Mexico City Hotel a Fine Food Mecca

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BY JOYCE DALTON

MEXICO CITY -- Business or leisure, most clients consider good food as important as a comfortable bed when selecting a hotel. The management at Mexico City's Presidente Inter-Continental knows this.

It follows that management considers its seven restaurants, including a Maxim's de Paris and an Alfredo's di Roma, a key selling point.

With such emphasis on fine dining, it comes as no surprise that the property's executive chef recently won the title of "Best Chef in Mexico" or that Alfredo's sommelier was named "Best Sommelier of French Wines and Liquors in Mexico." The latter will represent his country in a World's Best Sommelier competition in France this June.

The titles were well-earned.

Every year, the Inter-Continental's executive chef travels to Paris to study with the renowned Paul Bocouse, while the prize-winning sommelier has visited France, Spain, Belgium and the United States to learn about regional wines.

In addition to Maxim's and Alfredo's, guests can sample classical Mexican fare in the cheerful ambience of La Chimenea, feast on lobster or steak at the Palm, enjoy casual dining at the Frutas y Flores, select from El Cafe's luncheon buffet or take afternoon tea, along with Austrian pastries, in the Balmoral Tea Room.

The hotel is located in the fashionable Polanceo district, only three blocks away from the trendy Masaryk Avenue shopping district.

Although area business people and shoppers often take lunch or dinner at the hotel, the number of restaurants guarantees that diners are spread out. Four of the restaurants serve breakfast, so even then, clients will not find lines.

As the first luxury hotel in the area, "something is always being done," as a spokeswoman put it.

Next in line for renovation are Maxim's and the Castillo salon, which can seat 1,500 for banquets.

According to Ella Messerli, vice president of marketing and sales, many millions of dollars have been spent in recent years, $3 million in 1996 alone, on various refurbishments.

One highly visible result is the lobby redesign.

A contemporary sense of space is highlighted by a towering, modernistic sculpture. Comfortable sofas and perhaps the world's longest coffee table invite relaxation and the chance to admire the attractive use of wood, leather, marble, onyx and talavera.

Throughout the 42-story hotel, clients will note interesting paintings, sculptures and ceramics, all by Mexican artists.

In between trying out the various restaurants, that is.

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