Guadalajara has fine
Guadalajara, a city with 4.8
million inhabitants, ranks as Mexico’s second-largest.
Founded in 1542, the city is welcoming all year, although mid-June
through October is the rainy season. Also note that Oct.12 marks
the celebration of the Virgin of Zapopan, a religious festival that
attracts up to one million pilgrims, making hotel rooms scarce.
Guadalajara 2020 is an
ambitious urban renewal project that started in 2000 and is
expected to be finished in -- no surprise -- 2020. Neighborhoods
are being cleaned up, colonial buildings repaired, and roads
improved and redesigned to allow traffic to flow and give
pedestrians more car-free zones in which to relax.
For convention center action, the
Expo Guadalajara, Centro de Exposiciones features
approximately 350,000 square feet of exhibit space. A
70,000-square-foot auxiliary hall was opened in 2002, and in
mid-2008 another expansion will add 140,000 square feet of
The city will host the Pan American
Games in 2011.
Guadalajara’s major meeting hotels
include the 409-room Pres-idente Inter-Continental, 390-room Fiesta
Americana, 357-room Vista Plaza del Sol, 356-room Hilton, 294-room
Crowne Plaza, 220-room Holiday Inn Select, 205-room Camino Real,
205-room Hotel Fenix and the 158-room Fiesta Inn.
The newest addition to the city is the
163-room Camino Real Expo Guadalajara, which
opened in November next to the convention center. The property has
three meeting rooms, a business center and a vivid (beige and pink)
Other properties opened at the center
this fall include the 159-room Hotel Ibis and the
145-room City Express.
A boutique choice is the Villa
Ganz, which has nine rooms in a beautifully restored 1930s
villa four blocks from lively Avenida Chapultepec.
The city’s colonial venues add charm to
any event. The Casa-Museo Lopez Portillo, an
18th-century estate that belonged to a prominent local family, has
space for 80 people, while the Ex Convento del
Carmen, a former Carmelite convent built in the early 17th
century and now an art gallery, can host up to 300 people. Patios
and good acoustics add to the value.
Memorable places to visit, but with no
gathering space of their own, include the Casa Tipica
Barrio del Santuario, a mansion considered one of Mexico’s
finest examples of 16th-century architecture, and the
Mercado Libertad, one of Latin America’s largest
enclosed markets, with some 1,000 stalls.
Have your group serenaded by an
authentic Mariachi band. These colorful bands
originated in Guadalajara, and one can be hired through the city’s
Good places to relax or explore include
the Glorieta Chapalita and Plaza de los
Laureles squares, the latter famed for its Indian laurel
One enjoyable suburb worth visiting is
Tlaquepaque, home to artisans working in many
disciplines, most notably pottery, while a little farther afield is
Tequila -- birthplace of the famous beverage --
which this year was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. To get
there from Guadalajara, take the Tequila Express
Train, which also travels to the tequila-producing town of
Amatitan. Groups can charter their own train cars.