Down on the Docks

The Marina El Cid provides a more tranquil, upscale option

By: Kenneth Shapiro

The El Cid Resort properties the El Moro Beach Hotel and the adjacent El Castilla Beach Hotel have long been a favorite in Mazatlan, on Mexico’s Pacific coast north of Puerto Vallarta. With their central location on the city’s Zona Dorada and the lively El Caracol Disco, these El Cid properties can feel like the life of the party. But agents looking for a quieter option for their upscale clients might prefer to look just down the road a bit, at the El Cid Marina Beach Hotel. This more intimate 200-room offshoot of the main El Cid hotels has many of the advantages of the larger resorts, while remaining more tranquil and homey.

“It’s a bit mellower here, and the property feels more upscale. It just feels like less of a party,” said sales manager Javier Paez. “Plus, guests at the Marina Hotel can use the dining and other services of the tower properties, but tower guests can’t use marina facilities. So that’s a big advantage right there.”

In addition, the El Cid Marina offers Junior Suites and One-Bedroom Suites, many with large kitchens and living rooms. And all the rooms have ocean views. With the in-suite kitchens and two pools featuring a water slide, waterfalls, a swim-through grotto and a swim-up bar the Marina property is a hit with families as well.

“Our family and honeymooner markets are very big,” said Paez. “We’re also popular with groups and meetings.”

The Marina tries to accommodate the business market with several meeting rooms and free Wi-Fi in selected areas of the hotel, although on a recent visit we found those wireless hot spots to be limited and the ability to connect somewhat unreliable. A convention center is being built nearby, which should greatly enhance the resort’s appeal to small business groups.

El Cid Marina gives guests a choice between all-inclusive or European plan, but given the outstanding quality of the resort’s restaurants, all-inclusive is suggested. The La Marina restaurant is the resort’s main eatery, serving a breakfast buffet as well as lunch and dinner. The Calypso Snack Bar and the Marina Lobby Bar are closer to the main building, but one of our favorite eateries was La Grotto Snack Bar at the far end of the property, near the grotto pool. Here you can get incredible shrimp quesadillas, tacos and other Mexican dishes poolside. It’s a great lunch spot. Of course, guests of the El Cid Marina have access to the six restaurants at the El Cid towers too, including one of the resort’s signature fine-dining locales, the Alcazar Restaurant. A shuttle bus makes the short run back and forth between the resorts from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

The El Cid Marina is a working marina that makes for a popular stop for pleasure boaters, a fact that lends an air of luxury to the property with so many large sailboats and beautiful yachts on site. It also makes the hotel a convenient jumping-off point for sport-fishing charters, which are available right from the hotel’s dock.

In addition to fishing, the resort features a 27-hole golf complex next door and tennis is available at the El Cid Country Club nearby. At the country club, there is also a top-notch spa and fitness center.

The Marina hotel also features its own beach and a small beach club, accessible via a one-minute water-taxi ride across the marina. Paez says there’s a secret to how the hotel keeps the beach so well maintained.

“We dredge the marina often to accommodate the boats, and we use the sand from that to groom the beach,” he said. “It means that we always have a wide beach and a gradual slope into the surf.”

If guests want more than sand and sun, the resort is also a 20-minute drive from Mazatlan’s historic downtown area. This area has seen a resurgence in the last decade, with sidewalk cafes, quaint boutiques and live music in the plazas.

“Ten years ago, nobody cared about culture and history in Mazatlan,” said Paez. “Now, it’s history and culture first, with beach and sun as a bonus.”

Whatever comes first to your clients, El Cid’s varied resorts have offer of options.


El Cid Marina Hotel
Mazatlan, Mexico

Hits: Rooms are large and comfortable, with air conditioning and ocean views. Food is excellent throughout the property. Service is very good. Spa is good as well. Pools have a lot of fun extras.

Misses: Main building is a long walk from some of the rooms. Lobby seems to always be hot and stuffy.

Be Aware: Marina guests can use the facilities at other El Cid properties, but not the other way around.

Plugging In: Hotel has Wi-Fi in some public areas, although logging on is sometimes unreliable.

Clientele: Families and small groups. More affluent clients looking for a quieter all-suite property. Private boaters that can anchor in the marina.

Rates: For a Junior Suite, rack rates run $200, European plan, single or double, and $350 all-inclusive with two people in the room. Deals are often available July and August.

Commission: 10 percent