challenges that communities face in Mexico and how making a small contribution can make a big difference.
For those new to mountain biking, Sacred Rides has posted a video on YouTube called “This is why we ride — a celebration of mountain biking.”
For more information, visit the Sacred Rides website at http://www.sacredrides.com/, or call 1-888-423-7849.
About Sacred Rides
Ranked “#1 mountain bike tour operator on Earth” by National Geographic editors, Sacred Rides offers small-group, single-track mountain bike adventures and skills camps in 13 destinations worldwide. Historically known as the company for serious fat-tire fanatics, in 2013 the company has launched a new line of trips focusing on novice bikers who have little or no experience with mountain biking, with an infusion of region-dependent multi-sport activities. In all of its destinations Sacred Rides emphasizes responsible tourism that makes direct, meaningful contributions to local communities.
For More Information, Tour Itineraries and Reservations Contact:
Sacred Rides 1-888-423-7849 / +1.647.999.7955 / Website: http://sacredrides.com/
Adventure Travel Mexico. Those three words can be interpreted differently by anyone. For many, traveling to Mexico is in itself an adventure, from slurping colorful umbrella cocktails at a 5-star resort to driving the back roads of the Sierra Madre – adventure is where you find it, often determined by your previous experiences or lack thereof. The first time you walk down a cobbled street in a pouring rain is an adventure, or straying into a local’s-only Mexico City cantina qualifies, as well. That lump in your throat is a sure sign.
I have personally driven tens of thousands of miles throughout Mexico and I can guarantee you, every day was an adventure. Entering a small Sierra Madre town on the back roads where few tourists go is an adventure qualifier, as is blowing a tire and remembering that you don’t have a spare or a jack. Ah, but thankfully you remembered the beer – some adventures are more fun than others.Webster defines Adventure as “an exciting or remarkable experience”. That sounds like a good appraisal of life itself, at least for those with the spirit to pursue the unusual. And it sure describes Mexico travel.
But for most people Adventure Travel is something all together different. Wikipedia calls it “a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel to remote, exotic and possibly hostile areas. This may include activities such as mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, mountain biking, rafting, zip-lining, paragliding and rock climbing.” And it is these more physical pursuits that make Mexico an obvious choice for your next great adventure. I was lucky enough last year to participate in the inaugural ATMEX, an event that brings buyers and sellers of Adventure Travel to Veracruz City so that they can then help introduce Adventure Travel Mexico to the world. It was a fabulous several days with knowledgeable speakers preceded by a trip to the jungles of Veracruz for tent/bungalow camping at Mexico Verde where we white-water rafted, zip-lined, mountain biked and ate and slept extremely well. From there it was south to the lakeside town of Catemaco for a day of kayaking. Veracruz may be Mexico’s prettiest state, followed closely by Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima (yes, these are opinions).
Veracruz is rich with AT opportunities, but all of Mexico has their own regional focuses, from whale-watching in Baja to hiking remote barrancas in the Copper Canyon (tip: if you see illegal plants being grown, head the other direction). You could spend a lifetime exploring all of the different trips being offered, or by creating your own. Just make the effort…you won’t be disappointed.
The next ATMEX will again be in Veracruz August 14 – 17. If you are a travel professional you should consider attending. You can learn more here.
By: Lisa Coleman
One of my all time favorite Mariachi songs is called “Volver, Volver.” Loosely translated the title means “Come back, Come back,” and it symbolizes what I feel every time I leave Mexico. My heart always aches a bit and the words to that song run through my head. There is something remarkable about returning to a place that touches your soul. It’s never like the first time; it’s better. There’s a touch of familiarity that gives the impression of being welcomed back home. That’s how I felt about coming back to Oaxaca and Hacienda Los Laureles.
On a map, the state of Oaxaca (wah-HAH-kah) can be found about 300 miles southeast of Mexico City. The entire region is filled with both natural and cultural beauty, but the centerpiece of the state is the magical Oaxaca City. Founded in 1532, the city is surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range and sits atop a highland plateau some 5,000 feet above sea level. And though the city is densely populated, it remains unusually intimate. Easily explored on foot, it has the warm and inviting pace of a village. There is a certain energy that radiates from the people and buildings, almost as if the past remains in the present. The city is widely considered one of the finest displays of Spanish colonial architecture in the entire country and was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1987. A total of 1,200 historic monuments remain throughout the city and surrounding areas.
The charming and elegant Hacienda Los Laureles is located a quick 8 to 10 minutes from the zócalo (city center). Tucked away in the foothills, this hotel is a real gem. Built in the early 1800s, the property maintains its grand colonial style, while offering all the modern amenities. My first visit to the hacienda was back in 2001, and I was happy to discover it was even more beautiful upon my return. The lush and manicured gardens had matured even more and are now filled with blooming flowers along with huge cypress and mango trees. To add to the natural peacefulness of the grounds, a symphony of singing birds can be heard throughout the foliage.
From the moment you arrive, it will feel as though you are in your own private hacienda. With a total of only 23 guest rooms (including four master suites and presidential suite), the service is very personal. Owner, Peter Kaiser, tells me, “We want our guests to have a unique experience here so the staff is always available to cater to their needs.” Peter has built his reputation on attention to detail and understands the importance of “the little things” that make a hotel experience memorable. Los Laureles is a member of the exclusive Mexico Boutique Hotels group, and received Four Diamonds from AAA. In addition, the hacienda was bestowed with the Tesoro (Treasure) Award from the Oaxaca State Government and an “M” from the Tourism Ministry presented by the previous Secretary of Tourism, Gloria Guevarra. The “M” is for “Modern,” but obtaining it requires exhaustive training and inspection.
Each room and suite has its own look and feel. Keeping true to its historical roots, heavy wood furniture is accented with Mexican handicrafts, bursts of color and fresh flowers. The suites have big, comfortable beds and plenty of space. Everything feels special here. We were in Oaxaca celebrating my 50th birthday, so when we checked in, our bed was adorned with rose petals spelling out “Feliz Cumpleaños” (Happy Birthday). It was such a nice touch. There are small tables and chairs just outside your door are the ideal place to sip some coffee and take in the beauty of the garden and grounds. If you need a bit more pampering, stop into the Le Petit Spa for a memorable massage or refreshing facial. Or, take a spiritual journey in the temazcal. A “temazcal” is a traditional Mexican steam bath similar to the Native American sweat lodge. Los Laureles has a small one on the property that will fit three people. Ask at the spa for details.
Though there are plenty of wonderful restaurants in Oaxaca, I must say that one of the finest in town can be found at the hotel – Los Cipreses. Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a candlelit table set in the garden and treated to an extraordinary meal. In fact, we were so impressed with the service and the food that we ate dinner on the property two out of the three nights of our stay. Chef Horacio Reyes is brilliant. Offerings range from the tasty Camarones a la Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan style shrimp with onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, mezcal and white wine) and an expertly prepared Filete de Res del Bosque (Filet mignon with mushrooms and herbs) to the amazing Ensalada de Nopales (sliced cactus with peeled tomatoes, onions and avocado) and the Canasta de Chapulines al Cilantro (basket of grasshoppers with coriander, garlic, onion tomato with guacamole and tortillas). Yes, I said “grasshoppers.” They are a very famous dish in Oaxaca and a “must try.” Don’t worry, you will be pleasantly surprised! In addition, the Chef offers cooking classes that will give you insight into these unforgettable dishes.
During our stay, their was a private birthday party being set up. The tent and tables were festive and flawless. The hacienda is well known for hosting special events, meetings and gorgeous weddings. If you’re looking for an intimate and off-the-beaten-path place for your ceremony, you might want to add Los Laureles to your consideration list.
The hacienda is also a premiere location to use as a jumping off spot to explore the region. The front desk can call for a taxi for trips in and out of the city and arrange any kind of tour (private or group) with an English-speaking driver/guide. Be sure to study up on the area so you know what you’d like to see, but I would certainly recommend the archeological sites of Monte Albán and Mitla, and the artisan village of San Martin Tilcajete.
My return trip to Oaxaca and Hacienda Los Laureles was outstanding. The service was brilliant, the room was perfect and I felt as if I was coming home. This is a place I know I will return to again and again and I know it will always be magical. For more information contact Sylvie Laitre at Mexico Boutique Hotels (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Mexico City, May 21, 2013 – The United States and Mexico agreed to create the Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC). The Council was formalized through the signing of the framework agreement between the U.S. State Department and Mexico’s National Institute of Entrepreneurship.
During President Obama’s visit to Mexico earlier this month, he expressed, along with President Peña Nieto, his commitment to developing an even closer economic and trade relationship between both countries. The Presidents announced the High Level Economic Dialogue, in which officials from both governments will work together to promote competitiveness and connectivity, boost economic growth and innovation, and join forces for global leadership.
On May 8, the preliminary stages to create a binational entrepreneurship and innovation council were developed. This Council will provide a forum to coordinate and collaborate on strategies that trigger the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises.
This Council will integrate a working plan that includes specific programs and activities to incorporate Mexico into the Global Entrepreneurship Program, a U.S. initiative that seeks to catapult entrepreneurs in emerging economies through tools and links to its programs.
MUSEIC was formally launched on May 20th through the signing of the framework agreement by Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez and the chairman of Mexico’s National Institute of Entrepreneurship, Enrique Jacob Rocha, with Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo serving as witness of honor. Representatives from the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and the National Council for Science and Technology were also present at the signing.
Assistant Secretary of State Jose Fernandez said, “I have been impressed with the commitment of the Mexican government to entrepreneurship both with the words last week by President Peña Nieto and by the formation of the new INADEM led by Enrique Jacob Rocha. We are confident this partnership will create the environment where both our countries will have the opportunity to work together for economic prosperity.”
Enrique Jacob Rocha, chairman of the National Institute of Entrepreneurship stated, “This Council represents the ideal platform to boost our entrepreneurship ecosystem, not only domestically, but around the world, and it will allow us to fulfill one of the goals of this Institute: making our entrepreneurs more competitive alongside one of our key partners.”
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affires ad interim Laura Dogu said, “Entrepreneurs are the drivers of innovation, of job creation and of sustained economic growth. This is why I am pleased that MUSEIC will strengthen regional competitiveness, which gives us a critical advantage above other regions in a global economy of innovation that is more competitive every day.”
The Mexico-U.S. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council will focus on:
A regulatory framework that will favor innovative entrepreneurship; Promoting women-led entrepreneurship; Participation and collaboration of the Latin American diaspora; Promotion and integration of infrastructure to support entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium enterprises; Sharing expertise and best practices on development of regional innovation clusters; Sharing expertise and best practices on supply chains; and Sharing tools and best practices on financing and promotion of innovative, high-impact entrepreneurship.
The Council will be comprised of different participants of the entrepreneur ecosystem from Mexico and the United States, including government officials, academics, private sector representatives, non-government organizations and venture capital funds, among others.