Acapulco is a city and major port 300 kilometres south-west of Mexico City. The popular tourist resort has a deep, semi-circular bay, perfect for shipping and cruise liners sailing between Panama and San Francisco. The 6.5 kilometre stretch of bay is lined with beaches to the south and has a backdrop of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains to the north and east.
Movie stars loved it in 1943 Errol Flynn beat a path there. It was pretty much jungle and a few buildings, but he was so captivated, he convinced his friend, Teddy Stauffer, to build a hotel there. Villa Vera has had some pretty famous visitors. Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd were married there, Frank Sinatra used it to hide from the mob and Zsa Zsa Gabor got in trouble for swimming naked in the pool.
Villa Vera sits quietly among soaring hotels and mega-resorts. It is an oasis of genteel luxury with a grand dining restaurant, three bars, clay tennis courts, paddle-tennis courts and lavish spa. 59 suites, villas and rooms are individual in their style. There are photographs of movie stars who have stayed and played there. Errol would love it!
During the 1950s and '60s, Acapulco was a well-established fun city. People from north of the border flocked in, but over-development, pollution and crime soured it as a destination for most, but Acapulco is staging a comeback. It enjoys an average of 340 days of sunshine each year and money is pouring in to develop new and refurbish existing hotels. With more than 30,000 rooms on offer, competition is fierce.
Acapulco's zocalo, the town square, on the western side of La Costera where most of the hotels are, exposes more local culture than other more touristy areas. It fronts the modern Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, a stark white church with bulb-shaped blue and yellow spires. As in most Mexican cities, the zocalo houses the cathedral, as well as many restaurants ranging from bistros to tiny kitchens. Many serve dinners for as little as $4.
Old Acapulco's hub is a beautifully shaded plaza, filled with vendors, shoe-shine men and tourists. After siesta, locals go there to socialise.
Las Brisas has stood the test of time, and with a $20 million facelift the pink and white hillside paradise it's been rediscovered by those who enjoy the best. It has breathtaking views of the deep blue Acapulco Bay and sunsets are enjoyed while sipping a pre-dinner margarita.
Sixteen hectares of lush, tropical vegetation and hibiscus in every shade of pink surround the 263 bungalow rooms which have private or shared pool. Pink and white jeeps take guests to hotel facilities and the private La Concha Beach Club.
Bellavista on a large terrace is the place for romantic dinners, and continental breakfast is provided.
In 1933 Carlos Barnard started the first section of Hotel El Mirador on the La Quebrada cliffs with just 12 rooms. In 1949 he added La Perla restaurant and apart from enjoying a meal there while being serenaded by wandering mariachis, you see the famous cliff divers plunging into the Pacific Ocean.
Way before bungy jumping was thought of, young men, known as clavadistas, began leaping from the 35-metre cliffs into three metres of water. They have been doing it since 1934 and for around $3 you can see them diving five times a day.
Perched on a cliff at 137 metres the blush-coloured Hotel Los Flamingos represents the spirit of Hollywood. Built in the 1930s, it was purchased in 1950s by the Hollywood Gang made up of John Wayne, Johnny Weissmuller, Fred McMurray, Rex Allen, Errol Flynn, Red Skelton, Cary Grant, Richard Widmark and Roy Rogers. Hundreds of famous stars stayed at the hideaway, assured of privacy and a good time. Coco Loco Bar, has been famous around the world since the 1950s.
It is a treasure-trove of memorabilia, and most people say their favourite pieces are those about Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic swimmer turned Tarzan.
If you're looking for some nightlife away from your hotel or cruise ship, head to La Condesa. There are bars, discos, cafes and restaurants galore.
Mexico's Pacific coast.
GAP Adventures has 15-day Colonial Mexico Tours from Mexico City visiting Acapulco. Accommodation, transport, guided tours and snorkelling, tequila distillery tour and guided tours of Teotihuacan and Pyramids of the Sun and Moon are included. You will visit Aztec Pyramids, Taxco, Playa Azul, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Mexico City and Acapulco. Tours are $955 per person twin share, plus local tax.
Villa Vera Hotel Spa and Racquet Club rooms start at about $110 a night.
Las Brisas rooms start at around $165 a night and casitas start at around $500.
Hotel Los Flamingos rooms start at around $70 a night.
Air New Zealand has flights to Los Angeles.
- Melbourne $2076
- Brisbane $2085
- Sydney $2094
- Perth $2362
- Adelaide $2378
On sale until May 30, 2008 for departures until June 16, 2008. Conditions apply.
Connections to Mexico City are available.
Prices correct at May 15, 2008.
For further information
Villa Vera Acapulco
Lomas del Mar 35, Fraccionamiento Club Deportivo
México CP 39690
Ph: +744 484 0333
Carretera Escénica 5255
Fraccionamiento Las Brisas
Mexico CP 39867
Ph: +744 469 6900
Cavadistas of La Quebrada (Cliff Divers)
Av Lopez Mateos y Plazoleta La Quebrada
Ph: +744 483 1400
Hotel Los Flamingos
Av Lopez Mateos No Fracc Las Playas
Ph: +774 482 0690
122 Hardware Street
Ph: 1300 796 618
Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476
It is recommended travellers to Mexico see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.
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