Mexico

Overview

From Andrew Harper

The vast republic of Mexico encompasses nearly 2 million square miles of every topography imaginable: verdant grasslands; mountain ranges; volcanic plains; dense rain forests. However, most visitors are only familiar with its shoreline. Travelers have been flocking to the beaches of Mazatlán, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta for decades.  In recent years, the Caribbean “Riviera Maya” has become increasingly popular, as have smaller pockets of the Pacific Coast such as Zihuatanejo and Costa Alegre.

A visit to the colonial heart of Mexico is worthwhile -- in particular to the cities of San Miguel de Allende and nearby Guanajuato, both located in the highlands northwest of Mexico City. These are fine destinations for amblers without agendas. Expect plenty of winding cobblestone streets, stately continental mansions and a tranquilo pace of life. Accommodations here are suitably historic and eclectic; the Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel is assembled from several disparate mansions near the zócalo.

CLIMATE : Aside from the northern Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, much of Mexico consists of high plateaus with a warm, agreeable climate. Temperatures are determined largely by altitude. Winter in the mountains can bring freezing conditions, while coastal areas remain blissfully tropical. Rain falls chiefly from May-August. The most pleasant time to visit all areas is November-May.

TIME : One hour behind New York (EST). Baja California Sur is three hours behind.

CURRENCY : Peso (MXN). Fluctuating rate valued at MXN13 = US$1.00 as of March 2012. Note: Many hotels quote room rates in US$ only.

U.S. EMBASSY : Mexico City, Tel. (55) 5080-2000. There are also consulates in Guadalajara, Tel. (333) 268-2100, and Merida, Tel. (999) 942-5700.

DIRECT DIAL CODES : To phone hotels in Mexico, dial 011 (international access) + 52 (Mexico code) + city code and local numbers in listings.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS : Passport. Visit www.travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, www.cdc.gov.

GENERAL INFORMATION : Visit www.visitmexico.com before your trip.

Hotels

All recommended hotels in Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Capella Pedregal
Capella Pedregal

Opulent 66-room resort at the base of a cliff overlooking the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez, and reached only by a gated tunnel through a rocky mountainside that separates the 24-acre site from Cabo San Lucas.

Baja California Sur
Esperanza, an Auberge Resort
Esperanza, An Auberge Resort

Luxurious residential resort terraced into the panoramic bluffs of Punta Ballena overlooking two private coves, four miles outside Cabo San Lucas.

Colima, Mexico
Hacienda de San Antonio
Hacienda de San Antonio

Lavishly restored casa grande set on a 5,000-acre working coffee plantation near the colonial town of Colima, 2½ hours south of Guadalajara.

Costa Alegre, Mexico
Las Alamandas
Las Alamandas

Romantic and newly revitalized oceanfront hideaway amid lush gardens, midway between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo.

Guadalajara, Mexico
Quinta Real Guadalajara
Quinta Real Guadalajara

Charming hotel in pleasant residential area, 15 minutes from Guadalajara’s historic center.

Guanajuato, Mexico
Quinta Las Acacias
Quinta Las Acacias

Friendly 19th-century French-style mansion-hotel across from a lovely park, a short taxi ride from Guanajuato’s romantic and architecturally striking historic center.

Guerrero, Mexico
Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués

Lavish 47-villa resort at the tip of Punta Diamante peninsula overlooking dramatic Puerto Marqués Bay on the southern side of Las Brisas. 

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico
La Casa Que Canta

Charming all-suite resort crowning a cliff above Zihuatanejo Bay, adjacent to La Ropa Beach.

Mexico City, Mexico
Four Seasons Hotel, Mexico D.F.
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F.

Refined 240-room hotel set around a traditional Spanish Colonial courtyard, in the heart of the historic downtown business and shopping district.

Morelia, Mexico
Villa Montana Hotel & Spa
Villa Montana Hotel & Spa

First-class colonial-style resort in Santa Maria hills overlooking the historic city of Morelia, a World Heritage site. Three dozen guest quarters occupy casitas sprawled across the terraced hillside.

Villas

All recommended villas in Mexico

Baja California, Mexico
Casa La Laguna
Casa La Laguna

One of the newest and largest beachfront vacation homes available in Los Cabos, Casa La Laguna sits on a quiet, pristine, semi-private beach with unobstructed views from Punta Palmilla to Punta Gorda.

Baja California Sur
Lifestyle Villas

A smartly curated selection of beachfront and ocean- and golf-view villas and condominiums throughout Los Cabos.

Cabo San Lucas
Villa Serena
Villa Serena

This five-star beachfront property is located between Cabo San Lucas & San Jose del Cabo (in the area known as the Corridor) in the exclusive Blue Sea development. Situated right on the ocean, this contemporary home is beautifully appointed.

Baja California Sur
Del Mar Escapes
Villas Del Mar

“At the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula where the desert and mountains meet the Sea of Cortez rests Los Cabos, no longer a secret to the discriminating traveler.”

Baja California Sur
Baja California Sur, Mexico
Villas at Esperanza

Baja California SurCabo San Lucas

Dining

All recommended restaurants in Mexico

FONDA EL REFUGIO

In business for more than 50 years, this renowned restaurant is inspired by small countryinns (fonda). The interior is relatively simple, with white washed walls hung with a gleaming array of copper pots and pans, beautiful examples of Mexican glass, and folk art. The cuisine is traditional and regional Mexican, and many consider it the best of its kind in the capital. Look for dishes such as caldo tlalpeño, a flavorful soup of chicken and vegetables; manitas de cerdo en vinegre, pig’s feet in vinegar; and carne asada a la tabasqueña, a perfectly grilled steak with enchiladas and refried beans.

Liverpool 166
Ciudad de México
Mexico
US$35
IZOTE

This excellent restaurant is under the direction of the celebrated Patricia Quintana, who is a proud advocate of classic Mexican cooking and make sample use of local ingredients such as yucca and corn flour. The interior is elegant and understated; the food is bold and delicious. You might start with lobster enchiladas in a pumpkin seed sauce or oyster mushrooms in a bitter orange vinaigrette. The barbecued lamb, steamed in banana leaves to tender perfection and served with a variety of sauces and moles, is not to be missed. Finish with a rich café de olla, coffee with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Avenida Presidente Masaryk 513
Ciudad de México
Mexico
US$55
PUJOL

This is home to chef Enrique Olvera, an alumnus of the celebrated Everest in Chicago, who is renowned for his special take on Mexican cuisine. The interior is a study in white, with the only splashes of color coming from well-placed works of art. As for the food, while Olvera deals with ingredients that are part of the Mexican canon, he doesn’t hesitate to use them in new and intriguing ways. Thus, you’ll see dishes such as pan-seared sea scallops with a tasty corn cake and mushrooms; a wonderful squash-blossom “cappuccino,” actually a creamy soup topped with a coconut foam dusted with nutmeg; duck carpaccio with a pumpkin-seed vinaigrette and a mezcal foam, and a delicious cocoa-crusted venison served with three kinds of bananas. The service is excellent.

Calle Francisco Petrarca 254
Naucalpan de Juárez
Mexico
US$55
TEZKA

This is the Mexican cousin of Arzak, the restaurant at the forefront of the new Basque cooking in Spain. The wonderful menu offers hallmark Spanish dishes, plus many that incorporate Mexican ingredients and flair. The interior contains several different levels (one with just a single table for four), which give it a great sense of space. Starters might include an excellent broth of baby squid and a foie gras mousse with sliced mango. Among the best main courses is the sea bass in a pistachio sauce. The wine list has a terrific selection of Spanish and Mexican wines. Look particularly at bottlings from Baja.

Royal Royal Hotel Zona Rosa, Amberes 78
Ciudad de México 06600
Mexico
US$55

Special Offers

Special Offers

Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa - Suite Savings
Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa - Suite Savings

Indulge in the grandeur of our suites for less. Enjoy 25 percent savings on the best available rate during your next stay at Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa.

Casa de Mita - Stay Five Nights, Pay Only For Four
Casa de Mita - Stay Five Nights, Pay Only For Four

Confirm five consecutive nights and pay only for four nights.

DelMar Escapes - Evening with a Private Chef
DelMar Escapes - Evening with a Private Chef

Confirm a villa and enjoy complimentary services of a private chef for dining one evening. (Excludes cost of food and beverages.)

Esperanza, an Auberge Resort - Complimentary Night
Esperanza, an Auberge Resort - Complimentary Night

Guests staying a minimum of four consecutive nights receive the fourth night complimentary.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita - Stay Longer
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita - Stay Longer

Confirm a stay at Four Seasons Punta Mita for three or more nights and enjoy 15 percent savings on room rate.

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita - Stay Longer–One Complimentary Night
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita - Stay Longer–One Complimentary Night

Four Seasons Punta Mita provides so many reasons to linger a little longer. Use a complimentary night to soak up the sun and enjoy a bit more of paradise. Confirm two consecutive nights and receive third night complimentary; confirm four nights and receive fifth night complimentary, along with a romantic turndown and honeymoon amenity per room, per stay.

La Casa Que Canta - Summer Value
La Casa Que Canta - Summer Value

Confirm a minimum stay of three nights and receive one candlelit dinner with a bottle of La Casa wine in your suite.

Las Alamandas Resort - Complimentary Fourth Night
Las Alamandas Resort - Complimentary Fourth Night

Escape to paradise and enjoy miles of private beaches. Confirm a four-night stay in a suite of your choice and receive the last night complimentary, a romantic picnic setup on your own private beach and freshly baked cookies delivered nightly to your room.

Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort - Complimentary Night
Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort - Complimentary Night

Stay three consecutive nights and receive the fourth night complimentary. 

Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort - More Rosewood-Complimentary Night
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort - More Rosewood-Complimentary Night

Add another day to your dream vacation at Las Ventanas al Paraiso. Confirm three nights and receive the fourth night complimentary; stay four nights and receive the fifth night complimentary.