GrupoHabita Hotels – Chic, Unique, Boutique

I recently returned from five days in Mexico City attending F.I.T.A., the International Travel Fair of the Americas.  Since I was there on business and could not fully indulge my tourist yearnings, just driving around the city reminded me what a wonderful destination Mexico City really is.

I know, I know.  The mere mention of the city in some quarters prompts an immediate outbreak of hives.  Since this post, and the one following, are devoted to presenting a very unique chain of boutique hotels, I can’t spare the space here to disabuse you of any exaggerated concerns you may harbor.  I refer you instead to a previous post called Mexico Maligned that addresses my views on the important subject of security.

During my visit I was assigned (as a hosted guest) to a hotel in the Santa Fe sector of Mexico City near the Bancomer Convention Center where the event was held.   Only after talking to other participants spread among several perfectly acceptable hotels did I come to realize how fortunate I was to have landed at the Distrito Capital.   As the title of this post indicates, Distrito Capital belongs to a chain called GrupoHabita with twelve hotels spread across Mexico and even one more in New York City.  I understand there are a couple more hotels on the near horizon.

On my one free afternoon, I booked a private car and visited all four of their hotels situated in Mexico City.  In this post and the next, I will share a brief, general impression of each of them.   The old saw in real estate is that the three most important things are location, location and location.  In terms of deciding which of these hotels might suit your proclivities, location in a city the size of Mexico City is surely a critical element yet not the only consideration.  With four hotels so distinct, at least some weight should be given to style.

Let’s take a brief jaunt, sans the infamous Mexico City traffic, and find out which hotel is perfect for your next visit to Mexico City.

Are you the type of person that loves to be in the geometric center of things?  Would you like to take two steps out your front door and be engulfed by the glory that is Mexico City?  Downtown Hotel Mexico CityIf that describes you, you need look no further.  This is one hotel whose name says it all.

When you enter off the street, you pass through a bustling restaurant and ascend this striking staircase pictured to the right.  Downtown is located in a magnificent 17th century building and is one of the oldest extant former residences in the city.  Because the hotel shares space in the edifice with several other bars and restaurants, you may be a little confused as to where this 17 room hotel ends and other venues begin.

The hotel sports a charming rooftop terrace and bar which offer a sweeping view of the busy street below.  There is even a small swimming pool on the roof.  This hotel just opened in August under the capable leadership of the fresh-faced general manager, Adalberto Reiter.   He may look like an urchin just pulled in off the street, dusted off and dressed up in a suit and tie but he actually has a few years of experience under his belt in satisfying demanding clients.

Rooftop Terrace at Downtown Hotel, Mexico City

Hotel Habita Mexico CityIf the previous hotel was suited for those who want to be in the center of vibrant activity, the Habita Hotel is perfect for those who want to be in the heart of fashionable elegance.  This hotel is situated in Polanco district, known for trendy restaurants and chic shopping.  If your definition of a great vacation is to “shop ’til you drop” and “dine ’til you pop”, this is the perfect home away from home when visiting Mexico City.

Fifth Floor Terrace at Habita Hotel, Mexico City

One of the most unique features of the hotel is a split level terrace.  The pool and deck pictured here are on the 5th floor and if you climb the short spiral staircase to the left of this picture, you will find yourself on the 6th floor open air terrace and bar.  The 12 foot long fireplace will take the edge off the cool night air as you sample their wide selection of tapas and libations.

This hotel is one of Mexico City’s most popular showcases for various social events and it would be an unusual stay if you did not get a chance to rub shoulders with some of Mexico City’s glitterati.  As an added bonus, with just 36 rooms, you are unlikely to get lost stumbling back to your room after an evening of rooftop revelry with the haut monde!

Check back next time and I will take you on an armchair site inspection of Condesa df and Distrito Capital.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The F.I.T.A.

Apologies to Stephen Sondheim for  my shameless ripoff of the title of his famous musical, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum”.  Stephen, I want you to feel totally justified in naming your next musical after of one of my blog posts.  Turn about is fair play, after all.  I am thinking “A Round-About Way To A Nervous Breakdown”, for example, should make a great little farce.

F.I.T.A. is the International Tourism Fair of the Americas.  This event is only three years old and is held in the Santa Fe region of Mexico City at the Expo Bancomer.  I know, you are waiting breathlessly for the “funny thing happened” part.  Well, I was sitting in my office a few weeks back, molesting no one and only irritating a small handful, when I received an email invitation to this event as a “prominent travel company”.  While still basking in my apparent prominence, I get a second invitation within minutes to attend the same event as an esteemed member of the Fourth Estate.  Wow, prominent and esteemed all within ten minutes.

I confess that I was a bit taken aback since I thought the Fourth Estate was the smallest of DonaldMeet the Press Fedora Trump’s several summer homes.   When it was explained that they wanted me to come as part of the press corp, I immediately rushed out and bought the appropriate hat although, judging from the looks I got, this particular accoutrement has not yet caught on in Mexico City.

As I mentioned above, this is only the third year for this event and the purpose over time is to create a major international travel show like those held in Berlin and New York.  In addition to the expected exhibitors from Mexico, there were also booths representing Russia, Japan, India and several other countries.  The Expo Bancomer is a very nice, quite modern facility.  The main improvement they could make, at least in the opinion of this “prominent entrepreneur / eminent journalist'”, would be to enhance the signal strength of the wi-fi.  The exhibit hall where we spent most of our time was downstairs and to say the signal was spotty is more than a little generous. I spent several hours looking for that mystical spot.

Expo Bancomer Santa Fe

There were 600 exhibitors in attendance as well as over 4000 travel buyers and press.  The first two days are intended for those in the travel trade with the weekend reserved for consumers who might wish to obtain information on various destinations.  I attended several press conferences where unfortunately, at least for this uncivilized American monoglot, the translation from Spanish to English was as spotty as the wi-fi.  It is somewhat to be expected since the majority of the participants are Spanish-speakers but if they truly want to grow the event to international proportions, more deference needs to be shown to the monolingual.

In spite of these opportunities for improvement, it was an excellent event. Personally, I F.I.T.A.  Mexico Citymade a couple of beneficial business contacts that I think will pay dividends going forward.  At the end of the day, networking and relationship building is largely what these events are all about.  Even in, or maybe especially in, our digital age, there is a pressing need for face to face, personal interaction.  And if that happens to occur at a cocktail party over a cheeky little Cabernet, so much the better.

Come back soon or, better yet, subscribe below to receive email notifications of new posts and I will tell you not only about Distrito Capital, the hotel that hosted me so admirably during the conference, but the three other hotels GroupoHabita operates in Mexico City.  Who knows, you might even get to meet the Minister of Tourism for Mexico City.