Soho House, a Private Members’ Club, Turns Its Focus to Mexico and Brazil

A branch of the exclusive members’ club will open in Mexico City this year, and which plans to also open in Brazil, as it begins its quest to attract clients who are not lacking venues for meeting and socializing

Soho House, a Private Members’ Club, Seeks to Attract Clients In Mexico and Brazil.
July 18, 2023 | 12:00 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — Although by definition a company like Soho House offers exclusivity and imposes filters to ‘select’ its members, in its imminent opening in Mexico City the iconic private club is in full campaign to attract hundreds of new clients in a city that has no shortage of venues for the business and entrepreneurial class.

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In recent years, many executives, both the old guard, their heirs, and many of the new entrepreneurial class in Mexico City, have breathed new life into the model of a meeting center for the elite: private clubs.

In anticipation of the opening of Soho House in the Mexican capital, which is scheduled for September 2023, according to the company, the database of applicants for membership has been opened and already registers a significant number, and which would make the business viable.

Several movers and shakers consulted by Bloomberg Línea say they have already started the process to acquire, if accepted, membership of Soho House.

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Some of them, in fact, already pay hundreds of dollars a month to belong to private clubs in Mexico City, but they look forward to the arrival of an option with a more international cache.

“It’s a good option for more personal matters than what other concepts offer,” said one aspirant for membership who declined to be named so as not to hinder the process of his application.

Mexico City, for decades, has offered diverse private forums for the business, political and social communities.

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From the University Club, to the Club de Industriales or the various golf clubs, there has always been a wide range of meeting places to do or close business deals, or for members to “pamper” partners or friends.

“These types of clubs, in my experience, if they are good, serve for professional and business networking,” says Carlos Herrero, a business consultant and managing partner of Extrategia.

However, there are those who object to a very common element in these clubs: they all offer exclusivity, but sometimes you run into the same people from one place to another.

“It’s always good to have options, but opening private clubs can reach saturation levels and suddenly one of them will be like ‘the flavor of the day,’ or the trendy restaurant where you’ll see your whole network until they get bored and jump to another,” says Alex Spencer, an asset manager who has already made his application to join Soho House.

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Herrero agrees, “As a meeting or event venue, these clubs are often perceived as repetitive.”

Likewise, Amilcar Olivares, an expert on Mexico City’s gourmand movement, says: “In Mexico, business is still done in ‘brotherhoods’. Hence the importance of exclusive places such as golf, equestrian and private clubs, and especially industrial ones. Where the atmosphere of trust, discretion and exclusivity is reflected in greater business opportunities. Of closing deals.”

According to Spencer, a plus that a club like Soho House offers is that the community to which it is directed belongs mainly to the so-called “creatives”; that is, artists, intellectuals, writers.

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“That can bring a freshness to a circuit of similar clubs where mostly politicians, businessmen and artists go,” says Spencer.

According to Jarrett Stuhl, director of operations for Soho House Americas, the Mexico City location will offer the same level of quality that the company gives its members at other locations of the iconic brand.

Soho House has homes in the United Kingdom, in several European countries, Israel, the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

In the case of Mexico City, it is the spearhead for Latin America and after opening in September, the expansion efforts will turn to Brazil.

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With an initial payment of 20,500 pesos (around $1,200) plus monthly payments of 11,750 pesos (around $710), the cost of membership is higher than other clubs in the city, but well below the capital’s most exclusive golf clubs, which cost up to $150,000 annually.

“I think Soho House’s prices are very high, but it depends on the intention of who is willing to pay them,” Olivares told Bloomberg Línea.

Like other observers consulted, Olivares says that while Soho House’s offering emphasizes the brand’s cosmopolitan flavor combined with the promotion of the proverbial Mexican hospitality, the European firm is betting on taking customers away from the traditional private clubs, where much of Mexico’s business continues to be done.

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One hook for this is that Soho House offers special benefits for members under 27 years of age who seek membership, and who pay a reduced rate and enjoy discounts on services, meals and drinks.

But the secret, as Herrero says, will be in Soho House being able to face the offer of “clubs, restaurants and meeting centers in Mexico City, which are so many and of such good quality, that it is more economical and interesting to go to these places”.

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Luxury accommodation

Mexico City's Soho House rooms.dfd

One attraction that Soho House offers is the possibility of staying in the mansion in Colonia Juárez (one of the enclaves that were once considered to be of high standing in the capital), with a four-room hotel service for members and their guests.

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In this sense, it will compete with other concepts that are making a name for themselves in the city, such as Casa Polanco, in the upper-class neighborhood of the same name, or The Alest, in the same area.

Like Soho House, both Casa Polanco and The Alest, and the adjacent Campos Polanco, are boutique hotels with restaurant and bar services. They are not private clubs, but they feel like one.

A common denominator of these establishments, and of Soho House itself, is that they also present themselves as art galleries with works by local and international artists.

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In the case of Soho House, says Stuhl, they will proudly show “more than 100 works by artists born, based or trained in Mexico.

Some of them are the Celeste duo (Gabriel Rosas Alemán and María Fernanda Camarena) as well as works on loan from galleries in the city.

A lot on offer, and exclusive

These are some private clubs in the Mexican capital:

  • Soho House. The iconic private club opens this year in CDMX. Like at its other locations, Soho House CDMX will offer spacious rooms, a swimming pool, gym, bars, cinema, spa, restaurant... among other areas to encourage networking among its members and guests
  • The club seeks to change the idea that a private club should be dominated by politicians or business leaders
  • Dress code: Suit and tie is not obligatory, but photos are prohibited

Haab Project

  • Similar to Soho House, focused on ‘creatives’, but expanding the concept to ‘innovators and leaders,’ aiming to attract digital nomads and people who are on their way up the political career ladder

Club 51

  • Perhaps the most ‘high-end’ private club in Mexico City, located on floor 51 of the Torre Mayor office tower, and frequented by politicians, entrepreuneurs and also journalists

The University Club

  • One of the oldest private clubs in the Mexican capital, which is part of a network of 100 clubs around the world
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