"Welcome to surprising and seductive Mexico. You are about to discover one of the world’s great travel-shopping destinations, a colorful and vibrant place that will initially enchant and enthrall you. And then it may subtly seduce you beyond your credit card and excess baggage limits!" From the outset, shopping experts and authors Ron and Caryl Krannich are clear -- The Treasures and Pleasures of Mexico: Best of the Best in Travel and Shopping is not your typical guidebook.
It is a focused work with little room for prevarication on any one of its 359 pages. "We have not hesitated to make qualitative judgments about the best of the best in Mexico. If we merely presented you with travel and shopping information, we would do you a disservice by not sharing our discoveries, good and bad."
It begins with "Smart Travel Shopping" -- several chapters providing detailed travel information and secrets of savvy travel-shoppers (e.g. comparative shopping, keeping receipts, bargaining tips and scam awareness). There is a useful selection of relevant websites in the "Know Before You Go" chapter.
Good tips for anyone traveling and shopping in Mexico are scattered throughout the book. One of my new haggling favorites is to "avoid stating round numbers, such as 700, 1,800, or 1,000. Instead offer 62, 173, or 817. Such numbers impress upon others that you may be a seasoned haggler who know value and expects to do well in this negotiation." Or how about this one -- "observe the ‘8 foot rule.’ Merchants maintain control by bringing customers into as well as keeping them in their shops. If you stand outside the shop to bargain (stay 8 feet from the merchant and his goods), you’ll be in a much stronger bargaining position.
In the meat of the book, the Kranniches offer a baker’s dozen of shopping destinations -- from Mexico City to Taxco, Acapulco, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Morelia/Patzcuaro/State of Michoacan, Qeuretaro, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Puebla and Oaxaca. Using a consistent format throughout, the authors lead readers through the streets (with maps well-placed at the beginning of each chapter), provide an overview of shopping, offer their selection of the "best of the best", highlight selected restaurants and accommodation choices and briefly note activities and sites of interest in the area.
One drawback to this book is that Treasures and Pleasures doesn’t cover all of Mexico -- Northern Mexico, Baja, Chiapas and the Yucatan are notably absent. Another tic is the leaning towards upper class snobbery "... don’t expect to find much quality fashion and accessories in the city’s department stores, which tend to be decidedly middle class."
But this book wasn’t written for budget travelers or those who wish to immerse themselves in Mexican culture and, to its credit, never claims to be more than a guide to the "best of the best" in shopping adventures in Mexico’s hotspots. Treasures and Pleasure of Mexico is a useful guide for wealthy travelers with refined tastes.