Trip Report-LONG

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Posted by Stormy on June 11, 2001 at 22:58:33:

Before I start my report, I just wanted to thank Rob and the other regulars on this board for the sharing and caring they do. Everyone we met in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo was so proud of the place; I can see where Rob gets his enthusiasm. Rob—I was glad you were at your shop when my husband and I came by. He thought that was pretty neat, and he seemed to forgive my late hours of surfing on the ‘net and reading the board archives before we took our trip. Also, Lupita’s shop was beautiful. I would like to have indulged, but had spent my “present to myself” budget on silver (at Albertos?) already.

We chose to stay at the Presidente InterContinental based on recommendations from a coworker and our desire for a decadent, somewhat hedonistic, not-too-educational-or-cultural, week in the sun and surf. We try to do one of these “hedonistic” types of trips every other year, and other years we take trips with lots of planning, awakening early, soaking in culture, going on tours, doing as the Romans do, etc. We’ve done a very culture-enriching, home-stay type of trip to Mexico before as well, and as a person of hispanic descent, I highly recommend such a trip and absorbing the culture to folks who normally limit their Mexico trips to the somewhat secluded, sterile, all-inclusive resorts. However, we were not quite as noble this year.

As soon as we landed at the airport, our FunJet Rep was there to greet us by name and whisk us off to a waiting vehicle to deliver us to our resort. It had been raining, and was still cloudy, but we were assured it would be sunny and dry the rest of the week (as “dry” as 90% humidity can be), and it was. I knew we were in for some breathtaking scenery when we walked up the steps to the hotel lobby only to be greeted by the Pacific Ocean in all its glory seemingly on the other side of the open-air lobby.

Check-in was fast and efficient, and after unpacking, we had some great drinks and service in the lobby bar from a waiter who introduced himself as Armando, and remembered my husband and I (and, it seems everyone else) by name for the rest of the week. The Presidente includes the price of unlimited cocktails (served 15 hours a day) and food (24 hours a day) in a one-price package. The drinks were NOT watered down but, quite the opposite. I found myself asking our favorite bartender, Ernesto, not to mix them so strong by the end of the week—my husband nicknamed Ernesto “El Diablo” due to his ability to successfully tempt us with new and increasingly strong concoctions “special for you,” as Ernesto would say with a devilish grin. The staff seemed to treat all the guests great, but we felt that our daily tips and the fact that we both spoke almost exclusively Spanish (or tried like hell) helped do the trick too. I'm one of those folks who must have coffee in order to even dress myself in the a.m. We would order coffee for 2 from room service, and it was always there within 5 minutes with a basket of pan dulce.

The rooms at the Presidente were well-used, but clean—who wants to slog into a plush hotel room in a swimsuit anyway? Air-conditioning worked great, bed was slightly hard, walls were slightly thin, but getting a new, beautiful, and interesting flower-petal art creation on our pillow every evening was something great. We stayed in the tower, which provided us with a great view of the ocean (all the tower rooms have this view) and kept us far enough from the sound of children gathering at the pool early in the morning, and the sound of adults discoing until all hours of the morning.

Back when we took our first cultural adventure to Mexico and our stays included a rural, middle-class family home, a small tennis resort and a big-city hotel, we took all kinds of precautions with water and produce. At this resort, we drank everything (and I do mean, everything), ate everything, opened our mouths in the shower, generally threw caution to the wind—I felt better than I do when I’m at home!!! Hell, I don’t think I was even very hungover!

The food was generally pretty good—not great, but then my husband is somewhat of a gourmet cook—no velveeta in this house. The absolute best meal was in the food stations at the Mexican Fiesta hosted by the hotel. It was some of the best Mexican food I’ve had—and my hispanic mom learned to cook growing up in Laredo!

Our best meal, however, was at Villa de la Selva. We were seated on the lower level of the terrace and arrived in time to catch the sunset. It was very breezy and comfortable, and the setting was very romantic. The service was flawless, and the food was delicious. I only wish the music had been some nice Spanish guitar or Mexican ballads instead of the top-40 American soft pop they were playing. I suppose that’s kind of unfair of me....I mean, there are American restaurants here that feature Spanish guitar or Cuban rythms and not “our” American music. Still, it would have been nice. Our waiter was even very friendly when we requested the check, and he said, “Oh, you would now like the specialty of the house—the bill?” The “specialty’ of the house totaled about $40 each including food, cocktails, wine and dessert. Worth every penny. Some friends of ours also ate at JJ’s Lobster in Ixtapa and liked it very much.

We found that the best time to shop was after siesta, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Many smaller shops and craft stands were un-air-conditioned, and shopping after sunset made the heat tolerable. We shopped at the craft markets in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo as well as going to several shops in both places. The craft markets were fun with great bargains, however, at times, the high-pressure sales kind of got to me. It’s the slow season, and sales can be few and far between—so it’s understandable, but there were 2 or 3 craft merchants (out of dozens) who were actually rude when you walked by and didn’t go into their stand. (Of course, the few rude remarks were made in Spanish under their breath, and I understood them, although maybe they thought I wouldn’t—or, maybe they knew I would—non-Spanish speaking Gringos are often more welcome in Mexico than semi-Spanish speaking U.S. hispanics, but that’s another discussion for another board—in the movie, “Selena”, Selena’s father rants about this phenomenon).

We loved Zihuatanejo due to its size and the incredible safety we felt strolling the streets. It had a very “small town” friendly feel to it, and I’m glad we chose to go there. I think next time, and there will be a next time, we will probably stay in Zihuatanejo or at least spend considerably more time there.

The beaches were very clean, the swim-up bar was great, and everyone there including kids seemed to really enjoy themselves (we did not take children). The only negative about the Presidente was that at mid-week, about 10 anorexic-looking models and an entire video crew showed up to film a Pepsi commercial at the pool for 2 days. For the most part, we were not hindered from anything, but we did find ourselves having to go the long way around to things, etc. It was neat at first, but the novelty seemed to wear off quickly—it would have been classy of Pepsi to have provided hotel guests with a Pepsi t-shirt or beachball at least.

We just got home, and I’m pretty tired, so my mind is failing me slightly. I’m sure I’ll think of more later, but for now, I give our trip high marks, and we plan on going back to the area someday.

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