World International Vacation Club - The Mar Azul
Reviews of World International Vacation Club - The Mar Azul
This was our first visit to actually stay in Acapulco. We totally enjoyed our stay at Mar Azul. After staying in many other cities in Mexico, we found Acapulco to be an overlooked treasure, lost in the shadow of more glitzier places like Cabo, Cancun and Nuevo Vallarta. It has excellent weather with moonlit nights, beautiful sunsets, a warm friendly atmosphere, and a wealth of activities to choose from.
Mar Azul is a small building comprised of only 23 units, and the staff here is to be complimented on making each guest feel welcome and pampered. Their guest relations training appears to have been excellent, and they make an effort to memorize the names of all the guests impressive.
We had flown from Tijuana through Mexico City to Acapulco. Our flight from Tijuana was cancelled, meaning we would end up spending our first night in Mexico City and arrive at Mar Azul one day late. I bought a phone card in Tijuana and called Mar Azul to notify them of the delay. The front desk person who answered spoke excellent English, thanked me for a calling, and assured me our unit would be saved. He kept his word upon our arrival the next day, we were escorted to a unit on the 3rd floor with a beautiful view of Acapulco Bay.
I am told that Mar Azul has 15-2 bedroom units and 9-1 bedroom units. All units face the ocean except 3 of the two bedroom units, which are at the back of the building. Those units would not be good, as they dont even have balconies.
Apparently the Mar Azul was originally sold as condominiums and converted to timeshare in the 80s. There are several different floor plans, and we were in a 2 bedroom unit with a small balcony and large picture windows overlooking the beach. The furnishings were well maintained and adequate. There is a sofa/sleeper, dining table with 6 chairs, an either wireless or cable internet hookup. There was no charge for the internet (although we used the cable, not the wi-fi) which we found awesome! The cushions on the furniture are very firm. Cable TV has an extensive list of channels, however most are in Spanish a few are only subtitled in Spanish.
The kitchen has not been updated in awhile, however it was all functional. There is a full sized gas stove and oven, a small microwave, a full sized refrigerator, and a good selection of pots, pans, and bakeware. There are plates, glasses, and silver for 8. A coffeemaker, blender, and toaster are located in cabinets on the outside of the kitchen, where there is a long counter. There is not a dishwasher, however soap and a scrubbie are included. A welcome basket has coffee filters and several individual coffee packs as well as some sugar, creamer, and tea.
One bedroom has two twin beds, and the master bedroom has a king sized bed. Mattresses were on the firm side. During our stay the tv in the master bedroom was updated to a flat screen LCD, which had a great picture. Both bathrooms had a shower, and adequate towels.
Daily maid service (except one day per week) was excellent. The maid was there between 1 and 2 hours each day, did a thorough cleaning, and even washed up any dishes that were there and put them away.
Since Mar Azul is on an extremely narrow lot, the pool and surrounding area is quite small. They have added an upper deck above the pool with lounge chairs, but shade here is at a premium there is just one palapa that will provide shade for 1-2 chairs. This was not a problem the second week we were here but the first week, we learned you needed to get out to the pool early if you wanted one of the chairs with shade. There is a small hot tub by the pool, which felt very nice in the mornings and evenings. Daytime temperatures were in the mid to upper 80s, so it was too hot for a hot tub during the day. There is a small snack bar next to the pool that is run by an American who moved to Acapulco in the 80s. He makes great burgers and fries (ask for fried onions) and prices are reasonable 2 burgers and fries cost us a total of about $4.50USD.
Down a few steps from the pool is a roped off area in the sand with palapas and chairs. These are upright wooden deck chairs, not lounge chairs, and it was a nice place to sit and watch the sights on the beach, however the chairs have no pads at all, so we didnt find them comfortable for a very long time.
Just outside the roped area are a mother and daughter team that come with a massage table most days. Their names are Mary & Jenny, and they did a good business with Mar Azul guests, who often took advantage of their service more than once. For about $15USD, you got a 30-45 minute massage very reasonable on their table at the beach. Jenny also does a manicure & pedicure for $25USD.
Mar Azul is located in the heart of the Playa Condesa beach area. There is so much you can walk to here. Many restaurants, modern new shopping malls, and artisan markets. If you dont want to walk, no worries- you can hire a small taxi for 30 or 40 pesos to take you almost anywhere as this translates to $2.50 - $3.00 with the current exchange rate, its really a bargain. We discovered that there is indeed a heaven for old Volkswagens. After they die, they are re-born as taxis in Acapulco. In any given minute, you will see about 15 of the blue and white old Volkswagen taxis stream by on the Costera or main boulevard a block behind the resort. This is the cheapest kind of transportation here (other than the city bus, which is about .40 but we were warned is frequented by pickpockets).
To buy your groceries, take a taxi for 30 pesos to either the Mega Diana (less than 1 mile away) or the Soriana. It will cost you 50 pesos to go to the Wal-Mart, and its more expensive there than either of these very nice, large, Mexican grocery stores. It is recommended to treat fresh vegetables or fruits that you dont peel in an iodine solution that is sold in small bottles in the fruit section.
On Sunday morning, the resort does an orientation about Acapulco and the tours that are offered. There is a nice selection of tours by a reputable company. We took two of them a sunset cruise on the Acarey and a 4 hour trip on the Palao. The sunset cruise was 2 ½ hours and an excellent experience. It cost 30 pesos to take the taxi to the Malecon where the boat departs from. It was a double deck boat with many chairs and few people. On board was very nice, live entertainment a band playing Mexican music, but not too loud, and an open bar for the entire time with GOOD drinks, not the typical rum/punch variety. The cruise took you all around Acapulco Bay, by many homes of the rich and famous, and then outside the bay to see the sunset. It was very nicely done and the staff was very friendly. The cost - $250 pesos or about $19, was certainly reasonable.
The other trip, the Palao, departed from Caleta Beach about a 40 peso ride. It was a glass bottom boat that tours for a little over an hour, then takes you to a private beach and restaurant on Acapulcos only island La Roqueta. During the 2 hours at the island, you are served lunch and and there is open bar with excellent Pina Coladas. There is a small beach area with chairs above it in a scenic cove. The water is crystal clear and excellent for snorkeling. Snorkel gear and kayaks are available for rent. It is then about a 45 minute ride back to the marina. This also was an excellent day for just $290 pesos including lunch. Gratuities on both trips are extra.
As far as restaurants in the area, we recommend Jacalitos just one block from Mar Azul but ask for the Spanish menu. The prices are lower and there are Mexican selections not available on the English menu. We also recommend El Morrito, about 2 blocks up the beach. It has tables overlooking the water and enjoying the sights of Acapulco Bay at night. Entrees include different types of grilled fish, shrimp, or beef. We shared an order of Garlic Shrimp and it was very good.
Overall summary: We found Mar Azul and Acapulco to be a wonderful place to unwind and vacation. Many of the tourists, even at the resort, are Mexican, not American. It will be helpful if you know some basic Spanish to come here, although its probably not essential. It seems most Americans and Canadians are now bypassing Acapulco for newer resort areas in Mexico, and I think they are missing out. The positives: Prices everywhere here seem more reasonable than other resort areas in Mexico we have visited. Weather this time of year is very predictable sunny and hot. Beaches are clean, water is clean, and people are friendly. Location of the resort makes it easy to get to almost anything. There is a great selection of tours offered right from the resort. The resort is small and quiet, with an excellent, friendly staff that wants to ensure your stay is pleasant. If you are looking for a comfortable place with an intimate atmosphere in an excellent location, this is it. If you are looking for a place to stay with a lot happening, a huge pool and a late-night bar, this is not it. The bar here closes at 6PM and is very small.
Negatives: There is no central air just 3 window units. The one in the living room was very loud when it was on, so we tried to run it when we were out of the room and leave it off most of the time when we were in. English is not widely spoken with taxi drivers you need to know some basic Spanish to negotiate a fare and say where you want to go. There are no real activities at the resort its just too small to support that.
Rating: We gave Mar Azul an overall 7.5 out of 10 because of the dated facilities and lack of a few amenities like shaded lounge chairs by the pool or pads on the deck chairs at the beach. However I would give the staff and ambience a 9.5. We would come here again and stay longer if we could!
Warning: The Mayan Palace Salespeople are like parasites in Acapulco. They are at every corner,so beware. They pretend to be everything from taxi drivers to information people to II or RCI staff. Unless you want to give up 4 1/2 to 5 hours of your vacation to hear their presentation and suffer lots of hard pressure, walk away from these offers. Say "I'm sorry I'm leaving today".
We had a wonderful stay - but we were given the penthouse ocean view unit after being in a unit which faced the buildings on either side and thus no view. If you can get a unit facing the ocean you will be happy but probably not if you face other directions. The rooms are very clean and comfortably furnished but not luxury. The air conditioners worked fine. The kitchen was good. The room layouts were a little unusual. There is only street parking but it was never a problem to find on the small streets leading to the building