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For many North Americans, Mexico is the country our minds drift to in the darkest winter months – we picture the bars, beaches, mayan ruins and sparkling swimming pools. But in the past decade, Mexico City has also been building another reputation – as a first-class business destination, complete with five-star hotels, gourmet restaurants and gleaming convention centres. In fact, Mexico City now ranks as one of the top 10 destinations in the world for large international congresses and conventions. So let go of all your preconceived notions of this Central American capital and check out this rundown of things that may surprise you:
It’s not called Mexico City: Well, not by the locals anyway. The term you’ll hear is D.F. (or, in the Spanish accent “Day-Effe”) short for Distrito Federal. People from the city are called Capitalinos, Defeños or the much less formal, Chilengos.
It’s much cleaner than you think: Thanks to an excellent metro system, bike-sharing, and tough industrial controls, the city has drastically cut it’s pollution and traffic rates. Look out for the volcanic peaks that ring the city on a clear day.
It a great blend of modern and historic: If you’re in town on business, you’ll likely be spending time in the colonia of Santa Fe, located on the western edge of the city centre. This modern urban zone is comprised of glass and steel skyscrapers, a giant shopping mall, convention centre and office parks that house Fortune 500 corporate offices and global hotel chains. But take a walk down the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard and you’ll pass forested parks, museums, historical sites, fountains, and majestic old homes.
Business and pleasure are inseparable: If you’re coming from the U.S. or Canada to Latin America for the first time on business, you should be warned that the business travel “scene” in Mexico is very social. Your Mexican colleagues will feel more comfortable doing business with you after they have shared a beer with you, so expect invitations for lunch, dinner or cocteles in the district’s many outdoor cafes, bars, and hotel lobbies. And before raising a glass, don’t forget the essential cheers – “Salud”!