he ‘Pueblos Mágicos’ or Magical Towns of Mexico is a promotional programme developed by Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism in 2001. Each city appointed as such has been subject to great events or practices a special set of traditions and legends.
The colonial town of Saltillo is one such destination, a city promoted for its great cultural and historical wealth, while fast emerging as a choice destination for PCOs due to its provision of modern event infrastructure. The capital of the northern state of Coahuila is a festival of neoclassical architecture located in the desert 55 miles south-west of Monterrey.
Saltillo is also an increasingly busy spot for business events. The city and surrounding district is a great contributor to the automotive industry, and home to assembly plants for General Motors and Chrysler trucks. As the industrial identity rose to match its cultural one, so followed an events infrastructure. The city is home to the Arena Saltillo international convention centre, offering 8,548sqm of space for conferences, concerts and exhibitions..
Villa Ferre is a 2,415sqm venue with seven conference rooms and auditoriums, located outside the historic centre, while the Museo del Desierto is a 12,170sqm venue including not just a large exhibition space and two conference rooms, but a winding, fossil-laden route through Mexico’s archaeological history.
Several of the hotels are significant meetings venues themselves, such as the 164-room Camino Real Saltillo; with seven meetings rooms capable of catering for up to 500, complemented by four outdoor spaces; the largest of which can host 300 persons.
There are also academic institutions: Saltillo Tech and Ateneo Fuente, home to many of the thought leaders that feature on Saltillo’s annual event calendar.
The city offers 3,033 rooms and is served by 240 flights a month, including 28 international. Connections into the city come via Mexico City, Detroit, Houston, Puerto Columbus and Florida.
Just east of Saltillo is Arteaga, another Magical Town rich with plazas and old homestead architecture. Events that span a Sunday offer delegates the chance to enjoy La Alameda plaza’s transformation into a traditional food and crafts market.
Parras is a longer trip to the west of Saltillo, a colonial gem featuring the Casa Madero winery and wine museum. Santa Madero Church on the main plaza, reached through aqueducts and vice-
royalty period architecture makes for a strong send-off for delegates looking for lasting memories outside of the conference venue or meeting room.
Alternatively, nearby Cuauhtemoc offers a completely different ecosystem. Fir pine forests and green fields,yield outdoor activities including a tour of the old lechuza mine, an adventure that can be continued on horseback to the growers of Aguamiel, a product similar to the agave that brings us tequila.
Saltillo may be surrounded by desert, but there is nothing barren about its proposition to international organisers.