Mexico City, Mexico

City of Palaces and Federal District of Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

City of Palaces and Federal District of Mexico

Mexico City is a major economic hub in Latin America, and it seems to be uniquely accessible for business meetings that span North and South America. But there are many, many more layers to Mexico City.

Mexico City is a colonial city, and it’s historic, contemporary, artistic, gritty and vibrant. If you’re considering Mexico City for a future program or traveling there for business, you’ll find a world class business city that delivers on its strong commitment to tourism and hospitality. And if you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Mexico City, you’ll be pleased to know that this city has a moderate climate with average highs in the 70s and average lows in the 40s and 50s — 12 months a year, according to weather.com.

Here’s what you need to know about the Mexico City experience.

People Are Traveling to Mexico City

It may surprise you to know that about 2.3 million international visitors choose Mexico City each year — that’s roughly 10% of Mexico’s 23 million total international visitors. While the vast majority come from the United States, Mexico is a global leader in the tourism sector, and it’s likely that the number of international visitors will grow in the years ahead.

If you haven’t traveled here before, you’re likely to expect a congested and complicated city — after all, the metropolitan area is home to more than 20 million residents. But I visited Mexico City last November, and the truth is that most business meetings and events are held in the city’s historic center and other nearby tourist districts, so you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the ease of transferring from one location to another. The key is to choose a neighborhood that fits your needs and establish a program near your base.

Is Mexico City Safe?

Of course. Some destinations within Mexico have endured a reputation for crime — an unfortunate fact of life that cities and countries face around the world. What’s important is to pay attention to the steps that countries and cities take to minimize the impact so that visitors feel comfortable and welcomed.

During the last couple of years Mexico City has demonstrated its commitment to safety by installing a network of closed-circuit TV cameras and expanding the number of police officers on the ground. This approach has had a major impact on reducing crime and increasing security coverage throughout the city — and specifically the important tourist areas.

I had an opportunity to tour the Mexico City C4 Operations Center during my visit, and watched first hand to see how security is observing and responding to issues. It’s my understanding that there are more than 13,000 cameras today and plans for 7,000 more have been requested.

Mexico City for Meetings and Events

Mexico City has excellent convention centers, hotel facilities and dining — very important for meeting the demands of small to large conventions and trade shows. In fact, the meetings industry has already begun to take notice of Mexico City.

More than 50 international conventions are held in Mexico City each year, according to data from the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA), which tracks information about international meetings that rotate between three or more countries on a regular basis — a critical measure in the global meetings sector. Mexico City ranked #40 in 2012 out of 2,000 international cities, according to data from ICCA.

Convention Centers in Mexico City

Mexico City has a significant number of convention centers, but my focus is in the Reforma-Polanco corrdior. That includes Centro Banamex Exhbition Centre and the International Exhibition & Convention Center WTC.

Centro Banamex is an amazing facility that has a strong commitment to sustainability and amazing cuisine — everything is made fresh on site. Centro Banamex has the resources to hold major congresses (up to 50,000 delegates), as well as corporate and social events. And here’s something unique: Centro Banamex includes a horse track and kids theme park as part of the property!

The International Convention Center WTC is a convention center that can host up to 7,500 delegates, and located in the city center. ICOMEX, a trade show for meetings and events in Latin America, was hosted here during my visit.

Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa

Part of the Leading Hotels of the World, Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa is an art-deco inspired hotel with 125 guest rooms that include 83 suites — perfectly designed with all of the amenities expected by business travelers.

But what also helps make this hotel stand out is its meetings space. Marquis Reforma has more than 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including three ballrooms (may be divided into 11 separate areas for breakout rooms). The hotel also includes three unique restaurants, a lounge bar and a spa/fitness center that may be one of largest in Mexico City.

Mexico City has more than 208 hotels that are categorized as four star or above, including a total of nearly 28,000 hotel rooms.

Getting to Know Mexico City

While “business” is certainly the reason for meeting in Mexico City, the unique value is in spending time outside the conference rooms.

Top attractions which are also perfect for event venues include Chapultapec Castle (which offers the most amazing view of the city and a historical collection of artwork that highlights the history of Mexico) and the National Museum of Anthropology (home to the Aztec calendar). Other experiences include guided visits through Plaza de la Constitucion and the National Palace (you’ll want to gain a local expert’s insights to the murals by Diego Rivera).

Another favorable reason to choose Mexico City?

Value. Mexico City has 0% VAT tax for meetings.

Travel facts about Mexico City*:

  • Mexico City Business Travelers: 28%
  • Mexico City Leisure Travelers: 72%

Total Hotel rooms

  • By March 2013: 49,114
  • In 2012: 49,194

Number of hotels (as of March 2013):

  • Gran Turismo (more than 5 stars): 27
  • 5 stars: 62
  • 4 stars: 119
  • Total: 208

Rooms in hotels (as of March 2013):

  • Gran Turismo: 6,622 rooms
  • 5 stars: 9,430 rooms
  • 4 stars: 11,830 rooms
  • Total: 27,882 rooms

Average Occupancy (2012):

  • General average: 62.25%
  • Gran turismo: 65.75%
  • 5 stars: 67.44%
  • 4 stars: 67.43%

Average Visitor’s trip 2012 (average nights spent in Mexico City):

  • General average: 1.98 nights
  • International tourists: 2.14 nights
  • Domestic tourists: 1.94 nights

Total numbers of nights spent (2012):

  • Total: 24,313,986 nights
  • International tourists: 4,873,441 nights
  • Domestic tourists: 19,440,545 nights

Travel Tip: If you’re visiting Mexico City as part of a business meeting or convention, chances are transportation will already be secure, increasing your level of safety. However, as is the case with any travel, it’s also helpful to travel with others and keep an eye on your surroundings and only rely on secure taxis.

* Data courtesy of Government of Mexico City

  • Aztec Calendar at Anthropology Museum Aztec Calendar at Anthropology Museum ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Diego Rivera Mural at Mexico City’s National Palace Diego Rivera Mural at Mexico City’s National Palace ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Breakfast at Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa Breakfast at Marquis Reforma Hotel & Spa
  • ICOMEX 2012 ICOMEX 2012 ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Junior Suite at Marques Reforma Hotel & Spa Junior Suite at Marques Reforma Hotel & Spa My king bed during my stay. ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Heroic Cadets Monument in Mexico City Heroic Cadets Monument in Mexico City Outside the entrance to Chapultapec Park in Mexico City. ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Mexico City Main Square Mexico City Main Square Courtesy image
  • Singing Waiters at ICOMEX 2012 Singing Waiters at ICOMEX 2012 Singing waiters surprised reception attendees at ICOMEX 2012. Pictured here include a singing chef and a singing waiter. Other performers were placed throughout the room as a surprise element. Great idea. ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Pumpkin Soup at Patricia Quintana’s Izote Restaurant Pumpkin Soup at Patricia Quintana’s Izote Restaurant © 2012 Rob Hard
  • Anthropology Museum in Mexico City Anthropology Museum in Mexico City Rob (left) with a couple other travel writers outside the Anthropology Museum entrance. ® 2012 Rob Hard
  • Izote Mexico City Izote Mexico City Izote is the intimate restaurant of celebrity chef Patricia Quintana, where she takes a sophisticated approach to classic Mexican cuisine.
  • mexico-city-c4-operations-center mexico-city-c4-operations-center Mexico City has incorporated a network of more than 13,000 closed-circuit TV monitors throughout the city, increasing safety dramatically. © 2012 Rob Hard
  • Centro-Banamex Centro-Banamex Centro Banamex Convention Center can host up to 50,000 attendees. Their green attitude includes a commitment to efficient use of energy, water, waste, cleaning fluids, reuse of banners and recycled promotional material. Food is sourced locally and is among the top tier of convention center dining. © 2012 Rob Hard
  • Chapultapec Castle Mexico City Chapultapec Castle Mexico City
  • The Zocalo, the Historic Center of Mexico City The Zocalo, the Historic Center of Mexico City Courtesy image
  • Mexico City – An Exhibit in the National Anthropology Museum Mexico City – An Exhibit in the National Anthropology Museum
  • Anthropology Museum Mexico CIty Anthropology Museum Mexico CIty
  • Hotel Marquis Reforma Lobby Hotel Marquis Reforma Lobby
  • Hotel Marquis Reforma Spa Hotel Marquis Reforma Spa
  • Hotel Marquis Reforma Master Suite Hotel Marquis Reforma Master Suite The deluxe master suite is even larger than the junior suite. With 775 square feet, it has three separate rooms, hydromassage bathroom, two LCD TVs and more. Courtesy image
  • Hotel Marquis Reforma King Room Hotel Marquis Reforma King Room This room features dark brown furniture and a marble bathroom as well as the amenities you would expect in a standard business hotel. Courtesy image
  • Hotel Marquis Reforma Suite Hotel Marquis Reforma Suite

Rob is editor of Business Travel Destinations. He reviews international destinations for meetings and events -- where business travelers go, the hotels where they stay and their lifestyle preferences on the road. Rob was previously the event planning guide for About.com (owned by The New York Times Company) from 2007 - 2011. His articles also appear in business travel publications and travel sites internationally.