I was not only glad but very pleasantly surprised to read, today in The New York Times, a comparison between some of the top Mezcals available in Mexico. It is, quite simply, my favourite spirit and the only one I actually enjoy sipping slowly. Especially if it comes with a side of lime wedges and sal de gusano, a salt that is flavoured with dried, crushed gusano worm.
Eric Asimov's description of mezcal is on-point: "Mezcal is one of the world’s great spirits: complex, gorgeous and endlessly intriguing, distinguished like great wines by a strong sense of place. Mezcal is little known (...), even less understood"...
I enjoy biting into a lime wedge after each sip - the flavours have a big fiery bite that I find addictive.I've always had a very hard time a) convincing anyone how good mezcal is and b) explaining how different it is from tequila, its cousin made in the Jalisco region, from blue agave.
In very few words, Asimov says it all:
"...the flavors in mezcal are unlike those in any other spirit, even tequila. They are diverse, fitting for a spirit that reflects its terroir so well, and gorgeous in their rusticity. I understand that rusticity is often a pejorative term, but not as far as mezcal goes. The flavors of a great mezcal are unmediated by oak or long aging. They offer no vanillas or chocolates, honeys or heathers. Instead, you get a briny, vegetal burst, with Tabasco-like hints of vinegar, salt, oily smoke and earth, and an uncompromising purity."
Let's just hope that articles like these come out more often and that Mexicans start waking up to the greatness of what's made in their own backyard. I find it shameful that so few restaurants in Mexico offer mezcal - too many of them consider mezcal "the poor man's drink", and outside of its original city of Oaxaca it remains, to this day, relatively unknown and unavailable.
After plans for a Guggenheim museum fell through, officials in Guadalajara announced last December that starchitects Herzog & De Meuron (of Tate Modern in London, the Young Museum in San Francisco and Bird's Nest in Beijing fame) will design the new Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which is expected to be ready by 2012.
Over six acres of land will house the museum, which not only show works by famous Mexican artists but will also collaborate with contemporary artists to create new works. Officials hope it will position Guadalajara as a cultural destination.
The museum will be perched atop the Huentitan Canyon, an ecological reserve on the Santiago River.
The Habita group's Habita-MTY in Monterrey hotel won Wallpaper's 2010 Design Awards for best hotel... No suprise there!
Monterrey has never been exactly a tourist destination: foreigners go there on business, as this is the country's steel capital. Budding talent Joseph Dirand (the French architect who designed the summer house of no other than the master Phillippe Starck) is the man who created the look of the hotel, from its arc-shaped façade to the interior décor filled with onyx and skulls.
We love, love, love San Miguel de Allende, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its pristine Spanish colonial architecture. Condé Nast Traveler’s “Best in the World” list for 2009, named it the #5 city of the Americas. And although it already has a respectable number of top-quality hotels - the best being Orient Express' Casa de Sierra Nevada - additions to the hotel scene are always welcome.
That's why we think it's great that Hotel Matilda will open its doors in September, in the historical center. The hotel aims to be a "living art gallery", and was named after owner Harold Stream's mother, Matilda. The great Diego Rivera painted a portrait of her in the 1940's, and a replica of it will hang in the hotel.
Stream has been in the business since 1972 and has owned several hotels in the U.S. and Mexico. His Hotel Matilda will have:
- 32 rooms and suites, many with views of the beautiful San Miguel skyline, many with terrasses filled with potted plants and flowers.
- a restaurant with garden seating serving contemporary Mexican cuisine
- a stylish lounge and bar with a patio overlooking San Miguel;
- a spa with four treatment rooms, a couple's room and a Spa Suite with steam shower, tub and private courtyards. It'll also have an apothecary selling hand-made products blending indigenous ingredients.
- an infinity pool
The definitive highlight, however, will be the art collection. It will be anchored by permanent pieces and then be continuously refreshed with rotating works.
As the press release says, "Several acclaimed artists have been commissioned to create major pieces of art specifically for Hotel Matilda including: For a large interior wall, Bosco Sodi, who works with organic matter and color to create intangible energy and intense dialogue; for the Boveda ceiling in the lounge, Aldo Chapparo, whose pieces focus on the visual relations between natural and artificial objects; and for behind the Front Desk, Nacho Rodriguez, whose work is characterized by timelessness and the utilization of a diversity of media to explore the meaning of form and blur the lines between art and other disciplines. Photographer Spencer Tunick’s famous shot of thousands of nudes in Mexico City’s main square will be the wallpaper in the lounge bathroom."
Grupo Habita, my favourite Mexican hoteliers, are at it again. They're opening, this month, yet another hotel - this time, in Acapulco.
Yes, Acapulco, haven't you heard that all that's old is new again? ;)
Sure, the resort had been lagging far behind Cabo San Lucas and the Mayan Riviera in terms of cool factor for many years, but now it's seeing a big comeback. As The New York Times put it in a recent story about Acapulco, "
At its peak, Acapulco was a haunt of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, where Elizabeth Taylor married Mike Todd (the third of her eight weddings), and John and Jacqueline Kennedy headed for their honeymoon (as did a young Bill and Hillary Clinton). Howard Hughes spent his last days at the Acapulco Princess hotel. Lana Turner had a place overlooking the water, as did John Wayne. And well before the crew of “Girls Gone Wild” came trolling the beaches for spring-break shenanigans, “Fun in Acapulco” was not just a 1963 film starring a dashing Elvis Presley but an international shorthand for glamour."
And speaking of old, architects Frida Escobedo and José Rojas Claudia Fernández have brought back to life a vintage property: the Boca Chica. This is where all the action happened back in the 50s. And then... came the decline and abandon.
But now... the Boca Chica is back, thanks to the Grupo Habita.And judging by their other ventures, whatever they touch turns into gold, so...
Their p.r. material says:
"The team worked painstakingly to revive the Boca Chica’s prominent atmosphere of tropical luxury from the original structure, but just as intensely to modernise the facilities to suit contemporary standards of comfort: the result is anything but old-fashioned. Such interior features as the marble and granite mosaic floor and lattice ‘celocia’ brickwork were carefully restored, but the building was as well restructured to offer 30 guestrooms and 6 suites, each with private terraces and hammocks. Some of the rooms lead into private gardens and 3 of the suites even spaciously accommodate with a separate living room. The interior décor reflects the time period of the original structure, riding on the wave of 1950’s nostalgia that has lately swept through the worlds of fashion, design and film. The design team utilised those elements of the old Boca Chica that were consistent with their ideology, resituating them within the frame of contemporary design. But it is really the earth tones, cool whites and mild greens so abundant throughout the structure and interiors, reflecting over the crystal clear blue of the surrounding waters and endless sky that finally translate the hotel’s ultimate goal effortlessly into words: laid-back luxury."
Also new are the spa, the gym room with bay views and the poolside cabanas.
T. +52 (744) 4 82 78 79
Fraccionamiento las Playas
Acapulco, 39390, Guerrero, México
O P E N I N G D A T E : SPRING 2010
3 6 R O O MS
3 SUNSET SUITES WITH HAMMOCK AND PRIVATE TERRACE
3 BEACH SUITES WITH LIVING ROOM, HAMMOCK AND PRIVATE TERRACE
3 AMIGO ROOMS WITH TWO BEDS, HAMMOCK AND PRIVATE TERRACE
20 SEA VIEW ROOMS WITH HAMMOCK AND PRIVATE TERRACE
7 GARDEN ROOMS WITH HAMMOCK AND PRIVATE TERRACE
R A T E S
FROM 95 USD TO 275 USD
F L O O R D I S T R I B U T I O N
3RD AND 2ND FLOOR ROOMS AND SPA
1ST FLOOR ROOMS
GROUND FLOOR LOBBY, SHOP, POOL, GARDEN, RESTAURANT, BAR AND DISCOTHEQUE
SEA LEVEL MARINA, SUSHI “TAKE OUT”, GYM AND MASSAGE CABANAS
A ME N I T I E S
DR. BRONNER AMENITIES AC, WIRELESS INTERNET, MINIBAR, SAFE DEPOSIT BOX
24 HRS ROOM SERVICE, 24 HRS SECURITY SYSTEM AND VALET PARKING
We had to share this press release with you: great deal indeed!
"Mexico City- Mexico; December 16th, 2009 – The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) is excited to announce its first Facebook giveaway- an amazing 4-Day, 3-Night trip for two guests to the popular tourist destination of Cancun. Winners will stay at the luxurious Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas, and will include roundtrip airfare.
By simply becoming a fan of the MTB’s Facebook Page by December 28th, users are automatically entered to win. http://tinyurl.com/winmexicotrip. The trip is a way to give back and thank the growing online community of Mexico fans.
The Mexico Tourism Board launched their official “We Visit Mexico” social media presence on Facebook among other sites including Twitter, Youtube and Flickr, to talk to travelers in a more personal way.
The platform allows past, present and future travelers to post pictures, stories and experiences, about traveling to Mexico. Discussions include great places, people, activities, culture and food. People can also share their pictures and videos of their trips to Mexico.
You can find “We Visit Mexico” on the following sites:
Sweepstakes open to residents of the contiguous United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry. Employees of the Mexico Tourism Board and affiliated companies, and advertising and promotional agencies, and the immediate family members of, and any persons domiciled with, any such employees, are not eligible to win. Travel must originate from and return to a U.S. international airport. Travel is subject to blackout dates and availability. Trip is valid for one year from the date of issue.
About the Mexico Tourism Board
The Mexico Tourism Board (MTB) brings together the resources of federal and state governments, municipalities and private companies to promote Mexico’s tourism attractions and destinations internationally. Created in 1999, the MTB is Mexico’s tourism promotion agency, and its participants include members of both the private and public sectors. The MTB has offices throughout North America, Europe, Japan and Latin America. "
One of my favourite hotels in Mexico is Playa del Carmen's BASICO. I just love everything about it: the vibe, the utterly quirky design, the airyness, the guests. Once I stayed there, I started to pay more attention to what the owners of the BASICO do. They have a series of cool hotels, group under the banner grupo Habita.
They recently opened their third hotel in Mexico City, called Distrito Capital (Rua Juan Salvador Agraz, 37, tel. 5255 5257-1300) , in the Santa Fé district.
The hip French designer Joseph Dirand did the interiors, so naked they remind one of a modernistic convent.
At the entrance, dramatic cuts into the black walls let in slices of daylight.
The rooms are equally sober and minimalistic and come with iPod docks and amenities by Acqua di Parma.
It was in 2000 the four young entrepreneurs who own grupo Habita opened their first boutique hotel, the Habita (Avenida Presidente Masaryk, 201, Cidade do México, (555) 282-3100). It single-handedly changed the hotel scene in the city.
The 5-story building, enveloped in a milky glass "skin", looks like a lantern when lit up at night.
It's been a huge hit since day 1.
In 2001, they opened the Condesa df (Avenida Veracruz, 102, (555) 241-2600), a super cool triangular shaped hotel in the eponymous district of Mexico City.
Their La Purificadora (Callejon de la 10 Norte, 802, Puebla, (222) 309-1920) - is another architectural marvel, with the somber grey walls made more lively by sudden splashes of purple. Oh, and there's that famous pool in the lobby...
Their funnest hotels are the Hotel Deseo and my all-time fave, the Hotel Básico, both in Playa del Carmen. At Deseo (Quinta avenida s/no , Playa del Carmen, (984) 879-3620) the rooms face a pool that's always very happening, like an outdoor lounge party. At the Básico (Quinta avenida, s/no, Playa del Carmen, (984) 879-4448), a mere two blocks away, the décor is kooky-nautical with lots of black rubber and ivory cement tiles, with beds on stilts and other fun details.