Casa Lucila is set in a former residence near the ocean. // © 2017 Mark Chesnut LatinFlyer.com
Feature image (above): Mazatlan’s colonial streets have become a hub of activity. // © 2017 Mazatlan Tourism Board
Mazatlan may not have the globally recognized luxury hotel brands that dot some Mexico beach destinations, but the so-called “Pearl of the Pacific” offers a surprising number of ways to pamper travelers looking for an upscale vacation experience. During a recent visit for the 23rd annual Fiesta Amigos event, which recognizes industry partners and new tourism developments, I was able to investigate (and enjoy) some of the city’s most luxurious offerings.
Upscale hotel options in Mazatlan can satisfy travelers who prefer large-scale resorts, as well as those who favor smaller, intimate settings. Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts operates multiple all-inclusive properties in Mazatlan, including Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, which is the destination’s only AAA Four Diamond resort, and Pueblo Bonito Emerald Estates, which has three-bedroom villas and access to a spa, tennis courts and a private beach. El Cid Marina Beach Hotel, part of the El Cid Resorts portfolio, is another good choice, featuring spacious one-bedroom suites among the top-of-the-line accommodations, with easy access to a private marina and a free shuttle to the facilities at nearby El Cid Golf & Country Club. The marina property also recently opened a new spa facility, which offers treatments at reasonable prices.
Travelers looking for boutique-style luxury should consider Casa Lucila, an eight-room property that faces the ocean in the Olas Altas neighborhood. Set partially in a handsomely restored former residence, the hotel is graced with wood furnishings, original artwork, a spa, a restaurant and a small infinity pool with postcard-worthy ocean views. In addition to the vistas, Casa Lucila is also close to many restaurants and attractions in historic downtown Mazatlan.
Clients looking to work in a round or two of golf can check in to any of the El Cid properties or consider a stay at Estrella del Mar, located in a quiet coastal area outside of the city. Its par-72 course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., extends over 178 acres, with 11 lakes and six holes that face the Pacific Ocean.
Also in the sporting vein are deep-sea fishing charters offered by Aires Fleet at El Cid Marina Beach. Prices start at $325 for a six-hour excursion, and a variety of ship types are available for rental. Aires Fleet also offers scheduled boat tours to Deer Island, which is popular for sunbathing and watersports, and private catamaran charters are available for up to 29 passengers.
Fine dining is another draw in Mazatlan — and since the city is a major fishing port, seafood is an especially noteworthy item on many menus. In the Golden Zone, where most hotels are located, Fiera serves up trendy takes on fresh catches, while Angelo’s — located at Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan Beach Resort — is known for its Italian dishes.
Mazatlan’s historic city center is another hub for fine dining and upscale activities. The neighborhood’s restored architecture, pedestrian plazas and outdoor dining, in fact, make it a natural fit for anyone looking to inject a visit with some old-world flair. Among the most important attractions downtown is the Angela Peralta Theater, a carefully refurbished 19th-century showplace that today hosts a variety of live music, theater and dance performances.
After an evening at the theater, it’s a quick stroll along the picturesque streets to a selection of dining venues, including El Presidio, a stylish Mexican gourmet restaurant housed in multiple historic homes. At Pedro y Lola, patrons may sit indoors or outside facing Plazuela Machado, Mazatlan’s most charming city square. It’s not uncommon for live music to fill the air, adding even more to the ambiance of a night in this classic Mexican beach destination.