Operations to Mexico: Hotels, Local Area and Culture
This is a post by author Manuel Girault and Jorge Alva. Manuel and Jorge are based at Universal Aviation Mexico, which has an FBO facility in Toluca and aircraft ground handling facilities in Cancun, Los Cabos, and Cozumel. Manuel and Jorge are experts on business aircraft operations in Mexico and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Mexico and continues from our last article: "Operations to Mexico – Flight Planning, Weather & NOTAMs."
For business aircraft operators traveling to Mexico, attention should be given to planning for hotels, security, and navigating local culture. From the hotel perspective, Mexico offers good crew accommodation options throughout the country. Best practice is to choose high-quality hotels in safe areas and to be aware of challenges that may be experienced during very high occupancy periods. Below is a general overview of what you need to know:
1. Good hotel availability is generally ample in Mexico
At major cities and large touristic areas, there are plenty of 4- and 5-star hotel accommodations available – both in town and close to major airports. Larger Mexican and international hotel chains have high standards and are equivalent in amenities to large US chains. In smaller cities and more remote locations, there are fewer options, but you should be able to source 4-star hotels.
2. Select the right quality of hotel
It’s recommended to use 4-star or higher hotels for crew accommodation due to amenity standards and available facilities (such as reliable Internet). It’s also important to select hotels in safe and convenient areas. Lower than 4-star accommodations may not be located in the best/safest areas. It’s best to talk with your local ground handler in order to select preferred accommodation options. Hotel prices vary depending on location, amenities, and season.
3. Consider restrictions and cancellation policies
Depending upon how the room is booked, your reservation may be non-refundable or non-changeable, particularly during high season and/or during major event periods. It’s always best to check with your 3rd-party provider, in advance of making a booking, and to work with your ground handler in terms of maximizing flexibility of hotel booking and change policies. Your ground handler may be able to obtain a better rate and secure amenities such as early check-in, included breakfast, Internet, etc.
4. Accommodations may be more difficult to secure during certain periods
Preferred hotel accommodations can sell out at large touristic areas during November-March high season – particularly over Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, long weekends and other holiday periods. Accommodations may also be in short supply, in some areas, during summer months when Mexicans take their vacations. If you’re making last-minute or short-notice hotel bookings, your ground handler will be able to assist, but preferred accommodations, in some cases, may be difficult to secure depending on location, time of year and local events taking place.
5. Be mindful of security concerns
Especially in higher-risk areas – including the north of Mexico – it’s important to work with your handler to choose accommodations in safe areas. If you plan to go out at night, use vetted ground transport arranged by your hotel or ground handler.
6. Rental vehicles are readily available in Mexico
Rental vehicles – in a range of sizes – are available at all major airports and at many smaller cities in Mexico. Be aware that rental vehicle costs can be high in Mexico, and many vehicles are equipped with standard shift transmissions. As the driving style is different in Mexico, and major city centers can be very congested, many crews opt to use either vetted taxis or prepaid transport (car and driver). It’s best to only rent a vehicle if you’re familiar with the area or if you’re in a resort location.
7. Correct personal documentation is essential
A valid passport is needed to travel to Mexico. Some nationalities – both crew and passengers – require visas, and these visas must be arranged in advance. If you arrive without an appropriate visa, you will be denied entry into the country. No vaccinations are currently required for travel to Mexico.
8. Fresh foods and catering may not be brought into Mexico
Bringing fresh food – meats, dairy products, fruits, etc. – into Mexico is usually prohibited. Your ground handler may be able to store on-board catering at the airport if appropriate facilities are available, but always check in advance with your 3rd-party provider and/or ground handler.
9. Mexico has a warm and welcoming culture
The environment for business meetings is relaxed in Mexico, and it’s customary to have conversation prior to a meeting. Mexicans prefer to eat later than is custom in some parts of the world – lunch is usually between 2-4 pm, with dinners typically beginning after 8:30 pm. It’s worthwhile to take the time to visit local museums, art galleries and historic sites while in Mexico, as the country has a rich culture and history. Late night Latin music venues – typically active between 11 pm and 5 am – are popular with some crews, but security precautions should be considered when out late at night.
While security concerns for travel to Mexico are a frequent topic in mainstream media, the security situation is seldom problematic for well-prepared corporate operators. Work with your 3rd-party provider and local ground handler to select the best hotels, in the right areas, and follow the same security precautions you’d take in any major North American or European city.
If you have any questions about this article or if you would like assistance with planning your next trip to Mexico, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.