Galleria a shopping hot spot for Mexican tourists
HOUSTON For some, its sport and for others it's their cardio workout. Yet there is another category -- the tourists who sees the Galleria as a necessity. "Everybody comes to Galleria. If you don't come to Galleria, you don't be in Houston," said tourist Anna Pimentel. The Spanish-speaking tourist has been a consistent shopper during the Galleria's 42 years of existence. At least 30 percent of shoppers who spend are Spanish speakers, mainly from Mexico. "Over time, the Galleria has become such an iconic shopping destination that offers the mixed use with the hotels and the retail mix. I think there's a convenience factor," said Galleria General Manager David Anderson. That means the spending isn't limited to the Galleria. The nearby Uptown shopping district is seeing financial benefit and catering to their Spanish-speaking customers. The Hotel Granduca is a high-end hotel and has a consistent 25 percent booking of Mexican clientele. Not only does the staff speak Spanish, but a daily shuttle to shop the Galleria and surrounding areas is offered. "They love that Post Oak corridor, so it's a perfect placement for them to be here with us and we come three and four times a day to pick up their packages and bring them back to the hotel," said Hotel Granduca General Manager Mary Grace Gray. That means Mexican tourists like Armando Valle and his family can shop 'til they drop. "Since I was a kid, this has been known as the place to shop. I was telling my friend the Galleria is hot -- it's still hot," Valle said. There is another reason to shop here -- violence is on the increase in Mexico and tourists say it's safer here where shopping can be done without bodyguards. "You can walk, you can do anything you want, you can feel calm; it's very nice," said tourist Maria de Pedro.