Just returned :( Trip Report

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Escrito por Annie desde (cache-dtc-ac13.proxy.aol.com) el día sábado, 27 de marzo, 2004 a las 17:22:36 horas :

Hola amigos!
We've just returned from another fabulous visit to Ixtapa after 14 lovely days. Just for information, we have travelled to every city in Mexico and while I have other favorites, we continue to return to Ixtapa/Zih. because it is the best bang for our Minnesota dollar.
This year we tried a hotel we had seen many times, but never stayed at, which was the Dorado. We've had friends who have stayed there and had walked through the property numerous times, so we were familiar with the property. This board has always ranked it highly with very few complaints.
The Dorado has the following going for it:
locat1on, locat1on, locat1on! Smack dab in the center of the hotel zone. ATM is right next door, many excellent dining choices right across the street, pharmacy and grocery store all within steps.
Checkin was courteous, friendly and quick. We asked for a king upon check in and she told me that "they have no kings in the whole hotel." This surprised me, but we thought, whatever! (After visiting with others, we found that YES they DO have king suites, but not many) Our room was fine. Decent size, but we really hated 2 double beds. We're use to king at home, and everynight my husband would be "hogging" the bed, so I'd have to fall out and run to the other bed nightly. Not a big deal, but king is just our preference. We asked for a up-high room and were on the 15th out of 16 floors, so we had a lovely view of the sunset daily.
My absolute biggest complaint about this hotel and the only thing that would make us NOT go back to the Dorado is the ridiculous chair thing! I know that's a big debate...but at the Dorado it was beyond ridiculous!! The earliest I got up was 4 a.m. and that was the day I actually got a beachfront palapa! Their policy (last 2 weeks anyway) was that if you're out there reserving chairs BEFORE 6 a.m.... you had to STAY with your chairs or security would supposedly remove your things. While I understand why they do this, I thought it was unfairly reinforced. One woman would come out...throw a towel, book, etc.. on a whole row of 8 prime chairs poolside and leave. Security never once stopped her and I watched her do this for 7 days. During the same time frame, I watched this man come out and try to save 2 chairs, and security would stop and tell him that he had to stay. We ended up visiting while we were both keeping our "pre-6 a.m. watch", and he told me they've never had to get up this early just to get a stupid chair either..lol. Ahh..the things we do for "vacation" huh? Throughout our 2 week stay we'd constantly overhear people talking around their chairs. While some people hog 8 chairs for everyone in their party, then to overhear that 4 of them are out golfing until 1 p.m. kinda bugged me after awhile. In the meantime, at 9 a.m. a lonely couple would come walking down with towels in hand, and of course, no place to sit, as everyone has already reserved chairs for the ones out eating, shopping, golfing or as we heard one say that some of their party was at Ixtapa Island!! While I realize it's just a game one has to play, I find it rude and ridiculous. We ALL are paying guests at a hotel and ALL come down to lounge around the pool and beach. We should ALL expect to have a chair to do this! Later on while talking to others who come down during this time in March, they claimed they have NEVER seen it so busy, so I'm assuming there were just more guests than normal. Yes, I know it was spring break....so this is one more reason to NOT vacation during this time unless we really have to. The Dorado does have a big pool area with lots of chairs. They also have a beach area with lots of palapas and chairs also. It's just a given that if you have 1,000 guests, they simply don't have enough real estate to seat 1,000 chairs. The chairs that were there were nicely padded and most had a good view of pool, ocean, or just good people watching in general.
I guess I should say that when we go on vacation, we literally lounge around the pool and beach areas daily, and do our running around late afternoon or evenings, so having a pool chair and view is #1 in our requirements when vacationing. I think the Dorado has a good set up.... I just think that they are such a popular hotel that they are always so booked, that this problem may always be a big one for them. Another picky note.....we were literally chair to chair around that pool area also, so you better like your neighbor. One moves their chair, and the whole row has to move. Oh, that was another thing. If you got one of the "prime spots" around the pool early morning...99% of the time you'd come back and someone would have plopped a couple of chairs RIGHT behind you making it impossible for you to even turn your chair around to face the sun...ugh! Overall...just WAY too crowded for us. Of course, this is a trip report so I'm stating the stuff that bugged us, but overall the Dorado is a very nice property. We were disappointed in the service poolside and beachside. One day we sat by the beach and the waiter never once even approached us to ask if we wanted something. I realize he was busy, but we still thought a fly-by "can I get you anything" would have been nice. Once we flagged him down to order, he did return, but it did take a bit of looking around for him. Poolside we find that the waiters tend to flock to the larger groups. Obviously they tip well, so they're attentive to them....but we noticed we had to always flag someone down to get service. Not a big deal..just something we noted. Again, they were so busy, we didn't take offense to this. Tip'em and they were back. :)
As we've been to Ixtapa/Zih. many times, this trip was to just do absolutely nothing at all but lounge, read and relax. We did golf at both courses, but the Marina course isn't quite as nice as the other one. (just our personal preference) It was SO hot, that one really had to be teeing off by daybreak to get done early. We've never gone this late in March and we found the heat perfect for beachin' it, but unbearable for anything else! We did get over to Las Gatos and to Ixtapa Island again. We have always preferred Las Gatos, but went to the Ixtapa Island only cuz we had the time. Ixtapa island is more crowded and rockier, yet better snorekling in my opinion. We love the serenity of Frank's at Las Gatos. It was our escape when we got tired of the pool hub-bub day after day. If you're a first timer to the area, I'd suggest going to both, but if you're limited and had to choose one, I'd go to Las Gatos. Again, just my personal favorite.
We also did a day at La Ropa beach...always worth a day trip. This time we looked at a lot of hotels over there. As I would love to stay in Zih., my husband is hesitant. The beach walking isn't near as nice as Ixtapa and those hills and steps are what turn him against staying there. Our overall opinion is that unless the hotels there were dirt cheap, we just get a better deal through our Minneapolis charter to stay in Ixtapa. Basically not worth the $100 difference we'd save staying there. One of these trips we'll try it though. I think the fact that we were walking around hotel viewing in 98 degree heat didn't help matters. My husband was getting downright cranky...lol. We sat down at Paty's for a cold drink, couldn't even get waited on, so after 15 minutes we left. This was Sunday and lots of locals were there eating and enjoying the beach, but we were hot, tired and in bad need of a cold beer. No service, so we just moved down the beach. La Perla restaraunt wasn't much better for service, but we were really dyin' of thirst by then. After sitting, waiting and a lot of head turning, trying to get a waiters attention to no avail, we simply went up to the bar to get our own. Ahh...problem solved...ice cold cervezas to cool down cranky tourists. :) LaRopa is a great, laid back beach area with many fun spots to hit all the way down. The walkway to Zih. is lovely and considering how hilly it is up there, a wonderful addition for guests to get to town using that walkway.
As far as dining...yikes...it's just endless in Ixta/Zih. We didn't once have a bad meal. In all of Mexico, you can't eat or drink cheaper anywhere else! That's a huge reason we return each year. I'm sure within time and popularity, both Zih and Ixtapa will start inching up their prices. It's just good business sense, as people will continue to vacation there. The fancy expensive places continually raved about on this board are still fancy and expensive! lol. We've come to agree that their food is always just "good"...but we realize we're paying for the view and the whole atmosphere. If you want one lovely, romantic dinner, go there, but don't expect the food to be outstanding. Our opinion is that we've had better food dining around town and paid 1/4 of the price. Holding my hunny buns hand and toes in the sand was just as romantic as being up on a cliff being all dressed up. :) One place in Ixtapa that was probably our best deal was the "Beertime Steak House". We had filet mignons, baked potatoe, salad bar for $10.50 each. Unheard of...lol. Filets were grilled on an open fire, so my husband, being an avid bbq-er, loved watching the chef do his thing. All others mentioned on this board are worth trying. We ate many meals in Zih..and half the time I don't remember where we were...we'd just stroll and stop, stroll and stop..lol. I'd highly recommend choosing a place to dine this way. Just start walking and don't be in a hurry to find a particular spot....trust me, you'll bump into many places to eat soon enough.
I gotta plug Rick's Bar in Zih. What an awesome place to stop for a drink. While there are many 2 x 1 places to always enjoy happy hour, I think this was our most fun place to hang. You really meet all kinds of people there. We find while in Ixtapa, we always run into fellow Minnesotans, or most midwest Wis., Michigan or Chicago, which were all fun too. But at Ricks, we talked to people from other countries. Rick's has become a cruiser's bar, so many are off their boats (yachts) and meet there for socializing, showering, and whatever. They have jazz sessions at night for whoever wants to get up and play. It's great fun and always a highlight of our trip to hang out there. For boat lovers, a stroll around the marina is entertaining too. Our favorite dining spot down there is Buffoconi's (and i'm butchering the spelling). Nice atmosphere and excellent food. The El Fara lighthouse bar is a nice place to stop for a drink. Great view up there to walk around and see all the different angles while enjoying a cold drink.
Let's see....as far as getting around. While we use to take the bus when we first started going to Ixtapa, (make sure you do this at least ONCE!)... we now just taxi everywhere we go. While the busses are cheap..60 cents... we found it just way too hot to stop every block and wait for a full load. Yet, it's part of Ixtapa and just a hoot and truly something everyone should experience. Taxis are cheap, quick and entertaining also.
If you're a diehard shopper, you'll have a good time. We don't buy any more trinkets, but I still like to get to Zih. and browse through the craft market. I did buy some pottery and some artwork this trip. I personally found Zih to have more to pick from than the Ixtapa market, but overall, it's a toss up. Again, with the heat, shopping was the last place my husband wanted to be, and I agreed. I looked, I bought and we left! Mexicans loved me...I'm not a good barterer and it was too hot, so I just paid the price.
Overall, a truly wonderful vacation once again. Like others post, it's the people of that area that make it so fun. I love the simplicity of their life, their love of life, and the way they treasure their children is priceless. Being a teacher, I see where many of us can learn from them.
As far as the Dorado, we would return. Any of those along hotel row would be fine, Krystal, Riveria, Radisson....whoever offers us a good price is where we end up. We've stayed at all of those and have always had decent rooms. Some better than others, but overall, about the same. Excellent weather no matter what time of year we go is the big draw to Ixtapa. Cheap food and drink is also a big plus. I can't imagine how anyone could have a "bad" trip to Ixtapa/Zih. The only bad thing was having to leave.
For now, we'll just countdown to next time. Thanks for all who share their experiences on this board. We continue to read it and always pick up some tidbit of value for our next trip or just love to hear that others had a good time in this little piece of paradise we love. Happy travelling!

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