2023 marks a significant milestone for Journey Mexico as we reach our 20th anniversary! A sense of celebration permeated this year´s annual retreat when our team members got together from across the country to be reunited in our host city, the spectacular Puebla. Our annual retreats are not just a chance to revel in the beauty of Mexico’s breathtaking destinations, but also an opportunity to connect – meeting the team´s new faces, deepening old friendships, and aligning our goals for the future.
We got to step into the shoes of our travelers, with a tailored itinerary that operated seamlessly, including guided walks, special access, amazing sustainability workshops and family-style dinners around town.
Relive the highlights of Journey Mexico´s 2023 company retreat in Puebla with us below:
Banyan Tree Puebla
The Banyan Tree Puebla was nothing short of a tranquil haven, where we discovered the essence of the brand’s sanctuary-like charm. This beautiful property became our home-away-from-home, accommodating our entire team with grace. Some of us were lucky enough to uncover the hotel’s best-kept secret – the captivating ruins of an ancient convent and monastery on-site, accessible through an underground tunnel. The Banyan Tree Puebla was ideal for our needs with its strategic location – close to town – and spacious meeting room for our sustainability workshops. A few of us even managed to steal a moment of serenity at the hotel´s remarkable rooftop pool, boasting breathtaking panoramic views over Puebla’s rooftops and chapel domes. The sunset vistas from this privileged vantage point set the perfect tone for our welcome dinner.
Los Volcanos Permaculture and Agroecology Center
Located in the town of Santa María Tonantzintla, this project was formed in 2019 by a group of friends, in response to concerns about the negative impact of climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Los Volcanes is founded on community work, running its amazing model of permaculture and agroecology with the help of volunteers. The center hosts workshops, courses and training on a wealth of topics that spotlight the environment, a sustainable lifestyle, and personal wellbeing.
We received an iconic welcome from Popocatépetl Volcano, billowing smoke clouds in the distance as we walked past fields of flowers and corn crops to Los Volcanes. At the center, it was inspiring to see what´s possible with hard work, the right knowledge, and dedication. The project´s leaders showed us around, giving an insight into the elements behind a self-sustaining community with zero waste, from the eco building materials and techniques, to the garden used to grow Mexican herbs for natural medicine use, and the pre-Hispanic Milpa (Three Sisters) planting system used to cultivate squash, beans, and corn. We got our hands (and feet!) dirty cutting back plants and learning how to make ´cob´, a sustainable building material made with mud, clay, and straw. To finish, we tasted the project´s super fresh, organic flavors ourselves with a garden-to-table lunch in the sunshine. Thank you, Los Volcanes, for showing us the way towards a greener, brighter future!
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Puebla Walking Tour & Foodie Experience
What a great way to soak up Puebla – following the steps of an expert guide, our foodie tour became a sensorial experience exploring the city´s historical center and quintessential flavors. Looking up at buildings and peering into shop windows, you begin to see the patterns of Puebla unfold. Big, beautiful Talavera tile facades, traditional textiles modeled on mannequins and intricate church domes. Hot oil sizzling chalupas, the smoky welcome of a taco arabe stand and baskets of bread rolls waiting to become cemitas. Turning a corner into the Zócalo (main plaza) never gets old, this verdant social hub is lined with cafes and eateries, and home to the city´s striking 16th-17th century cathedral.
Off-Hours Private Visit to Palafoxiana Library
In true Journey Mexico style, we had an exclusive visit with special off-hours access to Puebla´s legendary Biblioteca Palafoxiana. You can feel the history in this 17th century library, recognized by UNESCO as the first and oldest of its kind in the Americas. The smell of wood and books set the scene as our host described the story of the library and its astonishing collection of literature, initiated by the donation of 5,000 books from the prodigious bishop, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza.
JM 20th Anniversary
We kicked off our last night of celebration with dinner and dancing at Hook Rooftop – tip: this restaurant has one of the best views over the cathedral, which lights up in the evenings. We loved honoring our own journey from humble beginnings to a 60-strong team and leaders in authentic luxury travel experiences in Mexico. It was the perfect chance to take a moment to recognize our Sustainability Committee and the winner of this season´s Green Champion Race too.
Check out our reel for a snapshot of the night, the energy was high!
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No trip to Puebla is complete without an afternoon in Cholula, a pretty town 30 minutes outside the city where ancient history meets contemporary life. Our local guide walked us through pre-Hispanic and colonial history as we traversed the largest pyramid base in the world. While some of the foundations have now been excavated, when the Spanish arrived the overgrown pyramid resembled a hill, and the conquistadors built a Catholic church on top. We climbed up the many steps to be rewarded with 360-degree views over Cholula and the surroundings volcanoes, before entering the church, adorned with gold and hundreds of lilies.
We got to tap into the town´s trendy scene too, with games and a tasty dinner at Cervecería Cholula, where our CPO, Matteo, got dunked in cold water as a forfeit!
This year at Journey Mexico, we’ve taken a deep dive into our own operations as a luxury travel company, and we continue to make changes on our journey towards sustainability and impactful travel. This means we believe that business can and should make a positive impact on the environment, local communities, our staff, our travelers, and our collaborators. We got our teeth into two fantastic seminars over the weekend with Technology for Impact. It´s not always easy to talk about the challenges that our planet is facing, and these workshops felt like a safe space to voice our concerns, ask those burning questions, and listen to the perspectives of our team members. Thanks to interactive, collaborative, and engaging sessions, we got the opportunity to unite our goals, self-reflect on leading more sustainable lifestyles in and outside of work, and plant the seeds of hope and action.
Thank you for reminiscing with us! If you´re ready to start planning your own adventure in Puebla, get in touch with our expert team here and let us know how to personalize a trip that´s exactly to your taste. Take a look at our latest inspirational itinerary from Puebla to the Yucatán to see how to connect the Banyan Tree´s three Mexican properties on an unforgettable journey.