Camino Escenico a Playa la Ropa, Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Perched on a cliff with panoramic views all around, Casa que Canta is a romantic 25–room hotel that continually tops readers' polls as the best resort in Mexico––despite its distance from the beach.
Casa que Canta is like something out of a dream, a collection of suites, pools, and hammocks facing out to the beautiful bay of Zihuatanejo. This escape is worlds away from the package resorts in nearby Ixtapa and is a perennial favorite with honeymooners and others looking for a romantic place to unwind.
It is hard to imagine a more sublime setting, with fantastic sea views in every direction and waves crashing against the rocks below. The views start in the open–air lobby, with its painted wood chairs, hanging wicker lamps, and quality local handicrafts. Apart from the well–equipped spa, every other public area and room manages to face the water. This includes the two dramatic swimming pools. One is a sunny freshwater infinity pool surrounded by comfortable cushioned lounge chairs and umbrellas. The other is a saltwater pool that is one with the cliffs, surrounded by small terraces at different levels. This is as close as guests get to the rocky shore here though and the beach is around the bend.
There is generally only one restaurant open at a given time: the most casual spot for breakfast and then fine linens and candles at night to accompany seafood from an award–winning chef. Dinner is the only time non–guests are allowed on the grounds, but the staff is also used to setting up private romantic dinners on one of the secluded terraces dotted in different areas over the sea. Plenty of other restaurants and bars are a short walk or taxi trip away––this is not a resort where you are completely isolated.
Activities are mainly limited to the pools and a great fitness center, but staffers also lead yoga sessions and cooking classes. With some notice, they can also arrange local trips for snorkeling, deep–sea sportfishing, or golf.
Expect to be climbing a lot of stairs to get to your room as there is only one elevator on site (leading up from the spa, in case you're too massaged out to walk far). At 686 square feet for the very smallest room, each suite has plenty of collapsing room, with a furnished balcony or terrace mostly shielded from the view of others. The furnishings and decorations have a strong sense of place, from local textiles and handicrafts to the simulated mud adobe of the walls. Baths pour on the marble, but have toiletries in clay pots to prevent waste. Most suites have a hammock in addition to cushioned chaises and a dining set. Don't come here to watch TV or surf the web; in keeping with the relaxation attitude, most rooms don't have televisions. Internet access is limited to computers in a dedicated library and WiFi in the lobby.
Grand Suites are a bit larger, with a walk–in closet, while Master Suites add more room and a private pool. The real standouts are the two villas with a butler: El Ensueño and El Murmullo. The former is a four–bedroom villa with direct access to a sandy beach, five pools, plus its own dining facilities and library. El Murmullo shows up in just about every exterior photo of the resort since it's the one on the promontory jutting out into the water. With three stories, four bedrooms, plunge pools all around, it's one of the most stunning villas on this coast.
With such a magical setting and personal service from a polished staff, things are almost perfect. Just one sizable drawback: no beach. Casa que Canta is past the end of Playa la Ropa beach, requiring a five–minute walk over the hills to hit the surf. If you are content to sit by the pool and take in the views, no problem. If you'd like to regularly walk out of your room and go stroll on the beach, however, Tides Zihuatanejo would be a better choice.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.