International visitors are slowly discovering the charms of Valle de Bravo, an invigorating lakeside village in the mountains near Mexico City. In recent years, the resort has become the favored weekend destination for the capital’s upper classes, and in 2010 alone it received almost 4 million visitors.
In the first months of 2011 it hosted the first stage of the World Wakeboard Championship and the first-ever Adventure Motorcycling Encounter – the latter attracted 400 motorcyclists from around the globe and their families. In February, the town gained further worldwide attention when the New York Times published a travel feature (“Valle de Bravo, an Upscale Refuge Near Mexico City”) on it.
Located an easy two-hour drive from Mexico City, the “Mexican Switzerland” lies on the shores of placid Lake Avándaro, surrounded by pine-forested mountain ranges including the 9,974-foot tall Sierra de Valle de Bravos. Today, the town boasts a population of 60,000 but this number swells exponentially on weekends when part-time residents return to the expensive, contemporary villas that line the shore. The lake, meanwhile, fills with sailboats, speedboats, jet skis, and other personal watercraft.
The area’s physical beauty and water sports are only part of what is attracting a growing number of tourists. Repeat visitors also came to this year’s 15th annual Festival of Music and Ecology, a ten-day festival of performing and visual arts focusing on water and forest conservation, as well as to view the famed Monarch butterflies that winter nearby.
The first evidence of Valle de Bravo´s up-and-coming status came in 2005, when the federal government declared it a pueblo magico, or magical town, a distinction held by only 36 beautiful, historic, and charming municipalities countrywide.
Also contributing to Valle de Bravo’s popularity is the greater number of flights now available to nearby Toluca International Airport, an easy-to-use alternative to Mexico City’s mammoth main terminal. Continental now offers a daily non-stop flight from Houston and Volaris services multiple U.S. cities, including non-stop from Los Angeles. Spirit Air will add flights from the US and Canada beginning on June 3 this year.
Despite all this, if you visit Valle de Bravo midweek – when many hotels drop their rates by up to 40 percent – you may have the town and its many attractions all to yourself.
By George Nunes, Local Expert for Mexico City and Acapulco