Warning: long and detailed review. :D
My husband and I, mid-40s, stayed at the Dorado Pacifico for the last two weeks of March, 2013. We flew with Air Canada Vacations, direct from Vancouver BC, and received a surprising upgrade to first class, which set the tone for a great trip.
The airport arrival went smoothly and before we knew it we were on the air conditioned coach, being offered cold beer for the short drive to the resort.
Arrival and Room:
Upon arrival at SDP, we were greeted with refreshing towels and cold drinks. Check-in took just minutes, and we were told they did not have the king bed we’d requested, that they were giving us an “upgraded” oceanview room for the night, with the option to keep that room for the remainder of the trip or switch the following night to the king room when it was available. The view in both rooms (we chose to switch the following night, as we needed the king-sized) was what I would call “obstructed ocean view”. They were stunning views framed by the edges of another building. The small deck had two chairs and a small table. The room(s) is basic – tiled floor, large tiled shower, lots of drawer and closet space, small bar fridge with a few complimentary refreshments refilled daily, and a small safe (somewhat awkwardly placed within the closet). It was clean and promptly serviced daily, with turn-down service each night (a single chocolate to share, which was funny, and the sheet giving you details for the following day’s activities and restaurant offerings). Air conditioner is controlled via thermostat, and activated only when a room key is left in a special slot. At one point, a kindly room attendant left us an extra key, in the slot, so that we could leave our air conditioning on when we went out. We found the air conditioning (and fridge) worked well, however the air conditioning was extremely loud, and since it was controlled by a thermostat, it kept coming on and going off throughout the night, which was disruptive.
With regard to sleep quality – the beds are indeed as hard as others have said. I’ve slept on other beds in Mexico and appreciated the firmness, but this one was beyond what I consider comfortable. The first week we were there, we left the sliding doors open at night and slept to the sound of crashing waves. In the second week, the infamous “nightclub” on the beach ramped things up with music SO LOUD that it was hear over and above the air conditioner, even with the doors closed. This went on until about 4:00 am for the week. Such a shame, and of course no fault of the resort, as the music was clearly coming from off site.
Food and Drink:
We were initially very impressed by the food. Breakfast was available in the buffet, and sometimes in one of the restaurants, though we always ate in the buffet. Breakfast was good – fresh fruit, waffles, bacon, egg station, crepe station, and a variety of hot and cold “brunch” type food. Lunch was available in one of the restaurants, and snacks (burgers, fries, hot-dogs and a small selection of hot/cold dishes) were available pool-side throughout the afternoon. Dinner was usually not available in the buffet, though some special theme dinners were served outside (we did not attend) and of course there were dinners to be had at the buffet at times. We stopped at the buffet a couple of times at dinner when it wws open and it was extremely limited and not at all appealing. Otherwise, dinner can be had at any of the restaurants open each evening (not all are open at once). The first week, we ate twice at Oceana (enjoyed Saul’s excellent service) – fish tacos, seafood tartar, nice red wine. I really enjoyed the sushi at the Japanese restaurant. Of course it is all done with a little twist as compared to sushi back in Canada, but I quite liked it, especially the “vegetable rolls”. The service was poor, though – they seemed quite overwhelmed and the waiter who took my order cut me off before I’d really finished (I wanted to order a few different rolls!), saying, “We are very busy!” We also ate at the Italian restaurant, which was, the first visit, well worth the collared shirt and long pants my poor hubby had to wrestle into. I had a fillet mignon, ordered rare, cooked to perfection – yum! Service was great – it was a nice little experience overall. Then we also ate one evening at the Mexican restaurant. Again, food was good, though the servicers seemed disorganized and overwhelmed. They brought us someone else’s main course, which we proceeded to eat, thinking “Is this what we ordered? Ah well, it tastes good.” Oops. This was all during the first week. However, things changed for the worse during the second week of our stay. The resort was noticeably busier, and the food and service really went downhill. A return trip to the Italian restaurant was depressing. Hubby ordered the fillet mignon “medium” and it was every bit as rare as my “rare” one was the week before. The breads and wines and coffees that were so graciously offered to us the week before were nowhere to be seen, and it took some effort to the get the attentions of a server in order to get anything brought to our table. The same could be said of the other restaurants on site. Service was disorganized, with many workers running here and there but nothing really being done. Food quality was “ok” at best – I ordered things that I had enjoyed the week before and they didn’t even resemble the dishes I’d had previously. Weird. Drinks were just ok. The mixes seem to be overly sweet and of poor quality. I tried quite a few different ones and they all had what another guest called an “aspartame aftertaste”. So the food ranged from EXCELLENT all the way down to just ok (during the second week).
Hands down, the best of any place we’ve been, outside of a couple of restaurant servers. Everyone was eager to help, nothing was too much trouble, and we were always being asked if all was well, and if there was anything they could do. Everyone made us feel quite at home and very valued – especially Saul at Oceana, who went out of his way to tell us about menus and special events. We were not bothered at all by the “Time Share” (actually Vacation Club) folk. In fact, one day when I was waiting for hubby, one of the guys was giving me directions, and I actually asked him what the Vacation Club was all about – he didn’t pester me, I had to ASK! We met a couple who had bought into the Club and was happy about it. Interestingly, we noticed that a lot of people were not tipping – in fact it seemed the majority did not leave any pesos behind on the dining tables after their meals. Disgraceful, really – I’m sure they tip back in the US or Canada for lesser service than they received from these lovely people.
Pool and Beach:
I can’t comment on the entertainment – hubby played beach volleyball one day and enjoyed it. We watched the beer drinking contest once.....there were the typical poolside activities, but we so rarely hang out at the pool. Which brings me to the one thing that would keep me from returning to this resort: the pool area is terrible. As others have said, it’s extremely crowded, and chairs are indeed reserved before sunup. To top it off, there is very little shade available, which is a deal breaker for me. Since I rarely sit by the pool, it wasn’t the end of the world, but it did limit our options at times. There were a couple of days when one or the other of us wasn’t feeling well, and we needed to stay on the resort. It was extremely HOT, and since no shaded loungers were available, we actually went to lay in bed instead – not fun! The beach area is very small and crowded as well, but we found more luck locating a lounger there, though it meant dragging one from one area and hijacking the leftover shade from another group’s umbrella. Otherwise, the beach is the most gorgeous we’ve stayed on! Super long, nice and level, soft golden sand, amazing views and breathtaking sunsets. The waves are an issue, but can be fun if you’re careful. I was knocked down a few times whilst calmly strolling along. Let’s say it made for a few good laughs......There were fewer vendors here than other places we’ve been. Great, very inexpensive massages just up the beach – hubby went and through it was super, couldn’t believe anyone would pay the big price for the resort massages. He bought a fishing trip off Big Benny on the beach – caught just one lil guy, but ran into sea turtles and dolphins, both of which he jumped in the water and swam with – better than catching fish, I’d say.
What to do:
I won’t go into great detail here – if you are interested in any of the places we visited, just PM me and I’ll tell you more. We used public transit exclusively – bus and a few taxis. Found it extremely easy to get around here – the bus attendants will get you where you want to go, no worries! We speak very little Spanish and got along very well with the help of some of the most friendly and gracious people in the world. We shopped just a bit across the street at Ixtapa, finding things far more interesting and less expensive in Zihua. Also in Zihua we had the best REAL Margaritas at Garrobos, and had coco locos (oh my!) at a little place – can’t describe where it is, but we had just finished walking along the sea walk, were heading back into the shopping area and saw a sign on a carport advertising cocos – a very nice retired teacher served us the best drink I’ve ever had, then chopped up the coconut as a treat – man was it good!! A couple could stay and eat very well in Zihua on a tight budget – many restaurants with competitive pricing. Spent an amazing day in Petatlan, enjoyed the market there and loved being with the local people – food and drink were very cheap, and the offerings in the market (clothing, crafts, etc.) here were more original and less expensive than anywhere else. Spent an afternoon on Ixtapa Island, and walked several other beaches – great walking beaches all over. Enjoyed seeing the Mexican families. It really brought home to me the fact that we are missing out in Canada, with our 1.7 children per family (is it even that?)........they sure look like they’re having fun with their big, extended families in Mexico! We also went to Barra de Potosi, did the lagoon tour despite the season (no crocs this time of year) – beautiful. The beach here is stunning – like Ixtapa but LONGER (it appears to go on forever) and calm water. If I can arrange it, I will be staying in Barra de Potosi the next time we return to the area......which will be soon, because in my view it's the best spot part of Mexico!
Ask to be placed on the side of the resort furthest away from the beach-nightclub where all the loud...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.