What's new in Oaxaca

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The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca.
The Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger

Oaxaca City, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, known for its eclectic art scene, colonial vibe, ancient ruins and iconic gastronomy, is one of the true beating hearts of the entire country -- a microcosm, if you will, of what makes Mexico so fantastic. Oaxaca is showing off a host of new hotels and activities this year.

Hotels

Opened in 2019, Grupo Habita debuted its Hotel Escondido, the urban version of its stunning beach resort 40 minutes outside of Puerto Escondido, along the coast. Hotel Escondido in Oaxaca City is true to Grupo Habita form: sleek, bohemian, elevated design that focuses on clean aesthetics and local touches. Hotel Escondido offers just 12 rooms built into a restored 19th-century house, alongside a newly built tower. The boutique hotel is elegant, understated and infused with artisanal elements to give it a sense of place, from the locally made handicrafts to the exposed brick, terra cotta and wood. The hotel features an onsite restaurant, pool, library and boutique. It is a 10-minute walk from Oaxaca's historical center.

Group Posadas has opened a Grand Fiesta Americana in Oaxaca, as well. The new urban resort has a delicate desert design, with succulents, cacti, tile artwork and neutral, sandy colors. The hotel has a restaurant, meeting facilities, fitness center and pool.

Casa Criollo has been a culinary institution in Oaxaca for four years. But at the end of 2019, the restaurant opened a guesthouse,  conceived by Chef Enrique Olvera and architect Javier Sanchez. Located behind the restaurant, the guest house can accommodate four guests in two bedrooms. The zen-like space is decorated minimally, much like the restaurant, but with no luxury spared, from the built-in sauna and outdoor pool to daily breakfast and complimentary mezcal included. 

Restaurants

While not particularly new, restaurant Oaxacalifornia has been flying under the radar in the city, and is worth a visit for its light, airy decor, and fusion menu that brings together Oaxacan specialties with those from Ensenada in Baja. Picture bright ceviches, fresh tostadas and succulent moles, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, earth and slate-colored walls, boho-chic decorative touches like stacked wooden crates, hanging plants, and beautiful murals.

Experiences

One of Oaxaca's most vibrant celebrations is Dia de Los Muertos, held at the end of October/beginning of November each year. This year, luxury tour operator Journey Mexico is offering a Day of the Dead experience, in conjunction with a limited block of rooms at the five-star hotel Quinta Real.

The Day of the Dead experience begins in the markets of Oaxaca, where your clients will watch locals prepare for the festivities. Watch how traditional altars are created, while learning about their significance and the role they play in the holiday. The itinerary brings guests to the homes of locals, as well, to see the altars they have created. In the evening, the program includes a visit to a local cemetery to experience a twilight vigil and to see how the graves are decorated with glittering candles and bright flowers. The experience continues with the famous parade in Oaxaca's north valley, where locals dress in skeleton-themed costumes and take to the streets.

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