Saturday, December 14, 2013

Zihuatanejo From Z to O. Semi-total Immersion.

A review of the Hotel Fiesta Paraiso.

When you think of mercado districts in a Mexican city, you tend not to think that there could be a neat, clean, and comfortable hotel amid the raffish refuse of banana peel streets lit by avocado oil lamps. But, take my hand, I'm a stranger in paraiso:

Now, it's true that this hotel, on Calle Los Mangos # 5, Centro, is closer to Paseo del Palmar than it is to the central fish market, but it's only a matter of stepping out the gate of the hotel to find the wealth of offerings of Zihuatanejo's nearby mercado.

A little map is in order here. (I think it's cool that the streets of the mercado district are mostly named after fruits.)

View Larger Map

As I mentioned earlier, I found this hotel when I went last year to nearby Calle Tamarindos in search of tomates criollos. I'd been curious for sometime what a hotel outside of the Calle Adelita—Colonia La Madera Gringo Gulch might be like. Sra. Paty, the manager, showed me some very pleasant rooms, and so this year I cast all doubt aside and booked a room over Skype for $500 pesos a night.

A room like ours, from the hotel website.
Although I knew exactly where the hotel is, getting to it from highway 200 was very perplexing, owing to the whimsical nature of Google Maps in a city noted for whimsical street layouts. After driving about in loops for 20 minutes, we finally broke loose and came in via Plaza Kioto, a well known landmark, and only two blocks from the hotel via Paseo del Palmar.

The entrance is easy and straightforward and there was sufficient interior parking in the central patio and under the shelter of the building.

Paty and her son, Rubén (fluent in English) helped us select a room. The rooms are in two basic categories: larger with either two camas matrimoniales or a king bed, facing Calle Los Mangos and with AC but usually no fan (a couple of corner rooms have sink and kitchen counters; OR smaller rooms facing the patio, with two camas matrimoniales, facing the patio. We decided on one of the latter.

This page describes the rooms and the services available, including rental of a refrigerator. I see that the water is solar heated, and with one early morning exception, we had the hottest, most abundant supply of hot water.

Our room was adequate to our needs, with the exception of sufficient electrical outlets to recharge the various electronic devices we carry. Up until our last day, I was scheduling charge time for laptop, iPod and cell phone atop the toilet tank, which for me is not a desirable place to put expensive electronics. On our last full day, Rubén revealed that there was a far more convenient outlet behind the night table between the two beds.

Closet space and hangers were all right, and the furled hammock strung along the length of the room made a handy spot for hanging clothing, as well as a guideline to the bathroom during night time forays. There is a plywood shelf in the closet, which looks like a desk, but is not.

The small dresser was against the one window, which increased privacy but somewhat diminished ventilation. I used it as a laptop desk, but its small cushioned bench grew uncomfortable after about 20 to 30 minutes.

We used the ceiling fan almost constantly, plus the AC during the hottest part of the day. Paty told me that really, the AC was supposed to be used between 8 p.m.and 8 a.m., but she allowed us to us it when we wished, no matter the hour.

The pool was nice and well kept, although it wasn't useable until 2 p.m., which might be a negative to many water loving guests. I'm not sure why this rule, other than perhaps giving the chlorine powder a chance to dissolve and dissipate.

An odd thing is that guest rooms are not supplied with bottles of agua purificada, but there is a self service garrafon (jug) near the reception desk. Bring your own empty bottles. The hotel is flanked by shops selling miscelanea, including water and refrescos. I also got some interesting, bi-lingual conversation at he deshechables store to the left of the hotel entrance.

I did look into some of the larger, Calle Mangos facing rooms, and I decided that #7, on the segundo piso, was optimal if we decide to stay there again. It has 2 double beds, AC, a ceiling fan, a small balcony overlooking the street, cross ventilation, a larger closet, and the rest of the amenities.

Not # 7, but similar
King Bedroom with fan, facing street, second floor
One of the nicest aspects of the hotel is the friendliness and informality of the staff. On our last afternoon, Paty, her husband Luis, and Ruben invited us to sit down with them at the patio side picnic table and enjoy tiritas de pescado (strips of fish "cooked" in lime juice, with slivers of purple onion and bits of chile verde). Best of all, we had a very enjoyable conversation on various topics. Rubén and I shared interesting websites, using our favorite Apple devices. It was very relaxed and friendly.

L-R: Luis, Rubén, Paty
So, to sum up, the Hotel Fiesta Paraiso provided what we wanted: a hotel close to the mercado, secure, clean, well kept and above all, friendly. If we stay there again, I would want a larger room, although one we had was o.k. There are plenty of eating places, some excellent, others ordinary, within a short walk. There are plenty of shops for supplies. There is no shortage of fresh produce and piñatas.

If you want beach access, this is not for you. It's probably a 10 to 15 minute walk to Playa La Madera. If, on the other hand, you want to immerse yourself in the barrio, and a short walk to the center of Zihua, you might like it very much.

Calle Mangos No.5
Colonia CENTRO
Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, México

Tel: +52 (755) 544-87-45


Felipe Zapata said...

I don't get the hammock in the middle of the room at all. Looks like an eternally annoying obstruction when you want to step from Point A to Point B. Otherwise, looks like a nice place.

DonCuevas said...

Their website says it's in case the guests have an extra person, but IMO, the hammock ought to be outside. But it didn't prove to be an obstruction but a useful place to hang stuff and as a hand line from bed to bathroom.

I imagine it could easily be unfastened from its moorings.

Don Cuevas

jennifer rose said...

The price definitely sounds right.

Mary Lou said...

We actually stayed very near this hotel in that same area at Hotel Gaby a few years ago. We too enjoyed being near the mercado, the little cocinas, and Dona Licha. We had arrived on the bus from Morelia and just took taxis to Playa Ropa and we enjoyed it immensely. Still can taste the meal we had at La Perla. We also found a place across and down from the mercado that would accept our dog and were small apartments with plenty of gated parking. Thanks for the info.. In years past I have always stayed in Ixtapa and taxied to more. I prefer Zihusa now!

Mary Lou said...

In the Yucatan and Quintana Roo, and many other tropical locales in Mexico, even on the west coast of Mexico like Yelapa on Banderas Bay, it is common to have a hammock in the room for sleeping in the budget hotels. I have seen it many times. And not just for the kids. I have actually met folks that preferred sleeping in one. To each his own, but not for me! :(

DonCuevas said...

The hammock expands the imagination.


DonCuevas said...

Estamos de acuerdo. Gracias por tu comentario. Me das ánimo para escribir más.

Don Cuevas

cottongeni said...

We found the hotel to be exactly as Don C. described it, comfortable, clean and friendly. Although the advertised price was $900 MXP, we were charged $400MXP. We had No. 4, with a king bed with AC but no fan, which would have been a welcome addition. The room was up one flight of stairs and had a small balcony overlooking Calle Los Mangos. Street noise was sometimes bothersome, but mostly interesting. Wifi was spotty but sufficient.

We did not use the pool, but it was full of kids late into the night. It is kept sparkling.

About that public garrafon -- if you want to fill the bottles you brought, also bring a funnel. It's easier to step next door and buy cold water by the liter from the fridge in the very pleasant tienda. Beer, too.

The walk to the beach was always interesting, especially south on Benito Juarez, where we liked to stop for coffee and camaraderie with the locals.

DonCuevas said...

Thanks for the update on the Hotel Fiesta Plaza, Geni.

Have you eaten your fill of tiritas de pescado yet?