I stayed at the Howard Johnson (most commonly referred to as the 'HoJo') for spring break 2006. It was my first Spring Break trip and as a college freshman, I was kind of nervous. I read through the reviews on TripAdvisor and got even more nervous because I read of thefts and vandalism- but in actuallity- experienced no such turmoil at the hotel.
I traveled through a popular college spring break company and only payed $800 for my trip (7 days 6 nights). The 'party pass' was an extra $150, but was well worth it. The party pass covered all cover charges for the travel company hosted parties every night. The parties were always packed, but lots of fun, my favorite was the Foam Party, and that was at a club right next to the hotel. I also went on a night time Booze Cruise, and that was my favorite 'event'. We got to see a different part of Mazatlan and got a private beach for the night along with dinner, 40's, and tequilla shots all around.
But most importantly, the HoJo. We checked in on Saturday and at first it was chaos with a bus full of people checking in at the same time. But we got our room keys fairly quickly. Our room looked out of the front of hotel and out to the ocean and was just beautiful! The staff were all very nice, my absolute favorite was Miguel (at the front deks), he always had a smile on his face and was willing to help.
The hotel was always clean and the maids were constantly working. The ice machine was broken while we were there, so that was kind of a downer but not a big deal. There is a hot tub but it was always full of people and the water was cloudy so my friends and I avoided it. The pool is great, there's a waterslide (Beware, it goes really fast. A lot of my friends got scraped up and bruised from the quick, sharp turns), but the staff brought out big speakers for us everyday and someone always had an IPOD to hook up to them. The fitness area/ gym was never in use that I saw. The equipment was old and there were only a few machines- but who really goes on Spring Break to work out??
Every night my friends and I would head down to the bar to pre-game for that nights party. The bartenders were all really nice and even let us convert the ping pong tables into beer pong tables. The bartenders obviously appreciate tips and they 'remember you' if you tip them well, so it's nice to have them pay special attention to you.
The actual hotel room was pretty nice, despite no air conditioning. We had two beds, a tv, a bathroom with shower (decent pressure), and a balcony. The beds were hard (but usually are in Mexico), and almost all of the TV channels were in Spanish (but again, you are in Mexico). There is bottled water in the room, but they charge you if you drink it. They didn't always replace towels or give you enough for how many people were in your room.
The HoJo has a safety deposit box serviced that my friends and I utilized to keep our cell phones, extra cash, and other valuables safe. I think the deposit is $20 cash, but they refund it to you at the end of your stay.
I ate in the resteraunt once or twice, and it was good service and good food. There's also a gift shop and convenience store that are nice to have on hand.
The hotel is across the street from the beach, and the beach that is directly across isn't really intended for lounging and swimming. However, ideal beaches are only a 2-3 minute walk away. Considering how little I paid, I was able to handle walking to the beach. One of the clubs was right next to the hotel, another was a 2-3 minute walk, and the others were definitely cab rides. Make sure to tell the cab driver where you're going ahead of time, and settle a price BEFORE you go. Also, the best 'cabs' are the modified golf carts with speakers. Usually the younger drivers have the best speakers and drive the fastest, so they were my favorites. They also play good music (Sean Paul, Black Eyed Peas, etc).
Overall- I had a FABULOUS time at the HoJo. It's a pretty cheap Spring Break trip.The staff was great, the hotel was nice, and definitely a college atmosphere.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.