Posted by Candice on December 27, 2000 at 12:13:02:
Okay, folks, here it is--the True Story of Villa Mexicana. The reason there are so many conflicting stories about the rooms there is because they're all true--it's like the blind men describing the elephant: everyone was right. But having just returned from eight days there, I want to provide the whole picture.
We booked through a Seattle travel agent who obtained rooms thru Mexico Unlimited, a wholesaler who had been assured that all rooms they could book were upgraded rooms. I asked about that many times. Fat lot of good it did.
We arrived on Thursday, Dec. 14. We were shown our room, and it was the Room from Hell. I recognized it immediately from this message board. If it had ever been upgraded, the work was done by the Conquistadors. Small, dark, a balcony just big enough for one measly chair. A/C unit the size and vintage of a Model T and about as noisy (some of these rooms don't even have that). Bathroom with a curtained shower head that drained into the middle of the room, sluggish toilet that barely flushed, a naked light bulb dangling from the ceiling.
This won't do, says I. Back to the front desk, and a lengthy and eventually heated discussion with the night clerks who point out to me that we have only a standard room reserved and that's it. I argue, I plead, all to no avail. The hotel is full until Saturday night. We can upgrade then, but it will cost us 50 bucks a night. (We had paid in advance $83/night including all taxes, commissions, etc.)
We surrender. After all, we are finally in Zihuatanejo. We move in. We are going to be good sports. That night, my husband and I cheerfully fill the (cracked) wastebasket with water from the shower to pour into the toilet tank so it will flush. We sleep fairly well, considering, until 5 am when the rooster (which lives behind the hotel, but sounds like it's in the bathroom) begins to crow. Happy little guy, greeting the dawn. In another hour or so, I get in the shower. Tepid water, but hey, it's an adventure. Our son takes a quick one. By the time Dick gets in, the water is stone cold.
Later that morning, I find Zandra. She is the resident manager, a lovely and sympathetic woman who actually listens to our story. I did tell her that I felt we (and the travel agent/wholesaler) had been lied to by VM regarding every room being upgraded. After some phone calls, she assures us an oceanfront room (but not until the next day--the hotel is still full), for only 20 dollars more per upgraded night. She promises. She is sincere, and I relax.
The next morning, the rooster crows. Dick and our son go off early to play golf. By the time I get up (7:00), there is no water in our room. None. Zip. Nada. I go report the news to the pretty girl at the front desk, who stares blankly at me. Unfortunately, the outside shower by the pool is not working either. I take a dip in the pool. I go next door for coffee. When I return, there is water.
At 3 pm, true to Zandra's word, we are told our new room is ready. It is glorious, it is paradise in paradise. A real bathroom with new fixtures and a real shower stall with hot water. Not a huge room, but big eough for two double beds and some walking around space. Beautiful tile and finish work. A big balcony with a table, four chairs, and a view over the palapas and palms to the ocean. A huge sliding door with a screen. A new A/C floor unit with a fan setting for non-refrigerated air. Big mirror, reading lights over the beds, plenty of storage. The vanity is separate from the shower/toilet area. The soap is fancy and the towels are thicker. It was (and here's the truth of the matter) like a different hotel.
Villa Mexicana is a wonderful place to stay. The location is unbeatable. You're near the center of Playa la Ropa, an easy stroll to all the restaurants. Between the rooms and the beach is an area of palms and palapas with chaises for lounging. The ocean is steps away, and the sound of the surf in the night is pure music. There are two small pools, one entirely shallow for the children, but we used them mostly for quick, non-salty dips--the ocean is warm and gentle. The outdoor shower now works. There's a restaurant and bar, a wonderful game table under a palapa with chess and backgammon boards right in the table top. The staff is friendly, the maids thorough and artistic. Every day, they made creations on our beds with towels and flowers--a fan, a seashell, a heart, a flower. When we left our first room, I left them 20 pesos and some bottles of bright nail polish I brought from home, with a note as to our new room number. (Leave a note "Para las camaristas--muchas gracias" if you want them to have anything, or they won't touch it). I tipped them every couple of days, and left goodies like candy canes and nail polish. The mini-super at Elvira's is just outside the entrance for drinks, ice, etc., and there's a taxi stand half a block away.
About reservations and rooms: Unless you want Funky, you must specify either a Deluxe Ocean View room or a Deluxe Courtyard View room! "Standard" means the pits. The deluxe courtyard view rooms really just look across a narrow lawn at the doors to the oceanview rooms--but they are somewhat less expensive and upgraded. Personally, I would not stay at Villa Mexicana unless I could get a Deluxe Oceanview. That said, if you're traveling with teens and want a separate room for them, the courtyard rooms would work fine for comfortable sleeping. I recommend booking directly thru the hotel. If you already have reservations and aren't sure what rooms you have, I'd call the hotel from the US or Canada and get it taken care of before you arrive. VM is a very popular hotel with vacationers from Mexico City, Guadalaraja, Europe, and the Americas, thus can be fully booked, as we found out. There are more rooms being upgraded now, but I saw nothing to indicate that the standard rooms were being worked on.
We were given food vouchers for 5 of the days we were there for 70 pesos per person, and we recommend using those for lunch or afternoon snacks--dinners are better elsewhere. Our son (14) really liked the nachos and ate a plate daily, and Dick and I enjoyed the guacamole (this is at Dona Prudencia, the VM's restaurant).
I want to get this on the board right away in case anyone is headed down there soon. I'll be glad to answer questions if I've left anything out. Full trip report to follow soon.