Travel

Zihuatanejo hotel proves ideal place to do a whole lot of nothing

A suite at the Amuleto hotel in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, offers a variety of lounging options. (Tim Schnupp/Tribune News Service/TNS)
A suite at the Amuleto hotel in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, offers a variety of lounging options. (Tim Schnupp/Tribune News Service/TNS) TNS

Sometimes doing nothing is best of options.

When traveling, however, doing nothing usually isn’t much of an option at all. Especially international travel, with the carbon footprint that comes along for the ride. A multihour flight just to sit around a hotel room and stream movies? Preposterously sinful!

This offseason trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico, was a definite exception for us, though. A whole lot of nothing was the only item on the agenda. My wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, and work had her on the fringes of pure exhaustion by the time we tapped Alaska Airline’s direct flight from Los Angeles.

After we grabbed our checked bag, we bypassed the immediate offers of a taxi to the hotel and went directly to the official, clearly marked “Taxi” desk. Better to pay up-front here than trying your luck with an independent driver.

Still, we had to have been a pretty rough-looking sight as we made our way to the front door of the Amuleto (http://amuleto.net/). Little did we know what a gem we’d found, the perfect landing spot to execute our absence of plans.

Mind you, there are an abundance of activities for a visitor to this Paradise on the Pacific, just north of Acapulco. The civic motto of “Ciudad de todos,” everyone’s city, is a perfect fit. Any variation of water sports one can think of is going to be on offer, and one fellow hotel guest reported a wonderful fishing experience. There’s also ample beach space for pure lounging, with shopping and restaurants steps away from popular Playa de Ropa. On the flight over, our seatmate was a resident of the area and he also suggested nearby Troncones and Barra de Potosi for day trips.

We were having none of it, however, as we made our beleaguered way through reception. Within minutes, with complimentary guacamole and margaritas in hand, we knew we were in the right place. What a view! Nestled in the hills above town, the lobby bar and dining areas offer a truly breathtaking vantage over the glistening bay, with a nod to the massive ocean beyond.

Truly doing nothing is not as easy as it sounds, though, so meeting our nongoals was going to be a challenge. First off, the room itself is crucial – aggressively idling for days on end requires the proper environs! The five-suite campus had us covered no matter where we stayed, but our suite featured that view, be it lounging in bed, in the sun on the deck, in the shade from the hammock, or maybe from the private plunge pool. We had no shortage of lounging options.

The most important hurdle, however, is food – how lazy can one be if you have to get dressed et al. to seek out meals? Fortunately for us, the Amuleto was a gastronomic oasis, and we never had to step off the property for a meal that was just as fancy – or as simple – as we wanted.

Every morning at breakfast (included with room), a gourmet option was available with Instagram-worthy presentation and delightful flavor profiles. The frittata was well-received, and the chilaquiles – my wife’s favorite breakfast dish – were reportedly the best she’d ever had. The rather extensive lunch menu reads more like the dinner menu of a high-end Mexican restaurant in the U.S., and even a simple order of beef tacos is likely to prove memorable. In fact, I’ve been trying in vain to copy those tacos since we got back!

Dinner is a whole other ballgame, though. Expect a three-course tasting menu that is truly magnificent. The onion tart tatin with parmesan ice cream, parmesean tuille and arugula was an amazing starter. Entrees featuring grilled shrimp (on black fettuccine in a lemon-parmesan sauce and topped with chile threads) or the beef filet (with an onion puree and Portobello mushroom sauce) aren’t going to allow any other dishes to steal the show, though. Truly masterful meals, carefully crafted from thoughtful ingredients, a genuine 11/10. As for dessert, we all scream for ice cream, of course, but don’t be afraid to venture into the lemongrass pannacotta and berries in hibiscus sauce.

Not feeling so fancy? No problem! The lunch menu is still in play (just give the kitchen a heads-up so they have time to prepare) and a team this good is going to come up with surprises. One night my wife wasn’t feeling well and they whipped up an off-menu chicken soup that would heal the most troubled of souls.

What truly sets the Amuleto apart, though, is the quality of service. Indeed, one expects a certain level of service to match that level of cuisine, but with so few guests on the property at any given time, the staff here was able to achieve a certain transcendence. It went beyond being a high-end boutique hotel to become more like spending a few days at a friend’s place. Guests here aren’t served, they are truly cared for and genuinely encouraged to feel welcome.

As incomparable as the hotel may be, the amazing thing is that it hardly seemed alone. The hills around Zihuatanejo are positively littered with properties that shimmer with the potential to offer a uniquely magnificent experience of their own, with plenty of options available across the budget spectrum. The possibilities for celebrating a wildly memorable vacation are seemingly endless. Your own favorite is just out there waiting to be discovered!

We hope to come back with the kids and explore, too, but we’ll definitely stop by the Amuleto to say hello to our new friends.

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PHOTOS (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): WLT-MEXICO-ZIHUATANEJO

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