Sign Up for Our Monthly Mexico Newsletter
“It just opened last week,” says the driver, noticing my
confused expression. “It’s the only one in Manzanillo, so everyone
is very excited.”
I am at once saddened and delighted. Saddened because McDonald’s
found Manzanillo before I did, and delighted to be in a city small
enough to make a new McDonald’s the big Saturday night
Manzanillo is located in the state of Colima on Mexico’s Golden
Riviera, between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco on the Pacific coast.
It consists of two bays, Bahia de Manzanillo and Bahia de Santiago.
Between the two bays is the Santiago Peninsula. The area is a
popular weekend and holiday destination for Mexican families, but
is largely unknown to U.S. vacationers. In fact, during a five-day
press trip to Hotel Tesoro Manzanillo, I didn’t run into any U.S.
tourists, except for a handful of university students studying
abroad in nearby Guadalajara. For families looking for an
economical and exotic destination without swarms of tourists,
Manzanillo is the place.
According to Hotel Tesoro Manzanillo’s sales manager, Willard
Lazzarini, the hotel has undergone dramatic improvements since
early last year. Lazzarini cites as evidence a growth in the
occupancy rate from less than 60 percent to nearly 100 percent. He
believes the winning strategy is to combine better management
techniques, smarter advertising and a concerted effort by the
entire staff to improve the guest experience. His self-proclaimed
mantra: “We want [the guest] to be more comfortable here than at
Besides appealing to families, the hotel also reaches out to
international businesspeople. Manzanillo is one of the largest
ports in the Americas, accommodating goods from Europe and Asia.
There are several all-inclusive packages designed to accommodate
both a business traveler on a two-day stay, or a large family on a
week holiday. The manager and the staff stress flexibility as the
quality that sets Tesoro apart as an all-inclusive hotel.
“There is no fine print here,” said Lazzarini. “All-inclusive
Included in each hotel room’s refrigerator are three bottled
waters, two Tecates and a handful of sodas. Housekeeping refills
your fridge once a day. Room service is available once per day as
part of the package. While watching the waves crash on La Audiencia
Beach one morning from my room’s balcony, I enjoyed spicy eggs,
refried beans, soft cheese, sweet breads and coffee and juice.
Similar to the other Hotel Tesoros (there are three, all in
Mexico), the on-site dining options include various outdoor buffets
and one finer, sit-down restaurant that requires reservations (but
is still part of the all-inclusive package). I found that the
quality of food was consistent regardless of whether I ate inside
at the Adobe Fine Mexican Cuisine restaurant or outside at the Cafe
Coral buffet restaurant while enjoying the sea breeze.
Each night guests can enjoy a spectacular dinner show performed
by the hotel’s entertainment staff and appropriate for the whole
family. On Friday night, while enjoying a Mexican meal from the
buffet, I watched by the intricate costumes as the staff danced
their way through the history of Mexico, from Aztec times to
traditional Mexican folk dances. The show ended in stage
pyrotechnics and a cloud of smoke.
The hotel’s Aura Spa is another strength of the hotel with
excellent massages and other spa treatments. The gym located above
the spa is modern and comfortable; it has two air-conditioned rooms
filled with spinning and elliptical machines while TVs are tuned to
American reality shows.
Vacationers headed for Tesoro Manzanillo should be reminded that
this is a family destination. The pool can be packed with kids
playing throughout the day while large poolside speakers beat out
dance music. La Audiencia Beach, while accessible to the public, is
mostly for Tesoro guests. Parents can relax knowing that their
children are not only entertained but also secure.
At night, the breaking waves of the sea take over. Even the moon
hanging over the ocean seems brighter on this side of the Tropic of
Travel Agent Special: $65 per night, per
person, until Dec. 20
Getting There: Delta and Alaska Airlines now
offer direct flights from LAX to Manzanillo International (ZLO).
From the airport, arrange for Hectours destination management
company (52-314-333-1707; www.hectours.com ) to arrange hotel transfers.