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Sure, you can buy a tote bag or a baseball cap in lots of hotel gift shops. But a variety of upscale hotels in Mexico have upped the ante when it comes to souvenir shopping, with an eye toward offering unique and design-conscious items that you won’t find anywhere else. With the holiday season fast approaching, these hotels offer gift options that will surely be much more appreciated than a T-shirt that says: “My friend went to Mexico, and all I got was this lousy shirt.”
It’s not surprising that fashion plays a big role in the gift offerings at some of the most high-profile luxury hotels in Mexico. This year, for example, The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort unveiled the Mrs. Caroline, a $500 handbag created by Mexican designer Armando Takeda exclusively for sale at the St. Regis Boutique. The red and white bag is named after Caroline Astor, a member of the family who founded the St. Regis brand.
Savvy hotels have also made it easier for guests to take home some of the indulgent amenities they’ve come to love while on vacation — without having to steal them. In Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort sells handmade sarapes (Mexican blankets) that are used for turndown service. Guests can also feel especially good about their purchase, since the blankets are made through a partnership with Siestas for Fiestas, a California-based blanket company that donates proceeds from the hotel’s sales to various charities in Mexico.
Spirits are another popular item to take home. At the recently relaunched Hilton Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, hotel staff say one of the best-selling gifts is the artisan mezcal called Quiereme Mucho, which is made in the central valleys of Oaxaca following 18th century traditions. The spirit is contained in hand-painted bottles, each of which is unique and serves as a handsome decor piece long after the mezcal is gone. Guests are invited to sample the spirit before buying it at the hotel’s Tequileria and Cigar Club, which hosts tequila tasting classes.
Mexico City is already a shopper’s paradise, and even small hotels offer interesting finds. Ignacia Guest House, which is set in a former private mansion that dates to 1913, is celebrating its second anniversary by collaborating with Mexico City-based artist Hilda Palafox to offer a line of commemorative tote bags. Palafox, whose work has been featured in exhibits in Mexico, the U.S. and Japan, has also created murals for Amnesty International as well as an eye-catching homepage illustration for Google. For Ignacia Guest House, her series of images feature female characters in a variety of styles.
San Miguel de Allende is another rewarding place for globetrotters looking for uncommon finds. The Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende offers an array of upscale gift ideas at its gift shop, La Caty, which specializes in Mexican brands of stylish hats and clothing.
Nearby, at Hotel Amparo, guests can purchase just about anything they see on site. And uniqueness is pretty much guaranteed, since the hotel’s designer, Aaron Rambo, usually replaces everything that’s been purchased with a new item that’s completely different. Among the best-selling items, according to hotel management, are multicolored handwoven towels, which are laid on guestroom sinks; colonial loom throws, which are a smaller version of the large blankets left on the beds; and papier-mache vases, which are designed and created by local artisans in San Miguel de Allende.
In addition, the hotel’s owner, Mariana Barran de Goodall, sells items from Hibiscus Linens, a Houston-based handmade textile company that she owns. At these hotels, there’s no excuse for going home with a snow globe.