Resort Report: Club Med Ixtapa
Photos by Violet Baron
Mexico has had its share of newsworthy troubles in recent years, with gang and drug scares dominating headlines. As a result, many of the country’s quiet and peaceful resort towns have been unfairly deemed unsafe by travelers who are quick to judge a destination by its regional flare-ups.
However, political violence never extends to Pacific coast resort towns like Ixtapa in Zihuatanejo de Azueta. Tourists can visit with the assurance that their vacations will remain safe and relaxing.
Club Med in particular can ensure that guests know what to expect, with a reputation for high-quality vacations led by an engaging staff. As families make up seventy percent of guests, Ixtapa’s resort retains the comfortable, recognizable vibe of a brand that has had a familial focus for over 15 years.
The brand also pioneered the all-inclusive resort, and that's perhaps the essence of Club Med in Ixtapa: inclusivity, and a feeling of welcoming for the extended American and Mexican clans, some of whom go for a weekend together and return again and again.
Ixtapa is one of several planned cities, including Cancun and Los Cabos, designed and constructed in the late 1970s to bring tourism into Mexico’s then largely unpopulated land along the coasts. This strategy worked and these regions remain highly popular resort destinations, with scores of visitors flowing in for the warm sun, sand and beachy sunsets every year.
The draw of “all-inclusive” has swept the resort world in recent years, with many formerly a la carte-style vacation spots claiming that title while modifying its meaning. Does it include drinks? Sport lessons? Childcare? All meals? That depends on whom you ask.
For the most part, Club Med continues to earn its title of all-inclusive, with meals, sports lessons, childcare and tips included in the price of a stay. Guests can learn skills like trapeze, tennis, sailing and archery from professionals on-property, and young children can make friends at Petit and Mini Club Med. For the youngest guests there is Baby Club Med, and teens have optional activities through Juniors’ Club Med.
A stay also includes staff performances in an open-air amphitheater, which feature captivating stunts and audience participation. Some shows are season spectaculars, with thoughtfully produced narratives that incorporate humor and popular music into a show for children and parents.
At the higher end, the resort has two-room suites for families and couples with special concierge service and free in-room Wi-Fi. These rooms have a large television and either a living area for couples or a second bedroom with twin beds for tikes. The mini-fridge offers bottomless options for soft drinks, and the couples’ bathroom has an extra-large tub and shower. Both concierge rooms have a balcony with seating, and offer a view of the private beach.
On the other end of the spectrum, the smaller Club Rooms have a king-size bed or two twin beds. With upgrades, guests in these rooms can have a separate room for children, and a balcony with a view of the beach.
Ixtapa has the additional draw of Zihuatanejo, a neighboring city with Mexican and indigenous roots reaching back many centuries to pre-Columbian times.
Branded as Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (One trip. Two paradises.), visitors to Club Med can arrange a 30-minute taxi into the “Zihua” for a look at local life, and a taste of the reasonably epicurean Mexican culinary scene. Mezcal, the fiery drink distilled from cactus, has recently overtaken the old standby tequila, and mezcalerias in town display their refined takes. Souvenir hunters can visit Zihua markets to find intricately decorated ceramic skulls for Day of the Dead, or the carved-coconut crafts that are a regional specialty.
Zihua is catching the hipster vibe: find mescal with an original twist at the scene-y La Katrina, which also has spins on Mexican classics that foodies will appreciate.
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