Beach vs. cliffside perch: Where to stay in Zihuatanejo

We just returned from La Casa Que Canta for a lunch appetizer of margaritas, chips and fresh tomato-and-red-onion salsa and fried calamari. We walked along the beach from our accommodations at The Tides resort to revisit our first residence in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, two years ago. For that reason and so many more, it holds a special place in our hearts.

Now, let’s compare.

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The Tides’ beachfront property makes it the only option for those who must have sand between their toes to feel they’ve had an authentic beach experience. However, how often can you fly high above the beach, feeling the ocean breeze whipping your hair while perched at the edge of an infinity pool designed to give you a bird’s-eye view of the sea. Just watch “When a Man Loves a Women” for the Mexican pool scene filmed here to convince you that a trip to La Casa Que Canta is a must-do experience.

In terms of facilities, I think La Casa Que Canta has a slight edge. That’s not to say The Tides is less spectacular, it’s just slightly worn compared to this smaller resort that recently underwent a renovation.

Another part La Casa Que Canta’s charm is its size. With only 33 rooms – about half the size of The Tides – it seriously feels as if you’re one of just a few couples staying there with all of its nooks and crannies for sunbathing or just reclining in the shade.

But the isolation can be a disadvantage because you miss the full flavor of this unique fishing village – the warm and friendly people of Zihuatanejo. A favorite pastime during the weekend was watching the locals gather on the beach with their coolers, tables, chairs, umbrellas and stories as they reveled in the beauty of their surroundings.

Setting up your day’s accommodations along the beach, you also glean a lot about the culture by watching and talking with the vendors selling their various wares of hats, jumbo-sized colorful straw totes, jewelry, fishing excursions, parasail trips and anything and more than you could imagine. They are driven entrepreneurs, but friendly and never overly aggressive – always willing to return a smile following a “no, gracias” response.

Let’s talk margaritas. I’ll give it once again to La Casa Que Canta. However, the food and romantic beachside dining makes The Tides shine ahead. The service and colorful staff make it a place to remember, although La Casa Que Canta has a few unforgettable characters on the clock. The Tides’ tasting menu, tableside guacamole and flambé coffee concoctions are memorable musts.

Because even vacations need a little balance from excess, fitness facilities are an important part of the experience for us. They gyms of the two resorts rate about the same, with La Casa Que Canta having a bit more equipment variety and cooler facilities.

The true judge of the winner between these two fine resorts is where we would return. To fully enjoy all of the wonders of Zihuatanejo, The Tides probably comes out ahead. But don’t rule out La Casa Que Canta. Consider all the elements that are important to you – and if you can – return again to try both for fresh perspective of the place.

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