Peninsula de Santiago, Manzanillo, Colima
A sweeping complex of 242 rooms, Las Hadas' blinding white buildings and tall spiral water tower glitter like a Grecian city on Mexico's Pacific coast.
Before Las Hadas was built by Bolivian billionaire Antenor Patiño, the town of Manzanillo wasn't even a tourism destination. Patiño, who some say built his palace to entertain mobsters and others say wanted to isolate himself from the world, bought this beautiful stretch of land on the Santiago peninsula just north of Manzanillo's downtown in 1971 and set forth creating his own personal paradise. His massive luxury residence brought a spotlight to the area and ushered in Manzanillo's golden era in the 70s and 80s.
The complex was converted into a hotel in 1974 and the mention of it elicits fond memories for most Mexicans over 30, who recall happy summer vacations played out on its beaches. Las Hadas today is substantially reduced from Patiño's original holdings on the peninsula, as bits and pieces of the property were slowly sold off over the years. Which is not to say that the hotel is not still massive, with a series of winding pathways, streets, and towers that take new hotel staff months to learn to navigate well. Sloping towards the bay there is a large hourglass swimming pool with a wooden drawbridge connecting two halves, a small kids' pool, and a swim-up bar.
The hotel's adults-only swimming pool is up the hill and tucked among its most exclusive suites. In front of the pool zone is the hotel's private beach, much more ample than what you generally find in packed oceanfront destinations like Manzanillo or Puerto Vallarta. To the right is a tiny marina where yachts and sailboats of all sizes bob and sway in the ocean breeze. Owners can dock and enjoy all the services of the hotel with either an all-inclusive day pass (7am to 7pm) or by paying to stay overnight.
All the way to left of the hotel's beach is their Los Delfines restaurant, with a beautiful view of the shore lights twinkling on at dusk. The restaurant's focus is seafood, but the options are limited, even if you aren't on the all-inclusive package and are ordering al a carte. The food was underwhelming but the ambiance was romantically beachy, under the palapa roof with candle-lit tables and an ocean breeze. The hotel's high-end Mediterranean restaurant was closed the day I stayed there, but the all-inclusive package includes one evening meal there as well. The general buffet-style dining area has a pool-facing outdoor patio and the food was generally good—an assortment of traditional Mexican dishes like roast pork in green sauce or chilaquiles (a typical Mexican breakfast dish).
Rooms and facilities have a vintage luxury air about them. Staying at Las Hadas reminded me a little of Acapulco hotels that were the stomping grounds of movie stars in the 50s and 60s. While the design is most decidedly from another era, things have been well maintained by the Las Brisas hotel group that now owns Las Hadas. Thick white adobe walls insulate you from the blazing coastal heat and every room faces the sea, even though some of the rows further back (including the presidential suite) have partially blocked views of the bay.
Rooms have high-quality linens, a minibar with soda, water, and Tecate beer, flatscreen TVs, and quality toiletries. Suites are definitely worth the upgrade for the extra space, but request one on the foremost row (closest to the beach) to get a good view of the ocean. The presidential suite, coming in at around $800 a night, is like a small villa and while spacious and with its own medium-sized pool, wasn't my favorite accommodation on the property. Several of the larger suites have private, heart-shaped dipping pools on good-sized outdoor patios, great for total privacy while enjoying the gorgeous weather.
The all-inclusive package offers a free half hour of snorkeling and a free hour of kayaking, supplies available down on the beach, and daily activities for kids and adults alike. There is also nightly live music in the lobby bar. (Sundays are karaoke so watch out!) The Las Hadas golf course is a short ride away (still on the peninsula) and your stay at Las Hadas gets you a special $80 price for 18 holes. Sprawling and dotted with palm trees, the course gets rave reviews from local players and tourists alike.
Las Hadas is the top luxury option in Manzanillo proper and while the hotel might not be as sleek as newer hotels up the coast in Costalegre, it radiates vintage chic—you can still see the occasional European royal or local celebrity sunning on their beach. With a rich history and beautiful views, Las Hadas is an obligatory stay in Manzanillo.
Web Address: Las Hadas by Brisas
Total Number of Rooms: 242
Published rates: from $204 to $804 per person, all–inclusive.
Review and photos by Lydia Carey.