In June we’ll be posting detailed reviews of the three top hotels in Mazatlan, Mexico and after that a story on the real estate scene there. Meanwhile, here’s a video tour of luxury resort Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay so you can get a feel for the pool, beach and rooms. Enjoy! (P.S. – If you don’t see the video below, hit “refresh” on your browser.)
I just spent a week in Mazatlan, soaking up the atmosphere and checking out some hotels we’ll be adding to our reviews.
Mazatlan has a different feel than most other Mexican beach resorts because it has a real history and some architecture that goes beyond the new blocky concrete resorts look. This was a major port city in the 1800s and there are a lot of interesting historic structures built during that time and spruced up in recent years.
In some cases, a mere sprucing up wasn’t enough. The historic Angela Peralta Theater opened in 1881 but eventually fell into disrepair and sat abandoned. After lots of effort and fundraising to avoid demolition, the theater was rebuilt and restored, opening again in 1992. I was fortunate enough to catch a dance performance there. Here’s what it looks like before the crowds file in.
The heart of the old city is Machado Square, where restaurants and bars are indoor/outdoor affairs. Locals, tourists, and expats spend hours at cafe tables soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying fresh seafood. There are frequently music shows going on in the square or at specific restaurants like Pedro & Lola. (Save room for the banana pie—trust me.)
If you stay at Casa Lucila, which I’ll be posting a review of soon, you can walk to all this from a seaside location a few blocks away. If you love it so much you can’t bear to leave, there are houses for sale in the old city…
See more at GoMazatlan.com
Volaris is one of several Mexican airlines criss-crossing the country and while nobody would call it “luxurious,” it offers a far better experience than you’re going to find on a domestic flight on the U.S. carriers.
Mexico’s airline industry has been turbulent the past few years, with one budget airline going under in 2009, never to recover, then the shocking disappearance of Mexicana last year. Fortunately, the country seems to have now reached a point where its remaining ones are able to survive and expand. More locals are flying and prices are good.
I flew on Volaris recently from Merida to Mexico City’s Toluca airport. Originally I bought a round-trip ticket, but days of flights got canceled later—with no good explanation as to why&mdashand I had to book the return trip on Interjet. (More on that airline later.) Apart from that initial booking snafu though, the process was smooth. The site is in both English and Spanish. Three of us were each able to check one bag for free and the actual check-in process at the airport was quick and friendly, with real people, not machines. They smiled and offered us our choice of seats. In other words, the airline experience we used to experience and expect normally.
The Volaris Flight Experience
On the plane it’s coach seating only, but on nice leather seats on a wide-body jet. The seat pitch was pretty average for economy, but the unique location of the reading material tray at chest level rather than at knee level adds a couple inches. Signs indicated electrical outlets under the seat, but I didn’t have a cord with me to test that.
There’s no in-flight magazine, but attendents hand out headphones to use to watch TV in Spanish. Soon a drink cart came around with a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks. (It was early in the morning; they may offer beer and cocktails later in the day). My daughter squealed with delight when she saw the snack they were giving us: Krispy Kreme doughnuts!
Service was cheerful and the smiling attendents weren’t too harried. So really there are few signs this is a “budget” airline and a Volaris flight is certainly nicer than a domestic flight on nearly any U.S. airline. There were some advertisements on three overhead luggage panels, but for water from the Coca-Cola company, and we all ended up with a free can of their iced tea before deplaning, so not a bad trade-off. They also had a basket of taffy candy to pick from as we walked off the plane. Nice touch.
Volaris flies to more than 20 cities in Mexico through its hub in Toluca, outside Mexico City. It also flies to multiple locations in the U.S., including San Francisco, L.A., and Chicago. Through those locations you can transfer to partner flights on Southwest. See the current destination map here.
A spacious room with a furnished balcony, a stunning panoramic ocean view, and your own private plunge pool: nice upgrade, eh? Usually yes, but at Capella Ixtapa in Mexico, everyone gets this VIP treatment and every room has a killer view.
As hotels keep trying to outdo each other, we’ve seen a few in recent years where each room has its own plunge pool, as is the case with this one. But it’s hard to find one where every room has such an amazing view: blue water, little islets circled by sea birds, and waves crashing against the shore. Capella Ixtapa was built into a cliff, so it looks like it’s clinging to the side of a mountain. It spills down it so steeply that you ride a little funicular railway to your room.
All nice indeed, but fortunately the service is there to back all this up—you’ve got an assistant on call who is ready to make sure you’re happy. The restaurants get high marks from guests. And of course your margarita or fresh fish filet comes with a view.
There’s a lot more to talk about with this hotel, so see our full review of Capella Ixtapa, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
Ignoring the warnings of impending doom from media and the State Department, I took my family down to Patzcuaro, Mexico in Michoacan state a few weeks ago. As expected, it was beautiful, lovely, magical, and…completely free from any signs of trouble.
What made it extra special was spending some time at Mansion de los Sueños, a lovingly restored luxury boutique hotel a half block off the main square. It dates back to the 17th century and also has some materials brought from France during the brief time the country was under siege from the French in the late 1800s.
This is a great base for exploring this interesting city, as well as the craft villages situated around the nearby lake. This is center for great food and great handicrafts and Mansion de los Sueños shows off both in fine style. The elegant restaurant is one of the best in the city and rooms feature hand-carved custom furniture and plenty of local artwork.
With a bilingual staff—not an easy thing to find in these parts—and all the luxe amenities you would expect in your room, this is the clear choice when it comes time to turn off the 24-hour news channels and explore colonial central Mexico.
See our full review of Mansion de los Sueños in Patzcuaro.