Riding High

Acapulco’s Las Brisas still breezes its way to success

By: Patricia Alisau

ACAPULCO, Mexico Las Brisas, the legendary resort, is looking better than ever. With its romantic casitas edging down a hillside overlooking Acapulco Bay, the hotel is still at the top of its game after nearly a half-century in operation.

Like the old part of town, Las Brisas is a flashback to the Acapulco of yesteryear, when smaller hotels dotted the cliffs and ocean views were a necessity since air conditioning was a novelty. There are still slatted shutters in the rooms, cool marble floors and ceiling fans, but now there is air conditioning, too. And mini-bars, hair dryers and safes, and as many pink and white touches as possible in line with the resort’s signature colors.

But the piece de resistance is still the private pool found on many of the casita terraces, which are lovingly filled with hibiscus blossoms each morning by an attentive staff, as well as the stunning views of Acapulco Bay.

Las Brisas, which means “breezes” in Spanish, has always been a magnet for honeymooners and celebrities, synonymous with glamour and exclusivity since its creation in the 1950s. The hotel has hosted European royalty, U.S. presidents and various heads of state. Apparently, it became so popular with American astronauts that the Las Brisas flag was once taken on a trip to the moon. It’s also the only Acapulco property that is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

The resort is located on 43 acres on the eastern side of the bay. Its 263 casitas and suites have private or shared pools. Privacy is a signature amenity here; guests expect it and revel in it. The rooms and suites have been designed to enhance this effect, with private walkways and dense flowering vegetation. The casitas meander up and around cobblestone roads framed by cool coconut palms and named after world-famous avenues like Fifth Avenue and Champs Elysees.

For honeymoon clients, there’s the Brisas Beach Club in a secluded no-kids zone next to the ocean. The posh suites have big white beds draped in soft white mosquito netting, which creates a dreamy, intimate feeling. The one- and two-bedroom suites near the top of the hill, have a Jacuzzi or an indoor/outdoor private pool, terrace, living/dining area with fully stocked bar and an unbeatable view.

For many years, the hotel advertised itself as a “total escape from civilization” and refused to install TVs or radios in the rooms. Times have changed though, and now, with more non-honeymoon FIT and group business, TVs and radios are standard features. What’s also standard is a no tipping policy. Instead, a $20 per day service charge is added to the room bill. Las Brisas became a trendsetter with its “magic box” breakfast, which other hotels have since copied. Around 6 a.m., a complimentary Continental breakfast with generous portions of fresh fruit, home-baked sweet rolls and a steaming carafe of hot coffee is discretely delivered to a small chamber connected to the room by a little door. No phoning for room service, no dressing to rush to the restaurant. Just throw on a robe and take your breakfast to the patio.

Pink and white striped jeeps, which rent for around $75 a day, are another Las Brisas innovation. Some have been signed on the tailgate by celebrities that rented them, including Kurt Russell and the late icon of the Mexican film industry, Cantinflas.

The jeeps, manned by drivers in spiffy tropical whites with pith helmets, also serve as on-site guest shuttles between the various hotel facilities.

One of the most popular spots come lunchtime is La Concha, the seafood restaurant next to the Beach Club, with its freshwater pool. The Bellavista, on a hill overlooking the bay, features a creative mix of Mexican and international fare and was the first restaurant in Acapulco to use sterling silver table settings.

The restaurant puts on a food festival once a month featuring cuisines from around the world. A deli near the reception area provides sandwiches and soft drinks for a quick snack when you’re on the run.

On Friday evenings in December, the hotel puts on a lively Fiesta Mexicana with flashy folkloric dances, mariachis and fireworks. There are also jeep safaris to Tres Palos Lagoon, a small rustic village near Acapulco, where guests can practice watersports, enjoy a tropical buffet and sun themselves at a private beach club.

It’s miles away from the congestion and traffic on the well-visited coastal hotel zone and like stepping into a page of Old Mexico.

The hotel also has a spa, tennis courts and access to golf.

Since a resort can’t live on its reputation alone, a multi-million-dollar renovation is under way and includes the addition of high-tech amenities such as wireless high-speed Internet access in order to attract more business travelers. Several meeting rooms have already been added to the property.

HOTEL CHECKLIST

Las Brisas Acapulco
Carretera Escenica,
Clemente Mejia Avila 5255
Acapulco, Guerrero, C.P. Mexico 39867
888-559-4329
www.brisas.com.mx

Hits: According to Silvia Lira Bouchan, national sales manager for the property, what sells Las Brisas is “its private pools, the spectacular vista of the bay and the food and service.” Also the privacy and no tipping policy.

Resort has four rooms for handicapped guests.

Misses: The long jaunt down to the freshwater pool.

Be Aware: There can be a wait as long as 20 to 30 minutes for the jeep shuttle. Plan accordingly.

Plugging In: Rooms have seven electrical outlets, as well as high-speed Internet access.

Clientele: 30 percent are honeymooners, 20 percent are groups and the rest are FITs.

Rates: A room with shared pool starts at $283; a suite with private pool starts at $354.

Rates are good until Dec. 22. Package deals for two to seven nights start at $410 for a shared pool and $510 for a private pool.

Commission: 10 percent

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