I am embarassed to admit my laziness here. We have been blessed enough to travel to Zihuatanejo every fall for the last 3 years and this is my first review contribution.
First, let me start with how we even got there. I had won a pair of airline tickets around May 2004 on Frontier Airlines. My boyfriend and I decided we needed 6 months to save the money for a vacation...where does Frontier fly that would go the farthest and be the most comfortable in November. Alaska? (um, no) Cancun? (I don't really care for the "touristy" spots) Zihuatanejo (Zhija who??). After a few weeks of research...Zihua just sounded like home to us.
We booked our hotel through Travelocity and ended up at the Hotel Irma and we were hooked. Our view off of our own personal balcony was incredible! You could see the whole bay. The rooms were very comfortable, the maid service impeccable, complete with the little towel / flower animals on your bed everyday. I always make sure and pick up little gifts to take with me and leave a gift with a tip (make sure to leave a note "for maid" or they won't take it). It doesn't cost much and really means alot to the girls.
The swimming pools at the Irma are wonderful. One of them is basically built into the side of the cliff, so if you prop up on the side of the pool, the view of the bay is unbeatable.
The waiters/bartenders at the restaurant are super nice (say hi to Sal if you see him....one of the highlights of our stay and we look for him everytime we go). We did eat at the restaurant a few times - but really tried to try different places throughout the town. Nothing at all against the Irma restaurant...just wanted to try it all! I actually would trot down and get a couple glasses of OJ to enjoy on our balcony in the mornings as we watched the town come to life.
The Irma is at the top of a cliff - 84 steps down to the beach. Take your time...you are on vacation after all. The town has done a phenominal job of installing a boardwalk that runs all the way into town. What a lovely way to begin the day, strolling along listening to the surf, watching the joggers and the pelicans.
There is a large open air restaurant right on the beach - Del Sol Bistro I believe (I will double check and correct if I am wrong)...an awesome place for breakfast. It is not the cheapest...but it is really good and a wonderful place to sit to watch cruise ships come in and just the activities on the beach. On down the beach is a "must visit"....M&J Ritchies. Marta is wonderfully energetic and friendly. They have excellent prices and some of the spiciest salsa you will find if you ask. The beer is ice cold and the margaritas perfectly slushy. It is very hard to leave once you settle in. Marta is such a treat to talk to.
On into town - Don Memo's is an awesome find. His restaurant is a great mix of Italian and Mexican and some of his own creativity thrown in. His tiny little daughter is such a treat. I saw a lady bring her a tiny doll and the girl was so excited you would have think it had been made out of gold. Such a pleasure to watch...and the food - hands down the best food at the best price in town. Don is alot of fun to talk to and very animated. Further into town, by the banks is a large open air restaurant. The most noticable thing about it are the big screen tvs at one end. Their Enchilada Suiza's are to die for. Last but not least - the Gelatto (ice cream) shop by the basketball courts. A wonderful treat in the evening before you walk back to the hotel. Another fun thing to do is order Pizza at the Pizza Loco (??) and have it delivered to the hotel. Gives you time to get back and shower and get comfortable and then enjoy some pizza on your balcony.
Must do's... Take the water taxi at the pier over to Las Gatas beach. when you get to the Las Gatas dock - Start walking....go past all of the signs and restaurants until you are about 3/4 the way down the beach - until you get to Otillia's. It is worth bypassing all of th "your tables waiting just for you senior' to go to Otillia's. The head barman there - Franco, is one of our favorite people in Zihua. His signature phrase is "Why Not" as in when you order a Rum Punch (the best on the beach) you get a big smile and a "Why Not!" or "Peach Keen". He calls my husband "Lady Killer" and me "Foxy Lady". It is funny and he rushes to keep you wanting for nothing. Ask him for a cigar if that interests you - his family works a plantation and he has handrolled cigars that he will sell.. Franco has always been very genuinely friendly and has remembered us from year to year. He is one of the only bartenders that will bring out a mixed bucket of drinks (waters, cerveza's, yoli (Mexican version of sprite) with big chunks of ice. Most bars bring you drink one at a time as you order them....sometimes not coming back for an hour! Franco does not charge you for sitting in the chairs either - most want $3 a person. We visit him several times on each trip and spend most of the day there. He also buys fresh fish from the locals and will make you some of the best nachos, shrimp tacos or grilled red snapper with all the trimmings. When we are done, we take the water taxi back to the dock, grab a gelatto and wander back to the hotel. One of our return trips, Franco had a really bad headache, so I gave him my bottle of Motrin. He was so grateful and thought it worked so well, he gave me his shirt to thank me. Now I wear it as my coverup so everyone knows we are heading to Otillias.
We also like to take the water taxi at least once to Ixtapa Island. It runs about $10 per person and is 1 hour each way. The Island is worth seeing once...but the service will make you miss Franco. There are technically 2 major sides to Ixtapa Island - 1 side is fairly rough, but has nice coral and fish for snorkeling. The other side is calm and sandy. Back in Zihua, La Ropa, while the most beautiful beach in Zihua, we felt was the most "touristy" of the beaches. La Perle...the most popular restaurant on the beach, I felt severely lacked in service. We were sitting in their lounges for 3 hours (at $3 per person) and our waiter only came back twice to see if we needed more to drink. Franco....we will not stray again ;-)
You can take a cab or the bus into Ixtapa if you would rather, it is cheaper and you can see some of the town. But, like I said, we are not into the "touristy stuff" and do not care about missing TGIFridays, Senor Frogs, Banana Republic etc. We thoroughly enjoy the ocean trip and the extra cost is worth it.
We love the laid back atmosphere of Zihuatanejo......... the local fishermen, stores and restaurants. We went back for our Honeymoon in 2005, and again just because we missed it in 2006. If you want to slow down and enjoy a nice relaxing vacation, just look to Zihua.
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- Also Known As:
- Irma Hotel Zihuatanejo
- Hotel Irma Zihuatanejo
- Irma Hotel Mexico