Monday, March 27, 2017

Mexican Resort Hopping

March 2017 - Mazatlan Mexico

This winter we spent January 30 2017 to March 18 2017 in Mazatlan. We didn't rent anywhere, we used up various timeshares we have.

March is a very busy spring break period, lots of families with kids, as well as lots of lots of university kids.

Some timeshare terminology to help understand some of my comments.
An exchange is the process of trading an interval owned at one resort for an interval at another resort. The exchange system allows interval owners to travel and vacation worldwide.

Exchange Company:
An exchange company is an organization where interval owners deposit their week in order to “trade” or exchange to another resort of their choice. Exchange companies accumulate a pool of weeks from other interval owners around the world and then evaluate each interval week deposited in order to provide a suitable match based on availability and value. Some aspects of the “trading value” of an interval are determined by the time of year (or season) requested, the resorts rating and the size of the unit being exchanged. Two of the largest and most popular exchange companies are RCI and Interval International.

Lockoff or Lockout Unit:
This is a unit which can be divided to create two separate but complete sections. For example, a two bedroom lockout unit has the option of splitting the unit into a one bedroom unit and a studio unit thereby getting two weeks of vacation.

Insert my comment - they tend to be noisy, and you can hear your neighbours.

Maintenance Fee:
This is a fee paid annually to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the facilities of the resort and the management of the resort. Fees vary from resort to resort and are based on size and type of the unit purchased.

Unit Size:
Unit size has a various number of definitions: hotel unit, studio, efficiency or by number of bedrooms. Hotel units, studios and efficiencies usually (but not always) are a single room with sleeping accommodations for two to four persons and may or may not include a small kitchen. 

Insert my comment - A partial kitchen in "timeshare speak" has a fridge, microwave and partial stove, that is a two ring counter top. No oven, no dishwasher.

One, two and three bedroom timeshare units are usually a condominium type accommodation and feature a full kitchen, separate living and dining area and possibly other special features within the unit, i.e., jet tub in the bathroom or separate shower.

All resorts in Mexico employ a lot of people, they are always sweeping, cleaning, painting, gardening. The maids are wonderful, they work so hard.

Here's a recap, and my reviews on each of these resorts in chronological order. I have italicized my favourite in each category. 

Red - pet peeve

Royal Villas 2 weeks click link for photos
Wyndham owners exchange - no exchange fees. BUT RCI mandatory all inclusive

We had booked this for four weeks not having read the fine (not so fine really) print that it was mandatory all inclusive at $700 US per person per week. Now this doesn't sound extraordinary expensive. However, the point of timeshare and booking a one bedroom unit is that you might want to cook some meals, have a light breakfast. We love going out and trying different places. We have friends here in Mazatlan with whom we like to dine as well.
Also remember, we have paid for a timeshare and annual maintenance fees, as well to book into this resort we paid a fee through RCI.
This is also Mexico, we have been here before, and know what it costs to do groceries.

Anyway, we had no choice so we bit the bullet and I spoke to RCI who moved our reservation for the last two weeks to another resort.  Hats off for this good service.

I'll review the resorts by the following criteria.

Smoking - allowed everywhere, in lobby bar, at breakfast, in pool.

Timeshare - we were approached for the pitch as we went to our rooms. We made it clear we were not interested, a free breakfast hardly mattered as we were all inclusive. She approached us on our last day to again mention they would provide a free stay of 3 days if we went to a pitch.

General - this is a timeshare resort but it attracts the all inclusive packages deals with air, hotel and meals. These tend to be different from owners. They are more party-oriented and noisy.
It also has a large local feel to it. Mexicans love having special occasions at the week-end buffets adding a very festive feel.

Accommodations - we had a one bedroom with living room and partial kitchen.
This unit was spotless, Very large but it was dated. The balcony had a view of the ocean as well as the street. The living room and bedroom both have the same view.
Lockouts - It did have paper-thin walls.
Two bathrooms.
Walk in showers with rain forest shower heads.

Maid Service - daily

Internet - free and fantastic, unlimited number of devices.
Business Centre - we really only need if we need to print. I inserted a USB key and the print out came to the front desk.

TV - excellent, large choice of stations. Two TVs.

Common areas - spacious. But wide open from ocean view to street, so could be downright chilly when it was windy.

Beach - great, but resort does not provide any palapas or chairs.

Pool - major issue, very limited space. Lots of kids in pool with multiple types of balls, toys etc.
Food and drink service available.

Grounds - none entrance is street level, and pool borders the beach.

Location - excellent walking distance to everything you could need/want.

Shuttle - none

Deli - none on site. But in this case, with the all inclusive it didn't matter. Our fridge was stocked almost daily once I asked why it wasn't being done

Laundry - not sure if they had on-site but there is one across the street. Same day service.

ATM - none and none conveniently close by.

Restaurants/Food - all inclusive. Breakfast was excellent, served by the pool, lots of choices.
Lunch - available either in the restaurant or lobby bar.
Dinner - good choices, however you would tire of it after one week. However, the absolutely redeeming factor, and I'm not sure if management realizes it, is Jose Luis the server. He made our dinner experiences a delight. He would offer suggestions, was fully aware of John's gluten free dietary restrictions, and went out of his way to create imaginative meals for us.
Drinks - since we were on the top tier meal plan we only ordered the best.
The sad part was that the restaurant was practically empty every night.

Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan 2 weeks Click link for photos
RCI exchange fees paid

Smoking - allowed in pool areas

Timeshare - checked in and offered $200 US resort credit and free internet if we toured Emerald Bay. We took it. Good presentation, excellent prices if you were entering the timeshare market. However, Mexican company and only six resorts available within their network.

General - mainly owners

Accommodations - we had a studio
KITCHEN partial kitchen
This unit was clean but didn't feel as clean as others and it was dated. The balcony was fantastic, totally private, large, table and chairs.
Great shower but in a bathtub. Not my favourite.
Built like a railway car so the only light is at the front of the unit. It is a very very small studio.
Lockouts - maybe, not our studio

Maid Service - daily, once tipped she even did our dishes.

Internet - online reviews said it was terrible and expensive $14-$17 a day. At check-in she said it was not worth it. We didn't spend the money.
Ours was fantastic, no issues whatsoever.
Business Centre - didn't use but it was a pay by the hour.

TV - not as big a selection as Royal Villas.

Common areas - spacious. Lovely.

Beach - great with palapas.

Pool - two large pools, one was a quiet pool. Both had pool side food and drinks service.

Grounds - Lovely. large with exotic birds in cages and ducks and flamingos on the grounds.
This would be a tie with Torres Mazatlan.

Location - excellent walking distance to everything you could need/want. Surrounded by good restaurants.

Shuttle available between PBM and Emerald Bay

Deli - on site, reasonable. Basic supplies as well as ready made sandwiches and pastries.

Laundry - not sure if on-site but there is one directly across the street that we used. Great price does dry cleaning as well. Same day.

ATM - machine outside resort gates but doesn't take on cards and often doesn't work.

Restaurants/Food - offers all inclusive but not required. We either cooked and dined on the balcony or else went out with friends.
There is a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.

Lunch - available either in the restaurant or by the pools. Again we were so sick of restaurant food we prepared our own.

Dinner - 2 restaurants Cilantro for casual beach front dining. Angelo's for more upscale dining.
We went to Angelo's.Click here to read about our dinner.
Drinks - watered down happy hours by the pools

Torres Mazatlan 1 night
Owners no fees to book

We only stayed one night, however, have stayed here many times, including a two month stint in 2014 so feel qualified to comment.

Smoking - no smoking anywhere

Link to their resort amenities.

Timeshare - not approached for a one night stay.

General - mainly fiercely dedicated owners.

Accommodations - we had a one bedroom with full kitchen.
KITCHEN That means a stove and dishwasher. Very important to me and therefore earns my highest rating for kitchens. Especially for longer stays. It is also the most equipped kitchen with plenty of utensils, pots and pans and plastic ware.
BBQs also on site.
Lockouts - none on premises
This unit was spotless. It could use a brightening up.
Walk in shower!
The balcony is great,totally private,large, table and chairs.
Very odd - they don't provide shampoo, conditioner or lotion.

The unit is built like a railway car, the bedroom is on the walkway so you can't really open your curtains. However, there is a lovely Murphy bed in the living room, where you could sleep comfortably and listen to the ocean.

Maid Service - they only provide a mid week clean.

Internet - is good.
Business Centre - no idea but knowing how amenable the staff are I am sure you could get something printed.

TV - not a bad selection but not great. One TV in living room.

Common areas - No lobby. Nice quiet outside seating area.

Beach - great but no palapas.

Pool - one large pool with pool side food and drinks service.

Grounds - Lovely. large tie with Pueblo Bonito

Location - it is away from the Golden Zone and downtown. Bus stop is outside and there are always pulmonias and taxis available.
Shuttle none

Deli - on site, reasonable. great selection, includes fruits and vegetables. Great hours.

Laundry - coin operated on-site

ATM - none near by. Used to be one right outside. Requires a bus or taxi ride to the closest.

Restaurants/Food - one restaurant for all day dining.

Breakfast we dined several times here with friends. Excellent breakfast

Lunch - available either in the restaurant or by the pools. We had one lunch, they make the best California club in town!

Dinner - daily specials with entertainment. Had dinner twice with friends. It was disappointing this time. I had shrimp tacos that were much better at Royal Villas.John had chicken fajitas which were a bit greasy and the tortillas were a little crisp.
Best entertainment. Theme night menus best deal.

Drinks - good

El Cid Marina Resort 18 days
Wyndham owner no exchange fee for 4 nights in studio
Owner              2 weeks one bedroom.

We stayed here for three weeks last year.

Smoking - allowed in pool areas

Timeshare - approached after check-in. Offered $100 US coupons for meals and drink coupons. I prefer getting funds I can apply to my bill.
Good presentation, however, the pricing is astronomical for timeshare. Enough said.
Drink coupons, we were testily told we should have told our server we had coupons before we ordered. Why? Likely watered down drinks.

General - mainly timeshare owners or RCI exchanges and boat owners. They do have packages for tour companies such as Westjet, Sunwing and Signature from Canada.

Accommodations - we had booked four nights in a studio with partial kitchen.
KITCHEN partial Same as Royal Villas and Pueblo Bonito even in one bedroom.
We then had a one bedroom with partial kitchen for two weeks.

This unit was spotless.

Units are not built like a railway car so they are brightly painted floor to ceiling windows. This was my favourite as a unit. Bright and airy lots of light.
The balcony was good, it really depends on what unit you get.
Lockouts - yes and makes for noisy neighbours.
Note to self - do not take a unit in building H and always ask for 3rd or 4th floor.

Maid Service - daily

Internet - $55 a week per device. Thumbs down worst based on policy. However the Internet access was excellent.
Business Centre - free, printer provided. 

TV - not a bad selection but not great. Two TVs. But the satellite constantly goes on and off with snowy pictures. 

Common areas -nice

Beach - you have to take a quick boat ride to a small beach due to the marina. Not a large walking beach.

Pool - two large with pool side food and drinks service. Both great, quite rowdy at times. Water is COLD in both.

Grounds - Lovely. large

Location - it is a little away from the Golden Zone and downtown. Easy walk to Golden Zone.
Bus stop is outside and there are always pulmonias and taxis available.
Shuttle available between their other resorts. Therefore ideal for getting into the middle of the Golden Zone.

Deli - on site, reasonable. Very limited resources. I had commented last year and will again that the hours are inconsistent, you never know when they will be open. They have ridiculous hours 9-6 and Sunday is 9-5. It is supposed to be a "convenience", all the others are 7-10.

Laundry - coin operated on-site and hotel laundry service. Pricier than taking your stuff to a local place but convenient and excellent.

ATM - 2 located in lobby, one distributes US the other pesos, however it is the most expensive ATM fees in town, 90 pesos per transaction compared to 30 pesos at a bank.

Restaurants/Food - one restaurant on site for all day dining. However, you can use any of their other resorts around town.

Breakfast we dined several times.Excellent egg service, great omelets but rest of buffet is mediocre.
Lunch - available either in the restaurant or by the pools. We had lunch several times, not bad not great. Depends on your selection.

Dinner - buffet.

Drinks - average


  1. Great summary of the resorts we stayed at.

  2. You've spent quite a time away. Hopefully spring will have settled in when you get back home.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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