by Michael J. Shapiro | June 01, 2008

The Camino Real Monterrey combines luxury and business.Long considered an industrial and commercial hub, Monterrey continues to grow in popularity as a business destination. Mexico’s third most populous city is just a two-hour drive from the Texas border and is a short flight from major airports in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Mexico City.

Monterrey offers more than convenience, however. Mountain, forest and desert terrain all surround the city, providing a beautiful scenic backdrop as well as numerous retreat and eco-tourism opportunities. The city itself sprawls outward from a historic center, where Spanish colonial architecture is preserved.

As testament to the city’s appeal, passenger traffic grew by 25 percent last year at the Monterrey International Airport. Because the many industrial parks near the airport are popular business destinations, a great deal of development is occurring in that area. A number of hotels, as well as shopping centers, supermarkets and hospitals, are in the works.

Hotel update

The Holiday Inn Express and Suites Aeropuerto Monterrey joins a number of other InterContinental Hotel Group development projects in the city. Construction of the US$11 million, 200-room property began in early March, and the hotel is expected to open for business by December 2009.

Another IHG project in the airport zone is the 120-room Staybridge Suites, also slated to open in December 2009. In addition, an 80-room Holiday Inn Express Monterrey Santa Catarina is scheduled to open in March 2009, about nine miles southwest of the city center.

Grupo Posadas opened the 127-room One Monterrey Aeropuerto in early 2007, one of the first in the new One brand. The business hotel is just three minutes from the airport and offers a small meeting room on-site.

The US$10 million Fiesta Inn Monterrey Fundadora opened last summer, with 155 guest rooms, two meeting rooms and three event spaces with a total capacity of 250.

Spanish hotel company Barcelo Hotels and Resorts, which owns 13 beach resorts in Mexico, announced its intentions to increase investment in the country by building three non-beach properties, including one in Monterrey. Further specifics weren’t available at press time, but the company plans to begin construction within the next two years.

The 254-room Camino Real Monterrey opened in January 2007 in the municipality of San Pedro Garza Garcia. The US$55 million property, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, offers on-site restaurants, a business center with conference rooms, a heliport and meeting halls with space for up to 1,000 people.

Habita Monterrey, the long-awaited project from hip boutique hoteliers Grupo Habita, is scheduled to open for business the last weekend in August. The 39-room, 11-story new-build will feature a restaurant by chef Enrique Olvera (from Mexico City’s acclaimed Pujol), a library, two business centers, and a top-floor lounge with two pools and a fire pit.

Airport update

A new five-acre terminal is being built at Monterrey International Airport. The US$40 million expansion will increase capacity by an additional 1.5 million passengers annually. The project is expected to wrap up by year’s end, with a grand opening slated for early 2009.

Airline service

The Monterrey-based low-fare airline VivaAerobus (partially owned by RyanMex, a division of Europe’s RyanAir) will introduce flights from the United States early this summer. The first city served will be Austin, Texas, from where the carrier plans to offer flights to Monterrey for as little as US$9.99.