In our exciting new Travel Diaries series, Elite Traveler will speak with designers, style icons and gurus in their respective fields on their must-have travel items when trotting the globe.
Mercedes Salazar, Fashion & Jewelry Designer
Colombian fashion and jewelry designer Mercedes Salazar is known for her colorful jewelry pieces using artisanal techniques from Bogotá, Colombia and infusing a distinct seaside, tropical vibe into every piece of jewelry or handbag she designs. Mexico is a place close to Salazar’s heart. She moved from Colombia to Mexico in 1994 to study jewelry and goldsmithery, but eventually made her way back to Colombia to launch her eponymous brand in 2001. Early in her career she began partnering with artisans from Colombian indigenous communities to learn more about local craft, which has no doubt become a hallmark in Salazar’s designs.
Mercedes Salazar is inspired by every corner of Mexico, from sunny Los Cabos, to the culturally rich Mexico City to partaking in events like Dia de los Muertos in the Yucután Peninsula. She has partnered with The Luxury Collection resorts to launch a capsule collection featuring jewelry and accessories inspired by all the Mexico hotels in the brand’s portfolio. To bring her capsule collection to life, she has worked with local artisans on infusing the pieces with authentic Mexican techniques and tradition.
Salazar loves Taqueria Rossy (+52 624 142 6755) for its authentic Mexican cuisine and delicious tacos – while here, make sure it’s the fish you order. La Revolución is another’s can’t-miss while in town: Helmed by chef Benito Molina, the menu features everything from oysters to a chef’s selection of Marine Ceviche (think octopus ceviche and ‘chocolata’ clam). For fresh veggies, Flora Farm is a 25-acre working organic farm and serves alfresco meals surrounded by lush vegetation – not to mention, the freshness of the cuisine is divine.
Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos has two culinary concepts Salazar can’t get enough of: Al Pairo Seafood Market, offering alfresco dining overlooking the ocean, and Mako, a poolside restaurant with biodynamic vegetables, burritos, dry-aged steaks and delicious cocktails.
Count on the Ojo de Liebre Los Cabos Spa to alleviate tired muscles and restore tranquility to the system. The only Thalasso therapy (using seawater as a treatment) wellness spa in Los Cabos, every treatment is inspired by the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Products used here are organic and results-driven, such as Kerstin Florian’s holistic ingredients; Shankara’s Ayurvedic skincare featuring natural oils; ISUN’s face and body treatments; and Voya’s seaweed-infused skincare.
Salazar loves to explore markets while in Mexico City, including the Mercado de Jamaica flower market. “One of Mexico City’s traditional public markets, best known for its flower market,” says Salazar. “There are 1,150 stands dedicated to the selling of cut flowers, flower arrangements, ornamental plants and accessories such as flowerpots. The market offers about 5,000 types of flowers and plants, mostly foreign, but there is a number of native Mexican species available, including some gathered directly from the wild. It will have a lot of color and host additional flower displays and ornaments due to the Day of the Dead. This market is very authentic because this is where many locals/smaller vendors go to buy them, but it is chaotic and very busy.”
The Mercado Ciudadela (artesanías) is a traditional-style Mexican Market specialzing in Mexican handcrafts and folk art. “The market is the first of its kind in the country, established just before the 1968 Summer Olympics to promote this aspect of Mexico’s cultural heritage. It is home to over 350 vendors, mostly small operators selling to Mexican and foreign tourists,” she says.
A few others she loves include the Coyoacán Market. “Walk by Centro Cultural Elena Garro towards Plaza de la Conchita,” she says, along with Avendida Francisco Sosa and Plaza de Coyotes. Mexico City is a bustling cultural and foodie destination best explored by foot. (Read our guide to Mexico City here.)
Don’t forget to check out historical sites, such as Luis Barragan’s home or the Mercado San Juan market. “The San Juan Market is a traditional Mexican market in the historic center of Mexico City that has become the city’s only such market specializing in gourmet and exotic foods. It is known for its selection of exotic meats, including venison, crocodile, wild boar and even lion meat, as well as a wide selection of products from Europe and the Americas. Unlike other such markets in Mexico City, it caters to chefs, restaurateurs and foodies, many of whom are foreigners and have long-standing relationships with particular vendors.”
You can also rent a gondola and explore Xochimilco, Mexico City’s floating gardens, or traipse through historical downtown. An experience Salzar cannot speak highly enough about is going to Teotihuacan, just north of Mexico City. “It is a mystical experience,” she says, adding that it’s a “vast Mexican archaeological complex northeast of Mexico City. Running down the middle of the site, which was once a flourishing pre-Columbian city, is the Avenue of the Dead. It links the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun, the latter two with panoramic views from their summits. Artifacts in the Museum of Teotihuacan Culture, on-site, include pottery and bones.”
Be sure to make a reservation at Dulce Patria at Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Mexico City while you are here. Chef Martha Ortiz runs the buzzy restaurant, known for its traditional yet refined Mexican cuisine in a spacious, open-air setting.
Mérida, Yucután Peninsula
Last but not least, Salazar travels to the Yucután Peninsula for Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead.
” In the Paseo de las Ánimas recreates the course that souls would have to travel in those days according to the Mérida of ancient times. It is carried out from the General Cemetery to the Arch of San Juan, as it is a tradition, extolling the values and customs of the Meridans and Yucatecans,” she says.
Here, enjoy a regional culinary display and a traditional Mayan ceremony. Salazar says: “You cannot miss the opportunity to enjoy the unique event in the world, which takes place only once a year and which, in addition to showing how the deceased faithful live in Mérida, combines attractive artistic events for the whole family.
She never misses lunch at Hacienda Santa Rosa, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Santa Rose while she’s in town. The traditionally decorated restaurant is half-outside, half-inside and is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can enjoy your breakfast near the pool, inside overlooking the patio or even near the botanical garden. The restaurant serves a delectable international cuisine.
Venture out after lunch to Santa Lucía Park, a historic plaza in town; shop at Casa Tho; stop by Ki Xocolatl for bites of chocolate; and have a mezcal or tequila drink at La Fundación Mezcalería. Before you leave, though, take in the traditional views at Hacienda Temozon, a Luxury Collection Hotel in the Yucután Peninsula.
You can also find Mercedes Salazar pieces at retailers such as Moda Operandi, Shopbop, Revolve and Net-a-Porter, among others.