I stayed at the Emporio for 3 nights at the end of Jan.'08, and loved it! It was my first trip to Mexico, and my first time travelling alone, so I was a little nervous. The staff at the Emporio did wonders for allaying any fears I had about being a SWF traveller, and helped me out in anyway they could with whatever I needed. (Although the staff are considered bilingual, it helps to know some basic Spanish~ you put in the effort to communicate with people in their own language, they're going to treat you better!)
When doing research for places to stay, I chose this hotel for a number of reasons:
1. Almost every room has a HUGE balcony over-looking the central courtyard and pools, with a fantastic view of the ocean. (I refuse to travel from -50*C Canada to stay somewhere that does NOT offer a room with an ocean-view balcony~ Call me a Princess! I don't care~ I'm not doing it!!!)
2. Most of the people who stay here are local people, especially families with young children = Excellent, laid-back atmosphere! And you know what? That also means a fantastic opportunity to dust off ye 'old spanglish dictionary! :)
3. The location of the hotel is superb~ right at the beginning of the tourist zone, within easy walking distance to some excellent restaurants.
4. It's on a beach~ 'nuff said.
I did not opt for the all-inclusive package, and am so glad I didn't~ There are so many wonderful restaurants nearby, it would be a shame to miss any of them. I did partake of the breakfast buffet at the hotel every morning, which I found to be wonderful, but I'll admit, I was stuck on the made-to-order omelettes and fresh fruit with fresh baked pastries and juice and coffee ~ I wasn't all that adventurous. (The coffee puts Tim Horton's to shame; I feel traitorous saying that, but it's true.)
The beach bar also serves up some [----] drinks, all made with purified ice, which is considerate of them. In typical Canuck fashion, I usually stuck with whatever strongest beer they had.
The rooms aren't huge, but more than adequate~ I've stayed at 4**** hotels that weren't as nice. I ended up staying in #417 and #309. (The phone didn't work in 417, so they moved me the next day~ no problems! #309 has got one of the bigger balconies on the property!!!) The beds~ MY GOD, IT WAS COMFORTABLE!!! Shocked and pleased by that one, I was expecting near-plywood-pillowtop. I think that was the best part of the room~ that, and the huge ocean-view balcony of course. It was big enough, that I had enough room to lay out my Yoga mat, plus leave the patio table and 2 chairs set up. (yes, I brought my Yoga mat all the way to Mexico~ took up valuable luggage space too, dammit.)
The bathrooms are very basic, but they're CLEAN, with CLEAN towels, toilet paper is provided right next to the toilet that flushes, and the hot water works in the shower, which is really all a person needs. The hotel supplies the guests with complementary toiletries, which is a nice touch, and provides a free bottle of water upon arrival.
To get more bottled water, you can pay what the hotel charges, or you can walk North down the main street to a pharmacy, about 2-3 blocks away, and pick up your bottled water for about half the cost. Also, pick up a phone card to use the phones in the lower area of the lobby~cheaper than placing collect calls home and way cheaper than dialling direct from the room.
The only thing I did not foresee and can understand people's frustrations over is the noise level at night, but obviously, no one has any control over that. Mexican architecture being what it is, I don't think insulation is used at all, if ever. Combine that with the fact that every single door to all the rooms are on the outside closest to the street~ a very VERY busy street that is one of the main traffic arteries through town in fact. And then you've got a nightclub/bar not even a 1/2 block away to the North pumping out the bass at a consistently deafening level. Both of the rooms I had were on the North side of the building = NOISY!; the East side is right over the street; the South would be the best bet, I would think. The closer you can get to the beach, the more the sound of the waves will drown out the traffic and the bar. Earplugs work well, I was fortunate to have brought them. Those that don't bring them~ good luck sleeping!
Overall, I had a fantastic time in a beautiful place. I would definitely consider returning to the Emporio, no question. Heck, I'll even bring my husband next time! :)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.