Sunday, February 24, 2013

Four Recent Hotel Stays

We recently traveled to Grutas de Tolantongo, Hidalgo, stopping first for a night in the Pueblo Mágico of Tlalpujahua, Michoacán.

I didn't do a lot of research on the lodging options in Tlalpu, but assumed (correctly) that if we showed up on a Wednesday in the low season, we'd get a room.

I had my eye on the Hotel Jardin, mostly because of its very central location and its nice website. The Hotel Jardin is located less than one block uphill from the plaza, or "Jardin". It's attractive in many ways, not least of which is the warm greeting we got from the recepcionista, Marita. She even went so far as to walk back the 6 or 8 blocks to our van, in order to guide us through the one way streets to the hotel.

A sweet little hotel
We wanted a spacious room, with two camas matrimoniales. The rack rate is $600 pesos, but when I requested a low season discount, Marita graciously dropped it to $550.

Like Tlapu itself, nearly everything requires a climb. The town itself is located at an altitude of 8,400 feet above sea level. I felt the effects of the thin air, both walking uphill to the hotel, then climbing two sets of stairs to our room on the "primer piso".

Upper stairs to the terrace
The room, which faced the interior hall, was spacious, simple but attractive; the beds comfortable, the bedding and especially the soft blanket were very nice. But there was a definite lack of closet space. One tiny closette in the dresser was all we had.

Partial view of our double room

The bathroom was clean and functional although simple. Hot water arrived quickly and reasonably forcefully.

There is a rooftop terraza with a partial view of the town center. Guests can opt to have breakfast up there, at $40 pesos per person. We ate elsewhere, to our regret, and perhaps should have had breakfast at the hotel. Brenda, the night shift recepcionista, asked us, but we declined.

The significant downside of the hotel is that its secured parking area is off site, almost a mile away, at the Cabañas Esperanza. Parking required that a staff or family member ferry us to and from the parking area. Although there was a wait of up to 30 minutes, we took it as an opportunity to get to know a few members of the family. Other guests might be less patient.

Comfort: ****

Cleanliness: ****

Price: Sencilla= $350, Doble=$600

Service: **** Outstanding

Pluses: Service, central location, comfort, QUIET

Minuses: Many stairs; tiny closet, parking at a remote lot

In Ixmiquilpan, we stayed at the very nice Hotel Posada Centenario. A foul smell in the street that Thorn Tree poster "Alterigor" mentioned was present, but once inside the spacious patio parking (there's also enclosed parking) we noticed no odor. (Later, when we showered, uncovering the shower drain released a bad smell, but it was minimal and tolerable.)

There's a nice lobby, where the free wifi works best, although I could capture it in the room.

Our room was on the second floor, facing the covered swimming pool. (The pool was too cold for us to swim in.) It was bright, cheerful and reasonably comfortable. The beds had cement bases and were a little high off the floor, but no real problem. Our double room rate of $400 p included a missable Continental breakfast in the adjacent restaurant, "Le Salamandra".



Cleanliness: ****

Price: $400 a double. Promotional rates available Sunday through Thursday.

Service: good

Pluses: bright and well maintained, sufficient electric outlets. Short walk to plaza.
Minuses: sewer smell in shower, but it was stopupable.

Tolantongo; Paraiso Escondido, Cabaña #5

As I have already written in my posts about our visit to Grutas de Tolantongo, we didn't have a lot of choices of rooms when we arrived at noon on a Friday. The first two habitaciones we were shown were close to the Recepcíon, along busy pathways, and least attractive of all, faced the paths and not the canyon. Those rooms, doubles, went for $600 pesos. I asked about cabañas, and there were at least a pair still available. Although these are really intended for up to 5 persons, we decided on the basis of the excellent front porch and view of the pozas close by to rent it, at $800 pesos per night. We were offered the option of Cabaña # 6 next door, but as it had just been cleaned thanked our receptionist and moved into #5. It could be that we might have done better with #6.

Pozas viewed from cabaña area

Cabaña # 5 was very spacious, on two levels, with 2 camas matrimoniales on the upper level and a sofa bed on the lower. The ceiling was high and there were windows on both sides. There was sufficient space left over on the lower level to install a small lounge area, or a kitchenette, but it was empty.

The overall maintenance was poor; there was a burned out bulb in the lamp over the bed, no hangers in the reasonably spacious closet, no bulb in one of the porch lamps, but the most serious flaw was the really fetid gas coming up the drains in the bathroom. We were able to mitigate that last by putting the supplied plunger over the shower stall drain, but there was still some gas rising from the sink.

The bed would have been comfortable, but the sheets had the texture of fine sandpaper.
In regard to the shower, the warmer water (spring sourced) from the single valve was slow in coming but tolerably warm after 3 or 4 minutes of waiting. This was not a big problem.

In addition to the above defects, the whole interior was shabby and in need of paint and renovation. But we stayed because it was what was available (there were probably other habitaciones available at the lower, Río section, but we wanted this specific location close to las pozas, so we settled in to enjoy the positive aspects.

The most outstanding feature was the spacious porch, with heavy wooden chairs and a low table where we could enjoy the foods we'd brought, with a very pleasant view of the semi tropical vegetation and the beautiful pozas not far below us.

Breakfast on the porch


Comfort: **

Cleanliness: **

Price: $800 pesos. More economical options are available, but as in all cases, one must arrive early, mid-week, to get one. No reservations are taken.

Service: ***

Pluses: Very spacious. Nice porch for relaxing, good view, short walk to the pozas. Not far to the parking area.
Minuses: Run down, shabby, poorly maintained. Expensive considering these defects.

Hotel Real D' Mendoza, Zinapécuaro, Michoacán

After a fruitless halt in dusty Maravatío, we drove on to Zinapécuaro. From what we saw, it's an attractive town, whose centerpiece is the beautifully landscaped water park, Reino de Atzimba. But we didn't visit that until the following week.

I had in mind the hotel Hacienda Monarca, but just about 1/4 mile before we reached it, I saw a sign for the Hotel Real D'Mendoza, located on a side street, Calle Camelinas at Calle Dahlia, two blocks from the arterial Avenida Lázaro Cárdenas.

I was immediately taken by the attractive exterior and once inside the reception/lobby area, it was like being in someone's large home. (It is.) Even better, to the rear is a large, enclosed and secured parking garage. A ramp is available for persons in a wheelchair to access the primer piso.
There are 22 rooms, some of which are interior but have balconies facing the quiet street.

Garden view rooms

Our room: small but pretty
Several options are available in rooms, sencillas, dobles and king size. We chose a king size, on the terrace level one flight up. It was very small, but pleasantly cozy. Cost was $380 pesos.

The only negative note was that the TV stand hanging on the wall had sharp projecting corners.  (We escaped injury.) We draped a bath towel over as a visual warning. The room had artistic decor, but the coolest thing was that when the lights went out at night, stars glowed on the ceiling. It was utterly charming. The bathroom was small but very functional. Above all, it was very clean and odorless.

In the morning, there was free coffee and packaged cookies available at the reception desk. Oh, I almost forgot about wifi. (The Hotel Jardin has it, too.)

There is a sequel to this story. When we got home, I found that I'd left my iPod Touch wall charger and sync cable in the hotel room.

I contacted David Moulton, who lives in Zinapécuaro, to request that he call the hotel to see if they had my missing gadget.

Not only did they have it, but David is a brother-in-law of the owner!

Doña Cuevas and I returned to Zinapécuaro the following Thursday to meet David and his wife Tere. David gave us passes to Atzimba and took us on a walking tour of the beautifully landscaped grounds. We didn't return to the  Hotel Real D' Mendoza that time, but would definitely recommend it.


Comfort: ***

Cleanliness: *****

Price: $380 pesos for a king bedroom. Larger rooms are available for a little more.

Service: ***** Outstanding

Pluses: Family atmosphere, quiet, enclosed parking inside the hotel, wifi, free coffee and cookies; garden with kids' playground set.
Minus: Watch out for the tv set!

Note: we learned that the Hotel Hacienda Monarca was the billet for a good size troop of Federales, and has been so for at least a couple of years.

No comments: