by Morton D. Rosenbaum | January 01, 2005

Downtown Mexico City

Downtown Mexico City
begins to sparkle at twilight.

The coastal resort areas of Mexico have long been magnets for leisure and incentive travelers, but the country’s capital has a rapidly growing appeal in its own right. With nearly 20,000 four-star guest rooms and no fewer than three convention centers, Mexico City provides a full battery of meeting accommodations. Along the bustling city streets, ancient castles butt against new hangouts, rounding out the area as a historic yet haute destination.

Reforma reformed
Only last month, Mexico City completed a $125 million renovation to Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, a downtown strip lined with hotels and historic attractions. New paving, gardening and heavy policing have transformed the central avenue into a legitimate hotbed. Accordingly, numerous properties are dusting themselves off.
    Among them: The 240-room Four Seasons Mexico City is gearing up for a $4 million renovation. By September, every guest room will have been renovated in the first brush-up since the hotel opened 10 years ago. Reforma 500, the property’s restaurant, was renovated last year.
    October 2003 marked the opening of a new spa at the 208-room Marquis Reforma. Purported to be the largest in the city, the 16,000-square-foot facility offers all the aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, et al, an attendee could desire.
    The 457-room Sheraton Centro Historico Hotel and Convention Center, already the object of citywide buzz since its 27-story debut in late 2002, will welcome the arrival of a new spa this March.
    By 2007, NH Hoteles will open a 107-room property in the downtown historic district as well. Other NH projects include a 135-room hotel in upscale Santa Fé, also expected by 2007, as well as a recently completed $6 million renovation on the 302-room NH Mexico City in the Zona Rosa area.

Boutique boom
The nearby Polanco district, northeast of Reforma’s hotel cluster, features some of the city’s trendier, more boutique-leaning properties, including the 237-room W Mexico City, whose daring design has been boosting area cachet since it opened one year ago.
    The 744-room Hotel Nikko Mexico, another Polanco mainstay, last year put $700,000 into renovating its El Jardin restaurant and outfitting public areas with wireless Internet. This year, the hotel will spend $5 million on renovating executive rooms and suites and has earmarked $25 million for renovations of all guest rooms by 2008.

For conventions
The Expo Santa Fe Mexico opened in one of the city’s most modern business districts in mid-2003, offering nearly 485,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space.
    The Centro Internacional de Exposiciones y Convenciones World Trade Center, right in the heart of Mexico City, will have a new headquarters hotel, the Crowne Plaza MexicoWTC, by June 2005. The 319-room property will offer four meeting rooms for up to 800 attendees. Next door to the Crowne Plaza and linked by interior corridor will be the 224-room Holiday Inn Express MexicoWorld Trade Center, with an as yet undetermined opening date.
    The historic district’s Centro Banamex, which already offers 75,000 square feet of meeting space and 366,000 square feet of trade show floor, has plans to add a hotel and concert hall as well.

Air travel
Mexicana Airlines has traded in its Newark (N.J.) Airport berth for one in New York at JFK’s new Terminal Four. The airline has added daily nonstop flights to Mexico City from JFK and Miami International Airport.