After two brutal earthquakes struck Mexico City in September, some travelers may still wonder whether it’s a good idea to visit Mexico’s capital as it recovers.
The answer — according to industry insiders, tourism officials and a couple recent visitors — is a resounding yes.
“The country is at its best to visit,” said Rafael Micha, managing partner of Grupo Habita, a hotel company known for its stylish boutique properties.
All of the most famous museums and tourist attractions — including National Museum of Anthropology, Palace of Fine Arts and the soaring Metropolitan Cathedral, which presides over the massive Zocalo city square — are open and receiving visitors. Outside of the city, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Oaxtepec is to reopen in early December, while Six Flags Mexico is fully operational.
Big-brand hotel properties are fully up and running as well, including three hotels that had closed temporarily for inspections and repairs following the earthquakes: the 160-room Le Meridien Mexico City, the 233-room Holiday Inn Mexico Coyoacan and the 64-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Mexico Medica Sur.
Grupo Habita’s properties in Mexico City — Hotel Habita, Downtown Mexico, Condesa DF and Distrito Capital — are not only reporting business as usual, but have also served as collection centers for goods to support residents affected by the disaster. Downtown Beds, the trendy hostel component of the more upscale Downtown Mexico, even offered a “zero rate” for residents in need, as well as special discounts for volunteers who helped in rescue and recovery efforts.
But is it ethically OK to visit a city where some people were gravely affected by a natural disaster? Again, the answer is yes, according to Zachary Rabinor, president of Journey Mexico, an upscale tour operator. In a statement issued soon after the earthquakes struck, he welcomed and encouraged travel to Mexico.
“There is no better way to help the country and people recover and show your appreciation and support,” Rabinor said.
The Travelers’ Perspective
Recent visitors to the city agree that now’s the time to visit Mexico City once more.
Jeffrey Gomez, the Los Angeles-based editor-in-chief of The Snob magazine, vacationed there in late October.
“I was apprehensive at first about visiting Mexico City so soon after the earthquake, but that was quickly dismissed once I landed and toured the city,” he said. “There are very few places to even see destruction. Mexico City has rigorous earthquake regulations, and its people put in valiant efforts to save others and to rebuild. There were no problems with visiting any museums, landmarks or ancient ruins. It’s as if nothing was affected by the quake.”
David Hammond, an editor at Newcity.com, a cultural website about Chicago, also visited in late October. He reported minor internal damage and spotty Wi-Fi access at his hotel on Paseo de la Reforma — but offered a recommendation to avoid them.
Hammond suggests that travelers — and travel agents — should call prospective hotels and inquire about any damage done to the structure during the earthquake.
“You could also check reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor to see if anyone has experienced problems due to the earthquake or even noticed damage to hotels where you’re thinking of staying,” he said.
Gomez said that Mexico City’s appeal remains strong.
“I would highly recommend people visit Mexico City,” he said. “First off, the dollar is still a very good value against the peso. I was there during Dia de los Muertos. The city was full of people, parties, parades and celebrations. It was full of life and excitement, even well into the early hours.”