Time of stay was from February 25, 2012, through March 3, 2012. The stay at this resort was an RCI exchange. That, in and of itself, was a problem. Why? Based on our experience, it appears that the Pacifica Ixtapa resort and RCI either do not communicate very well, or they have a bad relationship with each other. Our experience started out a few weeks prior to taking our trip when we found out (through calling the resort) that, instead of getting the 2 bedroom (max occupancy 8, privacy 8) we had traded for, we were getting 2 very small studio units. Although we tried, it could not be resolved over the phone. We decided to deal with it when we arrived.
Our normal home unit (at El Cid Marina in Mazatlan) is a 2 bedroom lock-off, which comfortably accommodates 8 people. This trip, we had 6 adults in our party. When we arrived at Pacifica Ixtapa, we asked to see the room(s) they assigned us before moving our luggage in. What they showed us was so small and cramped, we told them it was unacceptable. The next thing they came up with was one larger unit with a king bed and a queen Murphy bed. Actually fairly nice for 3 of us. The other unit was a smaller studio with a king bed and a sofa that easily converted to a full size bed. It was also 2 stories directly above the other unit. Each unit had a small kitchen. We accepted this accommodation set-up somewhat reluctantly, but were told there would be another option available the next day. We decided to live out of our suitcases until viewing their next choice.
To make a long story short, they showed us 2 more accommodation choices. Both unacceptably small. The second choice was even in the “Golf” section of the resort. So, we decided what we had was good enough, and unpacked our suitcases.
Check-in problems aside, I will now describe the resort in general. This resort is divided into sections. We were in the “Club” section. It’s is apparently one of the older sections of the resort. They keep it fairly clean and do an OK job of maintenance. There is also a “Sands” section, an “Aqua” section, and a “Golf” section. I believe the Sands and Aqua sections contain the largest, most expensive units with the best views. However, our views from our Club rooms were awesome. I can also say that a plus with the Club section is that the all-inclusive there is optional (I’ll talk more about the all inclusive later).
I’m not sure where else to mention it in this review, but I feel I must mention that I did get some for of Montezuma’s revenge. The doctor we called said it was an intestinal infection, and gave me a shot of a combination of an antibiotic and an anti-diarrheal. I was only out of action for one day. All I could do while I was feeling lousy was lay on a lounge on the beach under a palapa. Things could be worse. :-)
The best way to approach the rest of this review is probably through “pros and cons”. So, here goes:
** Pros **
All-inclusive. As I mentioned, in the Club section, the all-inclusive was optional. We were told that, if we decided to do it, we needed to do at least 4 consecutive days. That was our original plan. BUT... about 2 weeks prior to our trip, we got a call from an all-inclusive representative from the resort who offered us a deal we couldn’t refuse: a 30% discount on the all-inclusive price (buy 5 days, get 2 days free), 2 free massages per unit, and an extra dinner at the ala-carte restaurant (El Faro). (Normally you get one free meal at the ala-carte restaurant, El Faro). Suffice it to say, this was an incredible deal. But, if you like to go into town to other restaurants more often than not, then don’t do it. We got our money’s worth, and more, every day. I’m not sure, but the purified water they supply may be part of the all-inclusive. I say “may” because every unit has a 5-gallon water dispenser in the unit. Tap water is not potable. By the way, even though they say tips are included in the all-inclusive, it is a good idea to tip maids and wait staff. Their wages are tiny, and tips are a huge part of their compensation. During checkout, the bill includes a 50 peso “tip” charge. We tipped all week, and, therefore told them to remove that.
Staff. With the exception of the staff at the El Faro restaurant, everyone was very good. Polite. Most had a decent grasp of the English language. The man in charge of the wait staff at the Tulipanes beach restaurant (Lucian) was actually from Romania. He was excellent, and his staff followed his lead. Housekeeping was good, but they generally do not speak English. If you want to communicate with them, you need to know a little Spanish (for things such as asking for towels, soap, water, etc.).
Beach area. The beach area was very very nice. Loads of palapas (that you had to reserve early in the morning). We never had a problem with reserving between 8:00 and 8:30 AM. At 11:30 AM anyone could grab an open palapa. The sun is so intense there, a palapa, or some sort of shade, is a necessity. As long as I addressed service in the last paragraph, I should mention that if you want more attention from the wait staff, then throw them 40 or 50 pesos when your waiter first greets you. They don’t make much of a wage there, and a few bucks will go a long way for getting good service.
Bugamblia’s restaurant. For dinner, this place was awesome. Service was excellent. Food was excellent. This is the restaurant next to the reception office.
Tulipanes restaurant. This is the restaurant at the beach/pool area. In the morning, they have a breakfast buffet. The buffet isn’t that great, but they offer omelets, eggs, breads, coffee, juices, pastries. There is also a lunch buffet with some good and bad choices. They will cook hamburgers (not very good... I think they contain soy or oatmeal or something). They also offer some authentic Mexican fare, but I won’t touch that stuff with a 10 foot pole. That’s just my own personal preference. For dinner, they offered different things on different evenings. On the Saturday evening that we arrived, they were having steaks, grilled right there in front of you. Thin cut, but I thought it was pretty decent. They change themes every night.
Gondola cable car. Unless you like climbing hundreds of steps, this is a must, and convenient. It is shut down most of Saturday for maintenance. The other option is the complimentary shuttle vans that are quite prompt.
View. The view from our unit was spectacular. Ocean, beach, much of the town of Ixtapa. One of the nicer panoramic views we’ve had on any trip.
Room air conditioners. Good, remote-controlled,quiet air conditioners in the rooms. With the heat and humidity there, these were a definite plus.
El Suspiro restaurant. I’m listing this last because it is not in the Pacifica Ixtapa resort. It is actually in their sister resort in Zihuatanejo, the Pacifica Grand. Spectacular view and excellent service and food. It was included in our all-inclusive, so it was only the cost of the cab to get there and back (about 300 pesos round trip).
** Cons **
Lots of stairs. This place is built on a hillside next to the ocean. The number of stairs to get to our unit was 297! I do not recommend this resort for elderly people. There are very prompt shuttle vans that will taxi you around the resort free of charge, and there is the gondola.
Balcony railings on Club section balconies are too low. I believe I read an earlier review of someone falling off a second story balcony to their death. After standing out on the balcony, it is easy to see why. Be cautious and sober when getting close to the balcony railing.
El Faro restaurant. Poor, slow service. Mediocre to bad food. Avoid this place.
Pest insects and birds. One thing prevalent in our unit was the presence of tiny ants. Don’t leave any type of food open that may attract them. Black flies are also ever-present at the Tulipanes restaurant area. I’ll be one of the first to admit, though, that this is the tropics, and insects are a given, unless the resort uses lots of insecticide. Another thing ever-present at theTulipanes restaurant area and the beach are the grackels. Pesky black birds that will fly right past your head to obtain food scraps. They are all over, and leave their droppings all over.
Ocean swimming. For some reason, it seems that the beach at Pacifica Ixtapa is a popular area for locals to catch bait fish. They are out there dawn til dusk. Apparently the area right in front the Pacifica must be the only place where these fish congregate. Throughout the day you will always see pelicans and other birds nose-diving into the water after the fish. So, this make for a bit of a swimming-unfriendly beach. This likely won’t change because Mexican ocean beaches are all federal property.
** Summary **
All in all, this is a very good resort. I can’t really review the towns of Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo, as we only made a couple walks into Ixtapa to shop a bit. For you adventurers, go for it, but with all the recent (February 2012) U.S. State Department travel advisories for Mexico travel, it is advisable to use a bit of caution.