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Emporio Ixtapa 3.5

Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Beachfront resort in Ixtapa's main tourist area
  • Easy walk to many restaurants, shops, and other resorts
  • All-inclusive rates are available
  • All rooms feature minibars, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning 
  • Oceanside pool and small fitness center with cardio and weight equipment
  • Modern salon and spa with sauna, steam room, and hot tub
  • 24-hour room service available from both restaurants
  • Free bottled water (limited)
  • Various excursions and activities can be booked
  • Free self-parking in a secure, gated lot
  • Free Wi-Fi in rooms and common areas

Cons

  • Small main pool is easily overcrowded
  • Restaurants close on a rotating schedule depending on season and occupancy
  • Bland, dated decor in rooms and common areas
  • Wi-Fi can be spotty and unreliable

Bottom Line

The 219-room Emporio Ixtapa offers three-and-a-half-pearl features that provide a mostly pleasant stay, though some flaws are showing. The clean pool, wide beach, modern salon and spa, and grand lobby are mostly on par with comparable area resorts. However, the resort’s stark, aging design make the hotel feel like it's past its prime. Rooms in all categories offer a solid list of essential amenities, but the dated decor and lack of balconies or terraces in most rooms are disappointing, especially given the more modern competition in the area. In this case, the whole is less than the sum of its parts, though rates here can be a bargain. Those willing to spend more should investigate the Pacifica Resort Ixtapa, a large upscale option with more attractive rooms.

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Scene

Dated upper-middle-range beachfront resort that feels past its prime

While small relative to nearby resorts, Emporio Ixtapa attempts to overwhelm with grand ‘80s-era architecture that hints at Colonial Mexican style. However, the minimal design, lack of accent colors, and overall aging decor feel less “elegant chic” and more “stark and cavernous.” There are some local nods throughout, mostly in wall art that ranges from rustic rope-and-wood sculptures to solid wooden chests, and the white and warm-toned wood color scheme does keep things looking bright enough. However, decorative touches like patterned marble flooring plus cloth and rattan seating -- considered luxurious when the hotel was first constructed -- reveal the resort's age. The property’s entire social scene consists of a large outdoor space that combines a single pool with a wide beach. Unfortunately, the mostly featureless terrace is awash in concrete and brick, with minimal landscaping or greenery. With limited kid-centric amenities, travelers are more likely to find local couples than vacationing families.

Location

On a wide, lovely beach in downtown Ixtapa’s popular tourist district

Situated in the area’s popular beachfront tourist district on Boulevard Paseo, Emporio Ixtapa is a five-minute walk to many restaurants, shops, markets, and other resorts. The area is remarkably compact and there's a shopping center just across the street. Coupled with inexpensive taxi fares and limited parking, walking or cab rides are a more cost-effective, hassle-free alternative to renting a car. In addition, two 18-hole golf courses (Marina Ixtapa Golf Club and Palma Real Golf Club) and the dolphin encounters at Delfiniti Ixtapa are only five minutes away by car.

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport is only a 30-minute drive away. Like all area hotels, Emporio Ixtapa does not offer airport transportation, however, the area provides a variety of inexpensive alternatives. Shuttles buses regularly run to the airport and are an affordable option for travelers who don’t mind sharing transportation in exchange for dramatically reduced fares. Couples and smaller groups will find airport taxis readily available as well. Low rates are mandated, zone-based, and on par with similar Mexican tourist destinations.

Rooms

Dated rooms with essential amenities and uncomfortable beds

Rooms in all categories don’t live up to the grand scale and opulence promised by the hotel's name. While occasional touches of modernity can be found throughout most rooms, remnants of ‘90s-era furniture and finishes abound. Wear and tear is evident in broken outlets, salt-worn metal fixtures, and lacquered wooden doors that clearly need touching up. Nothing feels especially dirty, just dated, with white walls, peach accents, lots of stucco, light tile floors, and simple wooden furniture combining to create unremarkable interiors.

The list of in-room amenities includes air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, minibar (beer, water, and soda), and free Wi-Fi. During our stay, however, we found the Internet service to be spotty and unreliable. For a hotel of this class, it’s also surprising that spring water is limited to just two bottles daily, in-room coffee garners an upcharge, and balconies or terraces are unavailable in most room categories. Many guests also complain of uncomfortable, rock hard beds.

Entry-level Standard Rooms (both Oceanview and Mountainview) offer floor plans comparable in size to standard mid-range chain hotels. However, floor space increases dramatically in upgraded room categories. Mid-range Junior Suites offer identical amenities, but in a more spacious layout that includes a separate living and sleeping area. Master Suites step up the floor space further with a much larger living area, as well as a separate dining area and an additional bedroom. The flagship Gobernador Suites offer a massive three-bedroom floor plan and amenities reminiscent of a high-end condo. In addition to all of the above features, the suites offer a sizable balcony and a kitchenette with wet bar and microwave. Unfortunately, Master and Gobernador Suites are the only accommodations on the property with balconies.

All bathrooms are roomy, though not exceptionally large. Like their respective rooms, the decor is dated, with dark green faux marble countertops, beige tile flooring, and older fixtures that feel a notch below what most guests would expect in a hotel of this class.

Features

A wide, soft sand beach, two restaurants, and a modern, full-featured spa

Emporio Ixtapa is a scaled-down version of other nearby resorts, offering fewer amenities in a smaller package. The wide, soft sand beach and modern spa and salon are notable positives, but additional facilities are limited to just two restaurants, a tiny gym, and a small, oft-crowded pool.

Like many area hotels, the beach sits on a semi-private piece of the larger Palmar Beach. The beach is soft, clean, and wide, with rows of white plastic lounge chairs set back under dozens of palapas, providing sufficient shade throughout the day. The condition of the water varies widely with the season and weather, however, it’s frequently swimmable even for children. While the hotel widely advertises the beach as private, it’s worth noting that the beach is accessible by the public. Unfortunately, we found the beach to be as popular with hawkers as tourists, sometimes making it difficult to relax.

Together, the beach and pool provide the centerpiece for the hotel’s outdoor social space. A large number of plastic lounge chairs circle the pool in a layout that’s tight, though not quite cramped. Unfortunately, there are few umbrellas to be found, making for limited shade throughout the day. While clean and well laid-out, the surrounding deck also offers little in the way of landscaping, particularly for a three-and-a-half-pearl resort. With just enough greenery to remind guests that they are in the tropics, the overall look is cold and uninviting, bordering on institutional. In addition, with the property near capacity, the pool crowds quickly.

Given the dated decor found throughout the hotel, the on-site spa and salon is surprisingly modern. Creamy marble, smooth river rocks, and frosted glass cover nearly every surface, creating a atmosphere that’s more upscale than any other space on the property. The spa offers a typical list of treatments -- including Swedish massage, facials, and body wraps -- along with a modern sauna, steam room, and a hot tub. In addition, the adjacent salon offers manicures, pedicures, and other essential beauty services. There's also a fitness center, but it's tiny and not particularly attractive, though the cardio machines are modern and weight machines are available as well. Wi-Fi is free throughout the resort, but airport transfers are not provided. During high season, programming for children is available. The hotel can also arrange off-site excursions and adventures.

Food

Two restaurants including buffet and a la carte options

As a smaller property, Emporio Ixtapa offers only two restaurants. The primary dining area, El Condimento, is the only all-day dining option on the property. The restaurant provides a breakfast buffet with a mix of expected Western foods like pancakes, sausage, and an omelet station along with Mexican dishes including fried plantains, rice and beans, and chilaquiles. A buffet lunch with general international fare and a similar a la carte dinner menu are served daily. Sunset Grill offers more formal dinner-only service in an open-air, beachfront space. The menu includes a salad bar and surf and turf entrees consisting primarily of steaks and locally-sourced fish and other seafood. Unfortunately, even with just two restaurants, the hotel frequently closes one or the other on a rotating basis each week. The list of available eat-and-stay packages can also prove confusing, with every combination of inclusion/exclusion (alcohol, breakfast only, full food service, etc.) on offer.

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Address

Boulevard Ixtapa S/N, Zona Hotelera, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo 40884, Mexico

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