Night At The Museum
with Martha Chapman

Leobardo Espinosa

Mexico’s Alfonso Sumano

A charming hostess: Monica Garcia of the Mexico Tourism Board

It was a balmy March night (balmy? March?) at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario – the perfect way to celebrate the temperate climate and cultural charms of the Mexican city Puebla.

And how better to spend the evening than in the company of Alfonso Sumano, head of Mexico’s tourism board in Toronto and his welcoming team, as well as Leobardo Espinosa of Mesones Sacrista, a chain of charming historic Mexican inns.

The event, which saw a mix of agents and wholesalers dine deliciously in the AGO, was to inform and entice us to visit Puebla. As Alfonso put it, “Mexico has more than the beach and sun – just 90 minutes from Mexico City Airport is this lovely, historic city.â€

The fourth largest city in Mexico, Puebla has about three million inhabitants – and just as many culinary treats, it appears. (“What’s your favourite thing to do in Puebla?†I asked Alfonso and Leobardo separately, and they each solemnly replied:  “Eat.â€) It’s home to that magical, curious dish called mole (“mo-layâ€) which manages to combine chicken, chocolate and chilis – and taste great.

Why recommend Puebla to clients?  “We offer baroque churches, local wines, museums, language and culinary immersion, and history in every step,†Leobardo told me. “We don’t sell rooms or food and beverage; we sell an experience.†His hotels appear to be tiny gems, one a former convent, another with just 15 rooms – each about 180 degrees from those massive beachfront all-inclusive wristband-required resorts.

And guess what? Puebla is easily accessible from Mexico City Airport on board luxury coaches, and is packaged with Total Vacations and Moreno Travel.

“We like to think of Puebla as offering all the history and culture of Europe – but warmer and closer,†says Alfonso with a smile.

Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, watch out. Those Mexicans are out to charm your clients!

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