Boulevard Paseo Playa Linda, Zona Hotelera II, Ixtapa - Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, Mexico
With a dramatic view from every room, plus furnished decks with plunge pools for all, this excellent cliffside luxury resort excels in every way but one: don’t come here for strolls on a long beach.
If you want visual drama and a killer view from anywhere you sit, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect place than Cala de Mar Resort (formerly Capella Ixtapa) on the Pacific coast of Mexico. The resort is built into a cliff so steep that you have to ride a funicular (incline cable car) to get to and from many of the rooms. You look out at rocky outcrops and islets, with the sounds of waves crashing below you as you soak in your plunge pool.
It’s “your plunge pool” because no matter which room you book, you are sure to have a furnished balcony with its own pool. These spacious balconies lead past doors that can be opened all the way into large rooms with all the luxe amenities and then some.
Unfortunately there’s no map to help you figure out where to go once you leave the room and a wrong turn at this resort can lead you down a maze of stairs. (Those with mobility issues may be better off at the flat, beachfront Thompson Zihuatanejo.) Most guests eventually figure out that if they head to the lobby first, they can reach the two pools, spa, bar, library room, and restaurants from there by various elevators and stairways.
The showpiece restaurant here is A Mares, with a formal four–course dinner menu arrangement in an elegant setting. Each course offers several rotating choices—an assortment of meat, fish and fowl presented with flair—accompanied by an impressive wine list. At the other end of the scale is the Las Rocas Seafood Market, which is an open–air, catch–of–the–day restaurant located at the bottom of the cliff, right above the waves and boulders.
In between is the small tapas menu presented at the Terrace Bar. It’s easy to let hours drift by as you sample basil margaritas and ceviche or shrimp tacos, kicked back on cushions on one of the three open decks. Another poolside restaurant with panoramic views is open for breakfast and lunch.
Naturally there’s an excellent tequila selection at the bar—with 65 bottles to choose from—but guests also get to sample a new one each night without laying out $20 a shot. There’s a complimentary manager’s tequila tasting each evening in the library room, with different brands highlighted throughout the week. This room is filled with coffee table books on Mexico and there are computers for guests who didn’t want to lug their own along. Different snacks and juices are laid out during the day.
Cala de Mar doesn’t make you sweat the small stuff if you did bring a laptop: each room has its own router and the strong Wi–Fi signal is included in the rates. So are the sodas, juices, and bottles of water in your fridge. Ample Teva toiletries, thick towels, and fluffy robes are stocked in the large marble baths. These also have space enough to be dressing rooms, with a large closet, safe, tub, and shower big enough for two that looks out at the Pacific.
If you can’t bear to get out from under your Pratesi sheets and interrupt your stunning view, one remote controls the TV, air-con, lights, and do–not–disturb sign. Naturally you can get room service at any time for dining on your private terrace. There’s a French press coffee maker and hot pot if you just need some caffeine to get you on your way.
All rooms have a fantastic vista, so the main difference when upgrading is space. Deluxe suites have somewhat bigger rooms, significantly larger terraces, and a double vanity in the bath. The five Penthouse Suites have high ceilings and outdoor spaces big enough for a party, with a full living room, big TV with DVD player, and a larger private pool.
Two infinity pool complexes center the property and practically spill into the ocean. Staffers are at the ready to bring drinks or towels. A few canopied day beds offer prime lounging spots. In theory there’s a beach, but it’s really just a rocky patch of sand with strong waves—better for observing the power of nature than going for a relaxing swim. Those with a sand craving need to ride one of the complimentary bikes to the nearby public beach or take a taxi to a more distant one in the Ixtapa hotel zone or in Zihuatanejo. Staffers can arrange local excursions though, such as snorkeling, fishing, or beach-hopping.
The full spa on site has some facilities open to guests who aren’t getting a treatment, such as a whirlpool, steam room, dry sauna, and spa showers in the locker room. Six treatment rooms offer different settings, including a couples suite with a view set up for two. A beauty salon offers pedicures and manicures. A fitness center with a view and a open–air yoga deck can keep you in shape.
Service at Cala de Mar is both polished and friendly, the bi–lingual staffers working hard to make guests happy. There's a good reason this Ixtapa resort frequently lands on top in "best resorts in Mexico" lists from the glossy magazines. You have a personal assistant at your disposal and someone from the hotel will contact you about needs and preferences before you arrive. With only 59 rooms, you never feel like a number at this impressive cliffside luxury resort on the coast of Mexico.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott