Acapulco’s Balancing Act

Recent violence draws attention while new resorts open for business

By: By Mark Rogers

Acapulco // © 2010 BluEyedA73

Acapulco // © 2010 BluEyedA73

What a difference a day makes. I was sitting down to write a glowing report on Acapulco’s rise as a once again vital tourism destination when the news feed stopped me in my tracks. At the height of spring break, drug cartels in Acapulco launched an attack on the police that left five officers dead in one day. The bodies of 11 suspected drug cartel members also turned up dead over the same weekend in March — some decapitated. These reports came on the heels of a Department of State travel warning about the security situation in the Northern Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros. The warning also mentioned recent violent attacks on U.S. citizens in the states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua.

It can be said, however, that Acapulco is far from the border violence, and the killings in Acapulco didn’t take place in tourism centers. There’s merit to that argument, since Acapulco weathered a similar episode of violence last year, in which no tourists were injured during the episode or in its aftermath.

Whichever way you slice, it this news is negative for Mexico. Tourism numbers are likely to be affected, at least in the short run. The good news for intrepid travelers is that resorts will most likely be posting amazing travel deals. This was the case in 2009 when resorts sprang into action with compelling, value-added offers as Mexico reeled from a combination of the H1N1 pandemic and similar travel warnings from the U.S.

So, as the dust settles, the objective traveler can take a look at Acapulco and give it credit for coming out of 2009 with a renewed faith in itself. Yes, there is violence, but if travelers use their heads and stay out of dodgy areas, they should be just fine. I visited Acapulco only a few months ago, and found its combination of new development and Old Acapulco to be captivating.

Acapulco may have finally reached an important tipping point — one that recasts the destination as once again having international appeal. Most of us are familiar with Acapulco’s glory days during the 1950s and 60s as a playground for celebrities. With the rise of resort regions such as Cancun and Los Cabos, Acapulco took a hit and, eventually, it became regarded as primarily a Mexican domestic vacation destination. This could change, however, with the recent opening of three new luxury resort properties.

Hotel Boca Chica, a Grupo Habita hotel, is poised to open this month. Grupo Habita has taken a page from the past and fully renovated the once-heralded Boca Chica hotel in the Caleta neighborhood in Acapulco’s Traditional Zone. The chic hotel will have its own in-house bar and disco, spa, restaurant and pool terrace. The interior design was overseen by Mexican artist Claudia Fernández, who helped restore the property's 36 guestrooms back to their original mid-century vibe, with hip accents throughout.

The new cliff-top Banyan Tree Cabo Marques opened last month. This project received plenty of buzz during its construction due to its intriguing design. The all-villa property consists of thatched-roof luxury villas, with private pools, on the tip of a peninsula overlooking the Pacific. The property will also feature a Banyan Tree Gallery of arts and crafts, and the Banyan Tree Spa Complex, consisting of seven spa treatment pavilions. Expectations are high, since its sister resort in the Riviera Maya, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, has been receiving rave reviews since it opened last year.

I toured the Hotel Encanto a week before it opened last February and was knocked out by its minimalist design. The $20 million, 44-suite boutique hotel is located in the Brisas Marques area and overlooks both Puerto Marques Bay and the distant cityscape of Acapulco. The hotel has 44 rooms, 22 of which feature a private pool on the balcony. A nice design touch is the way in which existing trees were preserved and incorporated into the pool’s architecture. Mexican-Asian fusion cuisine is served at the hotel's signature restaurant, Flor del Mar 360 Degrees. There’s also a full-service spa with eight treatment rooms.

Acapulco Tourism Board

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques

Hotel Boca Chica

Hotel Encanto


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