Guatemala City spearheads the country’s meetings industry thanks to a mature segment infrastructure with internationally-recognized hotel brands that not only offer continuously upgraded and refurbished accommodations, but also a proven track record of excellent service, on-site meetings and event space with cutting-edge technology, and professional staff specializing in meetings and events. The country’s rich heritage and colorful traditions permeate its hotel offer, so planners can bet on their meetings and events having a real sense of place whether in the décor, entertainment, gastronomy, or even merely in the cups of aromatic Guatemalan coffee during breaks. The city is home to Guatemala’s most prominent dedicated convention space, COPEREX Industrial Park Fairgrounds, though it also offers several unique alternative venues for the planner seeking something entirely out of the norm, especially for knockout inaugural or closing events. But it’s not all work and no play: even though Guatemala City is best known for business, it has its share of attractions for pre- and post-event activities.
Zona 1: This is the oldest section of the city and home to the Plaza Mayor, the National Theater, and the Metropolitan Cathedral, which recently underwent some restoration work on its façade. There are several buildings here dating back to the city’s founding in the late 1700s.
Zona 4: Located south of Zona 1, its main avenue, the Paseo de la Reforma, is a wide thoroughfare with several commemorative plazas dotting its parklike median. This zone is the financial center of the city and home to the main INGUAT offices (located in the Civic Center) as well as the Bank of Guatemala, the Supreme Court building, and other government buildings. Note: the façade of the Bank of Guatemala was created by noted artist and muralist Carlos Mérida, a contemporary of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.
Zonas 9 and 10: These ritzy business districts spread out to the east and west of the Avenida de la Reforma. Here the leafy streets and gardens remind visitors the city was named a Green Capital in 2019 by the Environmental Committee of Ibero-American Capitals. Zona 10-also known as the Zona Viva-in particular, is home to high-end hotels, luxury shops, restaurants, and nightlife. Museums include the famous Popol Vuh and the Numu Museum of Contemporary Art. Zona 13: Not far from Zonas 9 and 10, this is home to the airport, the Aurora Zoo, and several museums.
Most of the city’s four- and five-star properties are located in and around the Zona Viva, conveniently located near the many restaurants featuring everything from well-known US chains to European menus to the country’s fantastic culinary offer and coffee shops touting its excellent coffee. One of the newest spaces in the Zona Viva, the Marriott Courtyard Guatemala City welcomes business travelers with its recognizable mix of style and function. Ergonomic desk chairs, high tech, and large desks in the rooms are a plus, as are the floorto-ceiling windows with views of the city. It has six event rooms with modern a/v equipment and a total of 246 m² (2,647 ft²) for meetings of up to 98 people. The rooftop Jacuzzi at the Radisson Hotel and Suites Guatemala City is a hit with event attendees after a long day, as are its 146 well-appointed suites with great views (the one-bedroom suites and above have the largest work spaces). The hotel has six large banquet halls and can accommodate up to 600 guests for receptions, conferences, exhibitions, corporate meetings, etc. Boardrooms are available for more intimate meetings.
Planners will find the Hyatt Centric Guatemala City has woven Guatemala’s traditions, colors, and history into every aspect of the hotel but unobtrusively, creating a background for meetings and events that let attendees know where they are. The 138-room property makes the most of the city and volcano landscapes-its Zielo Rooftop open-air restaurant is a favorite for gatherings with 360-degree views. Together with the signature restaurant Zamat and the Estelas room, the hotel offers 222 m² (2,389.6 ft²) of space for small meetings and events. The hotel is connected to the AVIA lifestyle center with luxury boutiques, offices, a food court beloved of meetings attendees, apartments, and the Épica Convention Center, a versatile, cutting edge space that can welcome events of up to 600 persons.
The Westin Camino Real Guatemala boasts the biggest event space in the city at 2,000 m² (21,528 ft²) and 30 meeting rooms with capacity for up to 3,000 people in its on-site, high-tech convention center. The 279-room property and has an opulent classic décor that has welcomed princes, kings, and sheiks-with their accompanying security and privacy demands, so planners can be assured they can get white-glove service for their event. The sleek and luxurious 239-room Real Intercontinental Guatemala has hosted some of the top events and conventions in the city, including a reputation for thinking outside the box when organizing meetings and events for top organizations such as the 2019 Latin America Summit for The Global Association for the Attractions Industry (IAAPA). Among their offerings: a double-decker bus tour around the city for corporate groups. The hotel offers 16 spacious meetings rooms, many with ample windows and access to the outdoors, with a maximum capacity for 1,200 people and the latest audio and video technology, as well as proprietary broadband for streaming speed internet. Cocktails can be organized in the pool area or other open-air spaces to take advantage of the views of the city and the Agua Volcano. The 397 rooms at the classic Barceló Guatemala City have been completely refurbished and include “leisure” perks not usually found in business hotels, such as fluffy robes and slippers, plus a Premium category with Club access and Concierge service.
The meetings offer includes 24 meeting spaces, restaurants for smaller gatherings, and the distinctive Garden, an indoor-outdoor area in the middle of the building. The ample Las Naciones ballroom has 863 m² (9,300 ft²) of flexible space with street access that can be divided into six areas and can accommodate up to 1,800. Special touches for planners include a traditional Guatemalan sawdust “carpet” that can be created at the ballroom entrance with the corporate logo. A few miles outside the city, the recently remodeled Hilton Guatemala City is a colonial-style hotel with tasteful period décor, all the upgrades, and lush green gardens-including a waterfall-that give event attendees a respite from their work. All of the 130 guest rooms have a work desk and all the connectors a traveler could desire; Executive Rooms on the 4th and 5th levels have access to the brand new Executive Lounge and butler service. Meetings and events can be held in any of the seven well-equipped halls, including a new glass-walled space on a terrace overlooking the city. The Hilton is ideal for planners with small- to mid-size upscale events of up to 550. Of note is the availability of a VIP entrance and check-in area for top executives. Located in Zone 11 near the airport and close to several of the city’s attractions, the Grand Tikal Futura Hotel is a stylish, modern luxury property with 205 very ample rooms and suites. It’s a soughtafter venue for meetings and events not only for its high level of service and attention to detail, but also for its well-equipped salons, auditoriums, theater, convention center, and expo center. The fourlevel Convention Center has five elegant halls and can welcome up to a total of 2,450 people, and the Expo Center has hosted everything from music concerts to corporate events.
COPEREX Fairgrounds: This is the city’s main dedicated convention venue with ten different exhibition halls in a compound with 21,658 m² (233,125 ft²) of flexible space and all the montage, technology, and business services needed for successful expositions, fairs, and conventions. Planners in search of unique venues for gala inaugurations or closing ceremonies, awards ceremonies, and the like will find extraordinary spaces in Guatemala City. Among the many standouts is the main cloister at the Convento de Santo Domingo, declared a National Monument and Cultural Heritage Site of Guatemala. Construction on this building finished in the early 1800s, and it has been renovated to the point of being able to host upscale evening events in the open-air central patio and arched hallways, with more renovations underway. Other spaces alternative spaces include the Aurora Zoo; the gardens of the Cerrito del Carmen’s Catholic hermitage (an ideal area for an “Evening with Legends” event, where actors dressed as historical characters welcome attendees with stories of the past); the interior patio of the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in the city’s restored historic center.
While Guatemala City is the country’s political, business, and financial center, it also offers planners exciting attractions and activities for pre- and post-event tours. One of the best ways to introduce groups to the area is via a city tour. Groups are taken in air-conditioned vans or buses accompanied by bilingual guides with stops at some of the most important sites, for example, the National Palace, the Central Plaza, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the unique “Mapa al Relieve,” an enormous, extraordinarily detailed 3D map created 100 years ago. A can’t-miss while in the historic downtown area is a stop at the iconic Hotel Pan American. This boutique hotel with its 1940s Art Deco charm is known for its award-winning restaurant serving local specialties and is beloved by repeat business visitors from around the world for its classic Guatemalan charm and service. Nearby Paseo de la Sexta Avenida (6th Avenue Promenade) is a pedestrian thoroughfare that can be set up for a surprise lunch or cocktail for groups (with city permits). One of Guatemala’s many allures is its varied and flavorful cuisine, which draws heavily on its Mayan heritage with some European influences from the colonial period. A favorite in the historic downtown area, for example, is Los Tres Tiempos, where travelers can dine on beautifully plated traditional Guatemalan dishes served on an ample terrace with views of the entire city.
Planners will also find a good number of familiar North American chain restaurants, particularly in the Zona Viva. There are several fine establishments for international cuisine or local specialties within walking distance of most business hotels: groups shouldn’t miss out on the Guatemalan coffee and fresh-baked “champurrado” cookies at San Martín or the full, flavorful “chapín” breakfast served at Kacao, a bastion of Mayan cooking. Area dine-arounds are easily set-up, and evening bar tours are also popular. Other fun activities include a tour of the famous Cervecería Centroamericana, the local brewery for the ubiquitous Gallo beer (it houses a museum of beer that can host beer-tasting cocktails for smaller groups) and a visit to Ciudad Cayalá (Cayalá City). Among its many attractions of this upscale master-planned development is the Gran Salón Azaria, a stately columned building at the end of the esplanade explicitly created for events of up to 650 people, with cutting-edge technology and on-site events staff. The new Cayibel Mercado Gastronómico in Cayalá is another hit for groups: this culinary market offers 27 different types of cuisine under one roof, including Italian, Korean, Mexican, Guatemala, and German delights, among others, and can welcome more than 1,600 people. Another one of the development’s restaurants, Guatemala Espectacular, can also be particularly appealing to planners. They can book the restaurant for groups of up to 90 to enjoy a dinner of Guatemalan specialties and dishes inspired by Guatemalan ingredients, accompanied by a dazzling folkloric dance show. Cayalá has the means for accommodating the meetings and events market, as well: a trendy 150room AC Marriott with four small meeting rooms is discretely tucked away on a side street, and a 250room premium Marriott Hotel with a convention center for up to 2,000 people is currently under construction (2020).
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