The verdant state of Veracruz boasts one of Mexico’s leading economies based on agriculture and petroleum, with an additional emphasis on petrochemical and chemical manufacturing.
Generally warm and humid, with average temperatures around 76º (24ºC) to 82ºF (28ºC) and plenty of rain in August and September.
The Veracruz International Airport (VER) receives direct flights from Houston. You can also connect direct from Mexico City (one-hour flight) or Guadalajara (1.5 hours). The airport has been recently renovated and expanded to accommodate larger aircraft and more passengers.
There are several top-tier beachfront options close to the World Trade Center including the 141-room Hotel Castelo with facilities for up to 45 people; the 108-room Hilton Garden Inn Boca del Río Veracruz with 3,160 ft² (294 m²) of meeting space; and the impressive 233-room Fiesta Americana Veracruz that boasts a Convention Center with 11 meeting rooms and space for events up to 450 people. The elegant Galería Plaza Veracruz, part of the renowned Las Brisas Hotel Collection, is connected to the World Trade Center and has an auditorium with capacity for up to 1,700 people.
The second-largest venue after the WTC, the 227-room Novomar hotel can host up to 2,000 people for conferences in a 23,715-sq-ft room (2,203 m²) In the historic city center, the 121-room Gran Hotel Diligencias takes you back in time without forfeiting modern comfort, including 3,810 ft² (354 m²) of meeting space. The new DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Veracruz (open mid-2016) has a contemporary edge, 226 rooms and more than 19,000 ft² (1,776 m²) of meeting space with stunning views of the sea. Located right next to the legendary Paseo del Malecón boardwalk, the 223-room Emporio Veracruz, member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Group, can handle events of up to 550 people indoors and 300 people outdoors.
The top gun is the Veracruz World Trade Center in Boca del Río, with a total of 133,580 ft² (12,410 m²) of expo, meetings and convention space, direct access to the largest shopping mall in the region, an IMAX cinema and the five-star Galería Plaza hotel.
Alternative venues are steeped in history. The historical Ataranzas building offers an outdoor terrace and an indoor area with a capacity for 200 people, and the ancient San Juan de Ulúa Fortress, one of the largest and most spectacular alternative venues, has a central yard that can hold up to 4,000 people. There are also theaters, museums, train stations, and cultural institutes available for events.
If you have time for nothing else, a lechero coffee at La Parroquia in the historic center is a must. The city center offers culture, fine cuisine and the exciting Carnaval de Veracruz in February, second only to that of Rio. Can’t miss activities: a walk through the feng-shui inspired Acuario Veracruz, with huge, doughnut-shaped tank filled with sharks, rays and giant turtles that swim around and over the viewers; a side trip to the lakeside village of Catemaco, famous for its shamen, ancient rituals and traditional medicines; and an excursion to the ruins of El Tajín, a spectacular archaeological site that includes over 160 buildings and 17 ball courts.
An easy inland drive from the port of Veracruz past gently sloping foothills and flourishing coffee and mango plantations, the village of Jalcomulco is Mexico’s premier rafting destination. Laid-back and picturesque, Jalcomulco nestles right on the banks of Río Antigua (also known as Río Pescados). Consider organizing group rafting trips along this river—sections range from gentle class II areas to more challenging class IV whitewater. You can book everything from action-packed daytrips, relaxing floats or full-blown adventures lasting several days. Check out outfits like Expediciones México Verde in the area, which offer tailored team building, motivational and outdoor training programs in their camps; this particular one boasts a “glamping” resort with pool, bar, temazcal (steam bath) a restaurant and meeting rooms in addition to the activities facilities.
Coming Up: The 165-room Aloft Veracruz is set to open by the end of 2017, located on one of the main avenues in the Veracruz-Boca del Río area, across the street from the Veracruz Convention Center.