A staple of Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Club Med Ixtapa bears a fresh look courtesy of a recent $25 million renovation.
It didn’t take long for Club Med Ixtapa to emerge as a staple on Mexico’s Pacific Coast once it came into being in the mid-80s. But the property slowly fell under the radar as new all-inclusives set up shop all over Mexico. The situation called for a change, and the owners responded by giving this family-focused resort the makeover it deserved.
This year marks its 25th year of operation, but almost three years after its renovation, Travel Agent found the property is at its freshest and most vibrant. Here’s what else we found at the 300-room all-inclusive resort during our three-day visit.
Even after the $25 million renovation completed in 2007, the exterior of all five buildings of the property remains authentic Mexican. All of them use traditional colors and are built in Mexican hacienda-style. The interior of all the rooms, especially the suites, though are modern chic, with flat-screen TVs and bold colors.
I stayed in room #3218, one of 15 adults-only Luxury Suites. There are also 15 families-only Luxury Suites. All 30 suites are in the “Sol” building, which houses a concierge office stocked with free snacks, beer, wine and liquor.
Suite guests, identified by a blue wrist band (all other guests have green wrist bands) have access to the concierge office and also a private portion of an otherwise public beach (all beaches in Mexico are public). The private end of the beach, designated by a rope, has about five daybeds and hammocks, which are all first-come, first-serve.
The concierge office can help suite guests with everything from arranging cabs and recommending restaurants in the nearby bustling town of Zihuatanejo to booking excursions and spa appointments.
All suites come with balconies, ocean views, special toiletries and a computer with free Internet access. Guests in all other rooms are charged for using the Internet and need to bring their own computers.
The main swimming pool is found near the lobby and an adults-only pool near the suites. The adults-only pool, known as the “quiet pool,” is ideal for those looking to get away from families, which account for 90 percent of its guests. Like all Club Meds, the property focuses on fitness, with an array of activities from trapeze to archery, tennis, sailing and fitness lessons.
Also available are clubs for babies, children and teens and babysitters at an hourly rate. Only the two signature restaurants, Miramar, an Argentinean steakhouse, and Luna Azul, which serves Fusion-Mexican cuisine, require reservations.
The resort’s latest addition is a two-month old Conference Center, which has three meeting rooms. The largest can accommodate 600 people and can be split into three separate rooms of 200 people each. The two smaller rooms can hold 80 people each and can be split into two separate rooms of 40 people each. It’s possible for large groups to book the entire resort for their events.
Activities Off the Resort
The resort organizes a range of on- and off-site excursions from kayaking, snorkeling to tours of the surrounding towns, but if I had to pick two must-do activities, it would be a car ride to the nearby town of Zihuatanejo and a boat ride to Ixtapa Island.
The food at the resort was pretty impressive but some of the best food I had during my stay was on an island just a five-minute boat ride away. On Ixtapa Island, clients will find a host of small bars and restaurants all overlooking the beach and ocean, and giving them a taste of authentic Ixtapa. Make sure you bring some cash though, since none of the businesses on the island accept plastic.
Try the Ixtapa Restaurant, where I’d recommend the lobster fajita and grilled shrimp. Both were fresh, tasty and affordable. I spent under $50, inclusive of tip, for both the dishes, an order of chips and guacamole, and about five beers. A boat ride to the island, which also includes a two-hour snorkeling excursion, costs about $35.
The town of Zihuatanejo is about 20 minutes away, and filled with shops and local markets, bars and restaurants. If your clients make it here, tell them to check out Tamales y Atoles Any, a corner restaurant serving some of the best margaritas and Mexican cuisine. In fact, we were told by the concierge at the resort that this restaurant was the best in all of Zihuatanejo.
From Club Med, it’s about a $15 cab ride. The restaurant boasts loud Mexican colors—from the tablecloth to the interiors.
Again, one doesn’t need to carry much cash. I split an order of red (which actually has chocolate) and green sauce enchiladas, ground beef tacos (marinated along with tomatoes), chips with guacamole, a margarita and three Coronas all for about $45.
Who to Book For
Club Med Ixtapa mostly hosts Americans (about 70 percent), Mexicans and Canadians. The bottom line: Book it primarily for families, but don’t ignore couples either. The resort caters to families but has enough privacy for couples to enjoy a quiet vacation as well. Club Med prefers agents to use their general number, 1-800-ClubMed, for bookings.
Club Med Ixtapa has 15 adults-only Luxury Suites.