Take a break from your meeting and step outside — you’re immediately invigorated by the breathtaking beauty of San Miguel de Allende’s Spanish colonial architecture, the quaint cobblestone streets, and the colorful folk art in shop windows. Find a bench in this historic town’s shady square and refuel with an ice cream cone or wander into a sophisticated gallery or two before you head back to your meeting, revived and ready to focus again. When you have a few hours to explore, hit the Artisan’s Market, take a Mexican cooking class, or visit one of the famous Art Institutes in San Miguel. You never need to go out of town to be amused in this romantic, UNESCO heritage-site city, but there’s plenty more to do if you want to, like horseback riding, hot air balloon rides, and visits to natural spring baths.
The culinary scene is stellar – for a city this size there are numerous celebrity chefs, excellent restaurants in all price ranges and cool rooftop bars with views of centuries-old buildings and churches. Sample some of Mexico’s best tequila here and taste smoky mezcals and up-and-coming Mexican wines or try the popular michelada, Mexico’s beer-infused twist on the Bloody Mary in any number of chic bars.
Conference and meeting facilities run the gamut from hotels with classic meeting rooms for bigger groups to smaller more intimate settings in private villas with personal chefs. You won’t find space for thousands of conventioneers, but you will find a one-of-a-kind experience for small and medium-sized groups in an authentic, walkable and safe setting that is so beautiful that the city’s atmosphere can automatically shift your meeting from routine to inspiring.
Here are a few places that do a particularly good job within the historic city. There are more conference hotels and a few ranches that accommodate groups outside of town, but it’s definitely more fun to be within walking distance of everything:
FOR SMALL GROUPS:
Casa Tres Cervezas
Just two blocks off the main square on one of San Miguel’s most exclusive streets, the expansive and art-filled private home, Casa Tres Cervezas has been remodeled with more intimate groups in mind. Breakout meetings can take place around the stunning property – on a garden patio, in the dining room, on a magnificent rooftop deck with an outdoor kitchen, and in the next door Mezcaleria’s private dining room that can accommodate 20 people. Its eight ensuite bedrooms can accommodate up to 18 people, and there are discreet and elegant guest houses across the cobblestoned street if you need to add a few rooms to your accommodations.
You’ll also enjoy your own private swimming pool and hot tub, bilingual concierges, a private chef, and a yoga room where you can practice yoga or have private salsa classes. This is a one-of-a-kind property with fascinating cultural touches, like carved cantera stonework, multiple fireplaces, massive hammered tin lanterns, fountains, lavish gardens, handcarved wooden furniture and more. The location and charm of this property make it a standout.
FOR SMALL-TO-MEDIUM-SIZED GROUPS:
In a city known for its historic beauty, the cool modernism of this sleek and stylish hotel breaks the mold. Its spa, infinity pool and sundeck are great for lunchtime refreshers and its restaurant, Moxi, is one of the best in town. Its largest suite can accommodate cocktail parties of up to 100 people inside and out and board meetings of up to 22 in a seated u-shaped configuration inside. The restaurant caters so you are guaranteed great food for your event, and 16 guest rooms can accommodate up to 32 guests. Larger groups can stay in nearby hotels, like the Rosewood just a few minute’s walk away. A bilingual staff member will help you plan.
FOR MEDIUM-SIZED GROUPS:
Belmont Casa de Sierra Nevada
This magnificent hotel is a cluster of 17th and 18th century heritage mansions that have been put together to create a collection of guest rooms, outdoor patios and gardens, restaurants and common rooms. Each of the 37 rooms and suites is different and is furnished to reflect the spirit of San Miguel and the hotel’s rich colonial architecture. The lavish gardens boast stone arches and courtyards lit by lanterns, and there is a top restaurant and bar, a spa, beauty salon, pool, and cooking school. Their “Salón Guitarras” can accommodate U-shape configurations of up to 40 and banquets for 50, and outdoor gardens in different sizes are well set up for events, receptions and banquets for up to 150 people.
FOR BIGGER GROUPS:
Rosewood San Miguel
Designed after a seventeenth-century colonial palace, this full-service hotel is well set up for conferences and meetings. Situated atop a small hill with views of the city, its ballroom can hold 160 seated for meals and 200 for a reception, or 120 classroom style. An outdoor terrace can accommodate several hundred, too. There is even an outdoor amphitheater for lectures or performances and a new outdoor lawn area for especially large parties.
The Rosewood also offers cooking classes for team building, swimming pools, a spa, kids’ programs in season, a fitness center and all the other amenities that you expect of a hotel of this stature. With 76 guest rooms a large group might spill over into other properties nearby (like Hotel Matilda), but the size of the meeting and reception areas make this the perfect choice for the bigger numbers. Its rooftop cocktail lounge is the perfect place to unwind at the end of the day with a margarita and views of historic rooftops and church spires.
Live Aqua San Miguel
Now the largest hotel in the city, Live Aqua sits on one edge of the historic downtown area near Fabrica Aurora, an art and design center created out of an historic factory that houses 50 art galleries and craft, antique and design shops. The 153-room hotel has a sleek and modern design sensibility melded with touches of the city’s colonial past. An onsite bakery perfumes the air as you wander around the hacienda-style buildings draped in vines and bougainvillea to explore its lavish outdoor gardens, swimming pool patio, specialty restaurants and extra amenities like a spa and kid’s club. A ballroom with the capacity to accommodate up to 1,000 guests can be divided into multiple smaller sections and there are numerous terraces that are perfect for events. Bilingual meeting planners are on staff to help.
Laura Sutherland is a travel writer based in California who travels regularly to Mexico. You can follow her at WanderandTaste.