Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 19, 2017
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Tropical Twins Forget Montezuma's Revenge

Two Acapulco sister hotels offer sand, style and deliciously safe food

"Dip the totopos (tortillas) in the guacamole, then in the salsas," said Claudia, passing the tomato, onion and pepper concoctions. "Mexican food is for sharing -- a little of this, a little of that, a little drink, a little laugh."

After our flight from chilly Canada, we ate eagerly, savouring the piquant flavours and the warm air. But it was nice to have a breeze wafting in from the ocean, ruffling the palm trees shading our beach-side table from the brilliant sun. Soon, two waiters appeared with crock-pots full of vegetables and a platter of whole fish.

"We call this la talla -- red snapper, simply grilled," Claudia announced, scooping generous portions onto our plates. We crunched the crisp veggies and devoured the plump fish under the watchful eyes of a pair of red-capped birds who'd perched themselves on the rim of our wrought-iron table. After lunch we strolled by meandering pools, waterfalls, and across a swinging bridge traversing a lagoon. I couldn't help noting that, not too long ago, the mere mention of Acapulco salsas spurred quips of Montezuma's revenge. For all its seductive sunshine, one didn't dare visit without packs of Pepto Bismol, doses of antibiotics to zap infections and promises to avoid fresh fruits and salads. Those who returned home with golden tans and without nasty bugs in their cache of souvenirs considered themselves lucky.

Such luck was on my mind when I packed antidotes for my recent visit to Acapulco and a stay at the Acapulco Princess and Pierre Marques Resorts. Montezuma wouldn't stand a chance and I'd leave raving about the wonderful resorts that served deliciously safe food.

I'll start at the beginning. I'd arrived in Acapulco to meet Claudia Cano, a journalist turned media director. She facilitated my research and kept me company during my stay. Admittedly blasé at first, I was stunned in the end. It wasn't just the innovations throughout Mexico or the resorts' 24-hour medical clinic open to guests and staff. What really blew me away was the impeccable standard of food and beverage services. It made staying at the hotels as carefree as staying in any five-star resort in Canada. The Princess and Pierre Marques resorts are private enclaves a world apart from the famed horseshoe arch of Acapulco Bay, only 20 minutes away. The resorts are set side by side on hundreds of lush acres bordering Revolcadero Beach. This swath of sand is the longest in Acapulco.

THREE ACAPULCOS
"In reality, there are three Acapulcos," explained Claudia, putting the resort into geographic perspective. "There's the old Acapulco Caleta of the '40s and '50s, where Art Deco buildings house cheap rooms and little bars. The posh Acapulco of the '70s was marked by the Las Brisas and Hyatt resorts and the eateries and discos overlooking the bay. And now, even though the Princess and Pierre Marques have gone unnoticed here for ages, we're the heart of the new Acapulco Diamante community that's developing around us."

Like sisters, the Princess and the Pierre Marques have unique personalities and styles, yet complement each other nicely. After a few days, I found myself enjoying each resort for different reasons. The Princess wowed me instantly, with its exuberant Mexican ambience, open-air lobby and gorgeous grounds where flamingoes, swans and iridescent peacocks inhabit a salt-water lagoon. The 1019-room resort is like a grand city. It was built in 1971 in a style reminiscent of a massive Aztec pyramid. It houses several bars and restaurants (each boasting a different style of cuisine), a popular disco and five dreamy pools -- some graced by waterfalls and swim-up bars. The resort offers a full-service spa, a top-notch gym, several tennis courts and two 18-hole golf courses. Excellent children's facilities include a wading pool (an asset considering the ocean's strong undertow), sturdy playground equipment and supervised games, sports and arts and crafts.

The Princess's gloss makes the Pierre Marques seem slightly subdued. That was the exact intention when oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty first envisioned the remote hideaway estate he wanted his celebrity friends to enjoy. The secluded villas, bungalows and low-rise dwellings were built in 1957. The Princess is set amid tropical gardens and lured the likes of the eccentric Howard Hughes, Elizabeth Taylor and her husband, film producer Mike Todd. Interestingly, Getty himself never came. More recently, the elegant 344-room resort housing its own popular restaurants has attracted George Harrison, Anthony Hopkins, Kevin Costner, Neil Young, Dustin Hoffman, Tony Bennett, Placido Domingo, Julio Iglesias, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

The Pierre Marques is accessible via a quick shuttle to all of the Princess's amenities, pools and restaurants. It's also ideal for those who shy away from a constant hum of activity, and for families with young children who prefer the community-park feeling of expansive lawns and fun-filled playgrounds.

 

ACCURACY COUNTS
For avid golfers, the resort is paradise. While Princess guests pay to play, Pierre Marques guests (on Sunquest package tours) are allowed one free round per day. The courses are enjoyable, yet challenging. The Princess Course, designed by Ted Robinson, has a welcoming layout, short of championship length. But length is deceptive, I quickly learned, and accuracy counts on the narrow fairways fringed by tall palms. On my second tee shot, distracted by a symphony of morning birds, I shot left and shuddered upon hearing a thud. To my relief, I'd hit a coconut, not a bird. The Pierre Marques Course is a tough championship layout redesigned by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. for the 1982 World Cup Tournament. Accuracy on the fairways and lay-up shots are essential to escape the water. With luck, you may beat the undulating greens.

It took concentration to focus on work amidst the decadent tropical milieu. But I managed to keep up with my research for this article and learned that both resorts are trailblazers in Mexico. Their own water purification plant re-purifies and monitors the Acapulco city water. Used water is recycled to irrigate the golf courses while creating a wetland sanctuary for birds. The resorts' composting, waste management and recycling initiatives are the best of any resort or corporation in Mexico. Staff members donate leftover foods and soaps to the community.

As for resort food, the hotels are entirely self-sufficient, with their own butchers, chefs and bakers. Indeed, after rigorous government inspections of the hygiene and security of food preparation, the Princess and Pierre Marques each won Mexico's first-ever Distinctive H Award for serving safe, quality food in all its bars and restaurants. By the end of the week, I'd tasted interesting meals in the resorts' various restaurants. Alfresco breakfasts were served with a view overlooking the mini-rainforest and lagoon. I sampled exotic fruits, tortilla casseroles topped with cheese and onions, and Mexican eggs spiced with peppers and tomatoes. I never even ingested Pepto Bismol, as I managed to avoid Montezuma's wrath.

EXPLORING THE BAY
I set out with Claudia and a trusty guidebook one morning to explore the Acapulco Bay area. We followed the main road (Costera Miguel Aleman) past the towering stone fort, which was built in 1616 to protect Acapulco from Dutch and English marauders. Today the fort houses a historical museum. After circling the bay, we pulled into a narrow lane where Claudia managed to park the car after paying off a man who guarded a "free park zone." It cost about $10 "to watch it."

"That's life here: Bargaining for everything is a Mexican sport," she said as we strolled through the zócalo, the pretty, central plaza. The warren of lanes was home to many booths brimming with handicrafts: brightly painted pottery; pâpier maché masks and parrots; handwoven blankets; heaps of silver jewellery; fanciful piñatas and garish sombreros.

Back in the car, we drove to the height of La Quebrada, where cliff divers dove from a 14-metre-high precipice into a narrow cove. Later, I insisted we check out two places listed as musts in my guidebook. The CICI Waterpark was described as "a hive of entertainment with a wave pool, water slides, beach access, plus a swim-with-the-whales experience." Dismayed by the untidy park -- the slew of children wading in a murky pool, silt lapping onto the beach, the outrageously short pool where people clawed captive dolphins -- I noted: Avoid this.

Playa de Caleta in old Acapulco was described as "a picturesque beach with calm waters." After one glance at the hordes frolicking in muddy water and crowding around to buy poured drinks, I noted: Avoid this place, too. Better to stick to the Princess and Pierre Marques. Back at the Princess, I donned my swimsuit and raced down to the pool to stand under the refreshing waterfall before settling under a shady palapa (hut). "Aah," I thought while sipping a cool Piña Colada. "Simply divine. Swim, eat and drink all you want in Acapulco. Forget Montezuma's revenge. Muchas gracias, Princess."

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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