Gorgeous beach and five-minute walk to dining, markets, and shopping
All-inclusive resort with three large pools, including an adult-only pool
Beachfront kiddy pool and a supervised kids’ club
Two themed a la carte restaurants -- Don Quijote and Kyoto Sushi Bar
All rooms feature minibars and flat-screen TVs; most with balconies
Two tennis courts and a gym with modern equipment
24-hour room service available (fee)
Free bottled water
Free self-parking in a secure, staffed lot
Dated decor in rooms and common areas
Wi-Fi only free for Club Floor guests
Per-stay limits on a la carte dining for most guests
Tiny, dated spa feels cold and uninviting
Along with three large pools, a lovely, soft sand beach, kids’ activities, and up-market a la carte restaurants, Hotel Barcelo Ixtapa Beach Resort fulfills the basic requirements for a family-friendly all-inclusive getaway. However, the three-and-a-half-pearl hotel’s aging decor, tiny spa, and per-stay a la carte dining limits may be a deal-breaker for some. Most of the 398 rooms are typical of other nearby Ixtapa resorts -- pleasant, though dated, with expected amenities such as minibars, flat-screen TV, and private balconies with beautiful sea or mountain views. For a more luxurious, family-friendly alternative, check rates at the adjacent Azul Ixtapa.
All-inclusive beach resort with a lively, family-friendly vibe
The large Hotel Barcelo Ixtapa Beach Resort offers all the typical amenities of a beachfront all-inclusive in a lively, family-friendly atmosphere. The hotel’s architecture is typical of the dated grand resorts in the area, and once inside, the building has a distinctly corporate look, despite decorative touches like salmon colored marble flooring and brass accents. Bulky rattan furniture set throughout the lobby, and abundant wood paneling may once have looked funky and sharp, but now reveal the hotel’s age. The resort's primary social hub is a large, featureless outdoor space of brick and concrete that feels cold and institutional, with little greenery or landscaping.
Two large pools, an adult-only pool, and multiple open-air bars all combine to create an atmosphere that’s boisterous and lively, yet family-friendly. With a dedicated kiddy pool, supervised kids’ club, and many rooms designed to accommodate families, the hotel is also kid-friendly without feeling kid-centric. Travelers are just as likely to find vacationing families as honeymooning couples.
On a lovely beach at the center of Ixtapa’s bustling tourist district
Hotel Barcelo is located along Boulevard Paseo Ixtapa in the area’s popular beachfront tourist district. The road is well-trafficked by tourist buses throughout the day, however, things quiet down considerably at night. Dozens of Ixtapa’s restaurants, markets, shops, and other resorts are within a five- to 10-minute walk from the hotel. It's easy enough to get to Ixtapa Island from here as well, which is a 15-minute drive up the road to gorgeous Playa Linda and a quick water taxi trip across some open sea.
The area’s main Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport is 30 minutes by car via a modern, well-maintained highway. Like most Ixtapa resorts, Hotel Barcelo Ixtapa Beach Resort does not offer shuttle service to or from the airport. Private shuttle transport is readily available at the airport, however, and is usually the best option for large groups as rates are priced on a per-vehicle basis. Alternatively, taxi services are zone-based and therefore quite affordable, compared to many Mexican tourist districts.
Pleasant, but dated rooms with typical amenities, some with sea-view balconies
Hotel Barcelo Ixtapa Beach Resort offers seven room categories with a wide range of floor plans and amenities. While it’s clear the hotel has attempted to update guest rooms with some new pieces of furniture and bright pops of tropical color, the look is undeniably dated. Rattan seating, salmon marble countertops, and faded tile flooring all hint at the hotel’s age. All rooms include minibars (restocked daily), air-conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. Most rooms have a private balcony with views of the ocean or mountains. Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi isn’t provided in most rooms. For an additional fee, in-room internet service is available, however, the per-day rate gets expensive quickly. Unfortunately, many guests complain of hard, uncomfortable beds in all room categories.
Entry-level Superior and Superior Sea View rooms offer an identical 327-square-foot (30-square-meter) floor plan with two double beds or a single king bed. Upgraded Junior Family Rooms and Master Family Rooms offer all of the above amenities, but in a larger, 786-square-foot (73-square-meter) floor plan with additional living space and ocean views. Both provide a two-double bed configuration, with an additional sofa bed in the former and two sofa beds and two bathrooms in the latter.
The hotel’s flagship Premium Club Rooms provide additional perks. Notable additions include early check-in, late checkout, and free Wi-Fi. These rooms are located on dedicated upper floors with the best views on the property. Categories range from Superior Ocean View Club Premium (identical in size and floor plan to the standard Superior Sea View rooms) to the 1,300-square-foot penthouse Presidential Suite with a private hot tub, and large, separate living and dining areas.
All bathrooms are average-size for a hotel of this category, with modern fixtures and materials. Glass shower stalls and liberal use of tile and marble on the floors, walls, and countertops lends a sophisticated feel that’s a step above the decor in the rest of the hotel. Basic hair dryers and generic toiletries are also provided.
Fitness center and tennis courts, but no free Wi-Fi for most guests
The all-inclusive rates here cover plenty of standard extras, but the hotel has a few other features worth noting. The fitness room is free to use, and while there is a good amount of modern cardio and weight training equipment, there are no windows and it's not the most inspiring place for a workout. The hotel also has tennis courts for guests looking to get some exercise outdoors. There is also a kids' club, a game room with Ping Pong and foosball, and a convenience store/gift shop.
Everything from laundry and dry cleaning to babysitting can be arranged, but again these services will come with fees. Wi-Fi is only free for higher-category bookings and airport transfers are not included. Premium Club Room guests have an exclusive separate check-in lounge.
Clean and spacious pools, plus one that's only for adults
The two main pools are clean and spacious, even for a nearly-400-room property. Located adjacent to the beach, both offer an atmosphere that’s lively and family-friendly. A third, adult-only pool is decidedly more relaxed and low-key, however, the hotel doesn’t appear to strictly enforce their own “no children allowed” policy. Lounge chairs around all pools are plentiful and, unlike many comparable area hotels, placed far enough apart to allow some breathing room. Even with the hotel near capacity, the pool deck does not feel cramped. Guests seeking shaded lounge space at any of the three pools will also find plenty of umbrellas as well.
A tiny, fourth pool nearest the beach is a designated kiddy pool. A small water slide and central tree-shaped water feature give it a water park-like feel. Likewise, a dozen lounge chairs ring the pool for parents looking to relax while supervising their children.
The nearby Caracol Restaurant offers a snack shack menu of burgers, pizza, and other basic foods. The adjacent Caracol Pool Bar services the entire pool deck with a swim-up bar and a full liquor menu of beer, wine, and tropical cocktails. Poolside drink service is also available, although guests complain that it’s frequently spotty.
The resort is serviced by four full restaurants -- two a la carte options and two buffet outposts. Unlimited buffet dining is included in the hotel’s standard all-inclusive packages. However, per-stay limits apply at both a la carte restaurants where guests are only provided a free meal once every three nights of their trip. Guests in Premium Club Rooms are entitled to unlimited a la carte meals.
Veranda Restaurant and La Palapa are the hotel’s primary buffet restaurants and the only two that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The property-wide buffet menu is an expected blend of Western favorites (pancakes, bacon, cereal, coffee/tea, and an omelet station for breakfast; hamburgers, pasta, grilled chicken, and steak for lunch and dinner) and local Mexican dishes, such as tacos, refried beans, chilaquiles, and fried plantains. Located in the towering lobby atrium, Veranda feels grand and hints at luxury, but the dated furniture and lobby architecture are a stark reminder of the hotel’s age. Under an open-air thatched roof building near the pool area, La Palapa serves a similar buffet menu amid a likewise dated tropical decor.
The two on-site a la carte restaurants -- Don Quijote and Kyoto Sushi Bar -- offer dinner-only service in a slightly upscale atmosphere relative to other area eateries. The former is an eclectic space adorned in rustic Spanish decor with wrought iron fencing, Mediterranean wall decorations, limestone tile, and a stone entryway fountain. Cuisine is Mexican and Spanish, and guests in both a la carte restaurants must adhere to dress codes.
The tiny Kyoto Sushi Bar is as close to a traditional Japanese sushi experience as travelers can expect in Pacific Mexico. A monochromatic red-on-black color palette covers every square foot of the space from the seat cushions to the walls, to the ceiling. The result is bright, yet somehow claustrophobic. Unsurprisingly, the menu is seafood-centric with a strong emphasis on raw, locally caught fish. With only two dozen seats and a small counter, the space fills quickly, particularly on weekends and when the hotel is near capacity.
The resort food overall receives mixed reviews for its quality and selection. A bar in each restaurant also offers a decent drink menu of beer, wine, and liquor. Several bars also have live entertainment.
The hotel’s large, quiet, soft sand beach is part of the area’s larger Palmar Beach and provides lovely views of the Pacific Ocean. An ample number of lounge chairs are set back a hundred feet from the water under rows of palm trees that provide constant shade throughout the day. Fortunately, the distance between the resort and other nearby properties is sufficient to keep away the relentless hawkers typically found on many Mexican beaches.
The condition of the water largely depends on the time of year. The Pacific waves and rip currents can be an issue, but it’s often calm enough to swim and snorkel. Unfortunately, the resort does not facilitate any of the watersport activities -- such as kayaking, snorkeling, catamarans -- typically found at other Ixtapa resorts.
The four-room U-Spa offers all of the typical massage treatments -- hot stones, aromatherapy, and sports massage -- and beauty salon services expected in a resort of this caliber. However, while it’s clear the intent was to evoke a minimalist Zen feeling, the atmosphere is instead dated, bland, and uninviting. The decor consists of bare walls, potted plants typical of a doctor’s office, out-of-place leather recliners, and what little furniture occupies the space is dated and in need of replacement.
Decent all-inclusive package, but some restrictions
The resorts all-inclusive rates include standard services and amenities on par with others in the area. Buffet meals are included, as are domestic drinks plus snacks and welcome cocktails. Most rooms are entitled to limited dinners at the two a la carte restaurants during their stay, though Premium Club Room guests can eat in the a la carte restaurants without restrictions. Minibars are restocked daily in guest rooms and use of the tennis courts and fitness center are all included. Access to the kids' club is part of the plan as well, though private childcare is not.