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Mexico City Offers Laid-Back Business Clime

Feb 1, 2013
2013 / February 2013

Gear down and prepare to chill, because conducting business in Mexico City is not just about swinging that big deal.

It may be the world’s third-biggest city and one of the top 10 destinations in the world for large international congresses and conventions, but it is still a Latin country, which means the attitude is much more laid-back than most business travelers are used to.

If, like me, patience is not your strong suit, you’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you can talk yourself into a more relaxed frame of mind before you arrive. Not only is the pace slower, but also the business scene is very social. Your Mexican counterparts will want to get to know you prior to doing business with you. Expect to be invited out for a meal or drinks, and don’t expect to immediately launch into a high-powered sales pitch. In other words, just relax and enjoy the ride.

Because Mexico City is in a valley more than 7,000 feet above sea level, the temperatures are quite mild and range from the high 70s in the summer to the low 40s in the winter. No matter what the time of year or temperature, daytime business dress is generally loose and casual, except for formal meetings where suits may be appropriate.

Most business offices are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some open as late as 7 p.m. Better fuel up at breakfast, though, because business lunches don’t start until about 2 p.m. and can last for as long as two hours.

A heavy police presence and the recent installation of 13,000 security cameras on the streets and in the subways reduced petty crime rates in downtown Mexico City. However, as in any big city, good sense should prevail, such as not walking around dark and unpopulated areas at night.

Traffic in Mexico City is legendary — and not in a good way. But over the past two decades things have improved, thanks to tough controls on vehicle pollution and the building of one of the largest metro systems in the world. There is also a bike share program, but only for annual subscribers, which helps with the traffic problem but is not available to visitors.

Despite all these efforts, during peak hours it can take forever to drive to a business meeting. The good news is local businesspeople often prefer to meet in one of the major hotels rather than their office. If you do have to travel around town, schedule meetings in the middle of the day and consider taking the metro. If you decide to cab it, hire only authorized taxis, which are identified by special license plates and meters. You can even get an app called Taxiaviso that lets you compare the taxi’s license plate with the government database.

Museo Nacional de las Culturas © Ellen Clark

Museo Nacional de las Culturas © Ellen Clark

The Polanco neighborhood is one of the city’s main — and certainly most prestigious — business districts. International investment banks, law offices, management consulting firms and corporate offices for Mexico’s most important businesses are located here. Consequently, some of the city’s best hotels are also here. The neighborhood abounds with excellent restaurants and sidewalk cafés, making it an ideal place to get together with clients over a coffee, a drink or a long Latin lunch.

Las Alcobas is currently the hottest hotel in the Polanco area. This small luxury property offers some amazing amenities for the business traveler. Besides wired and wireless high-speed Internet throughout the hotel and a fully equipped business center, guests can request in-room laptops, printers and mobile phones, and can even get a designated private phone number with direct room access.

Four upscale hotel chains, all of which are savvy to the needs of the business traveler, have properties in Polanco.

At the InterContinental Presidente Mexico City, business amenities include secretarial and courier services and a private limousine. The hotel has a restaurant to suit almost any taste, whether it be steak or authentic Cantonese, and its Lobby Bar is a convenient and restfully elegant place to meet clients.

Those lucky enough to be staying in a Regency Club suite at the Hyatt Regency will not only enjoy private check-in and check-out and concierge services but also can entertain business associates in the exclusive Regency Club Lounge.

Business travelers can stay beyond connected in a “Fabulous” room at W Mexico City. Besides high-speed wireless Internet, these rooms are outfitted with a data port; a connectivity port; dual phone lines; an in-room scanner, fax and printer; and a DVD and CD player. Café Punta del Cielo coffee house at the JW Marriott is a great place to meet for an informal business meeting.

Mexico City is gaining a reputation as a city with a vibrant and dynamic food scene, and Polanco is the center of it. While you can find almost any cuisine, perhaps the most intriguing is the Nuevo Mexican. Forget cheese enchiladas and taquitos; we’re talking seriously gourmet.

In the Dulce Patria kitchen at Las Alcobas Hotel, Chef Marta Ortiz produces some of the finest Mexican food anywhere. A light business lunch might start with a baby arugula salad with cactus flower buds and a shard of crunchy, seedy violet brittle, dressed with a vinaigrette made with peanuts and just a hint of chili, accompanied by freshly baked bread, and end with vanilla coconut flan. Yum!

Pujol is not only considered to be one of Mexico City’s finest restaurants, but also was recently named one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. Head Chef Enrique Olvera calls on cultural legacy and traditional ingredients to produce such innovative delicacies as venison coated in Yucatán oregano and dried burned chilis served on purple-banana purée. This is the place for the ultimate power lunch, which is served Monday through Saturday 2–3:30 p.m.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.


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