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“Arrived at the door without reservations”

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Inn at San Pancho, Home of the GataGorda
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed January 24, 2009

We had booked another place as Eileen does not take fewer than three night reservations.--so when we found our other place to be a dump, we humbly drove our car to the back door
and found Tory(other owner of inn at San Pancho) sitting by the pool. We told her our woes--she went and talked to Eileen and we were greeted with open arms--Luck was ours, as they specifically had NOT booked anyone in the couple of days we were there, as they needed some down time. AS we were four times returning guests, they graciously took us in and we had the
whole marvelous place to ourselves.

Cannot say enough good about Inn at San Pancho--we will go back every year, and this time will take the three night minimum
rather than dare risk what happened this trip.

Beautiful, immaculate, quiet and could not be more perfect.
Tory and Elaine are the best. Alice and Michael, Mill Valley

  • Stayed: January 2009, traveled as a couple
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Thank Alice S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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118 - 124 of 141 reviews

Reviewed January 4, 2009

My wife and I had one of our best-ever vacations at the Inn at San Pancho Dec 11-25 (2008). Some last-minute cancellations by other guests worked to our advantage as Eileen, the resident owner, generously upgraded us to the large Nopal suite for our entire stay. We used the kitchenette to prepare all our breakfasts and perhaps a third of our dinners (despite San Pancho being a small town there were several “mini-supers” within a 5-minute walk where we could get most any supplies; produce and seafood sellers, with their pickup trucks, also often cruised the streets). We loved our breakfasts that always included freshly-squeezed orange juice (obtained from the little breakfast taco stand that was literally a 2-minute walk around the corner) and fresh fruit, eaten at our table overlooking the palm, banana and mango trees, with the ocean beyond – not to mention the clear blue, unclouded sky that we had for all 14 of our days. The king size bed was comfortable enough for us to sleep soundly (the sounds of crowing roosters and barking dogs during the night were initially annoying but we actually got used to them and almost ceased to hear them – running the ceiling fan also helped). The bathroom was large, well-functioning and attractive (I especially liked the extra-large shower “room” that did not require a shower curtain).

The suite was furnished and decorated (lots of art) quite attractively with traditional and folk art pieces (although personally I find leather “equipale” seats quite uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time). We had three minor fixture malfunctions that were fixed within a couple of hours of us reporting them (on one occasion, Geronimo, the groundskeeper/maintenance man came in on a weekend to make the 10-minute repair).

Although the Wi-fi network was not available in our casita it was available up by the pool. Oh yes, the pool. This is a major attraction of the place. Because we were on a break from extremely busy schedules we were happy to “do” very little beyond sleep, eat, read, take walks and sit around the pool. We spent many blissful hours by the pool, lying in the comfortable loungers, under an umbrella, reading or lolling in the water, from where you could see the beautifully landscaped grounds and the greenery and ocean in the distance.

Kudos to Eileen for first redeveloping the property to such a high standard and then ensuring such a wonderful and “value for money” experience. Our budget does not allow for typical luxury accommodation but we felt like we were enjoying an experience that probably was not a heck of a lot below the standards for what other places charge $300-$500 a night. Eileen is very down to earth and happy to help out or offer advice or even to just chat. We did feel like we were part of the “Gata Gorda” family. I highly recommend a stay at the Inn at San Pancho.

A note about the village of San Francisco (Pancho) itself. This is much closer to the “real” Mexico than we had stayed before. One should be prepared to adjust ones US/Canadian standards regarding the infrastructure and cleanliness of the public realm. While the streets are “paved” with stones they contain a lot of dirt/sand that gets on everything (if you like to go walking bring good quality rubber footwear that can be easily washed in the shower at the end of the day). The sidewalks are intermittent and of all different levels of condition. There are lots of dogs wandering around and consequently lots of dog poop is underfoot (I managed to never step in any over 2 weeks, so it is possible to avoid if you just watch where you’re walking). “Seemingly” abandoned vehicles and construction materials for projects in progress or not are common sites on the streets. These aspects though are largely outweighed (in our minds) by the friendliness of virtually everybody you encounter walking around the town and the sense that everybody knows everybody (and if you walk around, after a few days you’ll know people too). There is a beautiful beach that is a 10-minute walk from the Inn.

San Pancho is not for people who want to partake in lots of “activities” unless they decide to rent a car (which we did for three of our 14 days) and drive to Sayulita (10 minutes), Bucerias (35 minutes) La Penita (45 minutes) or Puerto Vallarta (55 minutes). We also availed ourselves of the bus service, taking it from the airport, when we arrived, to Sayulita (a cab from there to San Pancho is $10) and going back and forth to Bucerias (where we rented the cars) twice. Finally, regarding the language, it is of course very helpful if you can speak some rudimentary Spanish, but there are plenty of English speakers around if you don’t.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for an experience that involves staying in a real Mexican town and you don’t require lots of “activities”, can integrate into a foreign environment fairly easily and can afford a mid-range budget, you could not do any better than the Inn at San Pancho. We certainly hope to return there.

Stayed: December 2008
2  Thank Dave091
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2008

We just returned from 18 days at the Inn of San Pancho (formerly named Inn of the Gata Gorda). I almost don’t want to reveal how great it was because I’d like it to stay quiet and empty for my next trip… on the other hand Eileen deserves all the guests she can handle.

This little gem is situated on the hillside overlooking the rustic town of San Pancho. Ocean views account for about 180 degrees of the surroundings, while the rest is, well, jungle. Four authentic casitas plus the owners’ apartment are tucked away in the private gated compound, surrounded by impeccable gardens and the most enticing salt water, turquoise pool you can imagine. Darling. Quaint. Private. Tranquil. Perfect.

The Casitas are all tastefully decorated with authentic Mexican artifacts and inspiring color schemes reflecting a tropical haven - the descriptions and photos on the website are as accurate as can be. We stayed in Casa Agave & Casa Nopal. Both had nice cool tiled floors & counters and giant walk in tiled showers. The fully equipped kitchenettes had a full size fridge/freezer, microwave, utensils, hotplate, blender, toaster oven etc. Plenty to cook a full dinner with if you wanted to. All of the water on the property is purified, so need to worry about your margarita ice. AC, ceiling fans and safes were in both casitas. Fabulous beds with great pillows. And views. Did I mention the views? Plenty of giant windows to fling open and widen your view on the world. Leave your windows open and in the early morning you are greeted by the sound of the crashing surf (sigh). None of the casitas have TV or telephones, but fortunately we had our laptop with us so it wasn’t a problem. Wifi access was readily available throughout most of the property. Agave also had a giant balcony where we spent many lazy days. The infinity edge pool was deserted for pretty much all of our stay.

Eileen was more than a host – when we left she was a family friend. When we got sick, she brought us homemade chili. We got worse, she drove us to the Dr. We got bored, she gave us movies. Need I say more? Throw in her irreverent East Coast humor and you know you’ll have a ball. This place seriously puts the ‘away’ in getaway.

San Pancho: Picture a village devoured by the surrounding jungle; streets lined with bougainvillea; an empty beachfront with crashing waves. True, it’s Mexico. There is trash on the streets and there are wobbly sidewalks. Or no sidewalks. There are wandering dogs, cats, roosters and children without shoes. And roosters without shoes. There are houses without roofs. But there are also the tallest palms you can imagine. Stray dogs playing tag freely on the beach without humans chasing them away. Tiny ornate houses tucked back to back between cobbled streets and flanked by winding vines. Butterflies bouncing all around you. Polite smiles from strangers. An honest society that enables you to leave your handbag in the stroller outside the mini-mart. Parrots and hummingbirds everywhere.

There are enough dining options in the town to keep you busy. Our favorite was the “Burrito Only’ restaurant on the corner of the town plaza. Yummy stuff. Also the cheese fondue at the San Pancho café was to die for. The only non-authentic place we dined at was the Café Ola Rica. They have a very Americanized menu (and American prices) and while delicious, was a little too far away from Mexican food for us. The taco stands on the corner were also great.

If you plan on eating in your casita, there are a few things to know. Eileen will arrange transport to and from the airport for you, and for an extra $10 they will stop at the MegaMart in Bucerias and let you spend as long as you want shopping. Take advantage of this! The tiny stores in San Pancho should really be viewed as Seven-11’s. You can get plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, juice, soda, wonder bread, diapers, sunscreen and basic necessities. Liquor variety is limited and a bit pricier than Megamart. Items such as cookies, candy, bread, deli meat, butter, toys, swimsuits, camera accessories, inflatable pool toys are better bought at Mega. The bread and pastries were particularly disappointing in the villages. We also got spoiled food on more than one occasion. If you are staying for a week or less, stock up at Mega on the way there and you’ll be set. If you are there longer than that, I would plan on renting a car for part of your stay. Round trip taxi fare to Puerto is about $130-$150 US; about $50 to Mega.

Sayulita: Situated along the Mexican Nayarit and as close to San Pancho as it was, I really expected a beautiful town & beach. Hmm. Venice Beach anyone? Packed full of surfers - Aussie, Kiwi & American – with an incredulous array of pushy street vendors patrolling the beach. The entire beachfront was jammed full of beach chairs and umbrellas, and frankly wasn’t as pretty as San Pancho beach anyway. The locals were obviously a bit sick of tourists and acted accordingly. We got ripped off in a gift shop and had a tough time arguing in two languages about correct change. Barista coffee shops touted expensive java and fake croissants made from bread dough. Shopping is no different than San Pancho. Not sure what the attraction is here, folks. Move along.

Email me with questions or if you'd like to see more photos. I was limited to posting 10 by Tripadvisor. Note: the beach is huge - the photo just shows a small portion.

Repeat after me: "Got to go to Gata Gorda"

  • Stayed: November 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank Barundy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 14, 2008

This vacation was fantastic! Escaping frigid temps in Calgary was good enough, but to enjoy PERFECT 82 degree weather in San Pancho was the best Christmas gift a girl could get!

A few highlights of the Inn at San Pancho were the spacious accommodations in Casita Nopal with our own frig, blender, microwave and coffee maker, the colorful landscaping surrounding the pool and Villa V, sunsets at the beach, and best of all, the rustic adventure of not staying at a bland high rise resort in Puerto Vallarta.

In five days, we did it all including:

- Surf lessons in Sayulita (10 min drive)
- Swam with the dolphins and raced on the slides at Sea Life Vallarta (25 min drive)
- Rode horses on the beach and through the jungle
- Drank a few margaritas at sunset on the San Pancho beach (10 min walk)
- Watched baby sea turtles being released in to the ocean
- Shopped at Veronica & Fabio's amazing jewelry studio and bartered with local vendors on the beach (10 min walk)
- Enjoyed massages by Gabrielle at the Purple House (5 min walk)
- Spoiled ourselves with a delicious shrimp chile rellenos meal prepared at the Inn at Gata Gorda
- Sunbathed in the cozy lounge chairs by the pool
- Experienced a gourmet dinner at Marplata, a gorgeous open-air restaurant recognized by Conde Nast (5 - 10 minute drive)
- Ate the best breakfast ever at Rollie's in Sayulita - the El Jorge with machaca (10 min drive - perfect spot for kids!)

Eileen, the owner, is wonderful! She has created a comfortable environment filled with books, local treasures and love. You'll feel it the minute you get there.

The resort is ideal for couples, friends traveling together, families, small wedding parties, and anyone looking for an authentic Mexican vacation where you seek can out a cheap and delicious tacos off the street but still enjoy the comforts of purified water and wi-fi access at the pool! Life is good at the Inn at San Pancho.

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with friends
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2  Thank NolaGorski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2008

What did I like the most about la GataGorda?? Was it the view of the ocean as I relaxed on the veranda of my casita, the view of the mountains from my kitchen window as I brewed the coffee provided for me, the sounds of the waves crashing in the background as we gathered and chatted before dinner, or was it the simple walk through the quaint little town to Maria's for breakfast, then to the beach with my friends and family (to include 3 year old twins). We learned to surf in Sayulita about 10 minutes away, rode horses at sunset, and swam with the dolphins...all within a close drive from la GataGorda. The Inn is exquisite from every view point - its clean, family friendly, safe, close to everything, and extremely relaxing. I cant wait to go back!!

  • Stayed: December 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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1  Thank trishnola
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2008

We have just returned from our two week honeymoon at the Inn at San Pancho. If we were to sum up our honeymoon into one word it would be ... WOW! We came across the Nayarit coast while reading a USA Today article entitled “Riviera Nayarit is Mexico's Next Great Place”. The word ‘next’ is what led us to look further into this region on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and eventually to this gorgeous ‘oasis’, as we came to call it. We knew we wanted to go somewhere warm and somewhere with a beautiful beach, but we didn’t want the ‘usual’. The Inn at San Pancho seemed like the perfect place and it exceeded every expectation we had.

We spent our two weeks in Casita Agave – which was tastefully decorated with local furniture, had large plate glass windows and doors allowing you to look out at the mountains and ocean from almost every angle, and a LARGE veranda to relax, nap and watch the sunset. In addition, although we chose to eat in the MANY great restaurants of San Pancho and nearby Sayulita each night (and keep our meal making to cutting fresh pineapple, cracking Pacifico’s and brewing local coffee), the casita is fully equipped with every kitchen essential (hotplate, toaster, coffee machine, full sized fridge, corkscrew/bottle opener) you need to make meals. You can even have your meals made for you in your casita!

The property of the Inn is equally spectacular! The pool, which to our delight had salt water, is set at the top of the property and is the perfect place to watch the sun rise over the mountains or fall into the Pacific. Depending on which direction you are facing, you are either looking at palm covered mountains, the ocean off in the distance or the lovely gardens that cover the property – words cannot really describe how beautiful the setting is! The two friendly staff, Geronimo and Sylvia, keep the property in perfect condition and seem to take immense pride in doing so. Sylvia even left fresh flowers around our place every time she tidied!

Lastly, we want to express how much we enjoyed the owner of the Inn, Eileen. She is always cheerful, friendly and doing whatever she can to make your stay perfect! From day one we felt like more like friends than guests.

You will not be disappointed if you choose to visit San Pancho, and stay at the Inn at Pancho – it is the perfect vacation, and in our case, the PERFECT HONEYMOON!!

Thanks Eileen!!

Ben and Katie

Note: we would recommend renting a car for at least part of your stay and Eileen has a recommendation for a local company who is reputable and who will pick you up at the airport for no charge (will save you the US $80 taxi ride to San Pancho).

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ben1872
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 17, 2008

I can highly recommend Inn of the GataGorda at San Pancho. I travelled to Mexico from England with my family for the wedding of my nephew. After staying in a very nice but impersonal hotel in Puerto Vallarta we travelled north to San Pancho. My nephew Michael wanted some 'chill out' time with family and friends before his wedding and arranged for us to stay at the four casitas at the Inn. He could not have chosen better the Inn is set on a hillside in a beautifully tended garden on three sides lush vegetation and ahead a view of the Pacific Ocean. Although the younger members of the party enjoyed surfing off the town beach, we all enjoyed the pool. The small town with good restaurants, try Cafe del Mar, Burritos near the beach (take your own wine and beer) and San Pancho Cafe (huge portions), is a short downhill stroll from the Inn with the beach at the end of the stroll. The owner of the Inn Eileen Pierce could not have been more helpful and treated us more like house guests than paying guests. Eileen's staff were equally helpful. I stayed at Nopal with my husband and although we had no veranda we had a balcony and were able to listen to the tropical birds as dawn broke, wonderful. The casita was spacious, clean and well decorated with lots of Mexican artwork. We enjoyed our stay so much that after the wedding at Punta Mita four of us returned to the Inn for the final four days of our holiday

  • Stayed: October 2008, traveled with family
    • Value
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Thank darcy21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Inn at San Pancho, Home of the GataGorda

Address: Camboya, San Francisco 63732, Mexico
Phone Number:
Location: Mexico > Pacific Coast > Nayarit > Riviera Nayarit > San Francisco
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 B&Bs / Inns in San Francisco
Price Range: $85 - $225 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Set like a moonstone in the abundant palm forests which frame the idyllic village of San Pancho, the Inn at San Pancho offers abundant gardens, charming casitas, and a cascade pool. Embraced by the colors of Mexico, with jaunty peacock blue skies each morning, and the gaudy sprawl of sunset ushering in each star-filled night, this enchanting Inn with its spectacular vistas weaves days that unfold like magic, and spins memories that will cling forever. ... more   less 

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