Diamond in the Rough
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  Posted September 20th, 2015 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Hotel La Posada – Manzanillo

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Off the beaten path in Mexico – Manzanillo
Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, and one thing that keeps the area virtually untouched and unexplored, is that it’s a little hard to get to. There are many small hotels and motels, with room rates ranging from $15 a night to typical 5-star rates for hotels such as the Karmina Palace, Las Hadas and the Hotel Sierra.

A Champagne Vacation On a Beer Budget

Our Mexican journey – Part 4.

A Series of Personal Experiences (Nov 28 – Dec 15, 2008)

 

Hola!

 This time Vera and I are journeying Mexico’s central part, far away from the popular tourist zones; well, kind of. We are visiting the biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala. From the central Mexico we are going to travel to western coast and tourist places like Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. We thought that we should investigate this part of Mexico, and unlike most other tourists opt to venture far beyond the all inclusive resorts. 

 Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets, and one thing that keeps the area virtually untouched and unexplored, is that it’s a little hard to get to. There are many small hotels and motels, with room rates ranging from $15 a night to typical 5-star rates for hotels such as the Karmina Palace, Las Hadas and the Hotel Sierra.

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Vera and me with downtown Manzanillo in the background

Vera and I arrived to Manzanillo from the south, driving on a ‘libre’ MEX200 road (not highway). It took less than an hour driving from Colima. We didn’t have any reservations here, and decided to check small B&B La Posada in Las Bricas that has had good reviews on the Internet (I did my homework back in Edmonton). 

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La Posada hotel, Manzanillo

La Posada is a small hacienda-style inn with 23 rooms. And, although it turns 50 this year, it’s full of charm and is truly a diamond in the rough. Guests return here year after year to enjoy total informality.

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La Posada hotel, Manzanillo

La Posada is located in Las Bricas area at the end of a dead-end street, surrounded by the Naval Base and the Military. La Posada is perfect for R&R and a quiet bit of paradise. The street entrance to La Posada might not look like much, but the brick archway leads you into a stone courtyard with a beautiful old fountain surrounded by lush, green vegetation and looking directly out to the beach and Manzanillo Bay. The bougainvillea and coconut palms are background to the other vibrant, tropical foliage throughout the property. And you can’t help but notice the PINK. La Posada is a bright pink. It doesn’t take long to get used to it and the vibrancy actually feels like old Mexico full of charm and hospitality. 

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Beach in front of our hotel La Posada, Manzanillo

 

La Posada has a crystal-clear, fresh-water swimming pool with a walk-across bridge. The sunsets from the thatched palapa on the patio are unequalled in all of Manzanillo. Guests gather here for drinks and conversation before heading out for dinner at one of several really great nearby restaurants.

 

All rooms are unique and offer a view of Manzanillo Bay, the harbor, and the Pacific Ocean. Rooms are simple, but charming, and feature Dutch doors, hand-made furnishings, antique chests and colorful Mexican rugs and blankets. There are rooms upstairs with balconies, and garden-level rooms with easy access to the pool and beach. For all room rates, check out their website: http://www.hotel-la-posada.info  For example, our room (number 7) during the high season was $78/per night for two people and there was a 10% cash discount on top of that. Since we were there in the off season we were paying only $58/per night for the two of us. Plus, we received a complete breakfast. You actually get to order off a menu. Usually a cheap continental breakfast is what you’d find included at other places, but at La Posada it includes fresh squeezed orange Juice or Fruit plate, along with two Eggs to order, two strips of Bacon or Ham, and Toast, Pancakes or French Toast plus all the Coffee/Tea you can drink. It’s a large, fulfilling breakfast – every morning! 

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Family room at La Posada, Manzanillo

Remember, this is not a resort (hence the great pricing) so we had to provide our own shampoo, toiletries and hairdryer (Vera actually went to Wal-Mart and bought one). I loved that there weren’t any TV’s or phones in the rooms. We could use their office phone if necessary but there was good cellular/mobile coverage throughout the area. For $2 USD extra per day we used their wireless network system, so we stayed in touch with our kids in Edmonton and friends all over the world. I uploaded our pictures on the Facebook daily. 

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Swimming in the ocean was great. The water is a comfortable temperature and very clean and clear. We could enjoy the pristine and unspoiled beach that stretches for miles to the north or a few meters south to the rock jetty which protects the shipping channel and leads to the port. It’s fun and entertaining to watch the freighter traffic, huge cargo ships and the occasional cruise ship coming in to dock.

 

A unique aspect of La Posada is the use of the ‘Honor System’ for many things. For example, the ice box in the kitchen is filled to the brim with beer, water and soft drinks. Above, on the shelf, are red clay jars with your room number painted on them. You simply drop your bottle cap into your jar and then settle up when you check out. Same thing when you use their internet café. Depending on the length of time you’re online, you take the appropriately colored poker chip and put it in your bowl. 

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Beach in front of our hotel La Posada, Manzanillo

For dinner or any other meal, there are several options. A short walk away were few places that served food, like CUALATA Café where everything was incredible and, yes, they made the absolute best margaritas! But, if you want something a bit fancier, the staff at the hotel will gladly give you a printout of various eateries in the area. Since we had a car, we drove to “Zona touristica” in search for good restaurants. We ate at El Fogon and El Caballito restaurants, which had very good seafood menu. One evening when we arrived in front of the El Fogon restaurant, and I parked the car, one Mexican fellow approached me and asked if he can wash my car for $2 US. I responded by telling him that this is a rental and that I don’t care if the car is washed. He washed it anyway while we were having our dinner, so I had to pay him, but I conditioned this by asking him to pose for the picture… 

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A little fuzzy picture of the car washer guy…

 

Another funny thing was that we couldn’t find a single restaurant in the downtown Manzanillo area. There were plenty of street vendor food offered, but no restaurants… go figure.

Manzanillo Overview
Manzanillo (Mahn-san-KNEE-yo) is the major port town along the Pacific Coast, with a population of around 100,000 people. As such, it has parts that feel quite industrial and it lacks the over abundance of tourist amenities found in some resort towns. However, while it doesn’t have the nightlife of Acapulco or the dozens of luxury class resorts of Cancun, that also means it doesn’t have throngs of tourists or much crime either. If you are looking for a more laid back location with a very Mexican feel, like we were, then Manzanillo is worth a visit. 

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On several counts, Manzanillo is not a typical seaside resort town. A certain paradox prevails between resort luxury and bustling commercialism on the one hand, and undeveloped remoteness. It is a popular weekend destination for Guadalajara residents and also attracts American and Canadian vacationers searching for a less developed, more serene setting.

 

Geographically, Manzanillo can be divided into two zones. The downtown area (not normally visited by tourists) is first and foremost a commercial port. Thanks to its fine natural harbor and rail connections to Mexico’s interior, it is the country’s door to trade with the Pacific Rim, handling enormous shipments of industrial and agricultural output. As such, the character of the downtown area is that of a “marine beehive.” 

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Manzanillo harbor is very busy…

In contrast, a few kilometers up the coastline you enter Manzanillo’s luxurious and pleasantly understated resort zone. Two large bays of golden sand and sometimes rough surf are connected by a coastal highway that leads past mini-malls, souvenir shops, restaurants and a couple of night spots. Bahia de Manzanillo (to the south) carries most of the development, while Bahia de Santiago(further up the coast) is largely undeveloped except for two resorts, Club Maeva and Hotel Vista Playa de Oro. 

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Manzanillo main plaza downtown…

 The two bays are separated by the Santiago Peninsula, home to the area’s significant resort development. Here is located surely one of Mexico’s most opulent beach resort-Las Hadas. Conceived and built in the early 1970′s by a Bolivian tin baron as an exclusive, ultra-deluxe private getaway, Las Hadas literally put Manzanillo on the tourist map. Its “fantasyland” Mediterranean village atmosphere and sophisticated amenities have made it one of the super stars of Mexican resorts. 

dsc_3599Manzanillo downtown park…

Until the 1980′s Las Hadas was one of the only recognized visitor attractions in the area. Today, Manzanillo’s attractions have broadened somewhat, though rapid development like that found in other Mexican resorts has not occurred. 

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Manzanillo Santiago Peninsula 

For many visitors this slow-paced expansion is a blessing, since Manzanillo has remained largely undeveloped and unspoiled. Tropical fruit plantations and verdant jungle vegetation are abundant. Long continuous stretches of untouched beach are easily accessed from the area’s resorts. Outside of the bustle of downtown, the pace is slow and casual. Shopping, dining, nightlife and sightseeing are subdued by comparison to other Mexican Riviera resorts. A main draw for sports enthusiasts is the area’s excellent deep sea fishing. The sailfish catch in Manzanillo is excellent. 

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Manzanillo was busy at night…

Vera and I didn’t entertain the ‘night life’ much, instead we choose to spend days “vegging out” on a different beach every day. There are more than 20 different unoccupied, quiet beaches just a few minutes away. Some beaches are of golden sand, others are comprised of pebbles, and yet several beaches to the south are made of black sand, due to the volcanic origin of the area.

We also drove to the tourist zone and drove around Santiago Peninsula. We drove all the way to the Miramar beach and we past thru Santiago pueblo. Miramar beach was long with beautiful big waves, but there were too many vendors trying too hard to sell you their stuff.

dsc_3640 Miramar beach…

While Manzanillo has yet to fully blossom as a major resort center, the city does serve as a gateway to the unspoiled and little-known Costa Alegre region of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This coastal area to the north of Manzanillo is one of Mexico’s great undiscovered treasures. Stretching 240 km along Highway 200, this secluded yet accessible area is sprinkled with some of Mexico’s loveliest beaches and bays. It is also home to several posh resort hideaways and rustic seaside villages. In our next stage, we are planning to drive thru Costalegre and discover that beauty ourselves.

 

Finally, the only real negative to the Manzanillo area is the energy plant which is south of town behind a hill … but the pollution from the power plant brings a haze to the area that is really a shame. Luckily most of the time the wind takes it out to sea and around the bay to the north end. Still, the smoke stacks give off almost constant pollution and a dense line of haze across the bay. Not to say that there aren’t clear days in Manzanillo – we just didn’t get to experience it. But it never smelled, so that’s a plus.

 

To be continued.

 

Hasta Luego!  

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Cute Mexican boy…

 

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Beautiful beach…

 

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Another beautiful beach…

 

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And another one…

 

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Hourse riding on the beach…

 Have a good and healthy season.

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