A Zihua Wedding Tale

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Posted by Ursula in PDX from (dup-200-65-89-237.prodigy.net.mx) on jueves, febrero 20, 2003 at 21:18:23 :

Greetings from Oregon. While it's tempting to contribute my thoughts on the recent environmental issues that have lately made such a scene on this website, I think I'll pass for the time being until i have more of a foundation to stand on. Until then, I figure I'll take this time to offer some info about a subject many people come to this site for--information about planning a wedding. My husband and I got married on January 10 in zihua, and I spent more than a year researching in preparation. Much of this research involved searching the archives on this website, which I found very helpful.
Now I would like to share my two cents worth regarding our experiences with the wedding, both good and bad. Before I begin, however, I would like to preface by making it clear that everything I say here is personal opinion and comes from my experiences alone; I realize my thoughts are not the end-all-be-all and are probably not shared by many on this website. Take this info and do with it what you will; but keep in mind that everything you read on a website should always be taken with a grain of salt. With that said...

The best advice I could give anyone thinking about getting married in Zihua is to hire Isabel Pais to help coordinate. Her fee is EXTREMELY reasonable --at least by American standards -- and she proved to be invaluable in dealing with the various issues that came up throughout the process(to be discussed). She is very professional, speaks great English, and always responded promptly to our questions.
Don't get me wrong; everything was not "perfect" by my neurotic, virgoan, American bridal princess standards--s**t happens, and you can count on it at any wedding. (especially when bringing American ideals into another country and culture) Through all of it, however, Isabel worked HARD and did so much more than I would have ever accomplished on my own. I was so glad I didn't go at this alone and had her to rely on when things got sticky. I absolutely recommend her.

Now for the accommodations:
My husband and I stayed in three places while in Zihua for our wedding. First, we stayed at Quinta Troppo. We next moved to Villas San Sebastian, and lastly to Casa Cuitlateca. (yeah, I know, we moved around WAY too much. I just couldn't make up my mind where to stay!) Casa Cuitlateca was the site of our wedding. Our guests stayed everywhere from the Irma, Villas San Sebastian, Residencias, Villa del Sol, Villa Carolina, and Casa Que Canta. After spending considerable time at all these hotels, our hands-down favorite was Quinta Troppo. For the price it is absolutely the most tasteful and elegant of all these places.

-Villa del Sol is just too darn expensive for what it offers. You have to purchase their meal plan and unless you're a millionaire the rooms won't have a decent view. Although some might find it paradise, I didn't like its resort feel--too sprawling and impersonal. We did have our wedding brunch at the Cantina, and spent another night there drinking as a group before the wedding. These experiences were great and really highlighted what Villa del Sol is best for: its locat1on right on the beach. Those experiences at Villa Del Sol were memorable and the service and food was always good. However, even with the good service and the beach, Villa Del Sol still cannot compare with Quinta Troppo, whose intimate locat1on and service was absolutely perfect.
-We arrived at Quinta Troppo hot and exhausted--like most coming from the freezing north after a long day of travel. We were greeted by the lovely Josefina who graciously let us to our room. Our room was amazing-- two balconies looking out to the bay--antiques, handicrafts and primary colors adorning the walls--absolutely stunning. As if the mere sight of it wasn't enough-- within 5 minutes we were brought complimentary chips with guacamole and two margaritas --shaken on the spot as we sat down on our balcony. My husband and I thought we had died and gone to heaven! Everything was as close to perfect as you can get throughout our stay--we ate numerous meals and they were all great. I am very very picky when it comes to food--the fish and veggies were always fresh and never overcooked--they even accommodated our request for vegetarian meals after we felt "fished-out" one evening. Another thing I must brag about is after we left and moved across the street to Villas San Sebastian, we continued to visit Quinta Troppo because my parents were staying there. Everytime we knocked on the door we were treated with the same courtesy and graciousness. We didn't have telephone access at the Villas San Sebastian, and Quinta Troppo continued to make numerous calls and take messages for us. The whole place is first class--and yet totally devoid of the snottiness or the price that typically goes along with a luxury hotel.

-Next, we moved to Villas San Sebastian, which, after Quinta Troppo, was somewhat of a disappointment. I had stayed there in May of 2001 on a reconnaissance mission with a friend--and it was great because of the kitchen and expansive outdoor living area. This time, however, we were not as impressed-- at least not for the money. For just about the same amount of money--you could stay at Quinta Troppo and enjoy much more elegant accommodations. Our room never really felt clean--there were some local bats who had taken residence in our place and really left a mess in the morning. The pool is okay but not really inviting --they really needed some plants or something around it to make it less sterile. Both times staying there I had good interactions with Luis, the owner--he seems like a nice man and very reputable. However, the woman he had working for him always treated us like we were a pain in the butt for asking questions or needing something--like fresh towels or whatever. The lack of telephone really was a problem also--there is one there but it was out of service and requires money to operate. When trying to coordinate with fifty people for the wedding--it really was nice to have a place where people could leave messages for us---as mentioned above, Quinta Troppo continued to do this for us--even after we were no longer staying there (but my dad still was...). As far as the kitchen or the space that I thought would be so perfect for entertaining our friends--we never had the time or energy to cook and we felt too bad for the other guests to have our friends up in the evening. All in all, if Villas San Sebastian were a bit less expensive--it would be a great place. It still is a great place, as I don't mean to say it's not lovely or perfect for some people (especially if you were a family with kids or something like that). But for us, it really didn't seem worth the money for what you got.

-I must admit I am a bit nervous about proceeding with my thoughts on Casa Cuitlateca; my feelings about it are somewhat confused and still so raw. On one hand, it is the place where my husband and I shared the most beautiful moment of our lives thus far. On the other hand, it was a source of many unfortunate events. There are things I wish I had known about Casa Cuitlateca before staying there-- and hopefully I can shed some light onto the situation for another who might be considering it as a site for their wedding as well.

First off, Casa Cuitlateca is absolutely beautiful. Its architecture, its POOL, its view of the bay, its landscaping. Just stunning. This is really what pushed my decision to have the wedding there--despite some gentle warnings against it from Isabel, who had coordinated many weddings there before. I think Casa Cuitlateca has some amazing potential--it could be an absolutely perfect hotel. What we saw, however, was far from perfect.

It was unprofessional--------and a rip off for the price. I must add a quick footnote here--it may seem like I am excessively complaining about the cost of the hotels in Zihua. Trust me: I am fully capable of appreciating a good $400 hotel room (although I have been in only a few). Casa que Canta, for example, is such a place. It costs a ton of money, but has every detail down pact (my mom stayed there). When paying $400 a night to stay someplace special, you want to look around and be able to fully experience what you're paying for. Before going to law school, I was in the service industry for 10 years. I have waited enough tables and cleaned enough hotel rooms to know quality when I see it--and Cuitlateca was not up to par in this respect and was a huge disappointment. Here's why: First, the rooms weren't really clean--rings in the toilet bowls, stains on the curtains and linens. The freshwater ponds were filled with scum and had trash floating in them. Second, despite knowing for almost a year the date of our wedding, when we arrived to meet with the manager, they had not read the contract I signed with their agent and were clueless about the obligations they had agreed to. I mentioned above that Isabel is an angel. Here's why. Moments before guests were to arrive, the manager was bathing in the pool, with a smoke hanging from his lips. The chairs for the guests were not set up (which was their job). The other employees I paid money for them to hire to help were nowhere on site, the trash was still in the ponds, the booze for the bar was not even bought. I am talking minutes before the wedding started and nothing was set up. I was up in my room with the bridesmaids, dealing with my own nerves and getting dressed. I had no idea what was going on downstairs; people kept telling me everything was "coming together." Little did I know that my husband and Isabel were running around like crazy trying to do all the work Casa Cuitlateca had agreed in the contract to do. At one point, Isabel asked the manager whether he was going to set up the chairs as his contract called for. The manager, in his robe and still wet from his dip in the pool went off yelling at Isabel and threw a total fit. I was told that Isabel remained calm at all times, never raised her voice, and simply said something like "okay, then I will do it" and walked away. I heard the door slam as the manager went into his suite after the fight. Let me remind you, Casa Cuitlateca has only 4 rooms. The place shakes when someone slams a door. I thought the wind must have blown it shut. Anyways, the wedding all came together thanks to Isabel, who ran around like crazy setting up the chairs and putting flower petals in the ponds to cover up the scum and trash. The management of Casa Cuitlateca failed to even look at the contract we had --which TRUST ME included more detail than necessary --and then complained on the wedding day about their responsibilities. Despite the fact it said in black ink that they were supposed to serve the cake (and they even made me pay extra for that service) they refused when the time came and actually demanded we find someone else to do it. We served our own champagne during the toast because again, they refused to do so. To take the cake, so to speak, the management waited until the day before my wedding to stain the wood deck for the ceremony. This resulted in huge brown stains all over the train of my silk wedding dress that will never, ever come out. So much for handing it down to my daughter someday.

Finally, we had to stay there for four days after the wedding. The manager did nothing but GLARE at us and slam his door whenever we crossed paths. Absolutely unbelievable. I still wonder if we should've just left early and moved to another hotel. I was nervous about breaching my end of the contract and knew we'd be out a ton of money if we did. So we stuck it out--but got up early everyday and came home late at night. We didn't feel welcome there and ended up feeling awful every time we had to return to our room. Not exactly my idea of a great honeymoon.

I still ask myself: they knew when we were coming, when the wedding was, and had no one staying there for weeks in advance. Why didn't they bother to look at the contract and do the maintenance before we arrived?

This is the first I have written down my thoughts since the wedding. Overall, I have no regrets. Our guests and myself were largely shielded from much of the problems at Cuitlateca thanks to Isabel, who kept things going smoothly.

It is my understanding now that there have been some internal problems at the hotel for some time now. I fear it is not doing as well as it should and there is definitely serious tension among the employees (which we were also unprofessionally privy to).
While I have no intentions of causing harm to Casa Cuitlateca or its management-- I think that people should be able to take my experiences into account when deciding where to spend their tourist dollars in Zihuatanejo. In my opinion, there are so many other lovely places in Zihuatanejo that deserve the business far more.

-If you're on a budget--go to the IRMA. That place rocks; the people are nice as heck and the view is great. Our friends who stayed there absolutely loved it. If you're not on a budget, and want that someplace special--go for Quinta Troppo or Casa Que Canta. Anyways, that's my two cents--knowing me I will add to it from time to time (I didn't even get into the food...). Thanks for enduring this epic tale, and keep in mind it's just one woman's opinion and experiences...

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