Landing in the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa International Airport is a reminder that there is an art to moving slowly. You fly over a blue lagoon, into endless fields of palms and walk out into what feels like a time warp. Life moves at a slower pace, inching along from sunrise to sunset as if every minute allotted in the day is the perfect amount of time. Not a minute is wasted on the unnecessary. There are friendly faces holding signs of Ixtapa’s all-inclusives and a systematic taxi service just outside the airport doors. You grab a cab and when he asks, “where to?” You reply, “Amuleto.”
The 30 minute ride from the outskirts, to the heart of Zihuatanejo takes you into the “city” center then cuts up a series of steep hills, overlooking the crystal-blue bay. La Ropa is an area rich in history and natural beauty. It has long attracted a crowd of alternatives, thinkers and dreamers. In the 1500 and 1700’s British pirates, Sir Francis Drake and then George Anson, used the Zihuatanejo bay to attack Spanish ships and undoubtably get into trouble. Flash forward, and in 1963 Timothy Leary was organizing an LSD convention on La Ropa Beach, six years prior to the Summer of Love and Woodstock. Today, though “The Shawshank Redemption” claimed it to have no memory… the magic of Zihuatanejo remains as illusive and endless as ever, calling for its guests to embrace this as reality. Your cab climbs the gorgeous La Ropa hills until you essentially dead end at the top and are greeted with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and a discreet wooden door. You have arrived at Amuleto.
Amuleto is a boutique hotel designed and built by a Brazilian couple in 2004. The grounds consist of five luxury suites, a world-class restaurant and a sprawling palapa bar. You are greeted at the door and settled in with margaritas and guacamole while the staff brings your luggage to the suite. The view is so vast and truly beautiful, it is initially hard to believe such a place exists. However, it is not just the sights that contribute to this feeling. It is the privacy and intimacy of Amuleto that highlights such unforgettable qualities. You sip your beverage and as the ice clinks against your glass and birds soar at eye level, you feel yourself settling into this city’s peaceful pace of life.
A few steps from the bar is the main pool, a horizontal infinity-style stretch that seems to touch the Pacific below. Bougainvillea and hibiscus flowers line your path to the suites and as you descend, everything else around you seems to fade away. Each suite is as unique and stunning as the next. For Example, The Palapa Suite has a private upper-level terrace for sunbathing in the nude, or sipping drinks at sunset in complete and total privacy. Suite 1, however, is one, open level that is centered around a large shaded patio with a day bed, hammocks and a full bar. Every suite has it’s own infinity-style plunge pool and unrestricted views of the ocean… Hammocks, lounge chairs and fresh breakfast each morning. From every king-sized bed you will wake up to the sight of the sea. The staff has arranged your luggage in the bedroom, left fresh flowers on the bed and, if requested, a bottle of champagne sits on ice. You’re in your pool by sunset, with a glass in hand and the week ahead looks like nothing short of a dream.
Whatever you can think of, the staff have connections to help you. Kayaking to islands, riding horses on empty beaches, fishing, surfing, cooking classes… they have you covered. Perhaps one of the most relaxing aspects of a stay at Amuleto is the confidence you will quickly acquire in the staff. They are locals, knowledgable about all areas of the city and it’s people. Your first evening, before dinner, you have requested an en-suite massage for two. They arrive with luxury massage tables, the air fills with essential oils and you yet again are encouraged to let go of everything at home and truly experience the pleasures of Amuleto.
While breakfast is included, the restaurant at Amuleto also serves lunch and dinner. From the ingredients to the flavors to the plating, their dishes are works of art. Dinner is the only meal open to the public. It is served as a tasting menu with the option of 3, 4 or 5 courses. Each evening they serve a total of 24 guests and after that, reservations are closed. Hotel guests however are always given priority when it comes to time, table and service. The staff know your name and how you like your morning coffee or tea by day two. They are intrigued as to how they can maintain your dream vacation, but are masterful in their service and discretion. Your first evening as a guest, you take a seat in the dining room which is really more of an open patio perched on top of the bay. You order a bottle of wine or a round of passion fruit margaritas (the house specialty) and cheers to having discovered one of Mexico’s best kept secrets.