The Central American country with the largest indigenous Mayan population, Guatemala is famed for being home to one of this people's most treasured archaeological sites, the tall temple of Tikal. Bordered by Mexico, Honduras, Belize and El Salvador, Guatemala also contains the Colonial gem of Antigua, 20 miles to the southwest of Guatemala City; and the natural beauty of nearby Lake Atitlan. The market town of Chichicastenango also is a popular tourism spot. While Guatemala event venues are found in all these areas, a rule of thumb is that business is done in Guatemala City, the capital, while other regions are better for incentives.
La Aurora International Airport (GUA), four miles south of capital Guatemala City, is the country's main airport and has good service from other Central American countries, especially El Salvador's capital San Salvador; as well as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark and New York City.
Chief among convention venues in Guatemala City, the Coperex Fairgrounds Compound has 11 exhibition halls, including the 12,000-square-foot Salon Guatemala. Hotel venues in Guatemala City might be better for North American groups; some have dedicated conference centers, including the 395-room Barcelo Guatemala City, which has 22 meeting rooms; the 271-room Westin Guatemala Real, which has 19 meeting rooms and the 20,710-square-foot Grand Salon; the 246-room Real InterContinental Guatemala, which has space for up to 1,200 persons; the 130-room Radisson Guatemala City, which has meeting space for up to 300 people; and the 99-room Mercure Casa Veranda Guatemala, which has meeting space for 112 persons.
Guatemala City and Antigua, 30 miles to the west of the capital, have a wealth of beautiful Colonial-era function spaces. Other venues in Guatemala City include the Museo de la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (The University of San Carlos of Guatemala Museum), which is part of a national monument (the Old University Building) and has five exhibit halls; Centro Cultural Miguel Angel Asturias (The Miguel Angel Asturias Cultural Center), named for the country's only Nobel Prize winner in Literature, which has the 2,070-seat Gran Sala, as well as two other theaters and several plazas and conference rooms;, and the Botanical Gardens, which has various event spaces and the Ecologico El Hibiscus restaurant. In Antigua, head to the Hotel Antigua, a gem of a Colonial building that has 100 guest rooms and a sublime columned courtyard surrounding a rectangular pool; or the ChocoMuseo, which has lots of chocolate activities, a museum and event space.
Restaurants in Guatemala City able to host groups include what is probably the best restaurant in the country, Tamarindos, with a menu that mixes Thai and Italian flavors. Other choices include French restaurant Jean Francois; Portal del Angel, which is on a hillside with wonderful views and has a menu featuring steak; and Le Rendez-Vous, another steakhouse, one with that all-important ingredient in this climate, a patio around a pool. In Antigua, try the La Fonda de la Calle Real, which has even served its Guatemalan creations to President Clinton.