Friday, June 14, 2024

En Breve: Oaxaca, best city in the world; Mexico wins big in travel survey

The annual Travel + Leisure magazine trends survey is out, and Mexico’s performance in it is outstanding. 

Five Mexican cities were on the magazine’s Top 25 cities in the world list — Oaxaca city nabbed the No. 1 spot. Mexico also had eight of the globe’s 100 best hotels and claimed the world’s No. 4 spa destination. 

San Miguel de Allende
The city of San Miguel de Allende, Travel + Leisure’s world’s best city in 2021, came in No. 5 this year but contains the two best city hotels in Mexico. (Kayak)

It perhaps comes as little surprise that Travel + Leisure named Mexico “readers’ favorite country in the world.”

So what exactly brought home the awards for Mexico? Here’s a quick look: 

Oaxaca, the world’s best city 

Oaxaca city centre
Oaxaca was declared the best city in the world by readers thanks to its mix of culture and history. (El Ágora/Wikimedia)

According to the survey, large and mid-size cities with an immersive cultural experience are high on travelers’ destination wish lists, which made Oaxaca city — a UNESCO World Heritage site — a natural choice for readers to vote as the world’s best city.  

“Widely considered one of Mexico’s cultural capitals, Oaxaca is a maze of historical monuments, lively street markets, stunning churches, contemporary art galleries, colorful street art, and charming plazas,” the magazine said.  

The city is also a “foodies’ mecca,” a reader highlighted, home to award-winning restaurants like Criollo, created by Chef Enrique Olvera, and world-class accommodations like Escondido Oaxaca and Hotel Sin Nombre.

The survey ranked 100 cities worldwide. Mexico was the only country with five cities on the list — and the only one with two cities in the Top 5. Behind Mexico was Japan with three cities, and Italy, Thailand and Portugal with two each. Other Mexican cities on the list were San Miguel de Allende (No. 5), Mexico City (No. 6), Mérida (No. 16) and Guadalajara (No. 23). 

Casa de Sierra Nevada Hotel in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico
Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond hotel in San Miguel de Allende, took the crown this year for the best city hotel in Mexico. (Casa de Sierra Nevada)

San Miguel de Allende takes top 2 spots in the best Mexico hotels category

On Travel and Leisure’s favorite city hotels list, the small city of San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato took the top 2 spots: the Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond hotel, took the crown, unseating last year’s No. 1 winner, the hacienda-style Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, which slipped to No. 2 this year.

Casa de Sierra Nevada, which made a leap to take the crown this year from its No. 5 spot last year, was described by one guest as “a fantastic hotel with outstanding service.”

Located in San Miguel de Allende’s historic center and within easy walking distance to the scenic Jardín Allende and Parque Benito Juárez, the colonial property houses 37 rooms and suites across four mansions, built in the 17th and 18th centuries.  

Guests can immerse themselves in the local culture both on- and off-site through experiences that include cooking classes, craft workshops with an artist-in-residence and horseback rides through the countryside. 

Come sunset, travelers can take in the rose-hued rooftops of the city from the hotel’s cocktail bar, and for live music, dine at the Restaurante del Parque adjacent to the hotel’s garden.

Rosewood Hotel San Miguel de Allende in Mexico
Readers cited San Miguel de Allende’s Rosewood Hotel for, among other amenities, its sunset rooftop views from the Luna tapas bar and its “one-of-a-kind” Sunday brunches. (Rosewood)

Despite its slight drop on the list, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende still received strong praise from readers, one of whom called it a “wonderful oasis.” 

Features that kept the Rosewood in the Top 5 included sunset views from Luna, the rooftop tapas bar, and its Sunday brunch. 

“Don’t miss it,” wrote one guest of the brunch. “It is one of a kind.” 

For those passionate about art, the hotel offers painting and craft workshops, as well as an art concierge who can arrange personalized excursions.   

The two hotels were in good company: rounding out the top 5 were three heavy-hitters, all in Mexico City: the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the St. Regis Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel. 

Baja California has the world’s No. 4 spa destination

Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico
Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, was voted the No. 4 spa destination on the planet. (Rancho La Puerta)

According to Travel and Leisure, in a world recovering from a global pandemic, the number of people traveling for self-care is only growing. Delivering personalized wellness experiences in the mountains of Baja California, Rancho La Puerta in Tecate was picked by the magazine’s readers as the world’s No. 4 spa destination. 

“They are perpetually looking at what they provide and how to do so better,” shared one reader, while another mentioned feeling “rejuvenated” after a week of treatment there.  

A big attraction is its activities, ranging from craft workshops to cooking classes that teach healthy recipes to guests so that they can continue eating healthily at home.  

8 Mexico hotels are among the world’s 100 best

Xcaret Arte, Playa del Carmen
The Xcaret Arte, in Quintana Roo, was the highest-rated hotel in Mexico, and No. 4 in the world. (Urban Traveler)

The magazine’s 100 Best Hotels in the World list this year spans over 30 countries and five continents. Eight are in Mexico, the country with the second highest number of hotels on the list, just after Italy, which had nine. 

From city resorts to beach hotels, these are the eight hotels in Mexico considered by Travel + Leisure readers among the world’s best:

  • Hotel Xcaret Arte: Playa del Carmen, Yucatán (No. 4)
  • Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal: Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur (No. 41)
  • Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato (No. 51)
  • Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort: San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur (No. 55)
  • Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Yucatán (No. 75)
  • Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection: Punta Maroma, Quintana Roo (No. 78)
  • Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve: San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur (No. 83)
  • One & Only Palmilla: San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur (No. 91)

With reports from Travel and Leisure

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