Trip Report Feb. 21st - Mar. 4th

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Escrito por Landeau desde ( el día viernes, 12 de marzo, 2004 a las 23:58:50 horas :

Our flight from St. Louis to Houston, Houston to ZIH went without a snag this year. Previous years had featured snow delays and missed connections resulting in a night spent in a Houston airport hotel (not highly recommended). The first leg of the trip and both legs of the return were on the smaller 2/1 across seating jets which we found to be just fine.

We were met at the airport by Rogelio, the house manager of Casa Cuitlateca, and cold drinks were had on the drive up to the hotel which sits on the hill across the street from Puesta del Sol on the road out to La Ropa from Plaza Kioto.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the Casa Cuitlateca looked after being away for 2 years. Having had some disappointments in the past returning to a hotel previously visited, only to see a downturn in maintenance or management (or both) it was nice to see that the opposite was true at the Casa Cuitlateca. The grounds are even more lush and gorgeous and the building itself has been well maintained and upgraded. A brand new wood deck, new wood chaise lounges (which are made by craftsmen on site!) new paint where needed and many landscaping and decorating touches were evident. Very impressive for a property that is only 6 years old.

I should say here that while Connie and I travel almost exclusively to islands and coastal destinations, our primary activity is NOT beach-going but rather all of the amenities that coastal communities offer, not the least of which are really nice, smaller hotels and wonderful seafood restaurants. The Casa Cuitlateca is perfect for us. It has one of the most beautiful pools and decks we have ever seen outside of the Caribbean. There are only 4 rooms at the Casa, so privacy is at a premium, and over the course of the 12 days we were there, we were frequently the only guests using the pool/deck. Did I mention the pool is an infinity pool and both it and the deck have one of the best views in all of Zihua? The number of cocktail hour guests in the open bar is a testimony to that.

The staff is small; Rogelio runs the bar & restaurant, oversees a little bit of everything, Maria is the cook and housekeeper, Angél and one other (whose name I didn’t get) take care of the grounds (including the woodworking) and Alfredo is the night watchman and default aide de camp after hours. Terry Cahill is the on-site hotel manager and son of the owner, John Cahill (who was not there during our stay). Everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. Rogelio speaks very good English (has spent time in the States with family) and was an ongoing resource for us as we sought to improve our Spanish speaking skills. We had many occasions to mingle with Terry and thoroughly enjoyed his company. We also invited him to come with us to Petatlan (sensing that he has been so tied up with the hotel that he may not get a chance to venture out very often) and we spent that day together.

I feel it important to convey our immense enjoyment of the Casa Cuitlateca and its’ staff, because I have come across dubious comments on this forum that could lead people who might otherwise stay there to the wrong impression. We will continue to stay at this marvelous property every time we return to Zihuatanejo.

Rather than give a day by day, here’s the Highlights/Lowlights;
Day trips & adventures-
Petatlan- was the winner here and we went back for a second visit. This is a genuine, no frills town that imparts a wonderful sense of all that is so unique in Mexico. An accidental visit to a café (calling it a café may be a stretch; it was more of an open living room) resulted in several hours spent with the owner, Adolfo. He is a retired bus driver who entertained us with stories of the old Zihuatanejo and Petatlan, showed us his pet badger, played old records and treated us to pastries from a street vendor wandering by. His love of life was contagious and was the perfect highlight for our visit to this interesting town. Our disappointment at not seeing a colonial cathedral was more than compensated.
Tronconnes- didn’t spend much time there except for El Burro Buracho (sp?) which was a real letdown and probably why we decided not to stay…
Barra de Potosí- had a quick drink on the return from Petatlan and saw enough to make us want to come back and do the kayak tour next time…
Vltava Day Cruise- This is a sailboat that departs from Puerto Mio for day and sunset cruises. With 55 passengers. If you’re of a mind to move around or have some room to stretch and enjoy the ocean experience, this is NOT the trip for you. Anchor in a cove between Las Gatas and Playa Larga to snorkel in the (non-calm) waters, have a (borderline) meal and drinks. Having done similar cruises at many other locat1ons, this one is not at the top of my list, however, if you’ve not done this before, or want to drink a lot, you’ll probably enjoy it. Maybe it was the Aerosmith blasting through the tinny speakers that pushed me the wrong way…
Playa Las Gatas- took the water taxi over to spend the day, ventured about 2/3 the way over towards Owen’s and found a nice spot to spend the day. Connie went for the full sun blast, I spent my time in and out of the sun, realizing the umbrella was my only hope against Lobster syndrome. I still ended up getting a decent burn. Most of the people at the beach that Friday were locals, or at least Mexican. I find it a lot more interesting to be surrounded by the chatter of a foreign language than other Americans…The water at Las Gatas is remarkably clearer than the silty waves that wash up on La Ropa and Madera, and I didn’t have that “sand everywhere” feeling I got at those other beaches. In the ongoing debate of favorite beaches, this gets my vote.
Stumbled on to a nice looking property on Playa Larga around lunchtime, Hotel Las Palmas, and was greeted by one of the owners, Sherry Crawford. She, her husband and brother run the hotel and it is beautiful. She gave us a full tour and we ended up sitting at the gorgeous patio/bar and chatting with her into lunchtime, which we ordered and were rewarded with the best shrimp tacos we’d had yet. No gooey sauce, no deep frying; just sautéed shrimp, avocado slices, lettuce and a crisp corn tortilla, YUM. Sherry was a hoot and had lots of great stories and advice. She was the second person we spoke to who highly recommended a 2 day side trip to Pátzcuaro and region on our next trip. I would highly recommend looking into this hotel as a possible base for anyone who wants to be away from it all without sacrificing the ability to make a quick run into town for meals, etc.
Ixtapa- kept it short & sweet, but we wanted to reassure ourselves that we weren’t missing any shopping opportunities…DID find a salad bowl in the artisan’s (tourist) market that we didn’t see at the equivilaent in Zihua, and bought one mask (this is our annual sought-after item) and some cheapo shades.
Sun, sun, and more sun- mostly spent later in the afternoons poolside reading, drinking, napping and loving the view at CC.
Car Rental- I have already sent Hertz a letter about our unpleasant experience which simply boiled down to having to waste an entire day making calls to Mexico City to have THAT office make the Zihua office responsible for the reservation we had made 2 months prior…Finally got the right car at a “surprise” price (taxes not very well explained) that was close to double the quoted rate…While in the office, 2 other people came in with exactly the same problem, and while I initially (falsely) thought that maybe this was a “trick” played on gringos, one of the offended parties was a Mexican from Acapulco.
ATMs- nary a hitch at the Bancomer, didn’t regret once not having traveler’s checks.
Restaurants- here’s where I’ll probably catch a lot of flack from many of you…I was not at all happy with any of the La Ropa restaurants we had enjoyed 2 years ago; La Perla, La Gaviota and Elvira’s. All had lackluster food and service. Best meal was Casa Vieja in Madera, 2nd best was Il Mare (ate there twice), 3rd was Porto di Mare, and then Puesta del Sol. Also had killer tacos al pastor at a little local place called El Hornito, and enjoyed Los Braceros as well. Did a Thursday lunch run down to Cuoyacul (sp?) for pozole at a place (the name was something like El Pozoleria) recommended by the “majority” of roadside advisors…Dinner at Casa Cuitlateca, as always was wonderful. I already mentioned the shrimp tacos at Hotel Las Palmas…Enjoyed the extremely personal and attentive service of Eric at Bandito’s on a daily basis as we came and went from downtown and made this our fueling station and snack spot. He actually remembered us as the “people who stay up at Terry’s place…” from 2 years prior.

That’s the (not so) short version. For the full version you’ll have to read our travel diary and that isn’t going to happen…Thanks for letting me post this as part of my separation therapy. We’re already planning the return trip and are trying to figure out how to do it sooner than the regular one year…


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