When the flow of travelers slowed to a trickle after an earthquake struck the city in 2017, 10 boutique hotels, similar in style and service, united for a cause: survival.
After a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City on September 19, 2017, tourism numbers tumbled and hotels suffered the consequences. Faced with empty rooms and very few future reservations, Alan Favero—the owner of the eight-room, eco-friendly El Patio 77, in the San Rafael neighborhood—sprung into action, spearheading a platform called Hoteles de Barrio that officially launched last month.
The idea was to unite a group of 10 properties around the city that share a similar design aesthetic and commitment to service. “We have a beautiful hotel, but there are a lot of hotels like us that are fighting for the market. I thought that if we came together as a group, we could promote ourselves and be more powerful,” he says.
Power in numbers was certainly a motivating factor for Ana Leticia Reyes, the owner of Casa Goliana, in Roma Norte, to join. “We can present a united front in order to be heard by promoters of local tourism, who usually deal with large chains,” she says. “Before, it was difficult to approach them individually.”
Right now, Hoteles de Barrio is just a website and a hashtag—but the goal is to turn it into a designation that carries the same weight as, say, the Berlin-based boutique-hotel consortium, Design Hotels. “We don’t want to be seen as super luxury, but rather small, artsy hotels that are well-designed and really local,” Favero says. “And it’s also about the experience and quality of personalized service we provide.” While there is no set list of criteria, the hotels are all relatively small, ranging from the 36-room Hotel Carlota to La Valise, which has just three rooms. And many are located in meticulously and beautifully restored historic buildings, giving you the feeling that you’re staying in a private home.
“We have a beautiful hotel, but there are a lot of hotels like us that are fighting for the market. I thought that if we came together as a group, we could promote ourselves and be more powerful.”
According to Regina Montes, the owner of the intimate Nima Local House in Roma Norte, the group gets together often to “brainstorm innovative ideas on how to improve our guests’ experiences.” This might mean, say, partnering with chefs to spend time in their kitchens or visiting farmers and helping them harvest. Eventually, the website will feature maps and guides, as well as blog posts with recommendations from the property owners and employees.
To spread the word, they’re starting with a newsletter that will go to each of their databases. The group is also planning to create promotions and deals around booking nights at more than one participating hotel—a move that plays to the sprawling nature of the Mexico City metropolitan area. And the properties are now willing and able to recommend each other as alternatives if they’re at capacity. As for the future, they may add a booking engine to the site, and Favero hopes to grow beyond the initial members—and even expand to nearby destinations such as San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca City.
“We are committed to the promotion of our neighborhoods and its small merchants—from restaurants, bars, and bakeries to cultural centers,” says Ana Leticia Reyes. “And by sharing our secrets, we are directly enriching the experience of visitors.”