Remember the movie "The Life of Pi"? In one of the scenes, shipwrecked Pi finds himself on an uninhabited island where he finds food and fresh water. He later finds out that this much expected oasis turns carnivorous at night and now he knows why all the animals in the island run to seek shelter before the sun goes down.
Sorry for the long prelude to my comments, but my experience at the Zar was much like Pi's encounter with the strange island. Let me start with the positive elements:
The hotel is conveniently located a good 15-minute drive from the bus station. A 20-minute walk down the sea front will get you in the heart of downtown Manzanillo. It is also right at the entrance of a big harbor which means you have front row seats to watch huge commercial ships the size of a building sailing in and out of the harbor. Our hotel room was spacious, with modern bathroom fixtures and there was even a built-in FM radio in the shower.
The hotel staff was very friendly and very helpful. I asked for my remote, at 250 pesos for the deposit, but the man at the front desk told me "just bring it back in good condition", and I went upstairs back to my room happily with my remote control and with 250 pesos extra cash in my wallet . Same thing with the beach towels. The man at the front desk told me "they are for use at the pool ONLY, not for the beach. You can use them at the beach. Just bring them back in good condition..."
The part about why the beach towels are not meant for pool use only is an example of why I felt like "Pi"...
Though it was late at night when we first arrived at the hotel, I was really looking forward to a romantic walk down the beach, so we checked in and headed for the beach right behind the hotel. Our first glimpse of this beach walk was what looked like a small run-down cafe where several men had nothing on a table except beer bottles. A homeless man lying motionless on the floor just a few steps further added to the already eerie scene. A very foul-smelling public bathroom located just behind the hotel was too much to bear so we rushed back to the safety of the hotel.
Once in our room, I purposely dropped myself on the bed expecting to bounce back, but the mattress was stiff hard. We also had all the sheets AND mattress cover changed because they all had stains on them. There was no elevator in this hotel and no telephone in our room either, so getting something from the front desk meant walking back and forth three flights of stairs.
On the next day we did go for a swim at the public beach right behind the hotel. The water looked clear and it was rather warm in spite of the fact it was late December. It was a fun watching a school of fish swim right by us. The water is deep too. If you like the beach this is the place to be if you don’t know how to swim much. This harbor is in such a location that no waves are formed so the water is very calm.
Just don’t you dare go to this beach on a Sunday when the locals have their day off! There is a big sign that says “no camping allowed”, but I guess people think it means the other way around. Though the beach was not packed, I must sadly say most of the people there care less if they dump their trash on the sand or in the water. I have been to many public beaches in Mexico and this San Pedrito beach is the first one where I saw people dumping this much garbage.
You will enjoy your stay at the Zar, that is if you don’t get a room with a seaside view. All those happy campers at the beach will not let you sleep with their loud music.
The almost brand-new facilities, the flat screen digital TV set, and the kindness of the hotel staff helped us forget many of the negative elements we found in Manzanillo.
Don't get a room on the beach side. The campers won't let you sleep.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.