We had received the 5 night stay at Ixtapa Palace as a bonus from the purchase of a timeshare the previous year. After reading some of the other reviews, I had not set my expectations too high, but we were pleasantly surprised. The Ixtapa Palace is set up to cater to locals, but a little preparation helped us 'gringos' fit right in ;-) The hotel is apparently in the midst of a remodeling program so a lot of the issues that others have had with the hotel have been upgraded (to about the standards of a good 1970s Holiday Inn).
A word of caution: when arriving at the Zihuatenejo Airport (ZIH) and clearing customs, go directly to either the "Ground Transportation" desk (directly in front of you) of the Rental Car counters (off to your right). Do not go to any of the guys holding signs and beckoning you over. These are time-share salesmen, and they are trying to get you to sign up for a sales presentation (not the friendly, warm and fuzzy boiler rooms like in Vegas or Florida). The folks at Ixtapa Palace would later warn us about these guys.
290 Pesos worth of taxi ride later we were on our way to Ixtapa. The road takes you through some very 'third-world' looking areas, but don't be too concerned by these. Keep in mind that the official taxi-cab of the third world is the Nissan Sentra, so plan on not a lot of trunk space for luggage.
The staff at Ixtapa Palace was friendly and helpful (in particular 'Gil' who is mentioned in some of the other reviews). The desk staff is a bit light on English, so the well-advised traveler would do well to learn some Spanish before going to Ixtapa. It helps in all transactions to understand a little of the language and culture before you go.
Gil (who speaks English well) helped us out to our room, ran an inventory of all the furnishings, and demonstrated the operation of the features of our room. Our accommodations were a full-size bed (extremely firm) and fold-out sofa (from the Wal-Mart dorm room collection), a small balcony, large bathroom, and kitchenette with dining area for 4. The TV pulled in about 6 channels, two of which (CNN International and HBO) were in English. DVD player hookups were available, for the electronically-inclined.
All the rooms overlook one of the three pools. Our room was close to the gym and bar, from which exuded loud music beginning at about 8:30 am and lasting until late evening. The gym looked adequate, but this being a vacation, we avoided it like the plague. The pools are clean and clear and picturesque, with waterfalls and fountains. One of the pools has a water slide, but adults be warned, it should be marked off-limits to anyone over 48" tall. There is an adjacent water park called 'Magic World' that Ixtapa Palace guest get reduced admission to. Again, this is an amusement park in the image of 1970s Florida.
The hotel is across the street from the main tourist area of Ixtapa, so there are restaurants and shops aplenty. The beach is less than 1/2 a mile away (if you cut through a hotel lobby), though we prefered the beaches at Isla Ixtapa and Playa La Ropa (short taxi rides away). Keep in mind that Ixtapa is relatively expensive compared to other resorts in Mexico, but we found prices not out of line with other vacations we have taken. Keep in mind, also, that those time-share salemen are **everywhere**. They will offer you free breakfasts and resort passes, but **do not** go with them! One time-share salesman in a white van (beware the white van with a resort logo on it) stopped on the other side of a roundabout, and ran after us across the street and the median, trying to get us to go with him.
Gil offered to set us up with tours and such, but we did most of our touring on our own. There are buses that pull up right in front of the hotel. The taxis are relavtively inepxensive, but there are no visible meters in them. The fares seem to us a "zone" system, but the drivers play fast-and-loose with it. After a couple of days we were able to figure out the layout of the area, so touring was easy.
The hotel offers breakfast buffet, but we preferred the Golden Cookie Co. in the Los Patios shopping center (1/2 mile away) (** do not** miss the Golden Cookie Co.). For dinner, try Emilio's (across the street) or Villa de la Selva (very expensive, but so worth it). Also, Nicolas, the bartender at the Ixtapa Palace pool bar, recommended Antonio's on Isla Ixtapa, where he works days. The seafood there was excellent.
We were there during the ramp-up to the high season (December thru April), so most of the services were in place and open. If you don't like crowds, November is the time to be in Ixtapa. They don't have American Thankgiving, so rates are low, weather is perfect, crowds are light. Summer is very hot. September-October is rainy/hurricane season.
Final words of advice:
-Learn some Spanish. The locals appreciate it.
-No ATMs (i.e. 'los Cajeros') in Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo take American Express.
-Have extra pesos available if you venture outside the tourist areas, because lots of businesses outside the cities are not set up to take credit cards.
-Go to Ixtapa. It's 'muy bueno'!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ixtapa Palace is an 8-minute walk from El Palmar beach. It feature three pools, hot tub, tennis courts and a minigolf area. The establishment is 200 meters from the Ixtapa Bay and 1 km from its sports port . The rooms are equipped with air conditioner, wardrobe, satellite T.V. and telephone. Each have toilet and shower with free amenities. They also includes Kitchenette with microwave, fridge and coffee maker (upon availability) The hotel's restaurant, El Tiburon de la Costa, it's open along the day and serve up seafood or meat dishes, but at 1 km can be found many other places where to eat. The establishment have its own gym, spa and sauna. As well, there's a mini-market and bicycle rental service. The water park Magic World it's next to the Hotel, you and your family can have fun in their slides. (Extra charge) Our Hotel, Ixtapa Palace, it's located in the the heart of the city between the commercial and the touristic zone. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ixtapa Palace Magic World Hotel Playa La Ropa
- Palace Magic World Ixtapa
- Palace Magic World Hotel Ixtapa