Down a winding mountain road, about five minutes outside the center of Zihuatanejo on Playa la Ropa, lies the The Tides hotel. A Viceroy property that underwent a major re-branding in 2006, it's a slice of paradise on the west coast of Mexico, located about 150 miles north of Acapulco and conveniently 15 minutes from the Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo airport.
The staff at The Tides greeted me by name upon arrival, escorting me past check-in to a beach-front suite with a private infinity pool, an outdoor seating area lined with sofas, a huge outdoor bed, and a view of the entire bay of Zihua (as the locals call it or just Z, because it's not any easier to say it in Spanish). From there you might even be able to watch an endangered turtle crawl up the beach and lay her eggs in the guarded area the hotel's set aside to protect the eggs until they hatch.
After getting situated, I was given a tour of the property by my very gracious host, Elia Alcazar. There are three pools, two restaurants (one Mediterranean, the other Mexican/Pacific), a spa, a gym, and the beautifully cozy Coral Bar where you have your choice of 110 tequilas. The bar offers tequila tastings and a two-for-one happy hour as part of the hotel activities—in case you aren't the sporting type who wants to take part in the wind sailing or other water sports on offer. For food-oriented visitors, there are cooking lessons or a trip to the local markets with the chef, private dinner on the lagoon island, dinner in the wine cave (they feature almost 1300 new-world labels), and lunch or dinner on the beach.
I asked Elia about yoga on the tour, and when I got back to the room after a swim there was a basket complete with a yoga mat, blocks, towels and extra water—the beginning of what would be four days of impeccable service, where the word "no" is rarely uttered. When I asked about the hours for the gift shop, I was told it opens at 10am but they would open it for me at any time. Service doesn't end at the beach either. Raise one of the orange flags next to the beach chairs and someone appears almost instantly—a convenient feature since I spent almost every minute I was there on a beach chair, head supported by a Tides neck pillow (similar to what some people use on a flight), reading my Kindle.
Before I left, I asked to see some of the other rooms. The architecture, with thick adobe-inspired walls and staircases painted white in most of the interiors, is somewhat Flintstones-meet-Jetsons. Rooms boast flatscreen televisions, iHome iPod docks and WiFi, along with all the other luxuries you would expect. After the beach suites, my favorite rooms were the more modern lagoon suites. A stay in the Presidential Suite (like Britney Spears did a couple years ago) comes with a butler service they call VIP Mayordomo for pre/during/post stay planning and assistance.
Apart from beach cushions that required doubling-up and breakfast-stealing birds, it was nothing short of a small piece of paradise.
Rack rates start at $355 depending on season and size. Reservations can be made online through The Tides website.