Submitted on 03-23-2017
Since January 2005, we've enjoyed 10 vacations at this facility; and we're glad to say that it's still our hotel of choice when we travel to Acapulco. Our most recent two-week stay, in February 2017, was just as enjoyable as the previous nine; and we're happy to report that the Holiday Inn continues to offer its guests some of the best hospitality in the city.
Location, General Description, & Proximity:
Overlooking Acapulco Bay, the Holiday Inn Resort is a beachfront hotel ideally located on th...
Since January 2005, we've enjoyed 10 vacations at this facility; and we're glad to say that it's still our hotel of choice when we travel to Acapulco. Our most recent two-week stay, in February 2017, was just as enjoyable as the previous nine; and we're happy to report that the Holiday Inn continues to offer its guests some of the best hospitality in the city.
Location, General Description, & Proximity:
Overlooking Acapulco Bay, the Holiday Inn Resort is a beachfront hotel ideally located on the city's main boulevard in what's often referred to as the Golden Zone. Not to be confused with its sister hotel in Zona Diamante (Holiday Inn La Isla), this facility is situated at the western edge of Playa Icacos between the El Presidente Hotel and the Porto Mare condominiums.
Built in 2000, it was first opened as a Fiesta Inn but in 2011 it was purchased by Grupo Landus; and after a $3-million upgrade, it reopened as a Holiday Inn under the management of Hoteles Optima.
The building itself is unsophisticated and very easy to navigate: a lobby level, 14 upper floors with 224 guest rooms (16 to a floor), and 3 lower levels. Though some reviews label it as a budget hotel, we respectfully disagree. It's probably best described as an affordable mid-range business class hotel which caters to all kinds of travelers; and on weekends, it's a popular choice with national tourists â?? especially couples with young children.
In a neighborhood known as Club Deportivo, the Holiday Inn is less than 500 yards from Acapulco's best-known beach (Playa Condesa) and about two thirds of a mile east of a modern multi-level shopping mall (the GalerÃas Diana). It's an easy walk to a number of popular restaurants (including La Tortuga, Forza Italia, El Jaguar, and Tabasco Beach) and just a short bus ride in either direction to many others. Also close by, and on the same side of the street, are two convenience stores â?? an Oxxo and an Extra, which are within steps of each other in front of La Torre de Acapulco. Just walk to your right after exiting the hotel.
From Acapulco's international airport, the Holiday Inn is a 15-mile ride which usually takes 20 to 30 minutes (depending on traffic); and whether you opt for an airport taxi or a private driver, the cost is currently about the same â?? 450 pesos (less than $25US). The return ride, however, is nearly 40% less â?? 300 pesos in a hotel cab ($16US), or even less than that if you flag down a random cab on the Costera.
Many of the city's popular attractions and tourist go-to spots are within close proximity to the Holiday Inn and only a short ride by cab or bus. About a mile east you'll find El Rollo Water Park and La Europea liquor store. Walmart is half a mile further, and the famous Palladium nightclub is a mile beyond that. Going west, Parque Papagayo is about a mile and a half (and well worth a visit); El Fuerte de San Diego, another mile or so; the zÃ³calo, half a mile further; and Playa Caleta, another mile and a half. Within five minutes of the zÃ³calo are several other tourist draws, none of which should be missed: the world-famous cliff divers at La Quebrada, the SinfonÃa del Mar sunset amphitheater, the 'QuetzalcÃ³atl' mural by Diego Rivera, and the legendary Hotel Los Flamingos.
Though there's plenty to see and do in the main bay area, some travelers also venture out to places like Puerto MarquÃ©s (7Â½ miles from the Holiday Inn), Zona Diamante's upscale shopping mall (8 miles), Pie de la Cuesta and the Coyuca Lagoon (11 miles), Playas Bonfil and Gloria (13 miles), the turtle camp at Playa Larga (19 miles), and Barra Vieja and the Tres Palos Lagoon (23 miles). Hotel cabs are readily available in front of the Holiday Inn and fares are posted at the top of the stairs; but more often than not, street cab drivers offer much better rates.
The Entrance, Accessibility, Service Staff, & Parking:
Set back from the Costera about twenty feet or so, the entrance to this hotel is only nine steps up; but because it's a wide stairway with no hand railings, guests with mobility or balance issues might find it difficult to go up and down. On the righthand side, however, there's an ADA ramp with a railing to accommodate anyone in need of a hand-grip support as well as guests with walkers or wheelchairs.
The concierge desk is at the top of the stairs; and plenty of porters are always on hand to welcome guests and assist with luggage transfers. Neatly attired and well trained, these hardworking young men earn a minimal base pay; so please remember to tip them well, as a few dollars (or pesos) means a lot to them.
The entryway itself, which at one time was open-air, has since been closed in with glass panels and sensored sliding glass doors.
There is no on-site parking, but the hotel offers a valet service for about 70 pesos a night. Since we've never driven in Acapulco, we can't offer any personal comments â?? aside from observing that the valets are kept very busy from Friday to Sunday, when carloads of tourists arrive from (and return to) CDMX.
Check-In & Check-Out:
We typically travel during the week and arrive at the hotel around mid-afternoon, having reserved our room in advance; and whether we're checking in or out, we've found the process to be a breeze. Staffing levels are always adequate; wait time is usually minimal (depending on the day and the time); and the desk clerks (at least one of whom is usually fluent in English) are polite, professional, and well-groomed.
Check-in time is 3pm, and we've rarely had any issue. We used to think we were just lucky; but after so many stays at this hotel, we've come to realize that the staff is very efficient and bends over backwards to make every guest happy. On one occasion a number of years back, we were disappointed to learn that there were no corner rooms available on the east side of the building; but after spending our first night on the opposite corner, we were promptly moved to a room of our choice. There was also a minor glitch on our most recent trip; but within minutes, the matter had been resolved. For whatever reason, the reservation system at the front desk quoted the cost of our stay at $100 higher than our original booking; but after presenting the clerk with a copy of our confirmation letter and requesting the assistance of a manager, we were told that the lower rate would be honored. Tip: Don't leave home without a copy of your confirmation letter; and don't be afraid to ask for a manager's help.
Check-out time is 11am; but because we've always departed Acapulco on an early morning flight, this has never been an issue. On our most recent trip, however, we weren't scheduled to leave Acapulco until 6:30 in the evening; so on arrival we asked for a late check-out and it was no problem at all. Our check-out time was graciously extended to 2pm, which enabled us to enjoy a few final hours at the pool that morning; and because our driver wouldn't be picking us up until 4:00, a porter offered to tag and store our luggage while we went out for some lunch. It's hard not to notice that the Holiday Inn staff works as a team, handling every arrival and departure in a smooth and competent manner. We really appreciate that.
The Main Level:
On the main level, there's a modestly furnished lobby area to the left of the entrance, a front desk with four check stations, and a bank of three elevators; and though some reviews lament that the elevators are slow, we've never found that to be the case â?? unless, of course, the hotel is filled to capacity. It should be noted, however, that from the lobby level only two of the elevators (the one on the left and the one in the middle) descend to the pool and restaurant. The one on the right doesn't.
For hotel guests, a small business center and a convenient restroom are located to the right of the entry foyer and down a few steps. The business center, open 24/7, has two or three desktop computers with free internet access; and copies and faxes can be had for a nominal fee. More often than not, the center is unstaffed and empty with the lights turned off. Any room key, however, will unlock the door; and the light switch is located on the wall to the left. Make yourself at home; but if you're a foreign tourist, be advised that the computers have Spanish keyboards. For the @ symbol, simultaneously hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys and hit 2 (or try Alt 64). If you should forget, just google 'email address' then copy and paste the symbol from a random web page (copiar & pegar). For those who travel with smartphones or laptops, the Holiday Inn offers free WIFI â?? though signal strength may vary. During our most recent stay, the lobby-level restroom was out of order; but because it comes in handy from time to time, we hope that management has seen to its repair.
The Upper Floors:
The Holiday Inn has 14 upper room floors numbered 1 to 12, then 14 and 15. There is no 13th floor.
All three elevators service the upper floors; but in the event of an emergency or power outage, there are front and rear stairways. Though the front stairway (on the Costera side of the building) can be used at any time, the one at the rear (on the exterior of the building) is for emergency purposes only.
Each floor is laid out in the same manner. The elevators open to a tiled lobby area and a single center hall extends south toward the bay with rooms on either side (low to high; odds on the left, evens on the right). Keep in mind, however, that when you leave your room to head down to the pool or the restaurant, the elevators can drive you crazy. On each floor, as you're facing the elevators, the one on the left is useless. We've learned to live with it; but sometimes, when we're clad in our swimwear headed for the pool, that same !&%@/! elevator is the only one that keeps opening. The easiest way to get rid of it is to reach in and tap a few upper-floor buttons, sending it on its way. As soon as it takes off, you can call for another elevator.
For many years (especially when it operated as a Fiesta Inn), this hotel had self-serve ice machines which were kept in good repair. Though every floor didn't have one, it was no big deal to go up or down a few floors to fill an ice bucket for our room â?? once we knew where the machines were. During our most recent stay, however, we found that the Holiday Inn has completely failed on this matter. There were two lonely ice machines for 224 rooms (one on the first floor and one on the eighth); but to make matters worse, neither of the two worked. Both machines looked like they had seen better days; and it's doubtful that either had produced an ice cube in a very long time. Attention management: that's unacceptable! Despite the fact that ice buckets (we were told) could be filled in the restaurant, that's a major inconvenience for your guests; and at the very least, we feel that ice should be available on every other floor. C'mon Optima â?? Acapulco's climate is hot and tropical, and your guests deserve to have clean well-maintained ice machines. Do the right thing; install some new ice machines. Enough said.
The rooms on each floor are numbered 01 to 17, prefaced by the floor number; but none end in 13. Odd-numbered rooms face east, while even-numbered rooms face west; and all have a side balcony. Those ending in lower numbers (Standard Rooms, 01 through 08) are closer to the Costera; and those ending in higher numbers (Superior Rooms, 09 through 15) are closer to the bay. On the east side of the building, Superior rooms offer a beautiful view of Playa Icacos; while those on the opposite side have a nice view to the west.
In addition to Standard and Superior Rooms, there are 28 Bayfront Corner Rooms â?? all of which end in either 16 or 17. Each of these rooms features a wrap-around side-to-front double balcony â?? the only difference being whether the side balcony faces east or west. Often labeled as 'Ocean Front' or 'Ocean View', they're the best rooms in the house; and though they command a few pesos more than single-balcony rooms, it's money well spent.
Bedding options vary, but this hotel offers arrangements to suit most almost every traveler. King-Bed rooms are perfect for singles and couples, while Double-Bed rooms will comfortably accommodate small families or four adults. Cots are also available on request, and a limited number of rooms offer a connecting-door feature.
Because the Holiday Inn juts out further toward the bay than any other hotel on Playa Icacos, 25% of its eastside rooms enjoy a sweeping view of the beach â?? all the way down to the naval base; and since 2005 we've been fortunate to have stayed in an eastside corner room on each of our trips. The view is absolutely awesome! Unfortunately but understandably, specific room-number requests cannot be guaranteed at booking; but the Holiday Inn strives to please every guest. We always ask for a high floor (though we don't always get it); but that's much less important to us than having a corner room facing east. Over the years we've stayed on several different floors but always in a room ending with '17'; and we say 'muchas gracias' to the hotel staff for making every effort to fulfill our requests (including the extra pillows).
On our most recent trip, we were assigned room 617; and as we've come to expect, it was nearly perfect. In addition to the wrap-around balcony and the unbelievable views, 617 offered the same standard features which we've enjoyed in the past; and all rooms now have a swipe-to-enter lock system as well as an interior deadbolt and a privacy latch.
As you open the door, the bathroom (in '17' rooms) is to your immediate right. The vanity area is adequate in size and includes a sink, full-wall and full-length mirrors, face cloths and hand towels, an assortment of standard toiletries which are replenished on an as-needed basis (bar soap, shampoo, plastic cups, et cetera), a box of kleenex, a wall-mounted hair dryer, a small wastebasket, an enclosed closet with several hangers, and an iron and ironing board. Separated from the vanity area with a locking door is a water closet with a full-size tub and showerhead, a toilet, and oversized bath towels. Not surprisingly, the H.I. continues to provide 'good' bath linens â?? thick absorbent towels that aren't worn or frayed or thread-bare; and management doesn't pinch any pesos when it comes to the quality of the kleenex and toilet tissue. Job well done! We had no issues with water pressure or temperature; but north-of-the-border tourists should note that on the single-handle tub-and-shower faucet 'red' is cold and 'blue' is hot â?? contrary to what you might think. The only minor problem (we wouldn't label it as a complaint) is that the sink in 617 drained rather slowly. It could probably use a couple doses of Drano, but it didn't bother us enough to report it.
Beyond the bathroom is a spacious tile-floored bedroom with a plush king-size bed; and on each side of the bed is a nightstand with a lamp (as well as a radio alarm clock and a phone on one side). Unlike some hotels in Mexico, the mattresses and pillows at the Holiday Inn are very comfortable; and it's obvious that they take pride in maintaining their guest quarters. My wife immediately noticed that the nightstands had been replaced since our last visit; but because the new ones lack a small personal-items drawer, she didn't care for them as much. One of the best things about '17' rooms is that the bed itself faces east; and early risers can simply pull the drapes, grab a cup of coffee, and watch the sun come up over the Sierra Madre mountains â?? while laying in bed! Our only bedding complaint (this trip) is that some of the fitted sheets are starting to pill; and they should be weeded out, tossed, and replaced.
In the far righthand corner of the room is a comfortable reading chair with an ottoman, though my wife unfailingly uses them as catch-alls. There's also a floor lamp and a marble-topped side table; but within minutes of our arrival, I always move that table onto our front balcony where we often sit to enjoy the sunset.
Along the left side of the room is a modern credenza-style unit with a waist-high chest of drawers, a TV platform, and a writing desk with its own chair. The three drawers are more than adequate for our own needs; but for people who travel with lots of clothes, storage space might be a problem. Atop the drawers is a coffee maker with a reusable filter, complimentary packets of regular and decaf coffee (along with all the necessary fixings), styrofoam cups, an ice bucket, and complimentary bottles of water. All are replenished as needed. The desktop is equipped with a lamp, a notepad, and a pen; the television is a 32" flatscreen; a large digital (programmable) security safe can be found in the cabinet under the TV; and there's a hotel guide and a local phone book in one of the drawers.
Every room has a sliding glass door to the side balcony; but the bayfront corner rooms also have a sliding window facing the bay. Our usual morning routine is to open up the door and the window for a wonderful cross-breeze (with the a/c off, of course); but you can do the same at night and fall asleep listening to the sound of the surf.
The room-darkening drapes are still in good repair; but because they're beginning to show their age, Optima should look into replacing them in the not-too-distant future.
All balcony areas are equipped with two inexpensive resin chairs and a small resin table; but the spacious corner-room balconies can easily accommodate so much more. If we were to extend our vacation to three weeks, we'd probably look into buying a couple of chaise loungers at the local Walmart â?? and give them away as gifts at the end our stay.
All things considered, the Holiday Inn is a top-notch hotel; but there's always room for improvement. Though neither of us is a much of a breakfast eater and we rarely order room service, we noticed during our recent stay that there were no menus in the room (no breakfast menu, no room-service menu). We also noticed that the drinking glasses have been replaced with plastic cups â?? and that the ceramic coffee cups and spoons have been replaced with styrofoam and stirrers. It might be laughable but I always travel with my own coffee mug and spoon, so the change didn't bother me at all; but a few days into our stay, my wife decided to buy a souvenir mug of her own. Styrofoam just doesn't cut it for real coffee drinkers â?? not for us, anyway. One our harshest criticisms is that, for some reason, the Holiday Inn decided to remove the mini refrigerators from their rooms; and in combination with its ice machine issues, that didn't sit well with us. We need cold milk for our morning coffee and cold beverages in the room; but we were informed that the only option now available is to use the 'community' fridge behind the front desk. Wow. That's pretty tacky, Optima. So for a week's time, I'd get up in the morning and schlep down to the lobby for our Leche LaLa; but one morning, after waking up grumpy, I voiced my criticism to someone in the lobby who looked like a manager â?? and then made my way back to the room. Within fifteen minutes the phone rang; and to my surprise, it was someone from downstairs asking if it was okay to deliver a fridge to our room!? Whoever that manager was, we owe you a big 'Thank You'. You went above and beyond to please us, and your response was almost immediate. However, we'd still like to see refrigerators back in the rooms as a standard feature â?? or at least in the premium oceanfront rooms. Insofar as the TV goes â?? well, we know we're in Mexico and that most channels are broadcast in Spanish; but we seem to think that there were a few more English-language channels in the past. It's possible that the hotel may have changed its cable or satellite provider (or cut back on its channel menu), because the only two channels available in English were CNN and Warner Brothers. If the Holiday Inn hopes to attract more U.S. and Canadian tourists, we'd suggest that they consider offering a better channel selection in the future (at least during the high season months).
Overall, our experience at this hotel is always great. There were a few other minor annoyances, but nothing that would keep us from coming back again. The TV remote was a little quirky, and my guess is that it just needed some fresh batteries. It appears that the air conditioning units may have been replaced with a more energy-efficient model. In the past, we could make our room as cold as we'd like â?? but not anymore. Now, even though the temperature setting goes down to 16, there's an automatic override feature that restricts guests from setting it lower than 19. It still works fine and it cools the room pretty well; but we'd prefer to have it a little bit cooler â?? if we had a choice.
Generally speaking, the daily housekeeping service was 'good' to 'very good' (depending on the day); but there's definitely room for some training and improvement. Though few speak English, we rarely have any problem communicating our needs and wants; and as always, we tipped these hardworking women quite well. Tip: Hand gestures often do the trick, but sometimes my wife has the chambermaid come to the room and points out what she needs. The only two issues which should really be addressed are the tile floors and the balcony railings. Although the floor is regularly cleaned with a broom or a dry mop (and always looks clean), it should be WET-mopped with a cleaning agent much more frequently â?? especially when guests check out. It's obvious that that's not the case. Like many vacationers, we enjoy going barefoot in our room and on our balcony; but because the floors were never properly washed, the soles of our feet picked up all the dirt (even right after a hot shower). We were also dismayed that the balcony railings hadn't been cleaned in quite awhile; and there's no excuse for that. Yes, they're exposed to the elements and they're bound to get dirty, which is why they need to be wiped down from time to time (even if it's just once a week). Though we showed this to one of the chambermaids on day two of our stay, she only did a cursory wipe-down the next day. Sometimes it's better to do something yourself, so the following morning we took a couple of wet hand towels and wiped down the railings ourselves. Tip: During the day, we often forget to use the privacy latch and/or the 'Do Not Disturb' door hanger when we're in the room; but we became more mindful of that during our recent stay. On two occasions, when a chambermaid returned to replace towels or replenish supplies, we didn't hear her knock; and it was a bit of a surprise to see the door swing open. For us, it was no big deal either time; but it could be an awkward encounter and we feel it's worth mentioning.
Lastly, for those who might be inclined to ask for a wake-up call â?? no problem at all. We used the service twice and the calls came through right on time.
The Lower Levels:
On lower levels P-1 and P-2 are the hotel's business offices, banquet rooms, conference and meeting rooms, and a small workout room; but we haven't explored these two levels in quite some time. Recent reviews (in the last few years) indicate that the gym room is "very nice" and "well-equipped", but we can't vouch for that ourselves. The lowest level, P-3, is where you'll find the Santa Lucia Restaurant and access to the pool areas. As you exit the elevator into a cave-like lobby, public restrooms (both a men's room and a ladies' room) will be to your immediate left; and just a few yards beyond is the pool towel station. Straight ahead is the entrance to the restaurant, and off to the right is a gated exit to the pools. At one time, there were snack vending machines between the elevator and the towel station, but they've since been removed. However, the free-play ping-pong table is still there (and surprisingly it seems to get a lot of use).
The Santa LucÃa Restaurant:
A large portion of the restaurant is indoors and very brightly lit; but on the far end, closest to the bay, it opens up onto a half-round al fresco terrace. Though we've rarely dined at the hotel restaurant during any of our stays, we've occasionally enjoyed a morning coffee on the terrace or a light lunch by the pool. Reviews of the restaurant seem to run hot and cold; some people like it, others don't. In our opinion (based on our own limited experiences), it's well-staffed and very clean and its regular menu offers enough variety to please most any palate. Travelers who enjoy fixed-price buffet-style breakfasts and dinners will be pleased to know that the Holiday Inn offers and promotes this dining concept on an almost daily basis and oversized promotional posters are frequently displayed in the elevators. For a hotel restaurant, prices are reasonable and it's a convenient on-site option; but there are many other eateries and restaurants in Acapulco where we prefer to have lunch or dinner. Each to his own. The restaurant is open from 6:30 or 7am (I can't recall which) to 11pm, with room service available until midnight; but like anything else in Acapulco, closing times could be subject to change based on how busy or slow it is (especially during the week).
The Towel Station:
The towel station (open 8am to 8pm) isn't always staffed, but there's usually someone nearby who keeps a watchful eye. If no one's there, try to relax and give it a few minutes; you're on Acapulco time. The attendants, few of whom are fluent in English, are very cordial and efficient; and though none expect to be tipped, a few pesos or a U.S. dollar means a lot to them. It's helpful, of course, if you can communicate your room-number in Spanish; but if not, write it down on a slip of paper and show it to the attendant. Like most hotels, towel cards are handed out at check-in, one to a guest; and you can't get a towel without one. Our usual routine is to swap our wet towels for fresh ones at the end of the day â?? or when we head to the pool in the morning. We found that most of the towels themselves are in great shape, not tattered or torn; but once or twice we were handed towels which were a little worn, so we just asked for new ones and they obliged. On only one occasion (during the puente weekend on our most recent trip), we were told that there were no fresh towels available and that we'd have to wait until later. That was a first for us, but it wasn't a big deal. We would suggest, however, that management look into adding some more towels to the supply closet â?? and replace the ones which are beginning to show signs of wear.
One important footnote: be sure to return your towels and retrieve your cards at the end of your stay â?? or you'll be charged a pretty hefty fee at check-out (around US$25 per card, if I'm remembering right) .
The swimming pools (open 8am until 10pm) and the adjacent patios are more than adequate to satisfy our own needs and wants; and we spend lots of time at the westside pool. But it should be said that travelers accustomed to sprawling resort pools with all kinds of bells and whistles will probably be disappointed at this hotel.
There are two separate pool-and-patio areas, one on the east side and one on the west.
The eastside pool is typically the quieter of the two, mostly because it's rather shallow; but the patio encircling that pool is usually a great spot for those who simply want to bask in the sun, read a good book, or look out over Playa Icacos.
The more popular westside pool, which overhangs a small patch of beach, is about 4Â½ feet deep; but because it features a sizeable shallow platform area, it tends to attract couples with young children (especially on the weekend). Much as we enjoy this hotel and much as we love kids, we've always found it to be rather annoying from Friday to Sunday when small kids overpopulate this pool. We seem to recall that at one time there was an unwritten policy encouraging young families to use the eastside pool, but it's never really been enforced. At the very least, we'd like to see tubes and floats and noodles banned from the westside pool; but it's doubtful that that will happen. So during the week when most of the hotel occupants are older adults, we make sure that we spend plenty of time at our favorite pool; but when the weekend rolls around, we try to sneak an early morning swim for an hour or two â?? and then head elsewhere for the day.
Though both pools are still well maintained, we felt that there's been a bit of a decline insofar as routine daily upkeep goes. In the past, we would frequently see a pool guy skimming leaves and debris from the surface of the water; but during our most recent stay, we never once saw that happen â?? and to us it was noticeable. Just to clarify, however, both pools are still very clean; but they used to be pristine.
Pool-related footnotes: 1. In our opinion, the temperature of the pool water is perfect! Because both pools are exposed to the hot Acapulco sun from morning to night, the water temp is consistently in the low 80s. Thereâ??s no body shock and no need to adapt before jumping in. We find it to be comfortably refreshing, though some might prefer it to be a little cooler. 2. If you're tempted to sit up on the far edge of the westside pool (the edge that overlooks the small beach below) â?? don't even try. It's a sure way to draw the attention of a security guard, who will instruct you to get back in the pool. 3. Likewise, if you attempt to walk around in the pool with a drink in hand (or if you carry it over to the far edge), a guard will motion for you to bring it back in.
The Pool Bar:
Tucked into the corner of the westside patio (just a few feet from the pool) is a small unassuming palapa-style bar with half a dozen masonry stools. Staffed by friendly, familiar, hardworking bartenders, it offers enough of a beverage assortment to please almost every guest. There's a wide variety of cold cervezas and tropical drinks like piÃ±as coladas and frozen margaritas; and drink prices that are well within reason. For those who prefer something without alcohol, we recommend a frozen conga or a piÃ±a colada 'naturale' (no rum); but sodas, juices, and bottled water are also available. Kudos to the Holiday Inn for retaining many of the Fiesta Inn's staff. Trip after trip, it's a pleasure to see some of the same smiling faces; and to us, that speaks volumes. We tip our sombreros to SeÃ±or Alfredo (who started with the Fiesta Inn back in 2002) and SeÃ±or Francisco (a relative newcomer) â?? two of the most attentive bartenders we've ever met. Muchas gracias! You guys made our time at the pool very enjoyable and we look forward to seeing you again. PrÃ³ximo aÃ±o, amigos.
Bar-related footnotes: 1. There is no beer on tap (bottles only). 2. Beer in bottles and drinks served in glassware must be consumed at the palapa bar; but if you'd like to enjoy your beverage poolside, the bartender will gladly pour it into a plastic or styrofoam cup. 3. A reasonably priced bar menu is available at the pool, but you can also order from the regular restaurant menu. Just ask the bartender for 'la carta'. 4. If you plan on hanging at the pool for a while, tell the bartender your room number and he'll gladly tab everything. When you're ready to leave, just signal him for the check ('la cuenta'). You can pay by cash or credit card, or simply bill it to your room; but don't forget to leave the bartender a suitable tip. Insofar as wages go, these guys make very little money. They rely on the generosity of their guests, and each bartender gets to keep his own tips. Regardless of how we pay our tab, we always try to tip with cash (and almost always with Mexican pesos). 5. Though there's no longer a bar at the eastside pool, any restaurant waiter will gladly provide chairside beverage and food service. If a waiter doesn't come calling, just flag one over with a wave your hand.
Security at the Holiday Inn is surprisingly tight â?? not for safety's sake, but to restrict use of the facility to registered guests. In our opinion, it's tighter than when the hotel was a Fiesta Inn. Though there really aren't all that many security guards, the ones who are on duty keep a watchful eye on everything. There's always at least one security guard at the entrance to the hotel, and one or two in the pool areas. It's understandable that they have a job to do (and it's obvious that they do it well), but it would be nice if they'd smile once in a while. They're far too serious.
New for us (this trip) was the the pool-bracelet policy. At check-in, each guest is fitted with a vinyl wrist bracelet. We politely declined to have them attached to our wrists, but kept them in our pool bag instead. Sure enough, the security guards questioned us for the first two or three days; but after we'd been to the pool a few times, we were good to go.
A security footnote: Unfortunately, the bracelet policy and tighter security measures have had a negative impact on non-guests. A friend of ours (who owns a condo nearby) recently lamented that whenever she took a long walk on Playa Icacos, she would often end her walk at the Holiday Inn â?? stopping for a cold beverage at the pool bar before returning home. Now, however, she's no longer allowed to do that. Alhough the pool bars at some hotels gladly welcome outside guests, this hotel apparently doesn't.
As was mentioned at the start of this review, the Holiday Inn is a beachfront hotel â?? with a stairway to the beach on each side; but due to the way it's positioned, there's not much usable beach frontage to speak of (which is fine with us). Keep in mind that all of Acapulco's beaches are open to the public â?? which explains, in part, why many hotels choose to secure their perimeters.
Below the westside pool is a small patch of sand surrounded by rocky outcroppings, where from time to time you might see some AcapulqueÃ±os fishing with handlines or an adventurous tourist with a surf rod. On occasion (especially at low tide), hotel guests might opt to sunbathe on this somewhat secluded beach or just wade around in the surf; but because it's not designated as a safe place to swim, it sees very little activity. A stairway next to the westside pool leads directly to this beach; but in recent years, the Holiday Inn installed a padlocked gate about halfway down and disconnected the shower. On request, a security guard will unlock the gate but they clearly prefer not to. Though we never spend much time on the beach, we feel that the gate is a bit of a hassle; and when returning from the beach, it's an inconvenience to have to schlep to the other side to rinse the sand off your feet.
On the east side of the hotel is a stairway leading down to Playa Icacos â?? an expansive beach where just a few steps away local entrepreneurs rent out tables, chairs, and umbrellas, and numerous vendors hawk an assortment of trinkets. Less than a hundred yards further (near La Torre de Acapulco), jet ski rentals are available at a rate of 450 pesos for half an hour, as well as parasailing and banana boat rides. Halfway down the stairs is a small landing with a foot- and overhead-shower; and on the lower steps, it's not uncommon to find a few stray vendors awaiting prospective buyers. Hotel guests, of course, are free to come and go as they please; but to avoid questioning by security on your return, be sure that you're wearing (or packing) your wrist bracelet.
Beach-related footnotes: 1. The sand on most of Acapulco's beaches is rather coarse; and during the day, it's VERY hot to walk on. We can't stress that enough. Bring along your sandals or flip flops â?? or you'll be sorry. 2. On Playa Icacos, roped off areas are deemed safe for swimming; but there are no lifeguards. Be advised that strong undertows and occasional riptides are not uncommon; so always approach swimming in the bay with caution (even in roped off areas, especially at high tide, and even more so if you're not a strong swimmer). 3. Topless sunbathing is frowned upon in Mexico and rarely seen in public; but because the small beach in front of the H.I.'s westside pool is rather private, you might find a topless guest discreetly soaking up some rays. No problem at all; you're in Acapulco.
In recent years, many Mexican establishments (hotels and restaurants alike) have gradually implemented some non-smoking policies; and this facility has followed suit. The majority of its guest rooms are 'officially' non-smoking; but unlike smoking regulations in the U.S., there's a lot more flexibility in Mexico â?? especially in Acapulco. Generally speaking, indoor public areas (the main lobby for example, as well as the business center and the restaurant) are now non-smoking; but next to the elevators on the upper floors, you'll still find a couple of traditional ashtray stands (which appear to be well maintained). In other words, you won't be hassled if you walk down the hall with a lit cigarette in hand; just dispose of it before hopping on an elevator. In the pool and patio areas, smoking is never an issue; though we've noticed that there are fewer smokers than there once were. Just ask the bartender for an ashtray (a 'cenicero') and he'll gladly get one for you â?? no problem at all. Insofar as the rooms go, it's also a non- issue â?? given that they have open-air balconies. You can ask any chambermaid for an ashtray or just get one at the pool-bar, but we always pack one in our luggage. Incidentally, cigarettes in Acapulco are still very inexpensive â?? only about US$2.50 a pack during our most recent trip (49 pesos at the Exxtra stores and 51 pesos at most Oxxo stores). Many popular U.S. brands are readily available; but unlike their U.S. counterparts, all Mexican cigarettes are full-burning smokes like the ones we used to have years ago (i.e. they're not 'self-extinguishing' â?? and we like that).
Money Exchange & Making Change:
The currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso; and we would encourage all travelers to exchange their foreign money for pesos â?? which is easy enough to do. At the start of our most recent trip, we exchanged a small amount of U.S. money at the Mexico City airport (at a rate of 19Â½ to 1); but we converted most of our money in Acapulco on an as-needed basis.
Subject to availability, the Holiday Inn offers money exchange services at the front desk; and the Dollar to Peso exchange rate is posted on a board at the far end of the counter. Though it's very convenient, the H.I.'s rate isn't always the most favorable. On February 1, for example, when we arrived at the hotel, the posted rate was only 18Â½ to 1 (about 5% lower than what local cambios were offering). The rate, however, changes frequently; and on occasion, when the difference is negligible, we still exchange small amounts of money at the desk.
More often than not, we use one of the two cambios (money exchanges) directly across the street from the Holiday Inn (on the opposite side of the Costera). We've been using them for years and their rates are among the best around.
For making change, however, the front desk is your best bet. For bus rides and cab fares, it's advisable that you carry an adequate supply of small notes and loose change in your pocket; and we've found that the desk clerks are always willing to assist us. We usually try to keep tabs on what we have in our wallets, making change as needed whenever we leave the hotel. There's no charge for the service; but the H.I. isn't a bank and funds are always subject to availability.
Money related footnotes: 1. Whenever possible, try to avoid ending up too many large-denomination notes (i.e. 500-Peso bills). Smaller is better, and we usually try to get as many 200-Peso notes as we can. 2. Even with Mexican currency, eyeball the bills you're given. If a bill is ripped or marked or too worn, ask for another. 3. Though banks (and some cambios) will ask to see a passport before making an exchange, the cambios across from the H.I. have never asked for one. 4. Exercise caution when crossing the Costera in front of the hotel. Look up the street (to your left) and wait until traffic has come to a stop at the light.
A Few Final Words:
In closing, we give the Holiday Inn Resort a solid 4-star rating and we look forward to returning there again and again. With a little more effort, a few improvements, and attention to some of the deficiencies mentioned in our review, we could easily bump that rating to 5 stars.
We realize, of course, that no two travelers are exactly alike and that we all have different expectations and opinions. Younger people might find this hotel to be too underwhelming (maybe even boring); jet-setters might think it's too bland; and travelers in search of a party-type crowd would be sorely disappointed. For the record, we happen to be a middle-aged baby boomer couple approaching retirement; and our needs and wants are quite simple. We have a personal preference for low-key modern hotels which are quiet and laid back, rather than upscale resorts with multiple fancy pools and a slate of daily activities. As foreigners, we've also come to appreciate that we are guests in a country where English is not the native tongue; and though neither of us is fluent in Spanish, we embrace that cultural difference by learning new words and new phrases on each successive trip. For all of these reasons and more, the Holiday Inn makes us feel right at home. It was a great pick back in 2005 when it was a Fiesta Inn; and it was still a great pick in 2017 as a Holiday Inn.
A sincere thanks to the management and staff for many great memories. Keep up the good work.
SeÃ±or Ron y SeÃ±ora Val