Playa La Ropa S/N
Fronting the best stretch of sandy beach in Zihuatanejo, with a bilingual staff and great restaurants and bars, Thompson Zihuatanejo hotel is a top resort whether it's called that, Viceroy, Villa del Sol, or Tides. It competes head–to–head with nearby cliffside Casa que Canta to lure moneyed guests looking for the best of everything.
Villa del Sol is what all the Zihuatanejo locals call this resort and you can't really blame them: it has changed names at least four times since we launched Luxury Latin America in the late 2000s so they go with the original name that seems to keep coming back around regularly. After stints with that name, Tides, and Viceroy, it is now known as Thompson Zihuatanejo. The good news is, all that turnover has led to frequent renovations and improvements, while the experienced staffers have just changed their uniforms. It remains one of the best beach resorts outside of the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja Peninsula, with a well–trained staff and the prime spot on the region's best beach.
While Casa que Canta's main draw is its panoramic views, here the main draw is the easy access to the excellent Playa La Ropa beach. Some suites are only a few steps from the sand, while others are further back but never more than a few minute's walk—without any steps to climb or elevators to board.
The resort staked out its spot long ago and manages to sprawl along a few hundred meters of Playa La Ropa, a gleaming stretch of picture–perfect crescent beach with a view of the hills on each side. Quality wooden lounge chairs under the palms are topped with terrycloth covers and neck pillows, with waiters breezing by regularly to take drink orders. In a nice touch, they'll gladly bring over a table and set up lunch where you want it also, so you don't even have to venture far from your comfy chair or day bed to get a white linen dining experience.
The waves here can occasionally get a bit rough for small children, but are great for surfing or boogie boarding and there are no riptide worries in this bay. An independent booth handles parasailing or catamaran rides. Three swimming pools provide calmer options. You can choose from an infinity pool for adults facing the ocean, a shady circular pool, and a large family pool with a waterfall and a swim–up bar. Two lighted tennis courts and a well–equipped gym with a range of quality equipment and snacks allow a good workout. The spa is more of a massage center since there are are no locker rooms or shared facilities, but the center employs a talented team that offers a wide range of massages and beauty treatments. A platform on the beach is ready for early morning yoga sessions.
Finding other ways to relax isn't difficult. With fewer than 60 rooms and suites, there is never a fight for chairs by the beach or pools and there are lots of little nooks and quiet corners where you can settle down with a book. Three bar areas are comfortable places to spend a few lazy hours, from a swim–up bar at the family pool to another with a clear view to the beach and waves. The bartenders whip up the expected cocktails and then some, plus the Coral bar (with built-in backgammon tables) offers up more than 100 tequilas, including some high–end brands that are hard to find, and they are glad to set up an informative tasting.
The two restaurants here are standouts, with polished yet friendly service that keeps guests coming back. Fresh seafood and local specialties are the highlights, with a presentation that always comes with a flourish. Ceniza restaurant is a romantic dinner-only spot, set up by the beach with flaming torches, candles, and entertainment. The extensive wine list is focused on the Americas, especially Mexico's Baja region, but covers much of the world, including some kosher wine from Israel. The 2,000 bottles—some ready for deal-toasting at $750 or more a pop—are kept in a temperature controlled wine room that's set up for tastings or intimate private dinners. The more casual Hao restaurant is more casual and serves all three meals. During breakfast it spills onto the sand for barefoot dining. Or they'll serve you wherever you want, like by one of the pools or in your suite.
Over the years the resort has knocked down walls to lower the room count and create larger spaces. The smallest rooms of the 10 categories are deluxe rooms that are still 650 square feet. Some come with a plunge pool. The others are all now 1,000 square feet and up, ranging from the Lagoon Suite with Plunge Pool to several two–bedroom suites that also have their own plunge pools. While the presidential suite is the largest and comes with a butler and its own infinity pool, the beach suites have a prime location by the ocean and oodles of space to stretch out.
The design at this resort goes beyond the usual hotel room mold and no two rooms are exactly alike. Most beds are situated in the center of the room, containing a vanity area behind the headboard. Even the smallest rooms have a nice sitting area and a terrace or balcony, while marble baths with an array of quality toiletries allow plenty of space for two to get ready at the same time. At night the quarters are especially impressive, with a variety of well–placed lighting creating a dramatic effect. The impressive amenity list here keeps on growing, including Bluetooth music systems, fob keys that are enclosed in a woven necklace, plus cool face towels and a welcome cocktail upon arrival. There are no coffee makers in the room because each morning someone puts coffee on a shelf outside the door at a time you can specify. Wi–Fi works well and is complimentary throughout the property.
Thompson Zihuatanejo Resort is the clear king of the beach in the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo region and apart from a lack of water views from some rooms, there's little to fault in this attractively designed and well–run getaway spot. I've visited this hotel three times now, several years apart, with different logos on the staff pins. Instead of seeing new buildings and more one–upsmanship in the facilities, instead I've seen even more attention to the little details and service that just keeps getting better. Note that you'll pay for this service when you check out there: there's a hefty 15% service charge on top of the 19% taxes, so keep that in mind when you're considering what to tip.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott