ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico — Sometimes hotel websites are misleading, promising accommodations that pale in comparison to reality. In the case of La Casa Que Canta (The House That Sings), a 25-suite boutique hotel in the Pacific town of Zihuatanejo, Mexico, I was expecting something nice, even super-nice, but after perusing the website and booking a room, I was unprepared for the spectacular beauty of the property and its environs.
A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a worldwide collection of small, independent hotels, La Casa Que Canta checks all the boxes you’d expect when it comes to luxury — airport pickup, chilled facial towel, and welcome beverage on arrival, spacious suites with five-star bedding, and fine dining featuring locally sourced products. And yet, from the moment my husband and I arrived until the minute we departed, we experienced a kind of Zen calm and happiness one doesn’t often get at corporate-branded luxury establishments. (As we taxied back to the airport, my husband commented, “I’d like to stay here for 15 … years.”)
Built 25-plus years ago by the Mexican architect Enrique Zozaya, the three main buildings (Mar, Luna, and Sol) cascade down a rocky hillside toward glittery Zihuatanejo Bay. The hacienda-style structures — think curved adobe arches, tropical woodwork, terracotta-tiled roofs, and open-air spaces — lead one to the next via a network of stone and pebbled stairways shaded by towering palms, flowering hibiscus, bougainvillea, orchid trees, and ixora. Is magical too strong a descriptive word? I think not.
The other operative word here is privacy. One can always find a secluded spot in the public sphere — with a pair of lounge chairs and chilled lime-infused water — where the only things to disturb your reverie are the calls of kiskadees or the hiss of waves receding from a craggy cove.
Lolling is a de rigueur activity. It’s hard to choose between the infinity pool and the salt water pool, each with multi-level terraces sporting cushioned lounges, shade umbrellas, and waiter service for beverages and snacks. A subset of lolling might be a trip to the Spa by Clarins to indulge in Mexican body wraps (prickly pear cactus, coconut, or grapefruit), a salty safflower body scrub, Clarins facials, mani-pedi service, or deep tissue or relaxing body massages. (My 85-minute, tension-melting massage was $139.)
If you must get some exercise, other than climbing the multitude of stairs, there’s an onsite gym, or the staff can organize fishing expeditions, private snorkeling, diving and water sports at nearby beaches, yoga classes, trips to a bird sanctuary, a tour of downtown Zihuatanejo, or golf excursions to 18-hole courses designed by Robert Trent Jones or Robert Van Hagge. New this season: The property is sponsoring private or group whale-watching tours outside of the bay.
It’s often tempting to simply stay in your room. (Guilty as charged.) Every suite, named after a famous Mexican song, has a water view, and even the smallest “terrace suites” (and at 650 to 1,035 square feet, I use the term smallest loosely) have open-air living rooms with sun loungers where you can contemplate your place in the universe while sipping a mango margarita. In addition to spacious bathrooms stocked with locally-made soaps, amenities include a Nespresso coffee maker (when you’re too lazy to call room service), daily fruit and mini bar replenishment, waffle bathrobes, and slippers. Rooms don’t have TVs, but if you must get your Netflix fix on your smartphone or tablet, the Wi-Fi is complimentary. For evening turndown service, artistic tapestries are “stitched” on the bedspread using fresh flower petals and leaves, creating images such as hummingbirds sipping nectar from blossoms, or pelicans in love. This alone is worth the journey.
As for COVID-19 protocols, at this writing, all the staff are fully vaccinated, undergo temperature checks daily, and wear face masks. Guests needed to mask in common areas. Hand sanitizer stations are dispersed around the property. The hotel provides onsite COVID testing for guests returning to the United States.
Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in your suite, poolside, or at the hotel’s open-air restaurant, Mar y Cielo. At dinner, tables replace lounge chairs on the terraces offering panoramic views of the sea, the setting sun, and — if you linger — the moon and stars.
As you might expect, ingredients are fresh and local, and menus focus on dishes that accentuate the rich culinary heritage of Mexico. What was unexpected is the menu selection changes every day, a challenging feat for the chef, no doubt, and for guests choosing among the tempting offerings. One thing that remains constant is the salsa made tableside in a stone molcajete. The salsa is tangy and smoky with roasted tomatoes and garlic, chili habaneros, serrano peppers, onions and cilantro, served with house made bread and platanos chips. Fish recently plucked from the sea — on our visit red snapper, white snapper, corvina, grouper, and lobster — were presented on a platter before cooking whole, filleted, grilled, or baked with sauces.
At dusk in the sultry evening breeze, as decorative orbs of light clicked on and house lights sparkled on the distant shore, the mood veered toward romantic. How could it not? (Did I mention this is an adult-only property? That helps.)
For those who want a group experience with friends or family — yes, including children — the property has two adjacent villas that each sleep eight. The four suites in each villa, larger than many apartments I’ve lived in, have their own individual plunge pools, views of Playa La Ropa, and include a private chef and maid service. One villa, El Murmullo, has a sprawling al fresco space that can accommodate 100 for dinner, a perfect spot for destination weddings.
All good things must come to an end, as did our brief visit to La Casa Que Canta. Yet, like a haunting melody, The House That Sings is a memory I won’t soon forget.
La Casa Que Canta. Rates from $275 (low season); $375 (high season). Check online for special promotions. 888-523-5050; www.lacasaquecanta.com/en/m_1_luxury-hotel-ixtapa-zihuatanejo-mexico.php.
Necee Regis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.